Slark Guide by Xcalibur
Artist: Valve
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Xcalibur & Co.
Date: 01/2019


Welcome to Xcalibur's Book of Slark, a hero guide part of the Book of Dota series!

Here you will find all the information you need to learn to play Slark on a high level – from drafting and builds to the optimal playstyle in different lanes and situations. We hope you’ll enjoy this guide and find it useful!

xcalibur slark stats

Draft: Try to pick Slark later into the drafting phase because you want to avoid hard counters. Think about the laning phase – are you going to be able to free farm? You are a snowball hero and you don’t want to play from behind.

Early Game: Focus on farming. Attempt kills only with your supports. In the later laning stage you can start pushing out the wave and farming the jungle. Try to find a pick-off as soon as you get your Shadow Blade.

Mid & Late Game: Gank, farm and push-out the waves. Spend most of your time outside vision. Use your ultimate to help your teammates deward and to secure map control. Get a defensive item (usually BKB) before you start team-fighting. After a successful fight – claim objectives. Essence Shift stacks will increase your DPS and will allow you to take towers quickly in the late game.


Steve "Xcalibur" Ye
Endorsement & Info

Xcalibur is one of the biggest pub-stars in the history of Dota - he has claimed the number 1 spot on the EU leaderboard numerous times and before the reset, he peaked at over 9 000 MMR.

His incredible success in pubs made him one of the hottest stand-ins in the pro scene and later on allowed him to play for major Dota teams like Fnatic.

Nikolay "CTOMAHEH1" Kalchev
Info & Editing

CTOMAHEH1 started his pro career as a support in Basically Unknown together with Mind Control. Since then he has consistently been playing on the European T2 scene, most recently on Unchained Esports. 

His highest placement on the EU ladder is top 100 - he plays all roles (mainly support), which is untypical for high-ranking players and shows his great versatility and understanding of the game.

Martin "BRING IT ON" Slavov
Writing & Info

Martin has lots of experience writing about Dota and he is no pushover in the actual game - a Divine III player, Martin plays mid and carry heroes on a very high level.

He has been playing Dota since Guinsoo's Dota Allstars (more than 12 years) and he loves thinking about new builds and strategies.

Kyril "MrNiceGuy" Kotashev
PM & Editing

Esports and gaming enthusiast since forever and founder of Dotahaven.

Has been playing Dota since 2005 (5.84). An Ancient I player in Dota 2.


Slark is an agility carry hero. He is extremely elusive and hard to kill thanks to his numerous escape mechanisms. The hero is also a notorious ganker – the only hero in the game who interacts with the fog of war. Due to his ganking-based play styles, he can easily snowball out of control and dictate the tempo of the game.

Slark Loadout
Level 1
Level 15
Level 25
Very Low
Very Low
Very Low
Very Low


Slippery like a fish: Pretty much all of Slark’s active abilities can be used as escape mechanisms – Dark Pact removes most debuffs, he can jump to safety with Pounce or shroud himself in darkness with Shadow Dance.

Apex predator: With a Shadow Blade or Blink Dagger, Slark can pose a threat to a variety of heroes. Pounce is also pretty strong against Force Staffs and numerous escape abilities which we will discuss later.


Stealing stats: The Essence Shift ability is very good in prolonged fights as Slark gets stronger with each hit. It also lasts for two whole minutes so it can be used for another fight or for a push after the fight.

Very good vision: Slark boasts 1800/1800 (day/night) which is the best in the game. Only a few other heroes can reach the same vision and only after they have certain abilities or talents leveled up. His huge night vision helps him further in his search for ganks.



Weak laner: Slark is one of the weakest carries when it comes to laning – he’s a melee hero, has bad stats, he doesn’t have any effective harass ability and is all-in-all simply bad in the first levels. He definitely needs a babysitter early on.

Very low stats: 1.5 agility gain – the worst of all agility heroes. His other stats are far from good as well. This makes the hero weak without items and relies on Essence Shift to boost his damage/attack speed.


No hard disable: Although his skill set is good for killing heroes, the lack of hard disable makes killing certain heroes impossible.

Requires quick reflexes: All of Slark’s abilities rely on the player having quick reflexes in order to dodge/dispel stuns, slows, silences, etc. Practice makes perfect. 

Single target: Similar to Ursa or Lifestealer, Slark is designed to take down one hero at a time and doesn’t provide any utility in team-fights.


Ehome vs Eclipse, Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018

MATCH ID: 3722906978

Ehome’s CTY plays an almost flawless game on Slark and demonstrates how the hero could easily snowball out of control if given a good start. He goes for the Battlefury build to increase his farming speed and manages to reach the extremely high for Slark 781 GPM. His farm combined with his kills (some of which solo) give him an even higher XPM – 846.

