It was my birthday yesterday. Oops, I totally forgot about this. Nothing grand happened naturally, but just to break from the regular writing tone, I will write about Dota 2 again. Here is my opinion on the top 10 best heroes to utilize Aether Lens.
Concurrently one of the most ground breaking items (Spell modifiers) present in Dota 2, Aether Lens pushed certain non-relevant heroes into the limelight again. For a mere 2.3k gold price tag, it powers up spells by 8% and increases spell casting range by 200, allowing spells to be more reliable and powerful than ever. The cast range completely redefines build progressions of many heroes as it allows delaying Blink Daggers (which does not boost damage) due to the longer cast range allows many spells to be used while within a Smoke of Deceit. It also forces players to play safely against Lens heroes with boosted spell range. On top of that, it works as a rather good option for a lot of Arcane Boots holders, as one could disassemble it for the Energy Booster to be made into Lens,
Last but not least, items also benefit from the increased cast range and damage: increased Shiva’s and Dagon damage, increased Euls, Atos and Hex range, longer Blink distance etc. For many heroes, this item is equivalent to a lesser but more flexible Aghanim’s Scepter and major buff or a nerf revert from IceFrog. Think of it this way, spend 2.3k gold for a buff patch to your hero. Holy Molly.
The only drawback I can think of is the moderately priced components and lack of a tier 4 upgrade (although I don’t see in anyway how this is upgrade-able).
This list is dedicated to those who benefit the most out of the introduction of this item.
10. Ogre Magi
Ogre pretty much benefits from the nerf revert it gets from AL. Fireblasts, both refined and unrefined, got back and exceeded its pre-nerf casting range (now 675 units long) on top of it being projectile-less (making it essentially un-disjoint-able). His DoT spell, Ignite, gets a whopping 900 casting range although it doesn’t improve by a lot. Regardless, the fact that Ogre Magi can just get his amazing stunning nukes buffed with a respectable range makes AL a really hard item to pass up for anything else, even Blink Dagger. For that reason alone, he is ranked 10 on the list.
Remember how Batrider was once the most sought after competitive pick for patches. It got hit by serious nerfs after serious nerfs, but it was only until Flaming Lasso got a hit on its casting range did Badrider fade out of the “most wanted” list. Sounds familiar? You know where this is going right?
Yeap, AL makes Flaming Lasso into a 300 ranged 3 second disable that drags the poor target along, which makes the hero much more newbie friendly as it allows for less screw-ups when initiating onto a team, making Batrider much more formiddable than ever. As a bonus, his other spells like Sticky Napalm and Flamebreak get some favourable boosts on their casting ranges as well. The former benefits slightly more with a new 900 casting range, allowing Bat to chase better than ever. Flamebreak’s improvement isn’t really noticeable as a whole, but a 1700 range knockback is still nothing to scoff at: it can catch teams unprepared from a screen away.
8. Vengeful Spirit
AL as a whole isn’t incredibly core on Vengeful, so at first glance this may seem a bit off. But AL complements VS’s skillset very well, especially when it comes to efficient spending. Magic Missile becomes a much more potent stun with its new 700 casting range on top of some sweer extra damage. Wave of Terror also gets a massive 1600 casting and travelling range, making it an even more efficient scouting and ganking tool. Finally, Nether Swap gets a level-up the moment you obtain AL, increasing the swap range to 900/1150/1400 respectively, making this essentially an alternative Aghanim upgrade for half the price. All in all, for a supporting/ganking Vengeful Spirit, this is way too good to pass up for anything within the price range.
