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Dragon Knight is a tanky melee initiator who can improve his abilities by turning into a dragon. His Dragon Tail spell is a very reliable stun that has value throughout the game. In the early stages, he can use Breathe Fire to nuke creep waves accelerating his farm.
Due to the hero’s high strength gain and defensive passive called Dragon Blood, he can survive ganks and teamfights where most other characters would quickly die. If you’re playing a normal game, you can even go crazy with the hero and build Mask of Madness and Daedalus (be ready for some heavy flaming if you do so).
Flying around with a massive dragon and chilling enemies to their bones is always exhilarating!
Key Info Up Front
Dragon Knight is a very flexible hero and can be played in different positions and lanes. The character is great for tower pushing, and if he gets enough farm, he can even serve as a carry, semi-carry in the later portions of the game.
- Health: 620 Damage: 48-54 Movement speed: 310 Strength: 21 + 3.4
- Mana: 291 Armor: 2 Attack speed: 0.7 attacks per second Agility: 19 + 2
- Intelligence: 18 + 1.7
- Spells and abilities: Breathe Fire, Dragon Tail, Dragon Blood, Elder Dragon Form
- Special abilities: N/A
- Strengths: Extremely tanky, especially in the early game, solid tower pushing ability, reliable initiation
- Weaknesses: Slow farm speed, needs ultimate to be viable, not that potent as a carry
Dragon Knight has a mixed bag of spells allowing him to adapt to various situations during the laning phase. Unfortunately, after this part of the game, he often falls off due to low farming speed. I personally love the hero because you always know what you’re getting from it.
Your main goal is to get Blink Dagger or Shadow Blade as soon as possible and start controlling the tempo of the match. These items allow the hero to initiate with his long-duration disable, Dragon Tail. After getting a pickoff or two, you can push the towers with Corrosive Breathe, an ability that you get by activating Elder Dragon Form.
Breathe Fire is Dragon Knight’s main magic nuke. As the name implies, you breathe fire in a cone in front of you. The spell does instant damage (300 damage at level 4) and reduces the enemies’ attack damage by 25%. Although the incantation’s damage is not that high, you can cast it every 11 seconds. In other words, if you cast it immediately during an engagement, it will soon come off cooldown, and you will be able to use it once again.
While the damage is not that impressive, it definitely helps during the early and mid-game. Dragon Knight players often use Breathe Fire to secure kills. You can also cast it in the back of a fleeing enemy in a similar way you would use Lina’s Dragon Slave.
For example, you would jump on an enemy, stun him, and during the disable, you will try to deal as much auto-attack damage as possible. As the low-health enemy is running away, you can cast the spell for one last burst of damage.
This is one of the best, most reliable single-target stuns in Dota 2. Dragon Tail will keep an enemy disabled in place for up to 3 seconds. While the stun duration is simply amazing, the damage is somewhat lackluster.
The great thing about this spell is that it lasts very long, even on the first level (2.25 seconds). In fact, it is the longest-lasting level 1 stun in the game. This can make a difference if you’re laning with another ally, as you can dish a lot of damage during that time.
The main problem with Dragon Tail is that you need to cast it at a melee range. So, if you have ranged opponents in a lane, they can simply go back if you start running towards them. Luckily, when you turn into an elder dragon, you will get an additional 400 cast range on the spell, making it easier to land.
This passive ability makes Dragon Knight a real nuisance. It provides the hero with a massive armor and health regeneration increase. You will always benefit from Dragon Blood, but it is especially good during the laning phase.
For example, if you take the ability at level 1, you will have 6 armor (3 base armor + 3 Dragon Blood armor), which provides 29% physical resistance, and 5.7 health regeneration (2.7 base regeneration + 3 Dragon Blood regeneration). This would allow you to trade hits with the opponents without worrying too much.
Dragon Blood is especially good against certain mid matchups making your hero practically unkillable. Even if the enemies try to gank you, they will often have trouble doing so. Furthermore, like all armor buffs, it is very helpful against armor-reducing heroes and lineups.
Elder Dragon Form (Ultimate)
Like many other transformation spells, Elder Dragon Form completely changes how the hero is played. It will turn the hero into a big dragon with a ranged attack. But what’s even more important, every point in the skill will provide additional passive abilities.
At level 1, the hero will become a green dragon with a Corrosive Breathe attack. Whenever you hit a target, you will leave a debuff that does magic damage over time. The passive works on towers making the Dragon Knight a potent siege weapon.
At level 2, you will turn into a red dragon with massive splash damage. At level 3, Dragon Knight will become a blue dragon with Frost Breath, which reduces enemies’ movement and attack speed within the splash radius.
If you decide to buy Aghanim’s Scepter, your Elder Dragon Form will increase by one level. This unlocks tier 4 black dragon at level 18, which has improved versions of all these passives, +20% magic resistance, and free pathing.
As you get points in the skill, the dragon’s appearance will change, and you will get additional passives. The passives from the previous dragon will not perish but will stack cumulatively (i.e., the blue dragon will have Corrosive Breath, splash attack, and Frost Breath).