This is a great game to watch if you want to learn how to balance farming and ganking with the hero.


We already mentioned that Slark needs a support on the lane, otherwise he gets crushed by most offlaners. That means you want strong cores who can stay on their lanes without much help from your supports.

Slark is also bad against death-ball strategies (where the enemies group up and push/fight all the time from early on). Against such 5-man drafts, you will not have the needed opportunities to gank and control the map.

Another condition is that you don’t play against elusive heroes like AM, Puck, Storm, etc. You want to be able to stick to your targets. You also don’t want to play against hexes as they can’t be dispelled by Dark Pact. 

Safe Lane Carry

Slark’s laning possibilities are limited as he’s not a good laner and needs support. He also needs about 10-12 minutes of free farm before he gets his core items and starts ganking, which means Slark is usually played in the safe lane.


Strong Lane Supports:

Skark has a weak early game and needs a strong babysitter. Heroes that can setup for Pounce can also increase your kill potential in the lane.

Shadow Shaman

Shadow Shaman is great with Slark for multiple reasons: he is a strong laner with high attack damage and compensates Slarks weak laning stage a bit; he has not one but two setups for Pounce. Combined with Pounce itself, this gives the two heroes a lot of time to right-click and kill an opponent; last but not least, Shadow Shaman is a strong pusher, while Slark is not. This means that after a successful gank by Slark, Rasta will be able to take objectives even in the early and mid game. Last but not least, Shadow Shaman is very good against Slark thanks to his Hex – having him as an ally guarantees you aren’t going to play against him.

Witch Doctor

Witch Doctor can setup for Pounce, which in turn guarantees he hits his Maledict. Then the pounce provides the two heroes with a lot of time to stack damage ontop of the enemy hero, which almost always guarantees a kill.

Disruptor Portrait

Disruptor is a strong lane support that can zone out with Static Storm. Moreover, Glympse can actually work as a setup for Pounce – you know where and when the enemy will return to, you just need to time your spell very well. In the late game Disruptor has a lot of team-fight potential and can buy you a lot of free time that you can use to hit your enemies and accumulate your passive stacks.

Bane Portrait

Bane has a great setup for Pounce (his Nightmare) and is a very strong laning support who can create space for Slark in the lane to free farm.


Omniknight portrait

Omni gives you Repel, which allows you to join team fights much earlier as you don’t need to farm the BKB before that. Moreover, a well-timed heal while you have Pounced someone is guaranteed to deal damage to your target.

Ogre Magi Portrait

Ogre’s Bloodlust has excellent synergy with your passive in the late game. In the laning stage Ogre is a very strong laner that can bully your opponents. Fireblast can also serve as a setup for your Pounce.

Magnus Portrait

Magnus can give you Empower, which serves as a free Battle Fury and increases a lot your farming speed and your physical DPS in fights. Empower increases base and stat damage, which makes it very good with your passive and the items you usually build. Needless to say, RP is a great spell to have in fights as it allows you to damage multiple enemies at once – something you usually cannot do with Slark. 


Strong Against:

Squishy heroes with no escape mechanism: AA, Lina, Sniper, Warlock, CM, Drow

Ancient Apparition Portrait
Crystal Maiden
Drow Ranger

As Slark, you love playing against heroes who can’t run away from you and have relatively low HP as you can pick them off at any point of the game.

Escapes that Pounce counters: Magnus, Mirana, MK, Force Staff

Magnus Portrait
Monkey king
Force staff

Those heroes (and Force Staff) do not break the Pounce leash, so they’re having a really hard time against Slark. Even though they have an escape mechanism, it is worthless against you.

Heroes weak against Silver Edge: Spectre, Tidehunter, Huskar, PA, Bristleback

Spectre Portrait
Tidehunter Portrait
Huskar Portrait
Phantom Assassin
Bristle Portrait

Slark’s core item is Shadow Blade so it’s very easy to build a Silver Edge in order to counter those heroes. 

Weak Against:

Elusive heroes: QoP, Storm, Anti-Mage, PL, Puck

Queen of pain
Storm spirit
Anti mage
Phantom Lancer
Puck Portrait

As we already mentioned, you don’t want to play against heroes who can escape easily from your Pounce.

AM and PL also burn your mana which is very annoying as you have a low mana pool and it may prevent you from using your skills in the best time possible.

QoP has powerful AoE nukes that she can use even when you are hidden in your ultimate.

Hex: Lion, Shadow Shaman, Scythe of Vyse

Shadow Shaman
Scythe of Vyse

Since 7.07 Hex can no longer be dispelled, which is a huge nerf for Slark and you definitely want to avoid those two heroes and natural hex buyers (e.g. OD, Puck). 

