Dota 2 Hero Guide – Phoenix

Icarus, the Phoenix, is a ranged intelligence hero that is typically played in the utility support role, but is also occasionally played as an initiator or offlaner. As the avatar of the sun itself, Phoenix’s kit revolves entirely around spending its own health in order to inflict heavy damage over time on enemy heroes—while simultaneously healing its allies in the process.

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Icarus Dive, Phoenix’s first ability, causes it to fly forward in a fixed motion, slowing and dealing burn damage to any enemy units it comes into contact with during the dive. Upon reaching the apex of the dive, Icarus returns to its original position in the same way—though during the animation it is able to stop the dive at any given time. Phoenix may also cast spells and use items while diving, except for its third ability. Icarus Dive gives Phoenix some much-needed mobility, as well as a fairly reliable escape mechanism. Used aggressively, it can help secure kills through its slow and damage over time mechanics.

Phoenix’s second ability, called Fire Spirits, summons four orbs of fire around Icarus—which can be launched at a targeted area on the ground. Upon impacting the target area, the orb explodes with a radius of 175 units, dealing damage over time and greatly slowing the attack speed of any enemy unit that it comes into contact with. Fire Spirits is Phoenix’s primary harassment tool in lane, allowing it to annoy melee heroes to no end while also keeping supports at bay. Later in the game, Fire Spirits can be used to counter physical attackers, stripping them of their precious attack speed and DPS.

Image via Valve

Icarus’ third ability, Sun Ray, causes it to project a red-hot beam of solar light that ends 1,250 units ahead. This beam deals damage over time just like Phoenix’s other abilities, while also healing friendly units that happen to be standing in it while it’s out. The longer Sun Ray stays active, the more potent the healing and damage over time—making it a devastating teamfight ability if Icarus is given time to charge it properly. During Sun Ray, however, Phoenix is only able to move forward very slowly, at a fixed movement speed of 250. Similar to Icarus Dive, Sun Ray can be cancelled out of at any time.

And finally, there is Supernova—Phoenix’s ultimate and one of the most iconic abilities in the game. Upon activation, Icarus instantly turns into a fragment of the sun, locking it in place while incinerating enemy units in a large area. Phoenix can be damaged only by regular attacks in this state, and is completely immune to all spells and abilities throughout Supernova’s duration. Should it be killed while in this form, Phoenix dies and the ability ends instantly. If, however, Icarus’ solar form survives for six seconds, the Phoenix is reborn with full health and mana, exploding violently while stunning all enemy units in the area.

Supernova makes Icarus an excellent initiator, presenting its opponents with a dilemma: they must either destroy the egg, thus putting themselves at the mercy of Phoenix’s teammates, or risk getting stunned upon Icarus’ rebirth. Alternatively, they might also choose to disengage from the area entirely, which leaves room for Icarus’ comrades to jump in and prevent them from escaping. Of course, Supernova makes Phoenix extremely vulnerable to fast attackers, though this can be remedied by using Fire Spirits on physical carries before transforming.

Unfortunately, even with his awesome abilities, Phoenix isn’t invincible. Icarus lacks a true hard disable, which limits its immediate impact on fast-paced engagements. Spell immunity also counters Phoenix pretty heavily, with Black King Bar wielders caring very little about its abilities. The very nature of his kit also demands precision, sharp instincts, and purposeful positioning—as Icarus can otherwise get caught out on an island. Phoenix’s low base armor and the fact that its skills require spending health also means that discretion and caution must be exercised by the player at all times—lest Icarus be left alone with no energy.

Phoenix Skill Build

Thanks to Icarus’ versatility, it is able to switch between two standard skill builds depending on its assigned role in the draft and the opponent’s lineup. The one most often used is the initiator build, which places Phoenix in between the offlane and utility support positions. This build focuses on maximizing damage output in the early to mid game, and serving as the team’s first attacking hero when setting up for ganks and teamfights.

To that end, Fire Spirits will be maxed out first, as it is relatively easy to land and deals a hefty amount of damage without having to wait too long (unlike Sun Ray). Icarus Dive is leveled up alongside Fire Spirits in this build, though only to its second level as its scaling is rather poor compared to the rest of Phoenix’s abilities. Sun Ray’s first point is taken at Level 8, with the goal of maxing it out by Level 13 in order to gear up for the mid game. After all, the mid game is when health pools start to ramp up thanks to stat-increasing items and natural strength gain, which is when Sun Ray shines the most.

The other standard build is the support route, which places Phoenix between the two support positions. This build eschews early investment in both Fire Spirits and Icarus Dive, opting to max out Sun Ray as soon as possible to provide optimal healing and damage. Of course, value points in the first two abilities will still be a good idea, as Phoenix does not have good harassment potential otherwise. Regardless of which path you choose to take, though, Supernova should be leveled up at every ultimate level—in order to maximize the number of attacks required to kill Phoenix in its sun form and the duration of the rebirth stun.

