Dota is a difficult game. A popular (if outdated) guide for the game is prophetically titled “Welcome to Dota, You Suck.” On the other side of that coin, Dota rewards players with the skill to navigate its nuances and sometimes arbitrary mechanics. Jacky “EternalEnvy” Mao is among those players.
Anyone who has played a video game knows that losing all of your health means one thing: death. It’s that simple fact that makes narrow escapes and near misses so exhilarating. Recently, on a routine stream, Mao decided to stare death in the face, and take a few foes with him.
If you’re keeping score at home, that was a lot of near misses. For those unfamiliar with the more subtle mechanics of Dota, here’s a breakdown:
Mao is using a rarely seen hero named Huskar. Huskar’s unique advantage lies in his passive ability, which causes him to attack faster and take less damage from magic sources as his health drops.
For most casual Dota players, this is license to jump into the middle of the enemy team and die trying to do something spectacular. For Mao, an experienced carry player with a knack for balancing damage with survival, it’s a potent weapon.
But that’s not all. Mao is using an item called the Armlet of Mordiggian. The Armlet, when activated, bestows its user with a major surge of damage, attack speed, and health, but it quickly drains health in the process. Fortunately for Armlet wearers, they cannot die from the health drain, nor from the loss of extra health when the item is deactivated.
This leads to a technique called “Armlet toggling.” Players can escape death by activating the Armlet when near death for a boost of health, then quickly deactivate and reactivate it to reset the health boost. The effect doesn’t heal the user, but in the right hands, it provides a consistent buffer against death while allowing the hero to do extra damage to foes.
For most, combining a hero designed to teeter on the edge of death with an item that guarantees the edge of death would lead to disaster. Instead, Mao takes down three players, all while juggling attacks from enemy creeps and a hard-hitting turret as his signature anime music rings in the background. For Mao and his fans, it’s just another Tuesday.