While Elder Dragon Form is really amazing, providing various passives buffs, and increasing the cast range of Dragon Tail and Fireball, the hero is almost unplayable without it.
Fireball (granted by Aghanim’s Shard)
Dragon Knight will set a large area on fire. All enemy heroes and creeps in it will take damage over time for 10 seconds. Like Breathe Fire, it is an instant cast spell but with a much larger radius. However, the damage is not instantaneous, which makes it less than ideal against enemy heroes.
Fireball works well with Dragon Tail. If you cast it immediately after the stun, you can rest assured that the enemy hero will take at least 3-second worth of damage. If you follow it up with other stuns or slows, it can be even more. The incantation deals a descent 65 magic damage per second. In total, you can harm an opponent for 650 damage.
Fireball can work well with some other spells that keep enemies in place. Disruptor’s Kinetic Field and Mars’ Arena of Blood are two that come into mind. Alternatively, you can always utilize it to increase your farm.
Dragon Knight is a pretty straightforward hero with a simple mechanic. Your main task is to lock enemies in place and tank as much damage as possible. If you have a good game, you can become a potent force later on, especially once you get 3rd level in Elder Dragon Form.
The hero’s nukes are decent but not great. The thing that helps the hero’s total damage output is his survivability. Given that enemies can’t nuke you that easily, you will be able to cast Breathe Fire and Dragon Tail a few times, making the hero just a bit better.
The enemy team needs to invest a lot to kill Dragon Knight. If you die several times in a row, this is usually a sign that you’re constantly out of position.
In the worst-case scenario, Dragon Knight should trade even or a bit better with the opponents. As you will invest points in Dragon Blood, you likely won’t have enough damage to kill enemies in the lane (unless you’re paired with a heavy nuker).
I love maxing out Breathe Fire as it has higher damage than Dragon Tail and area of effect. In the last few years, prioritizing the stun has become a common practice. But, in my opinion, this won’t get the job done in pub games. If you wish to be the cool dude in the game, you can completely skip Dragon Blood and go full damage. Ideal for players with a bloodlust and death wish.
As soon as you get to level 6, you need to nuke the creep wave and pressure the tower. Getting just a few hits on it can go a long way. One of the advantages of the hero is that the enemies cannot leave you alone in the lane once you get the ultimate as you will take out the tower rather easily.
Dragon Knight is pretty versatile and can be played in almost any role. If you play as a support, the passive will make you more durable than the opposing supports, and the disabled can work as a safe for your core. Additionally, Breathe Fire debuff will further reduce the damage of the enemies if they decide to pursue Dragon Knight or his lane partner.
Anyway, no matter which role you play, make sure to prioritize Blink Dagger and start making plays around the map.
The cool thing about the hero is that you have a lot of flexibility in terms of item builds. Aside from an initiation tool and Black King Bar, you can basically buy whatever you want. Furthermore, it is really awesome that a hero has so much defense. You can focus on damaged items, and no one will be able to say anything. Just don’t buy Divine Rapier, as you will get thrown to low priority!
During the mid-game, your task is to be as active as possible with brief rests when your ultimate is on the cooldown. Dragon Knight is ideal for opening the map due to the combination of pickoff potential and tower pushing. You can frontline for your team with little to no defensive items allowing your squishy teammates to dish as much damage as possible from the back.
Similar to many initiators, you should be very careful as to what you’re buying. Some Dragon Knights start with Armlet of Mordiggian and go into Blink Dagger. Occasionally, this can disrupt your timings. The most important is not trying to carry if you already have a highly item-dependent carry.
While the idea of pummeling your opponents is pretty awesome, you won’t win many games with such a mindset. Instead, you can go for damage items after Black King Bar and Blink Dagger. If you decide to buy any defensive item aside from Black King Bar or Assault Cuirass, you can seriously stifle your effectiveness on the map. Even Aghanim’s Scepter can feel lackluster as it doesn’t provide enough damage or utility.
Although everyone benefits from having 3 points in their ultimate, Dragon Knight’s 3rd level is especially potent. The blue dragon’s Frost Breath debuff can be compared to Cold Attack from Eye of Skadi. However, what sets this ability apart is that it works in a radius. With it, Dragon Knight becomes extremely powerful against clumped-up opponents and teams with several melee heroes.
Interestingly enough, Dragon Knight can feel a bit more powerful in the late game than in the mid game, even without a massive item progression. As mentioned, that 3rd level in ultimate is pretty massive and is probably the best level 18 upgrade in the game. Furthermore, the hero has +20 strength talent at level 20, which adds both tankiness and damage.
In order for Dragon Knight’s team to win during the late game, you will have to dish additional damage. The only thing you need to consider is how you’re using your ultimate. The transformation lasts for 60 with a 105-second cooldown. Not having it available during teamfights can lose you the game.
In fact, this is one of the potential problems that the hero is having. As teamfights become longer and enemies start buying back, you run the risk of losing Elder Dragon Form. In some situations, you might need Refresher Orb, but given your slow farm speed, it is an item that you probably won’t have access to.
