Mechanic case: Sven’s Cleave


Today we are going to analyze a topic much discussed by pub players, that often can cause controversies and even flame in many teams: should Sven Sven level up Great Cleave Great Cleave during the lane phrase?
Great Cleave is a passive ability that grants AoE damage to Sven’s attacks. He damages all enemies in a 300 radius circular area in front of him, and deals up to 66% of the main attack damage. The cleave damage is reduced by damage block and is affected by armor type, but not by armor value; finally, it stacks with any other source of cleave - each source of cleave (such as a Battle Fury) works independently. Along the patches, the radius and damage of Great Cleave received different buffs by Valve: prior to v6.75 the radius was only 175, while now it is 300; the maximum damage moved as well, from a maximum of 40% in v6.14 to the actual 66%.
Picture courtesy of
In the past, leveling up Cleave before the mid game was considered a very noobish act, because it would push the lane as a result. It was preferable to get a level in Sven’s stun, Storm Hammer, and then invest into two or three levels of stats. The situation is changed, let’s see how.
  • Back in the days, his farming efficiency was lower, he could just get an average amount of farm in lane through creeps. Now, your support can pull and stack the big camp, so you can freely destroy an entire wave of creeps, push the lane, and deny the next wave over the neutrals, while earning also the extra gold and exp from their deaths. It is possible to get a big load of extra gold while also denying a good chunk of exp from the offlaner.
  • With two or three points into Great Cleave, it is easy to jungle as soon as the lane phase ends, and if you had a bad early game, you can easily get back on track with the neutral’s gold. If your team had a proper support, or an offlaner capable of stacking the ancients, the gold burst you can attain from them will be of great benefit to achieve your core items as soon as possible.
  • When the offlaner is close, you can harass him with the AoE damage. Don’t get tricked by the visual effect, cleave applies instantly to the surrounding area, thus if bad positioned he won’t be able to avoid it. Just do not forget that the passive isn’t triggered when denying allied creeps, and it also doesn’t work when attacking wards or buildings.
  • Cleave was greatly buffed over the years, drastically improving damage and radius. Now a squishy offlaner won’t dare to stay in its range.
Most popular ability build in pub - picture courtesy of Dotabuff
Taking a look on Dotabuff, the most popular skill build used in pub gets two points into cleave at level 4 and 5, and maxes out this ability by level 8. The first point is often taken at level 1 and 2 - 26,3% of the times in the former case, 45.4% in the latter. Storm Hammer is often neglected till later into the game, from level 12 to 14 it has more than 30% pick rate. Considering the top four most popular builds, only one maxes out Storm Hammer in the early with a 3.99% build rate. Still, it doesn’t mean that it is a bad choice because it increases your assassination ability in the early stage - this build still takes two levels of Great Cleave, instead it skips Warcry until level 10.
In the competitive environment, where of course you don’t have to worry for your support, Great Cleave is also the typical choice. In the qualifiers for ESL One Genting that took place so far, we can notice two games with Sven, and in both cases the passive was maxed out by level 8. The same situation happened during The Summit 6, where the hero was picked six times.
Skilling Great Cleave will greatly help your farm, but if you can’t control the lane equilibrium through pulls, or at least farm the jungle between each wave, the whole point behind this skill will go missing. Without a proper support you will effectively feed the offlaner with free exp and gold, and this will cause possible whines and blames in team chat. Overall, if you play solo or without a support that you trust, you should wait a couple of levels to understand the kind of players that are sharing the lane with you, before decide if leveling up Cleave is a good idea or not.
AuthorSkulz Date27 November 2016, 13:51 Views23691 Comments0
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