Specific counters:


Bloodseeker’s Rupture cannot be dispelled and he prevents you from healing if your HP goes lower than 25% (because he sees you). This makes it very difficult to escape fights, heal-up and reenter them. It can also be annoying while you are farming, as you need to keep track of your HP.

Axe Portrait

Axe's taunt can’t be dispelled and with a Blade Mail, he can solo kill you very easily. 

Ancient Apparition Portrait

AA stops your healing with Ice Blast and it can’t be dispelled either.

Disruptor Portrait

Disruptor’s Glympse is very strong against Slark (only BKB and Linken counter it) and you can’t escape from a Kinetic/Static Storm combo.

Faceless Void Portrait

Void’s Chrono is really strong unless you manage to cast your ultimate before he catches you. 


Doom is… well, he’s Doom. If he lands his ultimate and manages to chase you (so you can’t heal), there’s not much you can do as you rely on your skills to stay alive. 


Slark Dark Pact
Slark Pounce
Slark Essence Shift
Slark Shadow Dance

After a short delay, Slark sacrifices some of his life blood, purging most negative debuffs and dealing damage to enemy units around him and to himself. Slark only takes 50% of the damage.


Cast Animation: 0+0

Damage Radius: 325

Effect Delay: 1.5

Total Damage: 75/150/225/300

Self Damage Percentage: 50%

CD: 9/8/7/6

Mana: 60

Dark Pact


  • Deals 7.5/15/22.5/30 damage within a 325 radius in 0.1-second intervals, starting 1.5 seconds after casting for a total of 10 instances.
  • Applies a strong dispel on Slark in the same intervals, right after each of its damage instances.
  • The self-inflicted damage can be reduced or amplified, but can never kill Slark.

Uses and tips:

This is the signature ability that makes Slark so hard to kill – you can dispel most kinds of stuns, slows, silences or other nasty disables. Make sure you cast it before you get disabled!

Dark Pact is also a great farming tool (low cooldown, low mana cost) which is why it’s always best to max first. It deals damage to you, but your ultimate solves this problem – you regen health when you walk from camp to camp outside of vision.

Slark leaps forward, grabbing the first hero he connects with. That unit takes damage and is leashed to Slark, and can only move a limited distance away from Slark's landing position


Cast Animation: 0+0.53

Leap Distance: 700

Latch Radius: 95

Leash Radius: 400

Damage: 30/60/90/120

Leash Duration: 2.5/2.75/3/3.25

CD: 20/16/12/8

Mana: 75



  • Leashes the target hero, preventing the use of TP scrolls and certain mobility spells
  • Always jumps for the full distance, unless an enemy hero gets within 95 radius of Slark during the jump.
  • Can latch on enemy heroes up to 795 range away (max distance + latch radius).
  • Slark can turn, cast spells, and use items during Pounce, but cannot attack.
  • When latching on a unit, Slark is automatically ordered to attack the target.
  • The more the leash gets stretched, the slower the affected unit can walk away from the center, eventually coming to a full stop. It directly affects the target's movement speed.
  • Force Staff breaks the Leash
  • Pounce destroys trees within 100 radius around Slark upon landing.

Uses and tips:

Pounce is equally good for both escape and chase. You can jump through terrain like cliffs and it’s also useful against illusions as it will only latch real heroes.

Landing it might be a bit tricky, especially if you want to use its max range. On max range, you jump for 0.75 seconds and the latch radius is quite small (95). If the enemy moves to the side you can easily miss it, so try to predict any slight movements. The easiest way to land Pounce is to use it from melee distance (e.g. out of Shadow Blade), this way there is practically no way to miss it.

Pounce is very good in the late game where BKBs are low and you can also pick the talent for the extended duration – 4.5 seconds is a very long time in the late game if the enemies don’t have anything to counter it. 

Slark steals the life essence of enemy heroes with his attacks, draining each of their attributes and converting them to bonus Agility. If Slark kills an affected enemy hero, he permanently steals 1 Agility.


Permanent Steal Radius: 300

Permanent Agility Steal: 1

All Attributes Lost per Attack: 1

Agility Gained per Attack: 3

Duration: 15/30/60/120

Essence Shift


  • Essence Shift steals attributes before attack damage is applied.
  • Successive attacks do not refresh the duration of all stolen/lost attributes. Each stack has its own duration.
  • The status buff and debuff icon show the number of current stacks and show the duration of the last stack.
  • When Slark dies, he loses all stolen attributes, but the affected enemies do not get theirs back, and vice versa.
  • Cannot steal attributes from illusions, but can from hero clones.
  • Can steal attributes from allies.
  • The permanent AGI is stolen if the enemy hero dies within 300 range

Uses and tips:

This is the ability that compensates for Slark’s bad stats and makes him a monster after a long fight if he’s gained enough stacks. Every hit provides 3 damage/attack speed. If you hit 20 times, you already have a free Butterfly.

