Updated on October 19, 9:50 a.m. (GMT+8): Added images.

Can your hero buy Blademail into Heart of Tarrasque and feel like a functioning hero? Then, you are already grasping the TI12 meta quite well.

The items’ popularity has sharply increased in recent tournaments, but it’s truly coming to a head at The International 12. This item build is being abused by robust strength frontliners, like Kunkka, Primal Beast, Earth Spirit, and even more off-meta picks like Ogre Magi.

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These heroes are prime examples that don’t need to stop off for any other items — like a Blink Dagger on Centaur Warrunner, for example — instead of relying on their innate kit that lets them initiate or catch heroes.

You aren’t even sacrificing offensive potential in this build. Instead, you are turning your own body into a weapon of mass (quite literally) destruction. Simply throw your massive health pool directly into the fight. Then, simply on Blademail and soak as much damage as possible, dealing just as much in return.

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The TI12 meta: How are pro teams dealing with Blademail-Heart?

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For one, make sure to have one such hero on your team, if possible — or even two. The mid and offlanes both have core spaces to fill, after all.

Tanky frontliners have been a staple in Dota 2 lineups since the dawn of time, but it seems especially important in this meta. You don’t necessarily need these two items, but if your hero can check off these two boxes — stay in the fight, and deal a lot of damage by existing — it can slot in just fine. Some teams are seeing success with heroes like Tidehunter and Spirit Breaker.

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Otherwise, heroes like Muerta, Phoenix, and Dazzle are seeing increasing play on both ends of the equation. As counters, these are heroes that can last long in fights, and possess some sort of damage amplification.

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Muerta’s ultimate, Pierce the Veil, cuts through armor and instead targets magic resistance, a stat that’s becoming increasingly rare now that heroes can’t go cheap Hoods of Defiance. Phoenix’s Sun Ray is phenomenal since it deals percentage damage off max health, and Dazzle can simply stay in the fight forever with Shallow Grave and Shadow Wave, stacking Bad Juju to cut down enemy armor and increasing his allies’ own.

When they’re on the same team, however, all these heroes get to leverage their frontliners to do whatever they want. In the case of heroes like Phoenix and Dazzle, healing and sustain lets these tanky beasts prolong fights, allowing them to throw their massive weight around. For a carry like Muerta, she’s hopefully able to divert attention away from her and fire with aplomb.

Even if you’re trying to go off-meta — like an Ogre Magi midlane, for example — just try out the Blademail-Heart route. You might be surprised at the success you can find, if the top midlaners and offlaners at TI12 are anything to go by.

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READ MORE: The International 2023: TI12 Schedule, results, teams, where to watch