Pudge remains the most popular and most played hero in Dota 2 matchmaking. We have put together an extensive guide on how to play him, what to build and how to land those meat hooks.
Pudge needs no introduction. The iconic butcher remains the most picked hero in DOTA, and for a bloody good reason: he's super fun to play. That's why we've put together this glorious Pudge Guide.
Pudge is the definition of a hit or miss hero. A good Pudge is a monstrous threat, but a bad Pudge can become a useless sack of meat. To help you become the best hooker you can be, we’ve written a guide on the hero just for you. This guide will focus on Pudge as a Position 4, which we feel is best suited for the current meta. We’ll explain more later - let’s get into the meaty details in our Pudge Guide.
How to use Pudge's abilities
It wouldn’t be a hero guide if we didn’t go over Pudge’s spells, but we’re not going to bore you with the nitty gritty. Instead, we’re gonna share some nifty tips and tricks you can use to get the most out of his kit. If you want to check out all the numbers, click here.
Meat Hook - 4 Tips To Land Em
Meat Hook is Pudge’s signature ability. It does a hefty amount of pure damage and pulls the target to Pudge’s location. Here’s some tips on how to land more hooks.
Tip 1: Throw It Where They’ll Go, Not Where They Are
Before throwing your hooks, think about what your opponents are trying to do. Is the Luna walking up to last-hit a creep? Is this Invoker running towards a rune? With your opponent’s intentions in mind, it’ll be easier to predict their movements.
Tip 2: The Vision Game
If you’re supporting on Pudge, utilize observer wards to set up vision where enemies don’t expect it. Or simply hook from fog. The easiest targets are the unsuspecting ones. If you can see an enemy but they can’t see you - that’s a free trip to Hooktown baby.
Tip 3: Use The Terrain To Your Advantage
Hooking from the high ground or fog is ideal, but it's not always possible. Sometimes you will have to hook when in vision - for example, when you are chasing a hero. In these scenarios, it's best to wait until the enemy gets into a narrow pathway before throwing your hook.
Tip 4: Practice Makes Perfect
The best way to increase your hook accuracy is simply practice. So our advice is to pick Pudge and throw lots and lots of hooks! Over time you will get better at predicting enemy movements and get a feel for the move-speed of different heroes. One of the biggest strengths of Pudge is the ability to yeet your teammates out of bad spots. You can throw the hook and save them even if they are Euls-ed, so keep that in mind.
Additionally, a hooked targeted will return to the location at which they were hooked – NOT Pudge’s current location. This means you will need to stay in the same spot from which you hooked if you want to follow up with an instant Dismember.
Hooking runes will refund the mana cost of Meat Hook.
Rot does immense magic damage every second - but it comes at the cost of also damaging Pudge himself. Also, be mindful that Pudge can no longer deny himself with it so don’t make that mistake.
The Aghanim’s Upgrade makes this ability do a really hefty amount of damage, but that’s more of a core Pudge build, so for now you’d be better off focusing on survivability items.
TIP: You can use Rot while channeling Dismember – this will NOT interrupt Dismember.
The least flashy of Pudge’s skills allows you to SCALE INFINITELY. Killing an enemy hero or being in the vicinity for their death grants an extra strength. The kicker is that you’ll have to be in 450 range for a stack to be counted, which you can check by mousing over the ability.
TIP: Flesh Heap works retroactively - meaning that you can gain Flesh Heap stacks before even levelling up the ability (you just won’t get the bonus strength until you level it).
Dismember (Pudge's Ultimate Ability)
Pudge’s ultimate is a channelled 3 second BKB-piercing stun. This works great in combination with Rot to stun + deal huge damage to a target. Use Dismember and Rot after landing a hook to kill enemy heroes.
One of the strongest combos going into the late-game is using BKB and Dismembering - unless your opponents have a BKB-piercing disable of their own, they're most likely dead meat.
Talents - What Pudge talents to pick and why?
Lvl 10: -14% Rot Slow vs +4 Armor
The +4 armor is the safer option, the added survivability is great for players still learning Pudge. -14% Rot Slow can be viable, but it works better on core Pudge as it synergizes well with an earlier Aghanim’s scepter.
