Artist: MDL
What we can learn: Drow in Liquid vs EG

MDL Disneyland Paris Major, Upper Bracket

This is the last tournament of this patch, which makes it surprising that the current meta is not entirely solidified. Only ~20 heroes haven’t been picked and even though the top tier heroes are contested in almost every game, the rest of the hero pool finds its way in and out of games relatively evenly. We’re bound to see some innovations, especially in the form of creative counters to the most popular heroes.

Drow is arguably the meta-defining hero right now, which means that by the end of the tournament we will see teams which are confident in first-picking her, and others which have prepared creative strategies to counter her. This is what makes EG vs Liquid an especially interesting series to analyze:

EG went for first-pick Drow two consecutive games, while Liquid countered her with two different strategies with mixed success.

Drow Ranger

drow 350px

At the time of writing the article, Drow was picked 16 times, banned 48 (2nd most contested hero), and has a 56% win rate.

In an interview, Kuro said that he thinks she’s “not broken, but she’s really close”. He probably said that because Drow is very strong but counterable. This statement is reinforced by the fact that he let EG pick her in game one and two of their series.

There are two major aspects to the hero:

(1) Drow deals very high DPS from afar. This is the part that’s counterable with the right heroes – if you get on top of her, she loses her DPS (and she’s a squishy ranged damage dealer, so reaching her is essential anyway). Hurricane Pike and allies with defensive mechanisms (most importantly Force Staff), might make this a bit harder in practice.

(2) She farms extremely fast thanks to her instant creep-kill mechanic coming from her ultimate. Once she hits lvl6, she wants to spend the majority of the early-mid game in the jungle. Ancient camp stacks help her a lot. To counter this, you need to contest her jungle (take away her map control) and to try to gank her to slow down her farm. This, of course, is easier said than done because Drow has 4 allies who will actively try to prevent you from doing that.

To beat her, you usually need to have a plan for dealing with both aspects. In that sense, an early-pick Drow defines the strategies of both teams to a significant extent.

What makes her “imbalanced”, is that her farming mechanic is so good (2) that she can often thrive even in games where:

  • She loses the laning stage (she doesn’t need items to farm the jungle, just lvl6)
  • She gets countered by gap-closers (thanks to Hurricane Pike)

In that sense, the key to her success is (2), which is hard to counter when playing against good, coordinated opponents.

In Pubs:

Drow is currently the 5th or 6th most popular hero in pubs (on par with Sniper) and the only one with a convincingly positive win rate (~ 55%) out of the six:

Phantom Assassin
Drow Ranger

Above: Pudge, Lion, Jugg, PA, Sniper, Drow

This means that learning to play her is a good idea, but learning to counter her is crucial if you want to win pubs consistently right now (more on her counters below). That said, it’s fairly likely that she will get nerfed slightly in the new patch (most probably her farming mechanic).

EG vs Liquid

Game 1:
Game 1 EG Liquid
Broodmother Portrait

Liquid used Brood in their first game against EG’s Drow extremely successfully. Brood is a great counter because she has an answer for both (1) and (2). She is extremely fast in her Webs, which lets her get on top of Drow relatively easily. Moreover, Drow doesn’t have AoE or mobility to deal with the Spiderlings.

More importantly, however, Brood is extremely strong in the early-mid game when Drow still needs space to farm. This allows Brood to take control of the enemy jungle, and take away map control from Drow, even search for her in the jungle, which greatly reducing Drow’s ability to flash-farm.

Brood has faded out of the meta a little bit in the last few months, but Liquid’s convincing success vs EG with it is likely to make the go-to Drow counter by the end of the tournament. According to Dotabuff’s pub stats, Brood is the hero with the highest win-rate advantage over Drow, suggesting she is currently her hardest counter.

Game 2:
Game 2 EG Liquid

Sniper is a counter to Drow that works very differently compared to most. He simply has higher range than her, so he makes it hard for her to get to him in fights. Equally importantly, he is one of the best anti-pushers in the game, which makes it hard for Drow to utilize her mid-game timing to push high-ground.

