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Axe minimap icon.png Axe is a strong initiator and disabler as he possesses an area disable capable of piercing spell immunity in Berserker's Call, and a low-cooldown slow in Battle Hunger that also boosts his movement speed. Counter Helix combined with Berserker's Call is capable of shredding opponents, and Culling Blade can kill them instantly should their health get low enough. Given mobility and mana sustain, Axe is capable of wreaking havoc against enemies at all points of the game.
Pros Cons
  • Powerful ganker once he gets his Blink Dagger icon.png Blink Dagger.
  • Very good at punishing melee heroes in lane.
  • Can farm lanes and the jungle very quickly.
  • Almost completely unaffected by spell immunity.
  • Very resistant to physical damage.
  • Good strength and agility gain, but also moderate Intelligence gain.
  • Counters physical carries.
  • Needs only Blink Dagger icon.png Blink Dagger and Blade Mail icon.png Blade Mail to be very effective even in late game.
  • Bad laning stage can be hard to recover.
  • Hard to play against high health pool supports.
  • Small mana pool.
  • Creep cutting may give the enemy carry absolute free farm.

Ability Builds[edit]

Generic Axe
Battle Hunger icon.pngCounter Helix icon.pngCounter Helix icon.pngBerserker's Call icon.pngCounter Helix icon.pngCulling Blade icon.pngCounter Helix icon.pngBerserker's Call icon.pngBerserker's Call icon.pngTalent icon.pngBerserker's Call icon.pngCulling Blade icon.pngBattle Hunger icon.pngBattle Hunger icon.pngTalent icon.pngBattle Hunger icon.pngUnknown icon.pngCulling Blade icon.pngTalent icon.pngTalent icon.png


Hero Talents
+120 Battle Hunger DPS25+100 Berserker's Call AoE
Attacking Procs Counter Helix20+25 Health Regen
+30 Movement Speed15+3 Mana Regen
+40 Attack Speed10+8 Strength attribute symbol.png Strength

Tips & Tactics[edit]

  • Always keep in mind Axe has no spell to escape realibly, so being sure you can tank your own initiations is key to a successful Axe.
  • Don't creep cut against weaker heroes, try to pressure their lane with the threat of Beserker's Call and Counter Helix at level 4.
  • Using Creep Aggro is a very good way to secure creeps early on against harder lane opponents.
  • Using Battle Hunter at level 1 allows you to trade more reliably instead of relying on chance by one or two heroes to proc Counter Helix.
  • The main thing to consider is if you think you will take more physical damage or magical damage; the choice really narrows down to either a Vanguard icon.png Vanguard or Hood of Defiance icon.png Hood of Defiance.
  • Getting a Shadow Blade icon.png Shadow Blade after Blink Dagger icon.png Blink Dagger means you can get within range of elusive heroes or around observer wards undetected to initiate solo kills.
  • While on the topic of Blink Dagger, try to get this item when you have maxed Counter Helix and maxed Berserker's Call (around level 10).
  • Blade Mail icon.png Blade Mail is core in most games, as it raises your damage output and allows you to be a threat to the majority of heroes in the game near creep waves. It also synergies well, for obvious reasons with the hero.
  • Don't steal every kill with Culling Blade if you don't need to, you want the team networth to be even so if you do die, you don't give away your entire teams networth and lead in the process.
  • Lastly when playing Axe, your ultimate goal is not to go late into the game, you want to destroy your lane, destroy the enemy opponents with your team and finish the game. However, this is not to suggest Axe isn't good late game.


  • The synergy between Berserker's Call and Counter Helix means that Axe is capable of dealing great amounts of pure damage during initiations, but must build for survivability to ensure he is not killed by enemy attacks during his initiations.
  • Axe's abilities give him powerful harassment potential and survivability, allowing him to punish enemy lanes and gain an early advantage for his team. In order to transition well into the late game he requires farm, however his initiation and disabling abilities allow him to set up ganks and early teamfights to get the gold he needs to remain relevant.
  • As a melee initiator with strong survivability spells, Axe can be a very strong offlaner, or a powerful jungler.
    • A combination of Berserker's Call and Counter Helix make Axe a good offlaner, as he can deal large amounts of damage with Counter Helix if the enemy dares to attack him at melee range. As well, he has the ability to force the enemy to attack him via Berserker's Call if he can get close enough, also using his enemy's lane creeps against them to increase the proc chance of Counter Helix.
    • Counter Helix allows Axe to be a strong jungler, as he can whittle down neutral camps without expending mana. Additionally, Axe's position in the jungle allows him to rotate mid to help set up ganks, or help to harass and gank the enemy's offlaner.


