Do you like annoying enemies in the lane, forcing them to continuously strife left and right? Do you like saving your cores at the last second, leaving enemies empty-handed? Then, Shadow Demon is the right hero for you!
The character’s Disruption is one of the best saves/setups in the game, causing enemies to rage quit. Soul Catcher can temporarily reduce enemies’ total health while boosting your spell damage, and Demon Purge can completely ruin melee carries’ day.
In this Shadow Demon Dota Guide, I will share a few secrets that will help you get much better results with the hero.
Key Info Up Front
Shadow Demon is ranged intelligence support. He has various offensive and defensive spells and can deal enormous damage if left alive for a long time.
- Health: 660 Damage: 51-55 Movement speed: 290 Strength: 23 + 2.6
- Mana: 339 Armor: 3 Attack speed: 0.69 attacks per second Agility: 18 + 2.2
- Intelligence: 22 + 3.6
- Spells and abilities: Disruption, Soul Catcher, Shadow Poison, Demonic Purge
- Special abilities: N/A
- Strengths: Very disruptive abilities, spell that works as a save and setup, incredible ganking potential with right allies
- Weaknesses: Doesn’t have nukes, doesn’t have stuns, very limited offensive potential
Shadow Demon is very draft-dependent. His Disruption spell is excellent for setting up kills in early and mid-game. For example, you can use it with Mirana’s Sacred Arrow to kill just about anyone. But it is also great for sieging because the spell produces illusions of the affected hero (whether its ally or enemy).
Soul Catcher can temporarily reduce enemy heroes’ total health, which is a good way to start an engagement. I also love spamming Shadow Poison on enemies (short cooldown, stacks up to 5 times) and unexpectedly bursting them down.
Lastly, you have Demonic Purge that removes all positive buffs from enemies and reduces their movement speed for the duration. What’s even better, the spell goes through Black King Bar, thus retaining its potency throughout the game.
Disruption Basically, most players take Shadow Demon for this particular spell. It is a multifaceted ability that you can cast on both allies and enemies.
When you cast the spell, the target is banished to another realm for 2.75 seconds. In that sense, it is very similar to Outworld Destroyer’s Astral Imprisonment. However, unlike this spell, Disruption doesn’t do damage to enemies upon return. Instead, it creates two illusions of the target that deal 75% damage each and last 14 seconds (on the 4th level).
Given that the spell creates illusions, you can use it to confuse enemies. For example, if they’re pursuing an ally, you will save them with the spell. When they return, there will be three versions of the hero (the ally and the two illusions), and if you use the illusions correctly, this could give the ally enough time to escape.
You can cast Soul Catcher and Shadow Poison while the opponent is in another realm.
Although Soul Catcher doesn’t damage the opponents, it works in a somewhat similar way. It will reduce their health by 20%/25%/30%/35% per level of the spell. Soul Cather is especially potent as an opening spell at the start of the engagement.
Keep in mind that the incantation works based on the current health and not the total health. In other words, if an opponent has low health, it won’t be very beneficial.
The debuff lasts for 10 seconds, and upon expiration, the heroes will regain the lost health in the same numeric value. In that sense, the spell won’t help a lot unless you’re able to kill the target during these 10 seconds. With the right items, you can even stack the effects, but each additional stack will be less potent as the enemies will have a lower base for health reduction.
Another neat feature of Soul Catcher is the spell amplification buff that it gives you. During these 10 seconds, Shadow Demon will gain a spell damage boost that increases depending on the number of enemies affected by the spell.
Shadow Poison is the Shadow Demon’s main damaging spell. It sends a long line of poison that also provides vision. Upon making contact with a target, it will do small instant damage and will leave a debuff. Each subsequent cast of the spell on the same target will increase the stack count by one and also double the potential damage. Once you’re ready, you can release all these stacks and do damage based on their amount.
For example, if an opponent has one stack, they will take 60 release damage. At two stacks, they will take 120 damage, at three 240, and so on. Level 4 Shadow Poison release, with five stacks on the target, can cause a total of 960 damage (1104 with appropriate talent).
Although you can keep spamming the spell until a target has ten stacks, each stack after five will only provide 50 stackable damage (if five stacks dov960 damage, ten stacks would do 1210 damage). Ideally, you should release the poison at five stacks and start reapplying the debuff.
