PA: Mastering the veiled sister

Phantom Assassin Phantom Assassin is one of the most picked heroes in pubs of all times, since landing a devastating Coup de Grace Coup de Grace crit is one of the most satisfying feelings in the game of Dota. Still, there is more to the hero than just RNG. Here is how you master the veiled sister.

Ever popular Assassin

With over 363 million pub game appearances, Phantom Assassin is the second most popular hero in public matchmaking, only to be topped by the all-time leader Pudge Pudge. While the Butcher sits on top of the chart because of the unique mechanic of Meat Hook Meat Hook, PA embodies the most basic layer of the game: dealing damage and killing enemies.
Most picked heroes of all times in pub games, Image courtesy of Dotabuff
This rather simple approach to the game makes her especially popular in lower MMR brackets. In games under 2K MMR, Phantom Assassin is the most picked hero over the last week with a presence of 30,72%. The higher you go in MMR, the less popular she gets, ending at 12,05% pick rate in 5K MMR and higher. While this is still a very solid number, it is obvious that jumping in and simply hoping for a crit is a much more viable strategy in lower MMR regions.
Still, there are ways to make PA work even in high MMR games. When played correctly, she is able to take on the mid as well as the carry role. Itemization, skill build and playstyle are fairly similar in both roles. Both rely on providing physical burst damage to focus down key targets in order to create an advantage for their team. 

Skill builds

The first ability skilled, as well as the first ability maxed, is typically Stifling Dagger Stifling Dagger. Not only does it provide harass potential in lane, it also helps securing additional last hits without moving into a risky position. The most important reason to max this ability is its downward scaling mana cost. The higher level Dagger is, the lower the mana cost. This allows PA to spam the ability in lane without running into mana sustain problems. Additionally, Stifling Dagger gains extra damage and an extended slow duration with more levels being committed.
Skill build tendencies for PA, Image courtesy of Dotabuff
The decision between Blur Blur and Phantom Strike Phantom Strike heavily comes down to the team you are facing. If the enemy is relying on physical attacks, maxing Blur early on massively boosts your effective HP due to the increased miss chance. However, if the enemy team possesses a lot of magic damage output, extra levels in Blur quickly lose value. If this is the case, opting for early levels in Phantom Strike is the way to go. The reduced cooldown that comes with them grants you extra mobility to ensure perfect positioning in every situation.
While PA’s talent tree doesn’t feature the flashiest of upgrades, there are some quite useful pickups to be found. At level 10, the choice is between plus 15 damage and an extra 150 health. Since Phantom Assassin is all about damage output, the damage option is not only the more popular, but also the more successful option. However, the win rate part is a bit deceiving, since the choice is between an offensive and a defensive option. Whenever a PA is facing a losing situation, she is more likely to pick up the defensive option and go with the extra health. At the same time, if her team is faring reasonably well, picking the extra damage comes much more easy, leading to a shift in the win rate between the two.
At level 15, adding 10% lifesteal is the clear crowd favorite over 20 extra movement speed. Only 12,55% of pub players opt for the movement speed, since PA is a hero that benefits heavily from lifesteal. The talent upgrade can even enable her to skip lifesteal items in specific situations, which frees her up to get other beneficial items quicker.

Talent usage, Image courtesy of Dotabuff
At level 20, the more popular option is not the more successful one. While 60,4% of players opt for 35 attack speed, plus 10 of all stats makes for a 0,7% higher win rate. The reason for this is that PA doesn’t really benefit from attack speed in fighting situations, since Phantom Strike Phantom Strike already grants her enough to deal with most opponents. While it does speed up her farming speed a bit, the extra stats are the more solid option. 
The final upgrade either grants PA 25 agility, which increases her attack speed, damage and base armor, or makes her Stifling Dagger Stifling Dagger strike two targets. While the latter option can burst down supports even easier, it is still rather gimmicky. If none of the two daggers crit or the second dagger hits a creep, the upgrade is pretty much wasted, while the extra agility gives reliable value. Therefore 61,5% chose the attribute upgrade, which also sports a win rate advantage of 3,2%.

Item builds

A lot of pub players still rely on a rather outdated build on PA.  Battlefury is, to this day, one of the most popular items on the hero, despite not fitting the current play style of the hero. A lot of low MMR player consider Battlefury to be a damage item, hoping to cleave down unsuspecting supports in the back lines. However, Battlefury is first and foremost a farming item. While PA does lack some flash farming potential, opting for a farming item delays her impact massively. If built correctly, she can come online much quicker without losing too much late game potential.
Most used items for PA this month, Image courtesy of Dotabuff
If you look past the everlasting Battlefury trend, PA's item build is pretty straightforward. After  Phase Boots, the first major item is almost always  Desolator. The minus armor helps her take down opponents quickly before their team has a chance to react. Typically,  Vladmir's Offering is paired up with Deso to ensure survivability and sustain. However, it is possible to skip Vlads with the help of the lifesteal talent. 
 Black King Bar is an absolute must-have on Phantom Assassin. Without the magic immunity of BKB, the hero gets burst down too easily. Additionally, she heavily relies on the mobility of Phantom Strike. Whenever she gets disabled, her damage output and survivability take a massive hit. Besides those staples, item builds can be rounded out by items such as  Sange and Yasha Diffusal Blade Assault Cuirass and  Abyssal Blade. Additionally, a  Linken’s Sphere can help if there are BKB piercing disables in play. 
With all these things considered, it is also important to keep in mind that mastering Phantom Assassin also requires a certain amount of luck. Even in the days of pseudo RNG, a timely crit or miss chance proc can turn the tides of a game. Therefore, for your next PA game: Good luck, have fun!
AuthorKardinalR Date 1 May 2017, 16:40 Views2705 Comments0
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