Naga siren

According to Dotabuff’s pub stats, PL is a good Drow counter. This is quite straightforward to understand – he can get on top of her, and she lacks the AoE to deal with his illusions. PL, however, is unpopular right now for one reason or another (slow farmer, countered by Crimson, etc.), which makes picking him against Drow risky. Naga Siren, however, could provide similar solutions. It is a bit harder for her to get on top of Drow compared to PL (her Net and ultimate help), but her illusions present a similar problem for Drow. Moreover, Naga is a great flash-farmer thanks to the interaction of Rip Tide and her illusions, which means that even if Drow finds her farm, Naga will be able to keep up.

Despite the game plan, Liquid were unable to win game 2. This is because Drow offers an interesting strategic option to the team that picks her:

She works both in the mid or safe lane, and more importantly – she works both as a pos. 1 or pos. 2.

This means that if you first-pick Drow and the enemy team over-commits in picking counters, you can use your last pick to draft your true pos. 1 win condition hero.

In this case, EG chose Alchemist. Sniper and Naga are theoretically good vs Drow, but they lack the damage needed to deal with Alch’s regen. Moreover, they are both not active heroes that can take map control away from the relatively greedy Drow + Alch combo. This, along with the brilliant play from Cr1t with ES, enabled EG to find their farm and reach the late game, where they simply had an advantage in fights and managed to secure the victory.

Other Counters to consider in your pubs:

Nyx is not a perfect counter to Drow by any means, but he is the most successful hero on the tournament so far for a reason (he has 85% win rate at MDL at the time of writing this article). Vendetta is a great tool to scout and find Drow while she’s farming. Combined with at least one other ganker, Nyx can make free-farming the jungle very hard for her in the early-mid game. The success of Nyx, however, isn’t that directly related to Drow. He is just a great counter to a big percentage of the top-tier picks right now (Dark Seer, Enigma, NP, Oracle, Ember, Bat). He is useful against Drow, but you cannot rely on him to be your sole solution for her.

Spectre Portrait

Spectre is one of the heroes that teams have tried to use to counter Drow. Spect’s ultimate directly counters (1) by letting her find and get on top of Drow instantly in fights. Moreover, it could also be used to counter (2): if you have teammates that can hunt Drow, Spect can join the gank with Haunt. That said, Spect has a timing problem against Drow. Drow hits a very strong mid-game push timing, which comes before Spectre comes online. This means that if you rely on Spect to win against Drow, you need to also have a plan how to survive the mid game push of the Drow team or how to delay her timing by actively ganking her and taking control of her jungle.

Phantom Assassin

Phantom Assassin is another classic counter that can work. She obviously has a great mechanic to get on top of Drow, but she is a slower farmer. This means that if you rely on PA to beat a Drow, you need to play aggressively straight out of the laning stage (together with your whole team, PA cannot make moves on her own) to take away Drow’s map control. Otherwise, you risk letting the Drow find her farm. With Hurricane and later in the game MKB and/or Silver Edge, Drow can deal with PA late game.


Tinker & Zeus work vs Drow a bit like Sniper. They cannot get on top of her and they cannot contest her jungle (without the help of their team), but they can damage her in fights from a safe distance and they are great at anti-pushing, which prevents Drow from ending the game in her strong mid-game timing.


Since Drow is meta-defining, understanding her counters is also crucial if you’re betting on MDL matches. Understanding which lineups could work against her and which lineups have problems can give you a big advantage for live betting. If Drow doesn’t get banned, pay close attention to the draft of the enemy team (does it have some of the counters we talked about above?) and to the last pick(s) of the Drow team (in case they try to move Drow to pos. 2 and pick another win condition hero). Evaluating these factors well enough could give you an advantage over the odds.

Thanks for reading! If you found this piece interesting, make sure to follow our social media (below) to get notified when we post something new! You can find the 2nd part of our Drow analysis (VP vs Minesky and LGD) here.