Itemization (Core items)
Like any other initiator, Dragon Knight thrives with Blink Dagger and can feel useless without it. You should literally get it after Power Threads and Magic Stick. If you’re having a good game, and your teammates are not pressured too much, you might consider some minor item prior to Blink Dagger, such as Drum of Endurance or Hood of Defiance.
Black King Bar
Black King Bar is a must-have item for any melee carry. Although Dragon Knight is usually in his ranged form during team engagements, his damage output is heavily reliant on auto-attacks. So, given that the enemy team will go at you after initiation, you cannot be disabled.
Assault Cuirass is a popular pickup on Dragon Knight. It gives the hero and allies armor and attack speed. While allies will benefit more from armor aura, the hero will get the most from its attack speed improvement. The minus armor works against the tower, further improving your pushing ability. However, I personally don’t like this item too much on Dragon Knight as it often feels too defensive.
Shadow Blade and Silver Edge
These two items are alternatives to Blink Dagger. However, initiating with Shadow Blade will always be inferior to using Dagger, especially if opponents’ towers are still standing. The Shadow Blade is also more expensive. But the great thing about it is the boost to damage and attack speed. Furthermore, you can upgrade it later on to Silver Edge, which will give you the Break feature, additional damage and attack speed, and Critical Strike.
Itemization (Optional items)
Armlet of Mordiggian
Dragon Knight is one of the better Armlet users due to his high health regeneration. The negative effect of Unholy Strength will not be as noticeable, while you still benefit from attack, armor, and strength bonuses.
Hood of Defiance
Sometimes, Dragon Knight players will make a Hood of Defiance as the first item. The magic resistance and the shield are very good for the hero because spell damage is his main defensive weakness. Later on, you can also turn it into Pipe of Insight if you’re playing a support role. The item will be good throughout the game, but it shines if you wish to skip Black King Bar as the second item and take it a bit later.
Maelstrom and Mjollnir
Maelstrom and Mjollnir are nowadays less popular pickups on Dragon Knight. But with Maelstrom, you can match the farm of some other carries. Furthermore, the additional damage is always amazing on the hero. Later on, you can turn Maelstrom into Mjollnir, which gives you Static Charge, a great spell for frontliners.
Daedalus is the best item if you’re struggling with damage. The critical damage works well with splash attacks, destroying everyone in an area. In some situations, Daedalus can provide more value to Dragon Knight than to some other traditional carries (although the item is great on every carry).
Monkey King Bar
Monkey King Bar is a highly situational item. You will only buy it if the enemy has evasion. The damage on this item is great for Dragon Knight, but the increase of attack speed is superb.
Level 10 (-30% Breathe Fire damage reduction OR +15 damage)
Breath Fire damage debuff sounds great on paper. However, given that you’re commonly using the spell offensively to deal damage, the debuff will not be as important. After the initial barrage of Dragon Tail, Fire Breath, and auto-attack, most enemies will start running away, rendering the effect useless. I prefer damage buff instead, as it will always provide value.
Level 15 (400 health OR +0.5 seconds Dragon Tail stun duration)
If you wish to get AOE Dragon Tail at level 25, +0.5 seconds Dragon Tail stun duration would be a great option. In most cases, you should simply go with 400 health talent. In some cases, when your team is lacking disables, the stun talent could be more important. But usually, the 0.5 duration increase is simply not enough to justify the choice.
Level 20 (+20 strength OR +150 attack range increase during Elder Dragon Form)
Again, attack range is a highly situational skill. First off, it only works during Elder Dragon Form. Second, it will only be good if the enemy is kitting you. This hero does benefit from range, but you still want to be somewhat close to the fray, so you can cast spells and tank some damage.
On the other hand, strength talent gives you both damage and tankiness, and will be beneficial regardless of the situation. A rare situation when the range talent will be good is if you have a lot of frontliners and you want to focus on dealing damage.
Level 25 (+375 Dragon Tail AOE during Elder Dragon Form OR +12 Dragon Blood armor and health regeneration)
Even if you didn’t take +0.5 seconds Dragon Tail stun duration talent, AOE Dragon Tail would be a much better option. By stunning 2 or 3 opponents at once, you can win a lot of teamfights. On the other hand, if you took previous health-boosting talents, as I recommended, you will already be very tanky. Also, regeneration and armor will become redundant at this point.
Dragon Knight Dota Guide: FAQs
Question: Is Dragon Knight offlane hero?
Answer: Dragon Knight can be played in any role. However, he performs the worst as the main carry. You can play the hero as an offlaner, and after getting a Blink Dagger, you can start controlling the game.
Question: Is Dragon Knight a carry?
Answer: Dragon Knight is more of a semi-carry. His physical damage output is usually low, so he cannot really compare to some other traditional carry picks. Furthermore, he usually starts lagging behind if you don’t get farming items.
Question: How do you use Dragon Knight?
Answer: The best way to utilize the hero is as a tank/initiator. He is also great for pushing the towers and can be a good semi-carry with enough items.