The duration is 2 minutes (at max level), so it can be used in the next fight as well or for push/Roshan after a fight.

Could be very strong in the laning stage if the enemy decides to man-fight you. The difference is not noticeable at first, but after the first 4-5 hits they will start losing a lot of HP.

The permanent AGI stolen from kills isn't that significant, but can give you an additional AGI boost in very long games.

When used, Slark hides himself in a cloud of shadows, becoming immune to detection. Attacking, casting spells, and using items will not reveal Slark. Passively, when not visible to the enemy team, Slark gains bonus movement speed and health regeneration.


Cast Animation: 0+0

Fade Time: 0

Move Speed Bonus: 20/35/50%

Max Health as Regen per Second: 3%/5%/7%

Active Duration: 4/4.5/5

CD: 60

Mana: 120

Aghanim's Scepter

Reduces cooldown and causes Shadow Dance active to be an area of effect ability, hiding nearby allied heroes underneath it.

Shadow Dance


  • Slark gains or loses the health regen and movement speed bonus 0.5 seconds after getting in or out of enemy vision, or casting Shadow Dance.
  • If Slark is damaged by a neutral creep, the health regen and movement speed bonus are lost for 2 seconds.
  • When casting Shadow Dance, he turns invisible and cannot be revealed by anything. However, the black cloud created is visible to enemies.
  • When not upgraded, the buff immediately disappears as soon as Shadow Dance expires. When upgraded, it lingers out when expiring. This means Shadow Dance effectively lasts 4.5 (5.5 with talent) seconds when upgraded, even for Slark.
  • Regenerates a total of 12%/20%/28% (15%/25%/35% with talent) of Slark's maximum health while active, considering the regeneration is not prevented.
  • Shadow Dance does not allow Slark to walk through units.

Uses and tips:

Shadow Dance is a very unique and powerful skill with multiple aspects of it – movement speed and regen outside vision + active invisibility that cannot be revealed.

It basically allows you to roam around the map farming and searching for kills without the need of health regen. All you need is mana regen which is cheap and easy with Clarity.

In a fight, you want to hold on the Shadow Dance until you’ve already used Dark Pact so you can chain the abilities: Dark Pact into Shadow Dance into Dark Pact.

If you have defensive items, you can include them in the “chain” as well. I.e. initiate and use Dark Pact, when it’s over, use BKB, then use Dark Pact again, then Shadow Dance, then Pact again when it’s off CD. This will keep you safe from disables for a very long time. Using everything at once will greatly reduce your fight impact.

Shadow Dance essentially heals you in fights, so you want to use it when your HP is not full for full efficiency.

You can use the passive aspect to heal yourself as well – use Shadow Blade and wait for a few seconds, then reenter the fight. Alternatively, you can run away, regen in the fog and rejoin afterward.

Skill Builds

Standard Skill Build
Slark Pounce
Slark Essence Shift
Slark Dark Pact
Slark Dark Pact
Slark Dark Pact
Slark Shadow Dance
Slark Dark Pact
Slark Pounce
Slark Pounce
Talent Icon
Slark Pounce
Slark Shadow Dance
Slark Essence Shift
Slark Essence Shift
Talent Icon
Slark Essence Shift
Slark Shadow Dance
Talent Icon
Talent Icon
Pros: maximum farming potential early on;
Cons: low control;

At level 1 it’s best to hold the points until you know what you need – Pounce to help your teammates in a kill attempt or to run away. If you don’t need the Pounce, Essence Shift is pretty good so you can hit the enemy hero if he gets close to you on the lane.

Slark’s skill build is not very versatile. You want to have Dark Pact maxed in order to farm faster and eventually damage enemy heroes. Pounce and Essence Shift are great value points, so there’s no need to max them before Dark Pact in any situation.

The next one you want to max is Pounce – the ability doesn’t scale too well, but you need the reduced cooldown. At level 4 it’s almost the same as Dark Pact’s cooldown which allows you to chase/escape very easily.

Shadow Dance on every possible level – the upgraded regen is pretty useful, especially between level 1 and 2 the difference is noticeable. 


+80s Essence Shift Duration

+1s Shadow Dance Duration

+1.25s Pounce Leash

+150 Dark Pact Damage
20% Lifesteal
+30 Attack Speed

+6 Agility


+10 Strength

Lvl10: The agility is a more important attribute for Slark because he needs the DMG and AS to increase his kill potential for Shadow Blade ganks and his farming speed. Besides, if you need the HP, you can simply keep your Power Threads on strength.

