Lina the Slayer proclaimed that her New Year’s resolution was to become even hotter — and it didn’t take long for everybody to notice.
Fiery Lina is the hottest hero in Dota 2 right now. Across all six regions in the Dota Pro Circuit, she’s the most contested (picked and banned) hero in five — Western Europe, China, Southeast Asia, North America, and South America — sporting an above 90 percent contest rate. In China, NA, and SA, she’s hitting a 100 percent. Only Eastern Europe has her outside the top spot, where she’s third behind Rubick and Broodmother at the time of writing.
While the hero bounced around being a mid or support over the past years, she’s taken on a new role — position one, and possibly the hardest carry in all of Dota 2 in this patch 7.32d.
Why is Lina the best carry in Dota 2?
Surprisingly, Lina’s latest patch note was a nerf.
In 7.32c, she received a reduction to her base armor, pushing her below zero, and her attack damage talent at level 10 was reduced. 7.32d didn’t even mention her, but it has done little to slow down her ascent to the top.
While Lina just might be 7.32d’s defining hero, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when and where was the case. Without receiving any massive buffs to herself or her core items, it seems to be a cascade of factors that led to the new meta.
As always, it took a while for people to realize just how good the hero is at carrying the game. Natus Vincere’s Alik “V-Tune” Vorobey was one of the first to pull out Lina in a then-unconventional safelane during The International 11 Last Chance Qualifiers. Though he eventually lost the game, it was a bright spot in an otherwise brutal game for NAVI.
Ranged carries were already in vogue through TI11. Shadow Fiend and Sniper were often played in the safe lane. Think of Lina as an extension of that idea — a capable kill threat in lane, needs only a few items to start a farming spree, and a late-game monster that can stand toe-to-toe against anybody. It’s helped by the immense stat-stick talents that give Lina 20 damage, 350 health, and even better scaling on Fiery Soul, letting her extend her carry advantage with both items and levels.
Fiery Soul’s stacks are much less mana-intensive to keep up now, compared to its previous iteration. Instead of having to cast a spell every seven seconds — even on the ground — now you need to hit targets with a generous timing window of 18 seconds.
This allows Lina to be perfectly fine mana-wise with just a Falcon Blade, then building into a Maelstrom. These two items alone make her a farming beast. She’s able to consistently farm lane creeps and multiple neutrals every minute, all the while moving and attacking speedily because of Fiery Soul. If any poor offlaner dares to step into her territory, she still has enough burst to immediately punish her opponents because of Light Strike Array’s long stun and Laguna Blade’s high magic damage.
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What items do you buy on carry Lina?
The hero’s early-game item build has been refined to become cookie-cutter. Boots of Speed, Falcon Blade, and Maelstrom are absolutely essential to get as early as possible to begin accelerating her farm. Depending on how greedy players aim to be, builds usually diverge here towards either Boots of Travel or Black King Bar.
Boots of Travel has always been a classic Lina item when the hero was a more traditional mid. Without the need for damage or attack speed, it simply becomes even more of a farm accelerator that lets Lina quickly move around the map. Black King Bar has clear benefits, giving the hero a needed boost in survivability that lets her take fights should her team require. Regardless of which one you go for first, both will almost certainly be picked up.
Then, Gleipnir has become the defacto Maelstrom upgrade over Mjolnir. While it’s true that Lina has little use for Mjolnir’s attack speed, the item is the hot new thing. Most heroes that build Maelstrom, like Nature’s Prophet and Ember Spirit, have begun opting for this upgrade more often than the alternative. Gleipnir not only gives Lina another way to lock down her targets, providing an easy way to land her Light Strike Array, but also gives her massive stat boosts.
Gleipnir provides 280 health, 288 mana, and minor bonuses in attack speed and armor, as well as 24 intelligence — directly converting to attack damage for intel carries like Lina.
Common items afterward include the standard lineup of Shadow Blade into Silver Edge, Dragon Lance into Hurricane Pike, and Satanic, depending on what Lina is required to do. If you’re free to roam around and search for kills, Shadow Blade would be your best bet. Hurricane Pike and Satanic are both survivability items — Pike is more for kiting, and Satanic is for standing your ground.
What are Lina’s weaknesses?
Lina doesn’t do well against heroes that can get on top of her and burst her down, not giving her the chance to use her defensive items. High physical burst carries like Templar Assassin and Phantom Assassin are capable choices for dealing with her, including having long-range slows that can also help their teammates chase her down.
It’s slim pickings for supports that can counter her. Spirit Breaker can prove to be annoying due to his status resistance and high base stats, and Charge of Darkness can really ruin Lina’s plans to merrily farm. Winter Wyvern’s Cold Embrace stops Lina from outputting physical damage, and ultimate Winter’s Curse can turn her wrath on her own allies.
Most of her counters aren’t really in the professional meta as well — which likely contributes to her popularity as a priority pick or ban.