Berserker's Call[edit]

  • Berserker's Call is a taunt that forces all enemies near Axe to attack him, while simultaneously boosting his armor to allow him to weather the enemy attacks.
  • Berserker's Call is Axe's prime initiating and disabling ability, as it cannot be blocked by spell immunity or Linken's Sphere icon.png Linken's Sphere. In order to utilize it to its utmost, Axe must possess strong mobility, namely Blink Dagger in order to instantly jump into the midst of the enemy to make the most of it.
  • Because of its short duration, Berserker's Call benefits greatly from assistance from allied area-of-effect disables. By taunting the enemy and forcing them to bunch up, Axe can open the enemy team up for follow-up disables such as Light Strike Array, Hoof Stomp, Black Hole, and so on. Conversely, Berserker's Call can also be assisted by allied setup, such as Vacuum and Reverse Polarity.
  • When chasing enemies that are trying to escape, Berserker's Call can be useful for holding them in place for Axe's teammates to catch up. Additionally, it can be useful for interrupting Town Portal Scrolls, as taunting the enemy will cause them to break the channeling and attack Axe, preventing them from escaping.
  • Beware that unlike Axe's other spells, Berserker's Call has a 0.4 cast animation. If possible, try to get as close to enemies as possible before taunting, or try to lead your blink so that they will run into the call's area as it is cast.
  • If a Blade Mail has been purchased, it is sometimes most optimal to activate it after Berserker's Call has ended, depending on targets. Activating it at the end of the duration will give Axe an extra 4.5 seconds of survivability, as enemy players will be further punished for targeting Axe with nukes and additional attacks once they are able to control their heroes. Additionally, it will buy time for Berserker's Call to come off cooldown to be cast again, as at max level it has a cooldown of only 10 seconds, meaning that Axe only has to survive for two more seconds after Blade Mail. Use it during Berserker's Call for additional burst damage, for instance if catching a hero in Berserker's Call that has high damage output but low health it can be used to completely eliminate the target during the duration of Berserker's Call.
  • Berserker's Call is capable of taunting invisible enemies. One useful way to bring enemies out of invisibility is to try to cast it if they are near Axe; this will force the enemy to attack him, bringing them out of invisibility. This can be useful for interrupting abilities like Meld, or interrupting an enemy that is channeling while under the effects of Glimmer Cape icon.png Glimmer Cape.
  • Axe does not need to stand in place once he has successfully taunted the enemy. If he catches enemy melee heroes, it is possible for Axe to kite them away from an escape path, as they will follow him during the taunt to try to attack him. Forcibly displacing the enemy during Berserker's Call can make a huge difference depending on the terrain and allied and enemy positioning.
  • Remember that Axe gets the bonus armor regardless of whether or not he manages to successfully taunt any enemies. If he is low on health and is trying to escape, Berserker's Call can be used simply to increase Axe's armor so that the enemy's physical attacks cannot kill him before he reaches safety.
  • When initiating for your team, it is usually a good idea to try to target the enemy's support heroes. Not only can this prevent them from casting powerful teamfight spells, but they also tend to have low HP and armor, causing them to take much more damage from Counter Helix, and possibly putting them within Culling Blade range to remove them from the field before they can contribute at all.
  • At maximum level, Berserker's Call is capable of disabling enemies for 3.2 seconds. If escape is necessary, Axe can attempt to taunt enemies and then immediately channel Town Portal Scroll, as he can escape during the taunt when the enemy is unable to cast stuns on him.
  • Use Berserker's Call to taunt and reveal invisible enemies if you are certain they are nearby.
  • Berserker's Call bonus armor makes Axe nearly immune to physical damage for a short duration, which can be used to neutralize physical nukes such as Omnislash and Unstable Concoction.
  • Axe can use Berserker's Call then Town Portal Scroll icon.png Town Portal Scroll to escape as enemies cannot use disables to stop him.