Lvl 15: +120 Meat Hook Damage vs 10% Spell Lifesteal
The 10% Spell Lifesteal is going to be better most of the time. But if you are landing all your hooks and want to have fun - go nuts with the Meat Hook Damage.
Lvl 20: -4 Meat Hook Cooldown vs +0.8s Dismember Duration
The cooldown on Meat Hook is already pretty short - so we advise taking the +0.8s Dismember Duration as it will make you a bit more of a mid to late game threat.
Lvl 25: +1.5 Flesh Heap Stacks Strength vs 1.8x Dismember Damage/Heal
1.8x Dismember Damage/Heal will rarely have a massive impact unless you are already super fed and have a BKB. It’s better to take the bonus strength from Flesh Heap as it makes you tankier and will still give Dismember a little extra damage.
How to play Pudge? Early, mid and late game advice
Pudge in the Early Game
Pudge’s early game strengths come from Meat Hook and his high base damage. Use Meat Hook to pull enemies closer to you, allowing you and your lane partner to heavily harass them as they run away. DO NOT JUST AFK IN TREES WAITING FOR A HOOK! Pudge has crazy high base damage, so whenever possible, use this to secure last hits and denies - especially ranged creep denies.
Your focus in the early game should be on getting as much XP as possible, as Pudge hits a big power spike at level 6 - being able to solo kill most heroes. Do not worry so much about farm, as levels matter much more on Pudge than items.
Look for kills, get levels and if possible farm your Tranquil Boots + Magic Stick.
Pudge in the Mid Game
Pudge is very much a snowball hero - meaning that if you are landing hooks and getting Flesh Heap stacks, you will become very scary and super hard to kill. However, because of Pudge’s poor farming ability and reliance on getting kills - he can easily fall off if you have a slow start.
If you find yourself underleveled, under-farmed or against a lot of counters - stop looking for solo kills and play more around your team. Look to Hook high-priority targets such as enemy teamfighting supports or squishy agility carries into your team. Otherwise, you can Hook or Force Staff teammates out of danger while playing on the outskirts of fights. It’s better to be a relatively low-impact utility Pudge than a feeder.
In the mid game, Pudge should be looking for kills around the map. Finding kills becomes much easier if you group up with a support or core who has a stun to set up for Meat Hook. You can land some nice easy Meat Hooks by utilizing Smoke of Deceit, Observer Wards and playing around the mid lane.
Note: Despite Pudge’s rather slow farm speed - he can actually push out creep waves pretty effectively using Rot. The regen provided by Tranquils or Hood should get you back up to full health in no time.
A well-timed Meat Hook can single-handedly win a team fight, but it can also lose you teamfights as well. A good Meat Hook will drag an enemy hero into your team, allowing your team to quickly dispatch them - starting the fight off 4v5! However, try to avoid hooking heroes such as Tidehunter, who love being dragged into the middle of your team...
Pudge in the Late Game
As much as Pudge can be a huge tank and meat shield for your teammates, unless you’ve had a great start - that’s not the role you’ll be filling. One of Pudge’s strengths is the many niches he can fill in fights. Based on the game state, you’ll most likely be doing one or some of the following:
- Playing outside of the fight or behind important allies to hook them out of trouble if need be
- Blinking in and Dismembering a crucial enemy hero to hold them down for your team to kill
- If you’re not a priority target and your team lacks a frontliner - you’ll want to be standing in between your cores and the opponents
- Initiate fights/gain advantage by hooking a juicy target into your team before the fight kicks off.
While the late game is always a volatile period, one rule of thumb is to ALWAYS PLAY WITH YOUR TEAM. Even if you’ve had a successful early game solo-picking people off, it’s likely opponents will have the items to deal with you.
Remember that your role as a Position 4 is to enable your team. There is rarely ever going to be a case where Pudge can carry the game alone, but he can set his team up for an easy slam dunk. While Pudge can be a deadly ganker + roamer, he does have some inherent weaknesses which we will use items to make up for.
