This article is part of “Professional Help” an ongoing series of tips and tricks from pro players on their favorite heroes.

Carlo “Kuku” Palad is one of the most famous and experienced Filipino players in the competitive Dota 2 scene, having made his mark as one of the core members of TNC from 2016 to 2019. He is now playing with Geek Fam as their offlaner and captain.

Kuku has played multiple roles throughout his career, notably having been the midlaner then offlaner for TNC. He has excelled with Batrider, one of the most versatile heroes in Dota that is often played at both those roles.

Here are five tips from Kuku himself to help you shine with Batrider:

1. Know your matchups

As Batrider, Earthshaker is your best friend. If you have him on your team, you can easily control the offlane and play against any matchup. Otherwise, it’s hard to play against heroes who can remove or counter Sticky Napalm, like Oracle, Phantom Lancer, Slark, and Faceless Void.

For most players, Batrider looks like he’s all about landing Flaming Lasso to initiate on enemy heroes. However, he’s more than just that. You can help your team exert full map control while being a big threat to your opponents with Firefly and just the threat of Lasso. Getting Boots of Travel and Blink Dagger quickly will help you do that.

2. Max Sticky Napalm and Firefly first

Right now, I never get Batrider’s second skill, Flamebreak, unless I really need it to get an early kill. It’s better to max his other skills, Sticky Napalm and Firefly, first so I can get farm and threaten the enemy carry.

My usual skill build before Level 6 is 2-0-4, as Firefly deals a lot of damage early on especially when you get a lot of stacks of Sticky Napalm on an enemy. Otherwise, I go for a 2-1-2 build so I can at least have all my skills ready when I eventually get Flaming Lasso.

3. Know how to play your lane

Contesting the enemy carry is often the best way to play offlane Batrider, though dodging your opponent to just keep pulling the creep wave is still a safe move.

You can contest the enemy carry’s farm and even get a chance to kill him by just spamming Sticky Napalm. If you can get more than four stacks of Sticky Napalm on him, then you can easily take him down with Firefly and Flamebreak.

If you choose to dodge the enemy carry, it’s basically gonna be like they will free farm while you will be free farming too. So, it’s still a good trade!

But if you really cannot go to the lane, try to ask your supports to stack neutral camps for you then farm them with Sticky Napalm and Firefly. You can even do all that yourself. You can also cut the opponent’s creep wave behind their towers or pull them to behind your own towers so you can get some safe farm.

4. Build Boots of Travel first

While most guides will tell you otherwise, in my opinion, it’s better to build Boots of Travel as your first core item instead of Blink Dagger. If you buy Blink first, then it’s like you need to rush things in order to play effectively. You can Blink on top of other heroes, sure, but you’ll have a hard time finding farm once the game slows down.

Batrider is a hero that really loves to keep farming and pushing lanes to exert map control, so Boots of Travel fits that playstye much better. You can always get Blink as your second core item to help you land Flaming Lasso on enemy heroes. Plus, Boots of Travel lets you farm Blink Dagger much easier so you’ll get both of them faster compared to getting Blink first.

5. Learn when to initiate and counter-initiate

Batrider is a strong initiator because of Firefly and Flaming Lasso, but he’s also a good counter-initiator for the same reasons. To play Batrider effectively, you need to know when to initiate or counter-initiate. Though it really depends on the opponent’s heroes.

For example, if they have Oracle, then you need to find ways to go on that hero first or else he will just use his ultimate, False Promise, on the lassoed hero and your initiation will be a failure. But if the enemy team doesn’t have any saving heroes like Oracle to counter you, then you can freely initiate on whoever you want.

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