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Our recommended skill builds, therefore, are as follows:

Initiator

  • Icarus Dive
  • Fire Spirits
  • Fire Spirits
  • Icarus Dive
  • Fire Spirits
  • Supernova
  • Fire Spirits
  • Sun Ray
  • Sun Ray
  • Level 10 Talent: +8% Spell Amplification
  • Sun Ray
  • Supernova
  • Sun Ray
  • Icarus Dive
  • Level 15 Talent: +40 Fire Spirits DPS
  • Icarus Dive
  • Supernova
  • Level 20 Talent: +1.25s Supernova Stun Duration
  • Level 25 Talent: +2% Max Health Sun Ray Damage

Support

  • Icarus Dive
  • Fire Spirits
  • Sun Ray
  • Sun Ray
  • Sun Ray
  • Supernova
  • Sun Ray
  • Fire Spirits
  • Fire Spirits
  • Level 10 Talent: +8% Spell Amplification
  • Fire Spirits
  • Supernova
  • Icarus Dive
  • Icarus Dive
  • Level 15 Talent: +40 Fire Spirits DPS
  • Icarus Dive
  • Supernova
  • Level 20 Talent: +1.25s Supernova Stun Duration
  • Level 25 Talent: +2% Max Health Sun Ray Damage

Phoenix Item Build

Because of how much health Phoenix’s abilities use up, it is only natural for Icarus to seek out items that increase health, mana, and passive regeneration of both attributes. In the early game, cheap, cost-effective regeneration and healing items such as Tranquil Boots and Urn of Shadows can supply Phoenix with much-needed restoration. Tranquil Boots in particular also gives Icarus more movement speed while it is off cooldown, which can help Phoenix with getting around the map early on. Urn of Shadows, on the other hand, works just like Icarus’ abilities, in that it can heal and harm targets depending on their alignment. Later on, the Urn can be upgraded into a Spirit Vessel, which helps against heroes that rely on high passive regeneration to survive teamfights.

Tomes of Knowledge are also extremely important to Phoenix, as it is very level-dependent and definitely appreciates being able to get Supernova to Level 3 as soon as possible. Communicate with your team to let them know that you need tomes, unless there is an even more level-dependent hero in your lineup. Hand of Midas serves much the same purpose, and is actually easily justified on a hero like Phoenix—who doesn’t really need to rush mid game items.

Towards the late game, utility items such as Shiva’s Guard and Lotus Orb help Phoenix twofold. Shiva’s Guard provides Icarus with the armor that it desperately needs, while also reducing the attack speed of physical DPS carries that would otherwise be able to destroy it in Supernova. Combined with Fire Spirits, carries will have to think twice before going up against the sun itself—unless they have magic immunity. Lotus Orb gives the same bonuses to armor, while also increasing health and mana regeneration. Most importantly, though, it allows Phoenix to counter high-impact single target spells by protecting its allies with the Echo Shell active.

Everything else will pretty much be situational. Eul’s Scepter of Divinity gives Phoenix an actual disable, while also increasing movement speed and mana regeneration. Rod of Atos adds to max health and mana, while also keeping enemies in place—which can prove deadly if Icarus is able to keep Sun Ray on them for an extended period of time. Heaven’s Halberd prevents carries from even attacking Phoenix, and can be used right before transforming with Supernova. Aghanim’s Scepter is always an option, though it does change the dynamic of casting Supernova somewhat. Since it allows Phoenix to absorb an allied hero into the sun, sometimes it might be better to use the ability some distance away from enemy heroes in order to ensure that the rebirth actually goes off.

Phoenix Combo

Phoenix’s teamfight combo is fairly simple on paper, though it does take quite a lot of judgment and game sense to pull off correctly without putting Icarus in unnecessary danger. Generally, you will want to initiate with Icarus Dive and Fire Spirits, making sure to apply the latter to heroes that might be able to bring you down during Supernova (i.e. carries and heroes with attack speed buffs). Once that’s done, go into your solar form as soon as possible, in order to force the enemy team to either deal with you immediately or disengage from the teamfight.

Your teammates should follow up as soon as you transform, so that they may distract enemy heroes from attacking you during Supernova. If all goes well, you will come back out with full health and mana, with several heroes in the area stunned as well. Remember that the rebirth mechanic refreshes all your abilities aside from Supernova, allowing you to use Icarus Dive and Fire Spirits yet again. Make sure to use Sun Ray as needed, prioritizing healing your teammates over dealing damage to enemy heroes.

Phoenix Counter

The most obvious counters to Phoenix are heroes that have high agility gain or those that have ways of increasing their attack speed significantly. This is because Icarus can be killed during Supernova only by physical attacks, of which only a fixed number (that ignores attack damage values) will be enough to finish it off. Ursa is perhaps the easiest hero to use against Phoenix, thanks to his Overpower ability. At Level 4, Overpower grants 400 bonus attack speed to Ursa, which is usually enough to shred Phoenix to pieces during Supernova. Troll Warlord does the same thing, though his attack speed buff extends to the entire team thanks to Battle Trance’s global reach.

Meepo has a unique approach to dealing with Phoenix. Unlike illusion-based heroes, whose copies cannot contribute towards the destruction of the solar form, Meepo’s clones are all considered to be “real” heroes. With enough swipes of his shovels, Meepo can easily bring Icarus to his knees. The same goes for Arc Warden, whose Tempest Double is not merely an illusion.

Bloodseeker is another hero with abilities that prey on Phoenix. Because Icarus must spend health in order to use its abilities, Bloodseeker can take advantage with his Thirst passive. A well-placed Rupture can effectively freeze Phoenix in place, and choosing to use Icarus Dive to escape only brings Icarus that much closer to death. Blood Rite lasts extremely long for a silence effect, and can be devastating to an out-of-position Phoenix. Speaking of silence effects, heroes like Silencer and Night Stalker can shut Phoenix down in a teamfight before it can escape or use Supernova to extend its life.

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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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