I am actually in love with playing Pugna since AL got introduced. The item balances out Pugna’s biggest downfall, which is his extremely short casting range. AL improves his entire spellset significantly. Most notably, the enourmous Nether Blast with its 600 casting range and already impressive radius can burst down foes from unexpected positions, and thats not mentioning the amped up damage from the Lens too. Decrepify now can be casted from 900 range, nearly rivaling a Rod of Atos in functionality and allowing his Nether Blasts to be nearly unavoidable without Blinks or Forces. Pugna’s ultimate, Life Drain, gets massively boosted to incredible ranges of 1100/1250/1400, which is incredibly terrifying to run from, considering Lens is something that can be gotten before 10 minutes easily with Pugna’s farming speed. His Nether Ward doesn’t get a lot improvement in functionality though, unless you count hiding wards out of reach. Aether Lens is arguably the most dreaded items your enemies can play against with all that massive increase in range and noticeable damage improvement (the HP regenration is very noticeable on Pugna’s small HP pool too!), just get farming for it as soon as possible!
6. Shadow Shaman
Shadow Shaman was one of my original go-to heroes when I got started with Dota. So what can he do with Aether Lens that allows him to have a place on my list? Once again, cast range improvement on his entire array of high impact spells. Ether Shock is not your average nuke, considering it does much more damage, much lower cooldown, and it his several targets at once. So top that with an extra 200 range (on top of the already reasonable 600 range) you get one of the strongest early game spells in the game for farming, pushing and dishing damage. Then, he gets the game’s most powerful disable, Hex, and is now available to cast at 700 range, almost rivaling Scythe of Vyse’s ability. His dreaded Shackles, another of the game’s most potent disables, gets amped up to a massive 600 channeling range (Bane’s Fiend Grip is only few units longer than that!), allowing him to lockdown a single target from a rather generous range. Finally, Mass Serpent Ward benefits the least from AL, but then again, one would not say no to a 750 ward placement range, as it elimates quite a lot of potential danger. As a whole,.Shadow Shaman has plenty of reasons to get this over a Blink Dagger due to him being able to tear enemy forces apart while dancing right out of most attack’s reach. It’s a shame that he has only one nuke.
Bzzt, boom, burn. Lina is one ferocious Aether Lens user as she benefits a lot from range and damage boosts. Both of her regular nukes, Dragon Slave and Light Strike Array, are already impressive nukes on their own, get even more extreme with AL. This also essentially reverses the nerf on Lina’s deadly Eul–>Light Strike Array combo. So buy paying an extra 2k gold, Lina gets to enjoy her easy setup that was taken away from IceFrog. Had enough? That’s not all. Lina can now nuke a single target from 800 range away with Laguna Blade, which is also another nerf revert. OSFrog. Lina deserves her place in the Top 5 of this list.
Two reasons to get AL on Pudge. The lesser reason is that Dismember is no longer melee range. Now that isn’t entirely the greatest thing in the world, considering the target could be well outside his Rot radius, which often means lower damage dealt. Still, a 360 range disable is a great improvement from the pitful 100 range by default. Second reason? Hook. There is really no need for me to explain how powerful a 1200/1300/1400/1500 ranged hook is, because it opens up so much oppurtunities for Pudge to catch heroes from seemingly improbably distances and angles, such as reaching into the Roshan pit from the Radiant jungle shore. Really, you don’t play Pudge without Aether Lens. Very few are prepared for this.
Similar to Rhasta the Shadow Shaman, Lion too has a Hex spell. But what sets the two heroes apart is Lion has this spell called Earth Spike, which after Aether Lens’s spell range boost, is a 1025 ranged AoE stun. This couple with Blink Dagger, is as powerful as most initiation ultimates in the game. With this Lion can easily catch multiple enemies with a single good Earth Spike, or snipe to catch out fast fleeing foes. This alone is enough to make make note of Lion as one of the best Aether Lens user. Let’s not forget that he has Finger of Death, the game’s most powerful and reliable nuke at level 6, which coupled with the spell damage amplification and 1100 casting range, spells certain death for the target. It is a shame this cannot entirely replace Blink Dagger on Lion when it comes to landing perfect stuns, but that does not change the fact that Lion is easily one of the fearsome foes with Aether Lens.