Pudge has low movespeed and no mobility / escape abilities. He also has very low armor which makes him very squishy to high physical damage + minus armor and a pretty small mana pool. Thus, in this Pudge Guide we are going to focus on building items to fix our movespeed / mobility and armour problems (and to a lesser extent his mana issues).
What items to build on Pudge?
Tranquil Boots: Tranquil Boots are a good choice of boots for Pudge as they give great movespeed but also provide health regen when out of combat. The health regen from Tranquils is perfect for counter-acting the self-damage from Rot - allowing Pudge to heal up to full between fights.
Magic Stick/Magic Wand: Don’t skip this item.The burst of health and mana provided by Magic Stick will come in handy for those clutch fights.
Teleport Scrolls / Smoke of Deceit: TP Scrolls are very important for Pudge as he is a great counter-initiator, with the ability to quickly turn around a fight with a well-placed hook.
Make sure you have a few in your inventory and keep an eye out for fights breaking out. Pudge wants to be in lots of fights to gain more stacks of Flesh Heap. Smoke of Deceit allows you to effectively make your own fog of war and sneak past wards. This will let you maneuver unseen into nice positions to hook from. Especially effective around mid lane.
Force Staff, while a little less flashy than Blink Dagger, is still a solid choice. It gives some nice stats (the Intelligence always come in handy with Pudge’s poor base mana) while still providing a similar mobility tool. It also allows you to save your teammates in a pinch.
Hood of Defiance: Hood of Defiance has always been a go-to-item on Pudge. The magic damage resistance helps to negate the self-damage from Rot, effectively making Pudge much tankier. It also provides HP regen which is nice. (It can be turned into a Pipe of Insight if you want to be a team-player).
Black King Bar: While Dismember is an awesome spell, it's super easy to cancel. Thus, if you want to be a true tryhard Pudge - you’re gonna need a Black King Bar. The ability to lock down an enemy hard carry with an uninterruptible BKB-piercing stun is extremely valuable. Boring but good.
Boots of Travel – Movespeed is great on Pudge and the ability to TP to fights is great for farming Flesh Heap stacks. They just cost a lot and provide no stats - only buy if you are already stomping or in the extreme late game.
Aether Lens – Gives Meat Hook more range while also providing a nice boost to your mana pool + mana regen. If you aren’t confident in your hooks – probably avoid this as other items will be more impactful. Can be a good option if you are having a harder game and want to act as more of a utility hero.
Heart of Tarrasque – this will make you extremely beefy and add a lot of damage to your ult. However, since Pudge is mostly scared of dying to physical damage and Heart doesn’t provide any armour - it’s definitely more of a ‘win-more’ luxury item rather than a tryhard choice. Only buy if you are stomping or the enemy team has no physical damage cores.
Shiva’s Guard – A legitimately great item on Pudge as it makes up for 2 of his main weaknesses - armor and mana issues. If you aren’t having any mobility problems - Shiva’s Guard is a great pick up, the only drawback is that it costs a lot of gold. Buy the Platemail first!
Aghanim’s Scepter - Increases Rot radius by 225 and damage by 100 while also providing some pretty nice stats. If you find yourself playing more of a core pudge and you aren’t struggling with mobility, this is a great choice.
Agh’s Shard - Allows Pudge to cast Dismember on allies, swallowing them and healing them for 6% of their max health every second. It also reduces the cooldown of Dismember by 10 seconds.
This is a somewhat odd upgrade, but it does give Pudge a secondary ‘save’ besides just hooking your allies away from danger. The problem is that it costs 1400 gold and gives no stats or mobility. We suggest you skip it unless you really know what you’re doing.
Go on, Get Hookin!
Ultimately, Pudge changes any game of Dota he’s in for better or worse. The sheer amount of creativity you can have with his kit is what separates the average Pudge from the master. As you make your way towards becoming the latter, we hope this Pudge guide can serve as a jumping pad for your Pudge career.
Last but not least, as a newly christened Pudge player, you must live and die by this motto:
You Miss Every Hook You Do Not Throw
Now go forth and sow chaos (not in our pubs though GabeN please have mercy).