Dota 2 pros are forcing this popular support into the mid lane—and its working

Shake things up.
A selection of Dota 2 heroes—Ancient Apparition, Naga Siren, Earthshaker, Storm Spirit, and Gyrocopter—immortalised in stone with a red ribbon around them.
Image via Valve

There’s nothing like waking up one day and jumping onto Dota 2 to find Valve’s latest patch has turned the meta upside down, but sometimes that’s the best part of playing Dota.

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Who, then, is better to emulate than the people who play Dota for a living? The pros have just uncovered the most unlikely of mid laners, and very few are actually giving the rising power pick a go in ranked right now.

While your classic mid lane options like Storm Spirit, Puck, and Queen of Pain languish below 47 percent win rate, according to stats tracker Dotabuff, the pros looking to qualify for The International this year are turning to Earthshaker. Yes, you heard me correctly.

Earthshaker has been seen 24 times at the regional TI qualifiers this week, recording a ridiculous 79.17 percent win rate, according to stats site Spectral. Virtus Pro’s squad1x used him to great success, locking in their Seattle ticket in the Eastern European qualifier picking Earthshaker almost exclusively, going 11-0 with 11 assists in one landslide win.

Related: Eight months of turmoil can’t stop Virtus Pro from finally returning to Dota 2’s biggest stage

And yet, despite this remarkable success, the masses haven’t caught on yet. Recording a solid 51 percent win rate overall is decent, but Earthshaker mid has only been seen in nine percent of pub matches.

Many are still trying their best with heroes that are floundering in 7.34b, and a change up to our Stonehoof friend might be a move many mid laners should try.

His relevancy in pro-Dota is unquestioned but given he’s decent across nearly every position, he’s made for a brilliant first-pick in a draft. Most teams are taking him immediately, leaving opponents wondering whether you’ve selected your core support or your key mid laner.

As expected, with a bit of farm to grab in mid, pros are a little greedier with their item builds and skill choices. Buffs to Fissure in 7.33c mean just a single level of the stun is good enough, with a pivot into maxing Enchant Totem. Most pros don’t even touch Fissure until level five, picking up two each of Totem and Aftershock.

The added range to the Enchant Totem strike and Aftershock’s damage means for easy last hitting in the lane and some heavy damage to a mid laner caught up close. With Pangolier all the rage right now, Earthshaker is a great go-to counter as, once he’s used his Swashbuckle, he’ll be out of escapes pre-level six. As always, pros take the ultimate Echo Slam at six but then close out by maxing W and E.

Earthshaker, a yellow beast with a large totem on its back, glowing red in Dota 2.
Earthshaker is set to be one of the most-picked heroes at TI. Image via Valve

For items, it’s brown boots then straight into a Blink Dagger before picking up an Aghanims Scepter. His Aghs upgrade makes Enchant Totem—an already powerful ability in its own right—into one of the best abilities in the game. Useful for engaging, landing a critical stun, or escaping a losing situation.

Normally, the pros will grab the Blink before upgrading the boots to Treads, but if you’re behind a touch, the slight attack speed boost plus extra stats might be what you need to keep up. Almost always pros will follow the Aghs Scepter with a Black King Bar, but if you find yourself ahead, go in for a Shadow Blade or a Silver Edge pick instead.

Related: Yatoro gives predictions on Dota 2 carries in 7.34 ahead of TI 12—and why one top pick is ‘trash’ 

Finish the build with an Octarine Core for the reduced cooldown to ensure Totem’s uptime is as often as possible, After this, it’s really up to the game state. A single target spell disrupting your initiation? Grab a Linkens Sphere. Need that extra Echo Slam for a big teamfight? Pick up a Refresher Orb.

Otherwise, a lot more health is best: Heart of Tarrasque into an Overwhelming Blink upgrade should see you clear 4,000 HP, and with your BKB active you might as well be invulnerable.

Give Raigor a go in the mid lane sometime in the future and see just for yourself how potent of a core he can be when given farm priority.

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Author
Nicholas Taifalos
Weekend editor for Dot Esports. Nick, better known as Taffy, began his esports career in commentary, switching to journalism with a focus on Oceanic esports, particularly Counter-Strike and Dota. Email: nicholas@dotesports.com