Demonic Purge (Ultimate)
Demonic Purge is a single target slow/damage spell that lasts 7 seconds. The initial slow is 100%, and the enemy will slowly regain speed up to -20% when the debuff expires. Upon the expiration of the debuff, the opponent will take heavy magic damage.
The best feature of the spell is that it goes through Black King Bar and other forms of magic immunity. However, it won’t do magic damage in such cases but only slow the opposing hero for the duration.
Like many supports, Shadow Demon is a hero that should stay in the back, at a safe distance. He plays reactionary, saving allies with Disruption and disabling enemy cores with Demonic Purge. Although he takes time to build up Shadow Poison stacks, he can nuke the opponents for enormous damage once he does.
In a way, Shadow Demon always surprises the enemies with either his saves or the sudden burst of magic damage. Given that enemies are usually focused on other heroes, they rarely notice this small Shadow Poison debuff ticking at the bottom of their screen.
Shadow Demon is much better in the safe lane as defensive support, helping the carry. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he would be bad as offlane support. It is worth noting that Disruption is not as great as having healing spells if you’re in a tough lane.
What makes him solid lane support is the fact he can dish a lot of damage with Shadow Poison. In fact, this is one of the better spells at level one, as you can spam it as much as you want. Furthermore, as enemies will not have boots, you are more likely to connect with five stacks, allowing you to get fast kills.
A lot of Shadow Demons start stacking early, whether for themselves or for their carry. This is one of the better support characters if you wish to clear jungle stack.
Although most people perceive Shadow Demon as a defensive specialist, he has great offensive potential. As mentioned, Disruption is a great setup spell working nicely with Lina, Mirana, Kunkka, Bloodseeker, Alchemist, and anyone else who has a delayed spell. Alternatively, it can work nicely with strength initiators who need to close into melee range to cast their stun/disable (Dragon Knight, Legion Commander, Axe, Centaur Warrunner, etc.
At this point, you should start roaming as much as possible. Demonic Purge is often underestimated spell, even though it can destroy most carries. Until your initiator gets a Blink Dagger, you can serve as a primary opener for the team.
Once the teams start grouping up, your role changes a bit. Instead of being proactive and setting up kills, you need to be reactive. If you wish to maximize the hero’s damage potential, you need to stay as far back as possible to cast Soul Catcher and follow it up with Shadow Poison.
You would use Demonic Purge as an offensive tool during the ganking phase. Now, it is much better to use it defensively if the enemies start collapsing on your carry or mid. Coupled with Disruption, this would provide them enough leeway to maneuver around.
If you wish to go fully defensive, you can even get Aghanim’s Shard that will add functionality to Demonic Purge (more about this in the item section).
By the late game, you will likely have Aghanim’s Scepter. This would give you three charges on Demonic Purge, which can be a real game-changer. Aside from that, you should probably get other defensive items to protect your cores for as long as possible.
The role of Shadow Demon doesn’t change much in the late game. It is worth noting that at level 25, you have a talent providing two charges of Disruption. This is another one of these buffs that can have a major impact on the outcome of the engagements.
Due to the nature of his abilities, Shadow Demon doesn’t have a major drop-off from early to late game. All these skills are the same in nature, and the hero doesn’t necessarily rely on magic damage to be effective.
Itemization (Core items)
Like all other supports, Shadow Demon can benefit greatly from Aether Lens. With it, you won’t have to worry about your positioning that much. Aether Lens is especially important for casting Demonic Purge and Disruption and any other defensive item you buy along the way.
With Glimmer Cape, you can cast Glimmer on yourself and the allies. It would make them invisible for the duration, also providing extra magic resistance. The item provides extra options for saving teammates, and it allows you to use Disruption offensively. Alternatively, you can save several allies simultaneously or the same ally continuously.
Force Staff works in a similar way as Glimmer, getting your teammates out of the fray or into it. Even if you already bought Glimmer Cape, you can still go with this item for additional protection and saves.
The scepter will give you three charges of Demonic Purge and will provide a break mechanic on enemies, disabling their passive abilities during these 7 seconds. The item provides enormous value. With it, you can recast the ability on the same enemy three times, keeping them slowed and broken for a total of 21 seconds (if they live that long, that is). Alternatively, you can cast it on several opponents simultaneously.
Itemization (Optional items)
Aghanim’s Shard is a very strong upgrade to your Demonic Purge, but you might not always want to use it. This Shard is like a positive version of the spell, continuously purging an ally for the duration. It will also restore the target’s health upon buff’s expiration.