Lvl15: On most heroes 20% Lifesteal would be very strong, but Slark doesn’t actually need it – the regeneration from Shadow Dance is enough to farm jungle non-stop without taking damage and the attack speed allows you to farm faster and synergizes well with Essence Shift. That being said, 20% lifesteal is very significant in late game fights, so you might want to take it if you think the game you are playing is not going to end anytime soon.

Lvl20: Pounce Leash is great in the late game as BKBs lose duration and if there are no abilities that break it on the enemy team. The Dark Pact is good for farming, but at this point of the game, you probably won’t need it for farm too much. Both are pretty good, but the Pounce is probably a bit better as it is more useful in fights.

Lvl25: The Essence Shift duration is pretty good, but you need to survive in order to really use it while Shadow Dance would be reliable every time. Both are good and depend on the specific game – if you feel like the enemies can’t kill you, pick the ES, otherwise – SD.

Item Builds

Standard Build

DON’T skip the smaller items just so you can rush a Shadow Blade with naked Power Treads – it’s not worth it. You need at least some basic survivability and the Treads + Wraith Bands + Wand + Raindrops will give it to you.

Your goal is to reach the Shadow Blade as soon as possible and to start finding pick-offs. Echo Sabre further increases your kill potential and the short slow makes landing a Pounce easier.

In the late game your options are open, but you usually want to get a BKB in order to team-fight easier. Skadi, Abyssal, Butterfly, etc. are all possible items later on.

Starting Items
Stout Shield
Iron branch
Iron branch
Early Game
Quelling Blade
Wraith Band
Wraith Band
Power Treads Agility
Magic wand
Infused Raindrop
Mid Game
Echo sabre
Black King Bar
Late Game
Stout Shield
Iron branch
Iron branch
Quelling Blade
Wraith Band
Wraith Band
Power Treads Agility

Power Treads: by far the best pair of boots for Slark because of his bad stats. The attack damage and agility make it good for farming and fighting and the attributes switch lowers the mana cost of your abilities. You always want to switch to intelligence before you use Dark Pact (at least when farming). Also when you go into Shadow Blade you want to switch to intelligence first – if you find an enemy, you can cast Pounce and Dark Pact and then switch back to agility/strength which saves a ton of mana.

Magic wand

Magic Wand: you want to buy the Stick as soon as possible. Slark has issues with the mana early on and this item can give you an HP/Mana boost during a fight. 

Infused Raindrop

Raindrop: gives valuable mana sustain. Moreover, you are a low-HP hero and Raindrops could save you from getting nuked down in fights.


Shadow Blade: the signature item of the hero. Provides huge kill potential and synergizes very well with the Shadow Dance passive – it heals you, boosts your speed almost to the maximum while you’re invisible. You want to have it as soon as possible after the early game stat items. It can also be upgraded to Silver Edge in order to counter heroes like Spectre, Bristleback, Tidehunter, etc.

Echo sabre

Echo Sabre: a fairly cheap item that boosts your stats and provides a useful slow and extra attack. It’s pretty good in combination with Shadow Blade as it increases the total damage of your combo. The low cooldown also allows you to use it a second time after Dark Pact/Shadow Dance ends (in an ideal situation). 

Black King Bar

BKB: in most games you’re going to need it when team-fights start to break out. You can delay it if you’re ahead in the game or the enemies are not grouping up so you can take small skirmishes, but you definitely want to have it in 5v5 fights.


Abyssal Blade: allows you to lock down enemies and gives you more time to stack Essence Shift.


Skadi: the ultimate stats item, makes you very tanky and removes any mana problems. It also slows the enemy’s move/attack speed, keeping them in range for Slark to build Essence Shift stacks. 

Other Items

Early/Mid Game
Orb of Venom
Phase boots
Hand of Midas
Linken's Sphere
Late Game
Orb of Venom

Orb of Venom: you could buy it when you play against a melee hero on the lane and you can harass him. It’s also good for early kills, however, you’ll still need help from your teammates in order to execute it. 


Clarity: another very strong mana regen item, it’s a very cheap and useful way to manage your mana and roam around the map without having to go back to base. 

Phase boots

Phase Boots are the more aggressive alternative to Treads. They don't give you stats (which is a big drawback), but the MS burst makes it easier to stick to your target in the early game and the attack speed synergizes better with your Essense Shift.

Hand of Midas

Midas: it’s always been a tricky item on Slark. As every carry, if you farm it fast it could be good but on the other hand, it slows down your Shadow Blade timing. It’s not bad against heroes that you can’t kill with Shadow Blade (for example playing vs elusive heroes like Puck, Storm or just very tanky cores), so you decide you want to farm more in the beginning; or if you’re losing the early game, so you build a comeback Midas.


