Pudge is a melee strength hero and the most popular hero in the history of DOTA 2. Pudge is easily one of the most fun heroes to play in Dota 2. Being famous by his his risky but potentially rewarding play-style. As well as his tanky nature and disables which makes him a good ganker, team-fighter, front-liner and initiator. A good Pudge player is a force to be reckoned with. A single well placed hook can swing the game into your favour. Thus, any good Pudge guide should explain exactly how to make the most out of this hero’s unique skill set. Played skillfully, he can displace enemies and set up kills for his team that would be otherwise impossible to accomplish. With an amazing repositioning tool, infinite strength scaling and a BKB piercing disable he can make a viable addition to any team.
Pudge has a very unique skill set allowing him to catch people off guard, deal aoe damage, scale into the late late game and disable enemies through magic immunity. This Pudge guide will start by explaining each of his abilities before talking about his playstile. Playing Pudge encompasses using all of his skills efficiently by themselves as well as in combination with your teammate’s abilities.
This skill has an incredibly high amount of pure damage (scaled with spell amp), although it’s an unreliable skill since it’s a Target point skill.While hitting hooks may be the selling point, you shouldn’t necessarily rely on this skill to play Pudge. You are most likely not going to hit it every time, thus you should treat this more as a possibility than a guaranteed thing.
Successfully hitting Meat Hook is similar to Mirana’s Sacred Arrow . What you want to do is abuse vision, as well as the enemy’s cast animation and back-swing. Hooks through trees are impossible to dodge. Using your opponent’s predictable movement such as walking in for a last hit or deny needs to be used against them. Heroes with long cast animations such as Jakiro with Dual Breath or Oracle casting Fortune’s end can be used for easy hooks.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky
The most reliable way to utilize Meat Hook is to cast it from the enemy Fog of War, in order to give them as little time to react as possible. Use tree lines, choke points, high ground and nighttime to maximize the chance of landing a hook.
Meat hook utility
No Pudge guide would be the same without talking about the myriad of ways to utilize Meat hook.
Also consider Meat Hook for:
- Saving allies (You can hook enemies or allies)
- Dealing extra damage at short range
- Initiation – sometimes initiating with a hook and displacing an enemy will be the only way to win. Thus, be calm and wait for the right moment. Try unexpected positions. Hooks from the fog. Don’t be afraid to bait your enemies into thinking you’re not going for a hook when you actually are. EX: Walking sideways without looking to the place you’re going to hook.
- Ganking – although it’s an unreliable skill it is certainly good for ganking.By using your allies abilities it can be made reliable. Rod of Atos, Clumsy Net, Scythe of Vyse can also be gotten later on.
- Hooking runes – Pudge can hook runes, this will help securing runes for your team or for you (if you are playing mid lane). Hooking runes will place the spell on cool-down but return the spent mana.
Good communication with teammates is mandatory in order to take utmost advantage of Meat Hook. Communicating your intentions with allies ensures that they do not accidentally walk into Pudge’s line of fire. Teammates can aid him by landing initiating stuns that allow him to reel in a stationary target. As well, they can position themselves to take advantage of a successful hook. Immediately jumping on and bringing down the target makes teamwork the way to go.
Hooks vs Spell immunity Teleportation
Important tip: Due to the Spaghetti coding Valve has implemented, a hooked target will always be dragged to Pudge’s location. Using this information it’s possible to hook enemies which are using magic immunity to teleport out. By hitting the hook the moment they teleport away, the unit will be transported to Pudge. This way Pudge can effectively pierce spell immunity and perhaps get a kill. While no Pudge guide could tell you the exact timing required to pull this off, it’s not hard and can easily be practiced in demo mode.
Rot is an extremely useful skill with lots of usages.While other Pudge guides may focus on his Meat hook ability, it’s a actually Rot that takes the cake. You can use it to help your last hitting and harass enemies. Later on this skill will be one of your main sources of damage. Rot allows you to slow and damage enemies. You can also farm camps in your downtime, which will help you scale better into the late game.
- Keep in mind that you need you need to be close to your enemies for Rot to take effect. If you are in a losing game or if you aren’t tanky enough, Rot will lose a lot of it’s impact.
- This skill falls off the later the game goes. In the late game the damage from it will become less and less significant. Your enemies will have higher hp due to their levels and items such as BKB or Pipe of Insight. For the late game Rot will be less effective but you’ll be doing more damage with Dismember, Right clicks, and items such as Ethereal Blade.
The ability that enables Pudge to scale amazingly well into the late game. The added strength allows you to snowball from your early game lead, by turning you into a tanky beast.
Dismember is a combination of a strong disable and damage, but it does a lot more than only that. It increases your kill potential towards enemies, helps you farm and kill Roshan with your team. It also heals you based on scaling damage. When possible start with dismember and save Hook for the finishing touch or to cancel any channeled abilities. Missing the hook when Dismember was an option may give the opponent time to react and run away to safety.
