Huskar is currently one of the most popular and successful heroes in pubs. On top of being pretty powerful, he is also the type of hero it is really frustrating to lose against so today we would like to discuss why exactly Huskar is suddenly so strong and what can you do about it.
7.23 made it so that Huskar’s ultimate, Life Break, now pierces spell immunity and as such can help in dealing with tanky heroes at all stages of the game. What some might have not realised yet, however, is that there was another, perhaps even more impactful change in the same patch:
The short line above might not look like a lot, but for heroes like Huskar it makes all the difference. While Burning Spears, Huskar’s main damage source, does not pierce Spell Immunity, they are also undispellable. This means that all the burning stacks applied before the hero pressed BKB or received a Spell Immunity buff persist and keep on dealing damage.
It is now impossible to avoid the majority of Huskar’s damage by pressing BKB in the middle of the fight—players will have to either be more liberal with their BKB usage or suffer the consequences. In a meta where BKB timing importance and smart BKB usage importance are at an all time high, it is unsurprising that Huskar, a hero who semi-ignores it, is suddenly a lot stronger.
Huskar's build is more or less set in stone at this point, which is good for anyone dealing with the hero: you know he is going to build Power Treads, Armlet, Halberd and BKB by midgame and the only thing that might change is the order of these items.
With that in mind, you should generally know that you are going to be dealing with a target with high regen, decent armor, some evasion and several sources of disarm in 95%+ of the games against Huskar. Sometimes Huskar will also have lifesteal, either from Satanic or some aura. Given how the hero works, you also know that most of his damage is going to come from multiple stacks of Burning Spears as well as auto-attacks.
There are several ways of countering Huskar plays in terms of itemization. For utility and generally less greedy cores an early Spirit Vessel can be the absolute best item. We frequently see it in the professional scene, where farming heroes like Ember Spirit or Kunkka get an early Vessel and then start roaming the map finding kills. Chances are Huskar isn’t going to have a BKB yet, when you build the Vessel, and it not only helps greatly against Huskar's regeneration, but it also makes Huskar’s Armlet a liability. Make sure that you use it AFTER Huskar uses his ultimate, though, since the latter applies a dispel on Huskar.
Going for Halberd of your own is also never a bad idea. Once again, for it to be effective, it has to be built on a core hero: build it too late and Huskar might have already snowballed out of control. There is an argument to be made about an early MKB, since it can quickly burst down Huskar even with a BKB, but we feel like game-wise, it is only appropriate on Windranger and maybe Pangolier. Dealing with Huskar doesn’t mean you get to ignore the rest of the game and other enemy heroes.
Supports and Utility Cores should try to prioritize extra sources of Magic Resistance, be it Glimmer Cape or Pipe of Insight. These two items are incredibly important even if your core is getting a timely BKB: you will need to save your teammates from the burning stacks even if they are spell immune.
Ancient Apparition is an Occam’s Razor against anything that has words Regeneration, Heal or Lifesteal in their hero description. Previously, however, we frequently advised against picking the hero too early since he was a silver bullet at best: sure, he could be very helpful in dealing with regen, but he couldn’t boast being a good and consistent support in other cases and as we stated previously: dealing with Huskar doesn’t mean you get to ignore the rest of the game. This changed in the latest patch and we firmly believe that AA is just a good support in general, so there is very little reason not to pick him if you know what you are doing.
Another, somewhat ironic option, is to use Huskar’s new found strength against him, or at least to use the same concept. Witch Doctor and his Maledict, which is similarly undispellable, can do wonders against Huskar: if you manage to apply your debuff before Huskar uses his BKB it will persist and damage through spell immunity and since Huskar needs to pay for Burning Spears with his life, he will have a very hard time staying alive.
Both of these heroes are also pretty decent at building an early Glimmer Cape, since they have a higher than average chance to deal the killing blow with their DoT abilities.
Core-wise, the options are essentially unlimited: there are many flexible position two and three heroes that can go for early utility items without losing their relevance. Halberd and Spirit Vessel aren’t flashy, but they are incredibly effective and can be built on both mid “off-carries”, such as currently popular and successful Razor, Visage and Necrophos, as well as on position three aura carriers, such Clockwerk or Beastmaster.
Huskar’s been slightly tamed in the latest minor patch, but he still wins almost 52% of his games in pubs and is still one of the most disheartening heroes to lose against: sometimes you truly feel like you can’t do anything and this feeling can start setting in as early as the beginning of the laning stage.
We hope this article will help you in dealing with the hero and perhaps Huskar’s win rate will start going down: 57%+ with a 13%+ pick rate in the highest level bracket is certainly not ok.