Battle Hunger[edit]

  • Battle Hunger inflicts the target enemy with a damage and slow debuff that lasts until they kill a unit.
  • Choose to level Battle Hunger first if Axe wants to harass the enemies in lanes, particularly the supports, thanks to its high damage over time, long cast range, and removal requirements.
  • By casting the debuff on the enemy and then going aggressive on the lane, the enemy can be forced to retreat away from the creep wave, preventing them from killing a unit to remove the debuff. Repeated over time, this can wear down the enemy's HP and force them out of the lane altogether.
  • Inflicting the enemy with Battle Hunger can also set up for kills if the enemy attempts to continue to lane to remove the debuff. Because the debuff slows the enemy's movement speed, casting Battle Hunger on them prior to allied initiation can slow their movement, greatly reducing their chances of escaping.
  • In order to make the most of this spell in-lane, try to time its casting with the enemy's attempts to last-hit. Inflicting the enemy with Battle Hunger while all creeps in the lane are near full health can force them to take more damage as no opportunities to kill a unit to remove the debuff will present itself soon. As well, casting Battle Hunger on them right after they last-hit the last friendly creep in the wave will give them no targets to kill (provided their own creeps are outside of deny range), making the spell run its full course. Axe can further debilitate the enemy by last-hitting and denying as much as possible to prevent the enemy from killing any units.
  • Casting Battle Hunger on the enemy when they have no creeps can be a great way to harass them. As they must retreat back to their tower to avoid tanking creep attacks, they will be too busy backing away to remove the debuff, and become vulnerable to tower-diving once your creeps reach the enemy tower.
  • Remember that Battle Hunger also increases Axe's movement speed while the enemy is affected by it, on top of slowing them down. This allows Axe to quickly close the distance to fleeing enemies and catch them with Berserker's Call.
  • Battle Hunger's long cast range allows Axe to use it as a finishing spell on a fleeing enemy who is at low health. In most situations there will be no opportunities for the enemy to remove the debuff from themselves, which can allow the spell to burn them down and kill them after the fact.
  • There is no requirement that Battle Hunger must be cast on an enemy hero. If mobility is a priority and a fleeing enemy hero is out of range, Battle Hunger can be cast on enemy creeps in order to boost Axe's movement speed, allowing him to then get within range to cast Battle Hunger a second time on the enemy hero.

Counter Helix[edit]

  • Counter Helix allows Axe to deal pure damage in an arc around himself every time the enemy lands an attack on him, even if he is disabled.
  • Counter Helix syngerizes extremely well with Berserker's Call, as Axe can deal spin damage to enemies that he successfully taunts. If he catches multiple enemy heroes and creeps, Axe can deal a surprising amount of damage during the taunt, wearing them down for his team.
  • Counter Helix will only proc if an enemy lands a successful attack on Axe. This means that evasion and ethereal on Axe, or blind and disarm on the enemy, can prevent Counter Helix from proccing.
  • Because pure damage is completely unaffected by armor and magic resistance, Counter Helix makes Axe still deal a decent amount of damage in the late game, as most enemies can do nothing against its damage besides avoid getting hit. It also pierces spell immunity, making Axe a decent counter to Black King Bar icon.png Black King Bar.
  • The pure damage is also very strong against some naturally tanky heroes like Ogre Magi minimap icon.png Ogre Magi and Terrorblade minimap icon.png Terrorblade who have high armor, or Anti-Mage minimap icon.png Anti-Mage and Viper minimap icon.png Viper who have higher magic resistance.
  • Counter Helix allows Axe to quickly farm creeps, whether they are lane creeps or neutral camps, since their attacks will greatly increase its proc chance. This can also be used to harass lane opponents, particularly if they are melee, since Axe can threaten them with great amounts of damage if he manages to get close.
  • In-lane, Axe can draw lane creep aggro by ordering an attack on an enemy hero while standing within 500 range of enemy creeps. This will draw the creeps to attack Axe, causing them to proc Counter Helix and allowing him to make quick work of the wave, pushing it towards the enemy.
  • In order to punish weak lanes, Axe can cut creep waves with Counter Helix: get behind the enemy tower, intercept the enemy's creep wave, and destroy it with Counter Helix, forcing the enemy to tank your creeps under his tower, which will also make last-hitting harder while also exposing them to tower dives. However, enemy rotations can punish such tactics since Axe will be in an exposed location while creep-cutting, far from assistance and easy to kill.
  • If you have successfully purchased Tranquil Boots (Active) icon.png Tranquil Boots and are jungling with Counter Helix, one tactic to conserve HP is to drop the Tranquil Boots on the ground before farming the neutral camp. This will prevent the Tranquil Boots from breaking, allowing Axe to pick them up to immediately start replenishing his HP. However, be very wary of enemy heroes encountering Axe while he is jungling, as they can pick up or destroy his Tranquil Bootswhile they are on the ground.