Be mindful that a strong dispel can still break a target out of Dismember’s stun. Abilities like Kraken Shell, Dark Pact, and Aphotic Shield can end the channel prematurely. Choose your targets carefully and time the use of the disable so that it does not get wasted.
Important to note, the sound effect after using Dismember is audible to all players. This can be used to your advantage to bait the enemy team into believing that you are in the midst of taking Roshan.
Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade
Allows Pudge to swallow their allied hero, healing them for 4% of their max HP per second. It applies a strong dispel on the target and disjoints projectiles upon cast. The allied hero is invulnerable, hidden and spell immune while swallowed. By issuing any order 3 seconds after being swallowed they will exit your stomach. While a hero is inside Pudge there will be a visual icon above Pudge’s head visible only to allies.
Using this ability Pudge can save allies from strong disables such as Duel and Berserker’s call. Preventing death from Doom, Ice blast’s shatter effect and Maledict ticks should also be considered.
Most outdated Pudge guides advocate always going for the Aghanim scepter as it used to reduce Meat Hook cooldown. As that is no longer the case, this purchase has become very situational.
The Hero talents open up a lot of variety for Pudge. He can either turn into a strong front line tank that disables enemies for long periods of time, or a burst damage ganker. In this section of our Pudge guide we will discuss the different choices and their pros and cons.
Lvl 10: Unless you are facing a physical damage line-up, +28 rot damage is the superior choice. More rot damage will help you get kills as well as farm faster.
Lvl 15: The 10% spell lifesteal synergizes well with Dismember’s heal and will keep you alive when using Rot on multiple units at the same time.
Lvl 20: The 0.8s Dismember duration is better for fighting as disabling an enemy up to 3.8s can be completely game changing. By the time you have this talent BKB’s should be down to 5s duration meaning Dismember will almost completely waste their duration. The Hook cooldown reduction should be considered only when your main job is hooking people and not standing in teamfights.
Lvl 25: More Flesh Heap strength means more Health, more regeneration and more damage with your right click as well as Eblade. You can take Dismember Damage/Heal to quickly burst heroes down if you haven’t accumulated many stacks of Flesh Heap.
While other Pudge guides may lead you to max hook, that is because of their narrow minded approach. You will want to max Rot as soon as possible since it is your main farming and fighting tool. Prioritizing Meat Hook is too mana intensive with your limited mana pool. Also, failing to hit a hook will make you completely useless, while Rot has decent scaling in both damage and slow percentage making it the better choice.
Flesh Heap should be maxed out last since it’s value comes from having many stacks which you don’t have early on. It collects stacks retro-actively, meaning any stacks gathered prior to leveling it will be granted upon placing a skill point in.
Pudge’s Item build
Your starting items should reflect your desired play-style. No Pudge guide can give you a cookie-cutter build to follow every game. Just like how every match is unique, your build should adapt them in ways. An Orb of Venom will help keep enemies inside Rot’s area, while Boots of Speed will allow you to be more mobile on the map. Starting with lots of regeneration will allow you and your lane buddy to sustain while looking for opportunities to kill the enemy.
Early game items: To play Pudge effectively you only need to be mobile and have enough mana to throw your hooks. Generally you will want to have 2 items for mana and your choice of boots. Tranquil bots will allow you to regenerate health while out of combat, while also giving more speed to move about the map. Your mana items should consist of either a Magic Wand or Soul ring , and a neutral item such as Faded Broach or Arcane Ring . Urn of shadows is a viable item choice as it will allow you to keep your allies in good shape when getting out of fights.
Mid game items: Here you need to decide what your role in the team will be. You can be the initiator with either Blink Dagger or Force staff . You can follow up any long range disable with Aether Lens (really fun with Aghanim’s scepter Assassinate ). Being the front line tank for your team can also be accomplished by buying Pipe of Insight , Blade mail or even Vanguard. Even something as a Heaven’s Halberd can be considered when facing annoying right click heroes such as Outworld Devourer .
Late game items: This is when you really commit to either becoming an un-killable tank with Shiva’s Guard , Lotus Orb , BKB or Assault Cuirass or go E-blade to ensure kills after successful hooks.
When to pick Pudge.
Due to Pudge’s popularity many would say to just pick him every game. In older patches any Pudge guide would tell you to just first pick him, but patches come and go bringing in changes. While his kit is pretty strong and he can be played in most positions he is currently most viable as a support in the 4 and 5 positions. Pudge should be paired with heroes that can either enable him to land hooks more easily.Heroes such as Gyrocopter with his missile or heroes that can follow up after successful hooks. When going for a roaming Pudge it’s important to asses where you can cause the most damage. Starting in the safelane with your pos 5 is advised. Giving your carry a decent start is always good. You will also earn your first stack of Flesh heap.