Blink Dagger: an alternative to Shadow Blade. It’s a little better for farming but doesn’t give the extra damage/attack speed that Shadow Blade provides. On the other hand, it’s better for joining fights if the enemies have true sight. 


Basher: it synergizes well with the attack speed bonus from Essence Shift and is generally a nice lockdown item as you lack any other form of disable. It’s typically a good extension of Shadow Blade and Echo Sabre but you can delay it as much as you want. It also upgrades into Abyssal Blade which is a guaranteed disable.

Linken's Sphere

Linken: a strong situational item against heroes like Doom, LC, Batrider, Storm or similar heroes who can initiate from afar using strong single target spells. Buy it after Shadow Blade and Echo if you think you need it.


Orchid: this is a pretty good alternative of Echo Sabre after the SB against elusive heroes such as Storm, Puck, Weaver, etc. It’s more expensive than Echo with about 1500 gold, but it’s worth it against such heroes. It upgrades into Bloodthorn which is a great late game item. It’s good when combined with Abyssal because it gives you a way to break Linken’s and then silence the enemy so it can be very punishing against heroes without BKB.


Sange & Yasha: basically a poor man's Skadi. It provides nice stats and comes earlier in the game. You can build it after Shadow Blade or Blink skipping the Echo Sabre. It’s great if you feel you need some survivability ASAP.


MKB: allows you to deal with heroes like Brewmaster, PA, Troll or just Butterfly users. 


Assault Cuirass: similar to Butterfly, but you don’t have to rely on % chance against physical damage. Both are pretty good and the choice depends on your personal taste. Butterfly gives more DPS, but AC provides your team with some utility. 


Bloodthorn: if you already have an Orchid, you should almost always upgrade it to Bloodthorn in the late game. You have very high attack speed which synergizes very well with Bloodthorn’s Crits. Also with Bloodthorn and Nullifier you can “Doom” a target and kill it very easily.

Early Game

Slark 350px

Slark’s early levels can be pretty hard if you don’t have constant support on the lane. You can contribute to lane kills early on with Pounce if your supports come often to kill the offlaner, but other than that your laning revolves around hitting creeps and praying that the enemy team won’t pressure you before level 6.

You want to be passive in the early game unless your supports are helping you a lot. Get levels, start farming lane and jungle simultaneously until you have your first bigger item.

Farm on the lane;
Fght only if your supports help you;
Get to level 6-7 safely;
Start flash-farming the lane and the jungle and get your core item (Shadow Blade or Battle Fury) ASAP;

Slark with Quelling Blade has 82 damage at level 1 (without stats items), so it’s very easy to last hit with him. There are no special techniques in that department. You simply last hit and wait for level 6.

Once you have Shadow Dance (probably with Aquilla and PT), you can start farming the neutral camps as well. Jungling is where Slark shines.

What you want to be doing at this point is to clear the creep wave with Dark Pact and then head to the jungle.

The small camp is killed easily with a single Dark Pact.

For the big one, you want to Dark Pact once and then get back (similar to what you do when stacking neutrals) until you have it again and then use it and hit the creeps when they’re returning to their spot. That way you don’t lose too much HP when fighting strong camps like Bears or Wildkins.

Try to take the bounty rune of the enemy hero as well. You can go safely up the hill and simply back off if your Shadow Dance buff disappears.  

After you’re done, you simply return to your lane and repeat the procedure. This is the way to maximize your farm in the first 10-12 minutes.

Bring a Clarity when you start farming the jungle, it’s a very cheap and easy way to boost your mana regen. Keep in mind that Dark Pact disrupts the Clarity, so you want to use it when you don’t need the Dark Pact – if you’re roaming the map or looking for runes.

Use Power Threads switching to maximize your efficiency. Switch to int -> cast Dark Pact -> switch to str -> once it’s done, switch back to agility. You will learn to do it pretty fast and you won’t have mana problems.

Harassing & Kill Potential:

As we mentioned, as Slark you want to have support on the lane in the first levels (preferably until you have Boots and Aquilla).

Keep in mind that most offlaners can destroy you in a 1v1 lane, so when you don’t have a support don’t try to man-fight the enemy, play passive and try to last hit and deny the ranged creeps.

If you do have a support, try to help them if they’re fighting – with Pounce and Essence Shift, you can deal some damage even at very early levels if the enemy is slowed or disabled. Otherwise, simply focus on farming.

If you do have a support, try to help them if they’re fighting – with Pounce and Essence Shift, you can deal some damage even at very early levels if the enemy is slowed or disabled. Otherwise, simply focus on farming. 

