Shadow Fiend versus Shadow Fiend—there is arguably no purer form of one-on-one combat in Dota 2. Taking one of the most mechanically-demanding heroes in the game, duplicating it, and making two players go at it without outside interference of any sort can make for a spectacular song and dance.
Shadowrazes fly across the lane and each player tries to get ahead in terms of Necromastery souls, all while trying to stay as healthy and topped up as possible.
It’s caught the eye of Dota players from pretty much all points in the game’s history. From the legendary exhibition match between Ng “YamateH” Wei Poong and Bu “YaphetS” Yanjun (with the latter being considered the greatest Shadow Fiend player in the world at the height of his DotA Allstars career), the many custom games that ladder players get into in their spare time, and to the most recent 1v1 tournament at DAC 2017, people have been trying to outplay each other in the midlane for many years now.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that Shadow Fiend is the most popular hero when it comes to 1v1 matches here at FirstBlood. There is simply no replacement for the thrill of a Shadow Fiend mirror match, due to the small margin of error and the fact that Shadowraze is a very difficult ability to land. Conversely, experienced Shadow Fiend players often find ways to outmaneuver their opponents, thus creating highlight reel-worthy moments.
If you fancy yourself as the next Artour “Arteezy” Babaev, Zhang “Paparazi” Chengjun, or Lu “Somnus`M” Yao, give this mode a try. It seems daunting, especially for players that don’t usually run Shadow Fiend in their regular 5v5 games, but you might be surprised at how enjoyable it is.
As with any 1v1 mirror match game, the goal of Shadow Fiend 1v1 remains the same. Be the first player to either score two kills, or destroy the opponent’s midlane tier 1 tower. There will be no supports on the map to assist you in any way, and so you must make your own plays and your own decisions. One mistake can cost you the match, and the item metagame is vastly different from your typical solo mid matchup against a different hero.
When building items, the most important thing to note is that 1v1 mirror matches are not designed to go late. Items that are priced at 1,000 gold and above will not matter at all, which means that regenerative consumables like Tangoes, Healing Salves, and Clarities are king. Cost-effective stat trinkets like Bracers are also great in 1v1 games, as they give you more mana for more Shadowrazes (thus, a higher damage output over time), as well as more HP to survive your opponent’s harassment and inevitable retaliation.
The short average game time also means that most Shadow Fiend duels mostly revolve around harassment and punishing greedy positioning. Getting the most out of these two aspects starts with the creep block at level 1, so practice getting the movement down in order to make the creep waves meet closer to your tower. Don’t overdo it, though; bringing the enemy creeps too close will make it practically impossible to last hit properly due to the tower damage. Get it down just enough to put your opponent at a serious disadvantage.
Harassment will come down to maximizing each use of Shadowraze. It isn’t completely necessary, but try to get your opponent in the area of effect if you’re casting Shadowraze to last hit. This practically doubles the efficiency of each cast in terms of mana, which is a precious resource in a back and forth battle like 1v1. Generally speaking, though, you want to save your mana for level 3, when Shadowraze hits level 2 and actually becomes a threat to your opponent. Once you have your levels up, nuking your opponent in order to harass becomes a much more appealing endeavor.
However, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of trying to Shadowraze your opponent to death—and if you aren’t careful you may find yourself staring down the barrel of a triple nuke on your way back up your side of the lane. Sometimes it is better to play conservatively and work on getting the Necromastery advantage, since a five or so lead in terms of soul count can help you snowball to victory.
Experienced Shadow Fiend players know this, but for newcomers, make sure to take note of the slight overlaps in each raze’s AoE radius. The Q and W razes overlap at 200 units in front of SF, while the W and E razes overlap starting at 450 units. Also, hitting the melee creep row at Shadow Fiend’s max attack range means that a double raze of W and E will hit the entire wave all the way to the ranged creep in the back. Use these to your advantage, as the knowledge can help you size up your target areas correctly.
Sometimes it can also be tempting to shove the lane to your opponent’s side of the river early with double razes, in order to extend a soul lead or to grab a rune. Avoid doing this unless your lead is already significantly large that your opponent wouldn’t be able to catch up quickly. Using all of your mana with level 1 Shadowraze will definitely come back to bite you once you realize that your opponent has level 2 razes and you have no mana to fight back with. Also, buying a Bottle is generally a bad idea anyway, because it sets you back significantly and delays your other items.
Speaking of items, we suggest starting out with a Faerie Fire for extra attack damage (very important for winning the Necromastery battle), and an instant heal, a Wraith Band for stats and more damage, and of course a Courier because we guarantee that you will lose the game without it. As the game progresses, ferry out regen consumables as needed. With how good Clarities are right now, it’s always a good idea to keep yourself topped up. Don’t be afraid to buy additional Tangoes and Salves, either, especially if you get hit with a few Shadowrazes.
Towards the later stages of the game, you’ll want to get yourself some Phase Boots, as they not only increase your damage (leading to easier right click last hits) but also your movement speed in short bursts. This can mean the difference between life or death, especially when you can use the speed burst to get out of raze range. Past the point where Phase Boots are a thing, there isn’t really much else to talk about—because most games end by then anyway.
And that’s pretty much it. Just as we said earlier in this guide, 1v1 games are usually short enough that any additional tips would be rather useless. Just keep up your last hits to gain the advantage, and be wise about your mana usage. 1v1 is all about incremental advantages—not thinking long term.
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