Culling Blade[edit]

  • Culling Blade allows Axe to immediately kill an enemy if they are at low health, going through spell immunity and any other survivability buffs (including Shallow Grave and Borrowed Time), while simultaneously boosting the attack and movement speed of all nearby allies.
  • Effectively, Culling Blade allows Axe to reduce the maximum HP of enemy heroes by the threshold amount, as crossing below that threshold allows Axe to instantly kill them; as a lethal Culling Blade deals its damage as HP Removal, there is no way to increase or decrease this amount. It is important to know where these thresholds are in order to make the most efficient use of Culling Blade, however it is also important not to cast it too early, as failing a cull will put the ability on cooldown, preventing it from being used for the rest of the fight.
  • Culling Blade will always credit Axe with the kill, giving him the most gold for the kill. This can allow Axe to quickly get the gold for the items he needs, however it can also deny gold to your team's carries and stunt their item progression. If possible, try to use Culling Blade only as a last resort to secure a kill, or to prevent an enemy from participating further in a teamfight.
  • Keep in mind, Culling Blade can be blocked by Linken's Sphere even if the enemy is below the kill threshold. Casting Battle Hunger on the target first can break the Linken's Sphere, allowing Axe to finish the target off.
  • Culling Blade will reset its cooldown if Axe successfully kills an enemy hero with the spell. This means that if removing enemies from the battlefield is a priority, Culling Blade is capable of eliminating multiple enemies in a span of seconds if he can get them low enough. However, keep in mind that Culling Blade is Axe's most mana-costly ability, so try to conserve enough mana during initiations to meet the demand if needed.
  • The speed boost gained from a successful Culling Blade can give Axe's team a powerful mobility advantage. Try to get a successful cull as early as possible in a teamfight, as the boost can make a great difference.
  • Using the console or config files, binding "toggle" and "dota_health_per_vertical_marker" to an unused key can be useful for providing a visual indicator by shifting the vertical markers for HP bars depending on the level of Culling Blade. These visual indicators can show exactly where the thresholds for Culling Blade are, ensuring that the spell can be used at the first possible opportunity. For instance, bind "P" "toggle dota_health_per_vertical_marker 250 325 400" will cause the 'P' key to cycle through the listed values.


Starting items:

  • Tango icon.png Tango gives Axe health regeneration in the laning stage, allowing him to survive against most forms of enemy harass.
  • Healing Salve icon.png Healing Salve allows Axe to trade in the lane early on and return to full health without needing to slowly refill with tangos.
  • Stout Shield icon.png Stout Shield is crucial on a melee hero like Axe, as the damage block drastically increases his survivability against attacks, whether they be from enemy heroes or neutral creeps.
  • Iron Branch icon.png Iron Branch is a cheap item that allows Axe to shore up his attributes with his remaining gold. It can be sold for inventory space as needed, or built into a Magic Wand icon.png Magic Wand.
  • Enchanted Mango icon.png Enchanted Mango allows Axe to use Battle Hunger if he has ran out of mana. It also gives passive HP regen, which is very important on a hero like Axe in the laning stage.

Early game:

  • Ring of Protection icon.png Ring of Protection boosts armor which Axe lacks for the majority of the game outside of Beserkers Call. Against physical damage this item is very good and can be purchased at the side shop.
  • Phase Boots icon.png Phase Boots is the better choice, with 6 bonus armor since Axe does not have much armor without Beserkers Call active, and allows him to catch up to people to use his abilities better.
  • Tranquil Boots (Active) icon.png Tranquil Boots provide Axe with movement speed and passive health regeneration outside of combat. It is one of two options for Axe early for increasing his mobility for early initiations, and providing a source of HP regen to allow him to remain on the field instead of returning to base.
  • Magic Wand icon.png Magic Wand allows Axe to gain burst health and mana while in the middle of fights, where he excels at most.