If you have some level advantage over the enemy offlaner, you could probably kill them at level 6-7, but watch out for enemy heroes teleporting to help them. It’s not worth it if you kill someone and then die. As Slark, you are the highest priority farmer in the first 15 minutes of the game, so if you die your entire team’s timing is slowed down.  


As Slark, you’re very vulnerable before level 6. Even though you can escape ganks with Dark Pact and Pounce, the enemies can burn your regen which will slow your progression.

If you’re not having a good lane, ask your supports to help you. If the enemies form a dual lane, there’s not much you can do but leech experience and wait for level 6. Usually, you die only if you’re caught out of position and the enemies block your way so you can’t Pounce.

Pull the creeps to you by issuing an attack order on a hero but don’t be aggressive. Once you have level 6, you can go jungle. 

Timings & Rotations:
  • Your first timing is getting to level 6-7 without dying, so you can start farming the jungle as well as the lane. This is the most important thing in the early game.
  • Farming the Shadow Blade – usually farming in the jungle with Aquilla and PT is easy, you don’t lose much HP if you’re using the technique that we mentioned in “Farming” (to back off and wait for a second Dark Pact when fighting big camps).
  • Shadow Blade – this is where your mid game of hunting heroes begins.

If you’re playing with Battle Fury, your timings will obviously be slowed down, but don’t worry too much – simply focus on your farm. Getting Shadow Blade after Battle Fury is very, very fast and easy. Just make sure you don’t die, as this is the time where you need to be farming the most and every minute is important.

Video Example:

In this replay, we’re going to observe Benjaz’s Slark against team Infamous.

Take a note how he holds his creep wave so that it doesn’t go to his tower when he sees the enemy tried to pull his wave. This is a very important thing to do when the enemy is trying to pull your wave.

Also, check how he holds his wave at 2:20 so it doesn’t go to his tower again.

From min 3 the enemies start tri-laning against him and he manages to pick up a first blood before dying which is worth it. Now he has Power Threads which makes him pretty strong in early fights.

At 4:05 you can see how much damage Slark can deal once he gets a few stacks of Essence Shift. Those 7 stacks are worth 21 agility and that’s at level 3.

He also brings another set of tangos when he burns all of his regen. A lot of players try to survive until level 6 with their initial regen because they don’t want to lose gold which is a huge mistake. It’s absolutely fine to bring more tangoes/salve if you need them.

One small mistake he makes is not buying a Quelling Blade which causes him to lose a few last hits under the tower, but this is probably because he prioritizes survivability items as he is getting pressured.

He manages to reach level 6 at 9:00 which is a pretty bad start, caused by the enemy trilane. Now he’s playing from a relatively bad position. However, once he’s level 7, his farm is much easier and he starts farming the jungle as well.

Take a note how he goes into the trees until he waits for a creep to gets low for last hit (for example 12:15) – that allows him to regenerate some HP while losing nothing.

Mid & Late Game

slark immortal 350px

As Slark, your ideal mid and late game consists of easy ganks and farming. You are not very good at team fights and pushing so ideally you want to postpone team fighting at least until you have survivability items, usually BKB.

You are a hero who can easily snowball - the success of your gank rotations is key to winning the game. The more kills and items you get, the more you can starve your enemy in terms of map control. You can easily take over their jungle and even help your teammates to deward to make sure your opponents don’t have vision.

Search for easy kills but don’t risk too much
Maintain your farm
If possible, wait until you have BKB for team-fights
Mid Game Strategy:

Once you have Shadow Blade (with PT, Aquilla, Wand) you want to start looking for pick-offs.

Your first kill should be easy because the enemies won’t know when exactly you have Shadow Blade – it’s important not to show it before you actually gank someone. That’s why you want to be in the jungle when the courier is bringing it to you.

The best pick-offs are the enemy midlaner or carry. With Slark, it’s not very hard to find a good position as you move very fast with the Shadow Blade and the enemies usually won’t have a sentry ward on their safe lane. If the enemy doesn’t have an escape mechanism (for example SF, Tinker, Sniper, Luna, Gyro), they’re very easy to kill at this point (usually a good Shadow Blade timing is around 12-14 min) with some help from your mid/offlane (depending on where you gank).

This time frame is very important – if your first ganks are successful, you will gain an insane advantage, you could even decide the outcome of the game if you snowball hard enough. This is why it’s important that you’re able to assess the situation – Can I gank the enemies or is it better to farm another item? Should I search for prey myself or go with my teammates to take towers or find fights?

If you’re not able to gank (the enemies are too fat or hard to gank heroes; they are 5-manning), it might be better to go back to farming and only fight when your team wants to.

If your enemies are very elusive (for example Storm, Puck, QoP, Weaver, etc.) and your teammates can’t offer reliable disables, you might want to get an Orchid after the Shadow Blade instead of searching for impossible kills, wasting your time.

