Dota 2 Hero Guide – Kunkka

Kunkka, the Admiral, is a skillshot-heavy strength hero that can fill any of the core roles in a draft — but is typically run as either the midlaner or the offlaner. In the early to mid game, Kunkka exerts his will in the lane, thanks to the power of Tidebringer, his passive ability. Every time that Tidebringer is off cooldown, the ability gives Kunkka’s regular attack bonus damage in a wide arc, which is used to harass any opponents and score creep kills simultaneously. Even the most mechanically skilled players will find themselves hard-pressed to wrest control of the lane as a result.

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Kunkka is also a potent ganker and initiator in the mid to late game, thanks in no small part to the incredible synergy between his three other skills. Torrent is a delayed area of effect stun which can be cast from an insanely long range (1,500 units!), making it perfect for surprise initiations from fog or the many treelines around the map. Of course, because it is ground-targeted, it can be quite difficult to land—which is where his second ability X Marks the Spot comes into play. X Marks the Spot “saves” the current location of the target, and returns them to that point after four seconds or when Kunkka himself pulls them back in. This ability is typically used in combination with Torrent, in order to guarantee that Torrent will hit the target.

Image via Valve

His crowd control prowess is capped off by his ultimate ability, Ghostship. Once cast, a spectral vessel of the seas is launched 2,000 units from the targeted point, crashing into any enemy units that it might come across. Those units are stunned for a short amount of time, while also taking a sizable chunk of damage. Allied units that are touched by the Ghostship receive a buff that gives them bonus movement speed, as well as a delayed reaction to any incoming damage. Ghostship is one of the most potent teamfight abilities in the game, as in not only harms and disables enemy heroes, but also protects your team from damage. It can also be combined with Torrent and X Marks the Spot, for a truly devastating combo.

But as is already pretty obvious, picking Kunkka requires a lot out of the player that will be piloting him. Prediction, proper positioning, and most of all good timing are all necessary to make the most out of Kunkka—and he quickly falls apart without them. His kit is certainly compelling, but effective Kunkka play requires practice and dedication. Should you have the guts and determination, though, rest assured that the Admiral will reward you with plenty of treasure and glory.

Kunkka Skill Build

Kunkka’s skill build depends entirely on the role that he’ll be fulfilling within the draft. If he is to be played in the core slot, Tidebringer should be prioritized in the lane in order to make it way easier to score last hits and harass supports out. Torrent is maxed out last in the core route, as it isn’t going to be that useful when all you’re trying to do is farm. If he is to be played as a roaming support, though, then X Marks the Spot should take precedence over Tidebringer. This is because its cast range increases greatly with each skill point invested, with the first level not really being all that great in terms of reach. Hitting max level on X Marks the Spot as soon as possible is therefore of the utmost importance.

Do note that it is possible to toggle Tidebringer on and off. We recommend doing so if you aren’t facing too much opposition in the lane, and turning it on only when you need to take a last hit. This is done in order to maintain the creep equilibrium, forcing your lane opponents to either play safe or risk diving you under your own tower. You can use this to your advantage in the laning phase, by positioning yourself closer to the creep wave to go for last hits more often.

Of course, Ghostship should be taken at every ultimate level, in order to reduce its already impressively short cooldown even further. After all, the more uptime it gets, the more chances you and your teammates will have to initiate teamfights and ganks on your own terms—which is always a good thing.

Our recommended skill builds, therefore, are as follows:

Core

  • Tidebringer
  • Torrent
  • Tidebringer
  • X Marks the Spot
  • Tidebringer
  • Ghostship
  • Tidebringer
  • X Marks the Spot
  • X Marks the Spot
  • Level 10 Talent: +40 Damage
  • X Marks the Spot
  • Ghostship
  • Torrent
  • Torrent
  • Level 15 Talent: +10 Health Regen
  • Torrent
  • Ghostship
  • Level 20 Talent: +25 Strength
  • Level 25 Talent: -1.5s Tidebringer Cooldown

Support

  • Torrent
  • X Marks the Spot
  • X Marks the Spot
  • Torrent
  • X Marks the Spot
  • Ghostship
  • X Marks the Spot
  • Torrent
  • Torrent
  • Level 10 Talent: +40 Damage
  • Tidebringer
  • Ghostship
  • Tidebringer
  • Tidebringer
  • Level 15 Talent: +120 Torrent Damage
  • Tidebringer
  • Ghostship
  • Level 20 Talent: +100 Torrent AoE
  • Level 25 Talent: Ghostship Fleet

Kunkka Item Build

Much like his skill build, Kunkka’s arsenal will depend on his assigned role

Core

The core route will focus more on equipment that boost the burst damage of Tidebringer, along with some survivability and utility pickups. Typically, core Kunkka’s first item will be Shadow Blade, as it gives him an easy way to land a Tidebringer swing under invisibility. The first hit out of Shadow Walk also gets a physical damage bonus, which does stack with Tidebringer. This basically allows him to deal more than 200 damage to multiple targets all at once, which can be very, very painful to supports and other squishy heroes.

