Dark Willow carry anybody? Here’s why this hero is viable as a carry and how the pros are playing her at TI12!

We love to see unconventional picks, especially in the biggest Dota 2 tournament of the year. During TI12, one support hero is surprisingly played in the carry position multiple times, and that's the Dark Willow.

Dark Willow is typically played as a support. She has aggravating roots, stuns, a massive fear ultimate and a free Ghost Scepter as one of her abilities. Her spell kit has a great variety, making her one of the most popular support picks at TI12. But there have been four instances (so far) that teams played her as a carry hero.

Here are the games of Dark Willow carry at TI12:

Although it's always interesting to see out-of-the-norm picks, not all of them are successful. Dark Willow carry has a 25% win rate with only one win over four games. The single win was by LGD Gaming's Shiro who dominated the game vs 9Pandas.

What makes Dark Willow viable as a carry?

Dark Willow might typically land in the supporting role - but we all know just how strong this hero can be with a set of items. This makes her a trendy pick at TI12 as she can transform into another damage dealer by the late game.

What makes her an insane DPS hero is her Aghanim's Scepter upgrade. This item upgrades her second spell, Shadow Realm. With the Scepter, she can right-click continuously under the Shadow Realm effect throughout the spell duration. Her attack range is also insanely far and she can deal tons of damage from a safe space.

To make her Shadow Realm Scepter upgrade even MORE broken - pair it up with cooldown reduction items. Get an Octarine Core and a Wind Waker to buy time. You'll find yourself in a perma-Shadow Realm mode and there's not a lot that the enemy can do.

What are the pros building on carry Dark Willow?

At TI12, Dark Willow has been picked as carry multiple times and there is a consistent pattern in her itemization. The pros obviously itemize around her Scepter upgrade and they opted for attack speed, cooldown reduction, and escape items.

Shiro of LGD Gaming's Dark Willow carry itemization.<br>(Screenshot from STRATZ)
Shiro of LGD Gaming's Dark Willow carry itemization.
(Screenshot from STRATZ)

From Power Threads, they will rush a Hand of Midas. This will speed up her XP gain and get her those delicious Talent Tree levels - including the Level 25 +100 Attack Speed. This item also helps her farm more gold as she can't efficiently farm waves. And next is the Aghanim's Scepter. This is the basics of her itemization for the carry position.

Basic items for Dark Willow carry:

  • Power Threads
  • Hand of Midas
  • Aghanim's Scepter

Then, we move to attack speed items such as the Dragon Lance which will upgrade into the Hurricane Pike. This is a good attack speed and repositioning item for Dark Willow. Shiro of LGD Gaming went for the Manta Style for a good chunk of attack speed and a way to debuff enemy spells.

Almost all the Dark Willow carry games had her build the Silver Edge. This item has some attack speed, critical damage, and a powerful break that you can opt for if you have enemy heroes with strong passives. But also importantly, Silver Edge is a good escape item that Willow needs to survive in fights.

23savage of Talon Esports' Dark Willow carry itemization.<br>(Screenshot from STRATZ)
23savage of Talon Esports' Dark Willow carry itemization.
(Screenshot from STRATZ)

Get escape and repositioning items for Willow

  • Silver Edge
  • Manta Style
  • Hurricane Pike

A MUST-have for a Dark Willow late game is the Octarine Core. You'd want to spam the Shadow Realm for continuous damage and the only way to do it is if it has a low cooldown. Grab Quickening Charm or Spell Prism for Neutral Items to compliment her spells better.

A Black King Bar is almost always needed. She herself is fragile against magic damage and without a BKB, she can hardly survive in fights. Items that can help her reposition such as the Wind Waker and Blink Dagger also fit her very well.

  • Octarine Core
  • Black King Bar
  • Wind Waker
  • Blink Dagger
  • Moon Shard (go ham with the attack speed)

TI12 meta has been pretty balanced with a couple of surprise picks here and there. So far, there has only been nine uncontested heroes including niche picks like Meepo and Tinker.

Find out more about TI12 meta below!