If you decide to play the lane rather than roam, you should consider what the best way to help your core is. Sitting in trees waiting for an opportune hook is one of the most inefficient ways of playing Pudge. When going against a strong safelane such as Ursa + Wisp, or Slark + Witch doctor consider dragging the 2nd wave, blocking the big camp and securing farm for yourself and your core.This way you will both be gaining farm, you will be stopping the enemy from pulling and denying you farm. A single pull will only cause the wave to push towards you.
How to play Pudge?
Now that we have gotten the “Who is pudge” part of our Pudge guide out, we can start discussing his play style. Unless you are facing exclusively low health heroes that wander alone, you will want to play with your team. Pudge enables a lot of heroes, while he himself cannot do much against most farmed cores. An ally can help set up hooks with their own disables. Similarly, they can help burst down heroes after successful hooks or during Dismember’s duration. One of Pudge’s biggest strengths is protecting objectives. Enemy heroes pushing towers or attempting to take Roshan can easily be picked off by Meat hooks. Due to their behaviour being mostly static and predictable you can easily find kills. Just remember not to hook a Tidehunter into your team as that will rarely work out.
For brevity Pudge’s gameplay will be broken down into 3 parts.
1st: Laning stage.
This is the part where you play just like any other support hero, securing farm for your cores that will later enable you to land those sweet hooks. Cutting, dragging or stacking waves are all possible options to help them. Blocking enemy creep pulls as well as doing your own pulls will help create an initial advantage off of which you can snowball. Please do not sit in trees waiting to hook. Therefore, I will give advice on possible actions in this section of the Pudge guide.
- Drag the enemy creep wave. Drag it behind your T2 or even T3 tower. Deny your wave while farming the dragged one.
- Stack the enemy creep wave. This will ensure the wave is pushing into your tower. This way you can secure your core gets farm under his tower.
- Block the small camp. Either by using your body every minute or placing a ward.
- Snipe couriers. Since every player has his own courier, a lot of gold can be gained by sniping them. While each may give only ~40 gold in the early stages of the game, it’s still a net gain for your team as each hero gains some money.
- Secure runes. Be it the 4min Power rune in the river, or the 5min bounties. By just showing your presence enemies may be reluctant to trade hits in order to gain it. You can always secure at least 1 bounty, be it for gold or to refill your mid player’s bottle.
- Teleport to refill your mid player’s bottle. It can turn a lot of mid lane’s from being 50:50 into your favour.
2nd: The roaming stage.
Once you have both Meta Hook and Rot you can start setting up kills around the map. Boots of Speed and a Smoke of Deceit can be extremely useful. Quickly moving into position to secure kills will keep enemies on their toes, as they will never be sure if they are safe or just fresh meat for the butcher.
Your hero is very weak at this stage of the game, thus playing around your teammates should be priority. Use numbers to your advantage, help out the safelane and then rotate elsewhere. Always making sure to remain out of vision is your #1 priority. Thus, never walk through often warded areas such as near the small camps, or rune position in the river.
3rd: The team-fight pillar.
After you have acquired a few items and gained the admiration of your teammates you are ready to disrupt your enemy’s goals and conquer the game. By snowballing through teamwork you can plow down all objectives and bring the game towards victory. Your goal should always be to play in tandem with your other cores and use their skills to turn every successful hook into a kill. Be it smoking behind your teammates or blinking in to enable their follow up is your job! Pudge is the ultimate team enabler. By helping your team gain power, you are making yourself stronger through Flesh Heap.
Sure-kill hook spots.
Every change to the DOTA 2 map brings in a few spots in which Pudge can keep his enemies captive. No Pudge guide would be complete without mentioning these ridiculous spots that I have gotten caught in onetoo many times. It’s always possible to create your own spots using a Quelling blade, some trees and a bit of imagination. These spots are easy to use and offer a high chance of success.
This 1st spot can be abused right at the start, by smoking yourself and hooking the enemy while he is busy blocking creeps. By positioning yourself right to the edge, but leaving a small gap, you can have the opponent get stuck in there. Thus, giving your mid player first blood and securing a good start.
Despite the opponent being able to cut trees to safety, hitting this hook will ensure a lot of damage. They will take at least 2 or 3 tower shots worth of damage, for about 300 dmg.
By cutting this 1 tree you can trap heroes inside the trees. Good for hooking people farming the lane under tower or Supports coming in from the small camp.
Go have fun hooking!
This concludes our Pudge guide. Using these tips and tricks you will have hopefully have gotten a better impression of the one and only Butcher. As a very versatile hero he can get a lot of work done. Especially in the current meta that favours playing with teammates. Always be on the lookout for more fresh meat as that will eventually lead you to winning and gaining more MMR. Since Pudge heavily relies on smart rotations and playing the map, don’t forget to check out our Warding guide as well as where to place them.