For a lot of people, the search for the best Aether Lens user ends here, with Zeus, and for good reason. Zeus is easily the most popular Aether Lens user, as he is probably the only hero that utilizes this affordable early-mid game item like a late game high tier luxury equipment. Zeus can simply carry a team with this item alone due to the damage amplification. Even though it is a mere 8%, Zeus casts spells much more frequently than any hero can, and every single cast triggers Static Field, which automatically takes out a fair bit of health from every enemy within his presence. Even that is amplified by the Lens’ amplification properties. Now, we get to his three spells. Arc Lightning can now be spammed from 1050 units away, which is more than safe enough to be spammed throughout a fight or a push sequence. Lightning Bolt’s new 900 range is also more than respectable, and the damage improvement from Lens is very significant. All of this points to that no one without magic immunity is safe from Zeus’s wrath within 1000 radius. If one does not wish to face Zeus’s wrath is to back out from his blasting zone…until his casts his Thundergod’s Wrath. Amped by Aether Lens too. None of Zeus lategame items match what Aether Lens can offer.
1. Earth Spirit
This guy is number one. One of the reasons Earth Spirit is seeing a lot of play is that Aether Lens simply does so much for him. All 3 of his boulder moves are huge beneficers of AL’s casting range boost. Before we even go there, even his default Stone Remnant becomes 1300 range, making nothing quite safe from Kaolin within that radius. Boulder Smash gets free level upgrades, reaching up to a sheer 1000 range. Yes, his first spell is a stun that affects everyone within a 1000 unit travelling range. That’s not your average insanity. Secondly, Geomagnetic Grip can now be safely used from 1300 range away. Now Kaolin can turn heroes into hapless savages with a reliable spell from that distance. Lastly (or not), his mobility mechanism Rolling Boulder becomes a 1000 range travelling tool with AL, without needing a remnant to shatter. Things can’t get better than this, can they?
Then there is this hero, the Grand Magus.
When it comes to making use of Aether Lens itself, no hero comes close to rivaling what Rubick can do. With Aether Lens at hand, whatever the enemy hero can do, Rubick does it better.
Even without bringing up Spell Steal, Aether Lens makes Rubick a rather respectable hero on his own right. Most notably the damage increase allows Rubick to play like his TI2 times, where he can easily snag kills through Fade Bolts. The AL boosted Fade Bolt has 1000 unit casting range and close to 300 base damage. Taking its instant projectile into account, suddenly Rubick has a rather threatening kill securing tool up its sleeves. Telekinesis new 750/775/800/825 casting range is also not something to underestimate. Once again, the lifitng spell has no projectile, making it a perfect setup for any spell Rubick can get his hands on.
Now we skip Null Field and talk about Spell Steal…itself. Yes, even discounting the infinite amount of spells Rubick can steal (digression: consider too, that the enemy heroes may not even get the Aether Lens themselves), Spell Steal benefits so much from Aether Lens that it almost put Aghanim Scepter out of business. The new casting range of 1200 at level 1 spell steal is enough to make you consider if you even want to have the Scepter. With the Scepter, things get even more exciting as Rubick can potentially steal from screens away with his 1600 stealing range. If anything, Rubick players can get this more often than Blink Dagger to make the best use of their limited gold.
Finally, a lot of heroes don’t get Aether Lens themselves, probably due to having other crucial core items to get. Rubick doesn’t care. Rubick steals their spells and throws it back at them with greater impact. Rubick knows their spells better than they do. Rubick is the Grand Magus, and is grander than ever with Aether Lens.
Notable mentions: Timbersaw, Omniknight, Dazzle, Witch Doctor, Vengeful Spirit, Nyx Assassin, Shadow Demon, Oracle, Skywrath Mage, Beastmaster, Invoker, Leshrac, Puck, Windranger, Sand King, Legion Commander, Disruptor, Juggernaut, Axe
Notes: This was written in a night and somewhat rushed. My passion for this piece faded off significantly due to the one month in between starting and ending. But I thought the listing itself was still rather solid, even though my reasoning and justification for them may be somewhat rusty and unoriginal. I am, all in all, quite happy and satisfied that I finished this.