Mid game:

  • Blink Dagger icon.png Blink Dagger is the most important item for Axe as it allows him to initiate and counter-initiate for his team. Axe is definitely one of the most scary heroes in the game with this item.
  • Vanguard icon.png Vanguard gives Axe even more survivability against physical damage by giving him increased damage block, more HP and HP regen. The damage block is particularly strong for mitigating the damage Axe takes during Berserker's Call, allowing him to proc more instances of Counter Helix.
  • Blade Mail icon.png Blade Mail provides many strong benefits for Axe. The additional armor increases his durability, the intelligence boosts his mana pool to allow him to cast spells more often, and the attack damage lets him farm more easily and deal more damage to the enemy with his attacks. The active, used during or after Berserker's Call, further punishes the enemy for attacking him, allowing him to use his HP offensively to deal damage to the enemy during initiations.
  • Town Portal Scroll icon.png Town Portal Scroll is necessary for allowing Axe to be present at teamfights and ganks. His powers as an initiator can set up fights decisively in his team's favor.

Late game:

  • Shadow Blade icon.png Shadow Blade is very good for evading enemies and getting to the targets you want to blink to without being detected. Alternatively, it could be used for escaping if a gank or a teamfight does go wrong.
  • Black King Bar icon.png Black King Bar can be a necessary purchase if he is facing a very disable-heavy lineup. Because he jumps right into the middle of the enemy to initiate, he is a prime target for focusing down with magic nukes and stuns, so having spell immunity can allow him to do more in fights.

Situational items:

  • Urn of Shadows icon.png Urn of Shadows is a good ganking item early game that gives Axe many benefits. The extra strength increases Axe's HP and base damage, and the passive mana regen helps with his mana problems. This should usually be gotten by a teammate however.
  • Force Staff icon.png Force Staff gives Axe many strong benefits and is a powerful utility item to carry. The increased intelligence gives Axe a larger mana pool, while the passive health regeneration helps to keep Axe's health topped up. The active can give Axe additional mobility, or can be used on teammates to help them initiate or escape. As well, using the active on himself after a successful Blink-Call can allow Axe to quickly kite enemies away, forcing them to follow him during the taunt.
  • Pipe of Insight icon.png Pipe of Insight allows Axe to initiate without fear of hard magical damage and allows him to march on the front lines and support his team against said magical damage.
  • Crimson Guard icon.png Crimson Guard, upgraded from Vanguard, is a strong utility item that provides Axe with even more survivability against physical damage. The extra armor and attributes on top of the existing damage block and bonus HP can make him extremely tanky, and he can augment it even more and protect his allies with the active.
  • Lotus Orb icon.png Lotus Orb is a strong initiator item that allows Axe to punish enemies for targeting him with disables. The item provides armor and more regeneration, making him more tanky and allowing him to replenish his mana over time. The active, used during an initiation, can punish enemies who target Axe with single-target disables and nukes, disabling and nuking them in turn to cause more chaos for Axe's team to capitalize on.
  • Heart of Tarrasque icon.png Heart of Tarrasque greatly increases Axe's health and provides base damage, giving him much more power as an initiator, since he can continue disabling the enemy during fights so long as he is alive. As well, if he manages to survive fights and escape, he can quickly regenerate his HP and jump straight back into battle.
  • Shiva's Guard icon.png Shiva's Guard drastically boosts Axe's intelligence and armor, giving him yet more survivability against physical damage while also eliminating his mana problems. The attack speed slow aura can greatly hinder the enemy from making physical attacks during fights, while the active can be used as a damage nuke and a slow to hinder their mobility.
  • Boots of Travel 1 icon.png Boots of Travel gives Axe additional battlefield and global mobility. The global teleport allows Axe to show up to fights to initiate for his team more easily, while the increased movement speed allows him to be more mobile on the battlefield, chasing enemies down and inflicting them with Battle Hunger to slow them.
  • Assault Cuirass icon.png Assault Cuirass is a strong teamfight item that greatly increases Axe's armor and attack speed. The armor provides yet more resistance against physical damage, and the attack speed allows Axe to become much more threatening with his right-clicks. The allied armor and attack speed aura is a strong edge in teamfights.
  • Heaven's Halberd icon.png Heaven's Halberd is a strong survivability and utility item that can help Axe if the enemy's physical damage output is more than he can handle. The additional strength and evasion give him more health and survivability against physical attacks, respectively, and the active disarm allows Axe to completely stop an enemy from attacking.
  • Mjollnir icon.png Mjollnir is a strong purchase on Axe given his role as a close-range initiator. The item gives him greatly increased attack speed, making his physical attacks much more dangerous, and allows him to bounce Chain Lightning procs during fights to deal magical damage all around to the enemy. The Static Charge active can also be placed on Axe himself right before initiation, further punishing the enemy for attacking him during Berserker's Call.