Every two weeks, PCG Pro sifts through Dotabuff’s extensive stats to unearth an ‘unsung hero’ of Dota 2 matchmaking: a hero that matches an above-average winrate with a curiously low pick rate. This week that’s Abaddon, who sits on an extremely-healthy 58.86% winrate this week alone while being picked in only 6.65% of games. It gets more impressive if you look further out, too: across every game ever tracked by Dotabuff, Abaddon has the highest winrate of any hero in Dota.
A common theme of these unsung heroes (our first two were Omniknight and Warlock, if you missed those articles) is characters that are impactful because they force the enemy team to play differently. In a game where the vast majority of players value stuns and chunky nukes, these are disruptive characters that require an on-the-fly change in strategy. Abaddon fits that profile down to the letter.
What does Abaddon do?
Abaddon is a melee strength hero who can be played as a support or as a core. He tends to move between position 3 and 4, rarely hitting the extreme ends of the farm pyramid, but there’s value in assigning him a higher position from time to time. His abilities emphasise damage mitigation and control, and he’s most effective on the front line of any given fight.
Abaddon is a magic mist ghost riding an unusually small horse and deserves your respect on that basis alone. He looks like a scary Nazgul, and even sounds a little bit like one, but really he’s a giant sweetheart. Few heroes can protect a carry as comprehensively as Abaddon can, and when geared up for fighting his power manifests as a desire to hug every single member of the enemy team for as long as possible. He even likes it when you hit him. Bless.
He’s one of the game’s best babysitters
Abaddon’s strength as a lane partner comes from his ability to shut down the enemy’s ambitions quickly and, in the event of a prolonged fight, slowly turn the odds against them. Aphotic Shield is a hard counter to the single-target disables that are often crucial to early-game ganks, and his cheap spammable heal allows him to sustain an ally against harassment too. He’s not the best at proactively setting up kills, however, and the incredibly long cast time on all of his spells make timing and positioning crucial. If you’re in the wrong place or too slow to act, Aphotic Shield is worth a lot less.
It takes effort to take him down (and people are lazy)
Key to Abaddon’s winrate, I suspect, is the fact that he almost never dies unless the enemy makes a concerted effort to take him down. At lower levels of play, it’s likely possible to charge face-first into a confused enemy and survive simply on the basis of Aphotic Shield and Borrowed Time alone. Even when players become more experienced, Abaddon requires special consideration. If you rely on a lot of AoE ultimates, he’ll lap up lots of free healing during a fight. If you try to burst him down one-on-one, you’ve still got to be attentive to his ultimate and successfully disengage when it activates. He’s far from indestructible, but it takes an iota more thought to efficiently take him out than it does for other characters: and that iota is often what makes the difference in pub matches.
Borrowed Time wastes their time
In the event that the enemy does successfully focus Abaddon, Abaddon is doing what he is supposed to. Every bit of damage and every disable that Abaddon eats up is a victory for his team, because (a) it’ll still take longer than normal to take him out and (b) that damage and those stuns aren’t going on a more valuable target. If the enemy acknowledges this and ignores Abaddon, he’ll have free reign to shield and heal up allies. Like Omniknight, he becomes a target that is important to eliminate quickly but is hard to kill, who can badly disrupt a teamfight but who is happy to absorb your wrath because doing so spares their allies. In an even fight where both teams are content to mash buttons at each other, the team with a half-awake Abaddon should win.
Items to consider
Abaddon makes a natural aura carrier because of his survivability. Stick a Mekansm, Vladimir’s Offering, Drums of Endurance or Assault Cuirass on him and his team will benefit for much longer than they otherwise might. Those are mid to lategame considerations, however. As a support Abaddon, you’ll likely want Tranquil Boots and a Soul Ring so that you never have to leave the lane. After that point, be reactive: go for a Mek or Pipe of Insight as the situation demands, and consider a Solar Crest if you can pull together the gold. As a carry Abaddon, try to beef up your damage while taking maximum advantage of your natural toughness. Radiance is decent, here, as is Assault Cuirass, Heart of Tarrasque and Necronomicon if you need more utility.
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