However, unlike the regular version of the spell, Demonic Purge will not slow down your teammate. The great thing about the Aghanim’s Shard is that it can remove so many status effects from the allies, making them almost invulnerable.
Lotus Orb is another defensive item you need to consider. It is especially great in games where there are numerous debuffs and single-target disables. The item almost always has a purpose, and it is especially good on carries, initiators, or when you’re sieging. While it doesn’t provide stats or health, it will give the Shadow Demons armor, mana, and regeneration.
Pipe of Insight
Pipe of Insight is very good against magic-focused enemies. Besides providing a magic-protection aura, the item will allow you to cast Barrier on allies, nullifying 400 incoming magic damage. Furthermore, the hero will also gain additional magic resistance and health regeneration.
Enemies are usually targeting squishy defensive supports in the backlines. Without them, the team won’t be able to sustain itself for a long time. This is why sometimes, Shadow Demon might need Aeon Disc. The item will make the hero invulnerable for 2.5 seconds, also giving him strong debuff and 75% status resistance for the duration. It only activates if you drop below 75% health.
The ghost Scepter is another defensive item. However, it can only be used on the person who bought it. You can use Ghost Scepter to activate Ghost Form for 4 seconds, during which you will take 20% more magic damage, but you will be invulnerable to physical attacks. It shines in games where there are several opponents with physical damage who can jump to the backlines and attack you.
Level 10 (+10 strength OR +15% Shadow Poison damage)
Strength talent gives the hero 200 health. This is always a nice boost for squishy support. However, an increase in Shadow Poison damage has a much bigger impact on teamfights. It would make the hero’s biggest nuke even more potent, which is why I suggest you prioritize it.
Level 15 (+200 Demonic Purge damage OR +25 movement speed)
Movement speed is not that relevant on supports as it is on cores. Still, the +25 increase will definitely help your positioning and is especially useful if you have to save someone. Demonic Purge buff is very nice if you buy Aghanim’s Scepter.
Although the damage will not always work on enemies, as you will often be forced to cast it on opponents during Black King Bar’s immunity, your allies can definitely benefit from the heal (if you have Aghanim’s Shard). Anyway, most players would opt for Demonic Purge talent.
Level 20 (-1.5 seconds Shadow Poison cooldown OR -6 seconds Soul Catcher cooldown)
If you took Shadow Poison talent at level 10, it makes sense to get a talent that would reduce its cooldown. The lowered cooldown is very important for the incantation as you will be able to quickly rack up the stacks. However, we shouldn’t neglect the Soul Catcher talent.
The second talent reduces the spell’s cooldown from 20 to 14, which would often allow you to cast the spell two times in a fight. While the health reduction on the second Soul Catcher cast will not be that important, as most enemies will likely have low health after a prolonged engagement, you can still benefit from its damage amplification buff.
Level 25 (2 charges of Disruption OR -30 seconds Demonic Purge cooldown)
Both of these talents have their merit. Having two charges of Disruption is excellent if you have to constantly save allies.
It can also be used to remove strong enemies from battle. On the other hand, the Demonic Purge cooldown is also potent if you invested a lot of talents and items into the skill. You have to assess the dynamic of the game to determine which one of these two would be more valuable.
Question: How do you play Shadow Demon?
Answer: Shadow Demon is a hero commonly placed behind ally lines. His main role is to protect the allies while casting waves after waves of Shadow Poison.
Question: Is Shadow Demon a good hero?
Answer: According to the official data, he is below average in terms of the win rate. However, his spells shouldn’t be underestimated and can be very potent if you properly assess the situation. Good Shadow Demon player can be one of the most impactful heroes on the map.
Question: How does Shadow Poison work?
Answer: This spell has a cumulative effect, and you have to cast as many Shadow Poisons on one enemy as possible. Each time, you will deal low base damage. But what makes the spell dangerous is its stacking damage. When you get to 5 stacks, level 4 Shadow Poison can deal almost 1,000 damage to an opponent.
Although Shadow Demon is not as destructive as some other supports, he can single-handedly turn battles around. Both Disruption and Demonic Purge can win you engagements by protecting your cores or destroying the enemies.
For me, there is nothing better than accumulating five stacks of Shadow Poison and nuking enemies for massive damage. It is one of those spells that people commonly underestimate because of its low base damage. However, when you release the poison, most of them will start flaming, annoyed by the fact that a tiny Shadow Demon got them from the backlines.