The new Anti-Mage: A look at Ember Spirit’s magic damage mitigation build in Dota 2 pubs

Based on the recent popular Ember Spirit build to brace Dota 2 pubs, the hero seems to be better at magic damage mitigation than the best in the business.

Anti-Mage, as the name suggests, is perhaps the most prominent anti magic damage hero in the game. With Counterspell maxed out, Magina has 61% magic resistance at level 14. Along with disables, you definitely need either physical damage or some form of break to bring him down.

But with the release of Dota 2 patch 7.35, there is another hero who is making the case of being the best magic damage mitigator, at least in the early stages of the game. Ember Spirit has rewinded the tapes a bit to bring back the Flame Guard max out build.

A few years ago, that was the norm. But for the past few years, Sleight of Fist was the skill maxed out at level 7. Now, it seems like the early Flame Guard build is making a comeback. According to Dotabuff, the most popular build for Ember Spirit in pubs is 1-1-4-1 at level 7. Why has this old build all of a sudden made a comeback?

The answer might lie in the latest buffs to Mage Slayer. The item was buffed in patch 7.35, and then again in balance patch 7.35b. It is now a standalone item, rather than it being a stepping stone to get to Bloodthorn, which it previously was. Ember Spirits in pubs are rushing Mage Slayer along with maxing out Flame Guard early, which makes the hero extremely difficult to kill.

Mage Slayer provides 25% magic resistance. At level 7 with a Mage Slayer, Ember Spirit has 47% magic resistance. On top of that, Flame Guard provides a 285 magic damage barrier, which becomes a 485 magic damage barrier with the level 10 talent of +200 Flame Guard Barrier Amount!

Dota 2 analyst Gustavo “Bowie” Mattos shows exactly how tanky Ember gets with that early Mage Slayer and the level 10 talent. Keep in mind though, that this is with the Mage Slayer debuff applied on Lion when he uses Finger of Death. That reduces the enemy magic damage output by 40%.

Like with any major patch, it takes time for certain strategies to be discovered. And once they are, the good ones float to the top. That is exactly what has happened with this new Ember Spirit build as well! According to Dotabuff, in the last week in pubs, Mage Slayer has been Ember Spirit’s third most popular item.

Ember Spirit’s win rate and pick rate in pubs have started trending upwards. For a long time, the hero was languishing below 50% win rate. But now, it seems like he is thriving.

The big difference between Ember Spirit and Anti-Mage is that AM does not make moves in the early game. He wants to farm untill he has two to three items, and only then does he make an appearance. In case of Ember Spirit though, he plays in the mid lane (or could be safe lane too) and makes moves early.

With just a Mage Slayer, he can play aggressively. Burst damage is one of the best tools against elusive heroes like Ember and AM, and with the early magic damage mitigation, Ember’s nuisance value increases significantly.

The 2023-2024 Dota 2 season is slowly beginning to gain momentum. BetBoom Dacha will be the first premier tournament of the year. The qualifiers for the tournament are already in motion. As Dota 2 patch 7.35b sees more and more games played on it, we will get an idea of what professional players think about the magic mitigating Ember Spirit build.