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Sven is a tanky strength hero that can decimate enemy lines with one hit. The combination of Great Cleave, Warcry, and God’s Strenght provides various bonuses and effects that are crucial for melee carries. You also have Storm Hammer that allows you to temporarily keep enemies in place as you pummel them with heavy auto-attacks.
In this Sven Dota Guide, we will take a deep look at the hero, his optimal item build, and how to maximize his physical damage potential.
Sven is one of the best physical nukers in Dota 2. The hero is pretty straightforward: activate God’s Strenght and Warcry, stun the target enemy (or enemies) with Storm Hammer and charge into them.
The first few seconds of an engagement are crucial for this character. Although Warcry provides bonus movement speed, Sven is regarded as one of the less agile carries. To win teamfights, you need to kill one or two enemies from the get-go. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting kitted.
The good thing about Sven is that he is pretty tanky. Expect for Black King Bar, which is a must-have, you can focus on damage and mobility items. He can farm woods pretty efficiently with Great Cleave and can get very farmed at around the 20 to 25-minute mark.
Storm Hammer is the hero’s only magic-damage spell and disable. It is a single-target ability that throws a big hammer, stunning and damaging the primary target and enemies around it. Sven uses it as a setup for auto-attacks. Due to the hero’s low mana pool, you will almost never use it for farming.
The spell is pretty decent in terms of damage and stun duration. It also has a reasonable cooldown. By getting an Aghanim’s Shard, you can reduce the cooldown, which could allow you to cast it several times during an engagement. Aghanim’s Scepter will further upgrade it, adding cast range and improving your mobility (teleports Sven together with the hammer to target destination).
The best thing about Storm Hammer is that it’s very reliable, although enemies with quick fingers can disjoint the projectile.
Great Cleave is Sven’s main farming ability. It adds a splash effect to the hero’s auto-attacks. With it, you can quickly kill off jungle and lane creeps. Great Cleave grants 100% splash damage, which means that all enemies in the radius will take the same amount of damage.
Given that Sven doesn’t have to buy Maelstrom or Battle Fury, he will get combat items very quickly. Among others, Great Cleave is amazing if you want to dispatch several opponents at once. So, in order for the hero to have good engagements, it is very important to stun several enemies simultaneously with Storm Hammer and hit all of them with Great Cleave.
Warcry is one of the hero’s two buffs. It provides Sven and nearby allies with massive armor and movement speed boost. It is especially good if you have squishy allied support around you when you cast it, as they will benefit greatly from the armor increase effect.
The spell can be used offensively and defensively. The movement speed buff is especially great if you’re trying to escape ganks. It can also help Sven’s initiation before he gets Blink Dagger or Aghanim’s Scepter.
The only downside of the spell is that you can purge it.
God’s Strength (Ultimate)
Sven’s ultimate increases hero’s attack damage. The bonus damage is based on his main attack damage. In other words, on his innate damage that he gets through leveling. You won’t increase this buff by getting physical damage items.
The damage increase is 120%, 160%, and 200% per level of skill. The buff lasts 35 seconds, which will make it last through most engagements. Enemies cannot remove this effect, and it will only perish once 35 have passed or if the hero dies.
God’s Strength allows Sven to one-shot enemies, and it goes really well with Daedalus.
Sven can dish a lot of instant damage but usually struggles during prolonged fights. His spells are, for the most part, not recastable, and if you don’t make an immediate impact, you can end up standing in place and doing nothing.
However, due to the fact he has a nice disable and a solid team buff, this hero is sometimes played as support (depends on a patch and how strong he is at that current moment). Still, even in patches when he is a strong pick, Sven is not an optimal support choice as he is very item-dependent.
Sven needs to have a good early game. Unlike some other carries, who peak a bit later, Sven is the strongest between 20 to 30 minutes. So, if you’re not ready to fight at that particular moment due to a lack of items, you will slowly fizzle out and eventually get outcarried.