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If instant mobility is more your thing, though, you could opt for a Blink Dagger instead. Remember that you can cast X Marks the Spot on yourself, which makes it very safe to simply blink in and hit a few targets with Tidebringer then return to safety with X Marks the Spot. In some cases, this can be a “soft” initiation, so to speak, especially if you manage to hit the backline with the Tidebringer damage.

Going into the late game, Kunkka players should endeavor to get themselves a Daedalus. The built-in critical strike does take Tidebringer’s cleave into account, which means that you could practically one-shot the entire enemy team if luck and positioning are on your side. In fact, Kunkka is one of the few heroes in the game that has the license to purchase two or more Daedalus, as doing so increases the odds of actually scoring a critical hit.

As durable as Kunkka is thanks to his naturally high strength gain and the rum buff from Ghostship, he isn’t invincible. Black King Bar should be purchased after obtaining a Daedalus, so that you can have free reign over the battlefield. Don’t get greedy, kids—buy a BKB.

Situational/luxury pickups include things like Heaven’s Halberd, Heart of Tarrasque, Assault Cuirass, and Silver Edge. Halberd is used to better your chances against more straight up DPS carries, thanks to the disarm mechanic and the built-in evasion. Heart allows you to go in and out of combat without having to retreat to regenerate, which can be valuable in the deep late game once high ground sieges become more common. Assault Cuirass helps you and your team against lineups with a lot of armor, while also boosting your own attack speed.

Support

In contrast to core Kunkka’s item build, the roaming support route will typically focus on utility items that help the team more than direct damage boosters. This is because Tidebringer is the last priority among Kunkka’s abilities as a support, which means there isn’t really much room to get damage items.

Aether Lens comes to mind in the early to mid game, because of its range-increasing properties and the fact that it shores up Kunkka’s small mana pool. Being able to cast Torrent and X Marks the Spot from the range that Aether Lens allows is extremely valuable to him in the support role, and can even put pressure on the enemy lanes to play safe even when he isn’t there at all. This, in turn, slows down the enemy team’s farm.

Much like the core item build, though, Blink Dagger is still a very viable mobility item to purchase even as a support. When ganking with your team, you can effectively shut down any attempts to escape by casting X Marks the Spot after a blink initiation, then follow up with your two stuns. Your teammates can then enter the fight, and help clean up the rest should there be other heroes in the area. Keep in mind that X Marks the Spot can be cast on your allies, which you can abuse in some seriously obnoxious ways. Cast X on them while they try to harass the enemy team, then pull them back before the opponents are able to retaliate.

Other than those two, it’s the usual set of utility items that you’ll find useful in most games as a support. Heaven’s Halberd is there to help against problematic right click carries. Eul’s Scepter of Divinity gives you an instant disable and more movement speed, as well as an easy way to land Torrent. Pipe of Insight and Solar Crest help your team deal with magic damage and physical damage, respectively. You can even get a Lotus Orb against single-target spells. Of course, there are many different possibilities here, so don’t limit yourself to just these items.

Kunkka Combo

While difficult to land because of its reliance on positioning and prediction, Kunkka’s combo isn’t actually that hard to pull off on paper. X Marks the Spot should be used to set up a guaranteed Torrent, so it’s first on the rotation. Cast X on the target you wish to disable, then cast Torrent right underneath them. If you have the mana for it, cast Ghostship as well; its short cooldown means that it’s easy enough to use in practically every teamfight you find yourself in.

Pull the target back with Return before the Torrent goes off, which will send them flying and cause them to get stunned. The Ghostship should follow right after, extending the disable time and dealing a hefty chunk of damage along the way. After all your spells have been used up, try to get close to finish them off with Tidebringer, or at least deal enough damage that your teammates can come in and clean up.

Kunkka Counter

Countering Kunkka is a little more complicated than doing the same with other heroes, due to his versatility and unique kit. One thing is for certain, though: Kunkka is very vulnerable to silence and mute effects, due to his lack of a natural escape mechanism outside of items and the fact that he has three high-impact active abilities. Consider picking Orchid Malevolence carriers such as Clinkz, Storm Spirit, and Queen of Pain against him—or even Silencer with his ability to shut down ability use from anywhere on the map.

Kunkka also doesn’t really have the carry potential of “true” hard carries, because of his limited scaling and the fact that Tidebringer is only active every four seconds at max level. He cannot manfight most carries as a result, so if your team has a draft that does better in the late game, try to extend the game as long as possible so that you can outcarry him. Picks like Drow Ranger, Phantom Assassin, and Juggernaut do well in this regard.

Annoyed by X Marks the Spot? Buy a Linken’s Sphere, or even a BKB. Linken’s Sphere blocks the ability completely on cast, while BKB can be activated after the fact in order to block Return.

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* FirstBlood® is NOT AFFILIATED, AUTHORIZED, LICENSED OR ENDORSED by Dota™, Dota 2™, Steam™, Dota 2™, the Dota logo® and Steam™ are trademarks of Valve Corporation.

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