Comeback Potential:

As is the case with most snowball heroes, Slark doesn’t like playing from behind. The easiest way to lose a game with Slark is to have a bad laning stage and to be forced to join team fights right away. You will have neither the needed survivability nor the needed damage and you are very likely to die multiple times and fall further behind.

Avoid this situation at all cost. After the laning stage you need to find the space to get farm. Thanks to your ultimate you are hard to gank and you know where the enemy has vision, which means you can even farm the enemy jungle in case your opponents are playing aggressively and are taking over your own.

When you are playing from behind the opportunities to find easy pick-offs will be rare, so you need to focus on flash farming, even split-pushing and getting your fighting items (e.g. BKB + Shadow Blade or S&Y, etc.) as soon as possible. With BKB, fighting becomes much easier and you can start contributing more to engagements – you can pick-off the back-line supports in fights and disengage, etc.

If you are successful in all of this (which is difficult) you will reach the late game and will have the opportunity to win at that stage. 

Survival and Vision:

Of course, you won’t have an advantage in all games. Sometimes the enemies will be ahead and will try to gank you.

Playing Slark, you’re usually very hard to kill – not because of Dark Pact and Pounce (although they help a lot), but because of the Shadow Dance passive. You can always know when the enemies see you, either with wards, invisible hero nearby or something else. This is why it’s very important that you monitor your Shadow Dance icon in the status bar – if you lose it (and there are no creeps around), this is an alarm that you might be in danger. You need to instantly Pounce away or go into Shadow Blade. This is where reflexes matter most.

Another thing to keep in mind – you have 1800 vision (day and night). In the night time, most heroes will have much lower sight range than you (exceptions are Luna, Lycan in wolf form, Night Stalker – those 3 also have 1800 night vision), so you might see enemies when they don’t see you at all – once again, you can make sure that they don’t see you if your passive is still up. This is a very useful thing when you’re scouting. This allows you to farm dangerous spots like the enemy jungle and you will know if the enemies are coming.

Shadow Dance passive also helps you to detect wards. If the enemies have continuous vision over you in some particular area, signal it to your teammates, so they can know too – if not to deward, at least to play cautiously there. 

Team Fights:
  • Preparing for a team fight

In an ideal situation, you want to be the guy who scouts ahead to spot the enemies. Especially in the night time, with your superior vision, you give very useful information to your teammates. If the enemies spot you, turn around and run away with Dark Pact + Pounce.

  • Initiating

Let your teammates do that. Once your team has a general idea of the enemy’s position, you can try to flank the enemies so you can run into their backs. Wait for your teammates to initiate before you go in.

  • Picking a target

In a team fight, what you want to be doing is going after either the supports (if they haven’t already used their skills) or the enemy cores if they don’t have escape mechanisms or BKB.

Depending on your items, you can try to kill someone with Orchid before they can use their skills or try to go on the enemy carry to bash him and disrupt him in the fight. You could also block their BKB with Nullifier – it all depends on the specific game, whom you can kill and who poses the biggest threat.

  • Fighting

You can start with Pounce, then Dark Pact (this gives you 2 seconds of time where the enemies can’t disable you). If needed, use BKB (which gives you another 5-10 seconds of free time).

Save the next Dark Pact for when your BKB or Shadow Dance ends, so you can have another window of 2 seconds.

If all of your skills are on cooldown, back off for a bit until you have them again.

  • Example

Even though his team is at a slight resource disadvantage (which is a big problem versus a Medusa lineup), Slark is one of the few carries that can safely start the fight – the reason is that he can easily disengage with his skills. He initiates on the enemy BH, who is visible under the Sentry. Notice how he uses Dark Pact and once the spell is over he immediately activates his ultimate. He is afraid of the Bat counter-initiation and he needs to make sure he is safe – by using the two spells he knows Bat cannot initiate on him.


  • 5-man pushing:

Slark is not a good tower hitter (unless you’ve accumulated massive amounts of Essence Shift stacks), so you generally want to push only after a team-fight when the enemies have dead heroes.

You can hit the tower and use Dark Pact if you think the enemies might go on you. During the Dark Pact, you want to turn around and Pounce if needed.

  • Split-Pushing and farming:

Slark is good at pushing and cutting waves, as he can roam around the map very quickly and without much concern about dying. However, don’t try to hit towers, just push the waves – in fact, you never want to show up on the map for too long. Simply kill the enemy wave and then go to the jungle.

On the lane, surrounded by creeps, your spider sense is not working as there are creeps and towers around you. This is why you want to spend as much time as possible in the jungle where you can detect enemy heroes easier.

Maintain a position where you can see incoming enemies – for example don’t block your own vision by staying in trees.