Like many other heroes with disables, it is best to start with Storm Hammer. The spell provides a safety cushion if enemies engage you or your support. At level 2, you will usually take a point in Warcry for the same reason. These two spells allow engagement and disengagement.
However, by the team you get to level 3, you will have to start getting points into Great Cleave. As the main farming tool, you will need to maximize it as soon as possible. Sometimes, you can go with 2 points in Storm Hammer if you can kill enemies in the lane.
Once you start investing points in Great Cleave, you can push back melee offlaners. Whenever you auto-attack creeps in the lane, they will feel a portion of the damage. While most carries don’t want to push the lane and prefer staying close to their tower, Sven is completely opposite.
Even if you’re caught out of position due to constant lane pushing, you can fall back with Warcry.
Given that Sven peaks early, you want to have a dominant position during the mid game.
As soon as you get Blink Dagger/Aghanim’s Scepter and Black King Bar, you should join the team’s engagement. In some cases, you can start teamfighting after getting a Dagger, and you can farm Black King Bar by killing enemies.
Being passive during this portion of the game is usually counterproductive. Keep in mind that between 20 to 30 minutes, a well-farmed Sven should have 2 minor items (usually Mask of Madness and Falcon Blade), as well as Dagger and Black King Bar. During the same period, other carries will usually have only Battle Fury and another minor item.
Given that you will have an item and level advantage, you can be very aggressive initiating for your team. Sven is not that good in siege situations, similar to other melee carries. So, you would want to get a few pickoffs before proceeding with a push.
The ideal Sven game should finish between the 30 to 35-minute mark. After getting a Daedalus, the hero will slowly start dropping off. Adding other items on top of that will not help him scale that well.
If you do reach the late game, your strategy and itemization will depend on the opposing carry. Unfortunately, Sven is not a great Skull Basher user due to low attack speed. So, you will have to find a different way to battle the enemy carry one-on-one.
Turning your Mask of Madness into Satanic is a good way to increase sustainability. You will probably have to consider something such as Nullifier or even Divine Rapier.
If you do manage to win a fight during this stage of the game, you should try to finish it immediately by directly attacking enemies’ Ancient instead of slowly taking down tier 3 towers and barracks. Although Sven is a suboptimal siege hero, he has massive damage allowing him to quickly push structures if uncontested.
Itemization (Core items)
Mask of Madness
Even in patches when Mask of Madness is a bad item, most Sven players will still buy it. Given that hero has Warcry, which provides 15 armor at level 4, you don’t have to worry about -8 armor caused by activation of the item’s Berserk ability. This feature also provides great mobility, something that is crucial for the hero. Lifesteal is also nice for farming woods.
Black King Bar
Without Black King Bar, the hero simply doesn’t work. And while you can circumvent or postpone this item on some other melee carries, it is simply crucial for Sven due to his lack of mobility. As other melee carries, Sven gets extra benefit from 10 strength on the item, as it will provide 10 more damage.
Besides the fact that Blink Dagger provides additional mobility, it gives the hero an element of surprise. The positioning tool is great for landing multi-hero Storm Hammers and following up with Great Cleave. The only case when you would avoid the item is if you’re getting Aghanim’s Scepter instead.
Depending on the patch, you might buy Aghanim’s Scepter or Blink Dagger. Besides improved initiation, Aghanim’s Scepter gives you a lot of stats. However, as it is more expensive, you will get it later, which can disrupt your timings.
Daedalus is the item that makes Sven so lethal. In fact, he is one of the top 3 Daedalus users. Given that the hero has such a high base damage after turning on God’s Strength, he will benefit immensely from this addition. If you manage to catch enemies while clumped up, you can mow down half of their team with Great Cleave.
Itemization (Optional items)
After buying Black King Bar, Blink Dagger, and Daedalus, a lot of players opt for Assault Cuirass. Although this isn’t necessarily a core item, it can provide Sven with everything that he’s missing. The item reduces the nearby enemy’s armor, increases the hero’s attack speed, and also provides an armor aura to Sven and the surrounding allies. Even when your Warcry expires or is purged, you will still have high physical resistance.
Armlet of Mordiggian
As other melee carries, Sven benefits greatly from Armlet of Mordiggian. This is especially true if you build Mask of Madness or have some other source of lifesteal. Depending on the patch, you can go with Armlet as the first or second item.
Later on in the game, you can disassemble Mask of Madness and use its Morbid Mask to make Satanic. This is a somewhat situational item when you need more survivability. We also cannot neglect the fact that Satanic provides additional 70 damage to the hero.
Sange and Yasha
Sanga and Yasha provide various improvements to the hero, and they are a good choice in almost any patch. Status resistance is the big one, but we also have to consider increased movement speed, attack speed, strength, and agility. Regeneration and lifesteal amplification can be regarded as minor perks.
Heaven’s Halberd is a highly situational item, but it can sometimes change the dynamic of a game. It provides the same buffs as Sange, meaning lifesteal and regeneration amplification, strength, and status resistance. Having 20% more evasion is also great, but the reason why you would purchase Heaven’s Halberd is because of its Disarm feature.
Silver Edge can help Sven in several ways. First off, it is an alternative to Blink Dagger, allowing you to initiate fights. It also provides Critical Strike, although less potent than that you get from Daedalus. There are also attack speed, damage, and Break feature.
Level 10 (+3 second Warcry duration OR +15 attack speed)
Any attack speed or damage works well on Sven. The buff is especially great for improving farm speed. But as the game progresses, it will become less relevant. On the other hand, having Warcry buff on yourself and your allies for additional 3 seconds can go a long way.
Level 15 (+25 Great Cleave damage OR 15% lifesteal)
If you get Great Cleave talent, your splash will do an additional 25% to secondary units. So, if you wish to kill an enemy, it would be much better to hit a nearby unit than the target. Great Cleave can be great if you manage to jump several enemies at once. The second talent is minor, and you will likely have some source of lifesteal at this point.
Level 20 (+10 Warcry armor OR +25 movement speed)
The first talent is especially great if you took Warcry talent at level 10. Unfortunately, at this point, all this armor can become excessive. While +10 armor sounds great, this will slightly improve your resilience. The only situation when it’s worth taking the talent is when the opposing team has a lot of armor reduction spells and items. On the other hand, any improvement to Sven’s movement speed is incredible.
Level 25 (+1.25 seconds Storm Hammer disable duration OR +50% God’s Strength damage)
Storm Hammer talent will always be good as it is a very reliable stun. If you also have Aghanim’s Shard, thus reducing the spell’s cooldown from 12 to 8 seconds, you can continuously stun a target. At the same time, God’s Strength buff will help you transition into late portions of the game. In that regard, both of these have merit.
Question: What is Sven’s position?
Answer: Sven is almost always played as a carry. Sometimes, you will see ganking support Svens, but this is more of a novelty.
Question: How do I use Sven?
Answer: Sven’s main purpose is to get damage items, Blink Dagger, and to jump on top of enemy heroes. His enormous physical damage will help you destroy almost any opponent in just a few swings.
Question: What does Storm Hammer dispel?
Answer: If you get Aghanim’s Shard, your Storm Hammer will be able to dispel enemy heroes upon cast. The ability will now remove the majority of positive buffs such as Bloodlust, Heavenly Grace, Living Armor, just to mention a few.
Using Sven to decimate enemy lines in one swing is incredibly satisfying. Also, if you like playing carries but don’t like continuous farming, this is just the right character for you. After getting just a few items, Sven can start being active on the map.
The only issue with the hero is that all his builds resemble each other. There is not much leeway in terms of items, which is why spamming the hero can become monotonous after a while. Then again, dealing those massive criticals might make it worth your while.