Image by Yestar™, 南霸天 and AK47
The meta is ever-evolving and looking at ESL One Kuala Lumpur there is a very concerning trend. Huskar is becoming more and more of a priority by the professional teams and soon this effect will trickle down to pubs as well. It is best to be prepared.
Huskar is, first and foremost, a lane dominator. His skill build is fairly static and revolves around maxing out Burning Spears and Berserker’s Blood as soon as possible, with a value point in Inner Fire. Oftentimes better players ever skip his ultimate until level eleven and twelve, to maximise his farming potential and survivability.
There isn’t really a lot one can do when facing Huskar in an unfavourable matchup: most melee heroes will suffer against him in lane and the most important thing is to not feed. Huskar can absolutely win the lane against most heroes, but if his lane dominance isn’t resulting in any kills, equalising economy through jungle and lane farm should be possible for most conventional mid heroes.
Additionally and alternatively, asking for help to control the runes and maybe gank Huskar can also lead to strong momentum shifts. Huskar’s playstyle is high risk-high reward by default and it is possible to punish aggressive plays against Huskar, especially since pub meta typically revolves around getting Heaven's Halberd after Armlet of Mordiggian, which delays BKB.
The best way to deal with Huskar is by not going off meta. Many currently powerful supports that can be picked in the first phase are strong natural Huskar-counter. Heroes like Ancient Apparition and Witch Doctor are great in a vacuum, but they also make Huskar picks less appealing, potentially saving you a lot of headache.
The list of heroes who can deal with Huskar is fairly long and can be found in our matchups.
It is best if our readers are aware of when the hero is good as well. Huskar is exceptional against the currently popular Slardar and is one of the reasons he became part of the meta. He is also very good against Kunkka. If either of those are on your side, and the chances of it are pretty high in the current meta, it is best to keep Huskar in mind with your last picks during the draft, as the hero can be an auto-win if not dealt with.
Outside of simply being prepared during the drafting stage, it is also possible to adapt to Huskar with your item. There is an obvious one: Spirit Vessel, which can severely limit Huskar’s aggression until after BKB purchase. This item is very strong against Huskar, but with a couple of caveats.
First of all, Huskar has a built-in Dispel on his ultimate, so there is a limited window when Vessel can be used against him. Make sure to not waste charges pre-Life Break and make sure that the Spirit Vessel is purchased in time.
Previously, players often considered Glimmer Cape, but we feel like right now it isn’t that great against Huskar. Aghanim’s Scepter will typically force Huskar’s target to reveal itself regardless and the Magic Damage barrier simply doesn’t provide enough EHP against Burning Spears. It is better to kill Huskar quicker, than trying to survive against him for longer.
Abusing the hero’s low armor is probably the way to go and Solar Crest is one of the best support items to get in the current patch. It also significantly slows down Huskar’s Attack Speed, so it is a bit of a defensive tool as well. There is also Heaven's Halberd to consider, though this should be purchased by utility cores, rather than supports.
Finally we feel like a casual Mage Slayer is extremely underrated. Late game Bloodthorn is an ok purchase and we often even see Orchid Malevolence on some of the meta carries, but Mage Slayer should not be underestimated. It is one of the strongest Ability Damage mitigation tools and works wonders against Huskar even in the later portions of the game.
There is one final point we would like to make. A lot of players still think that Huskar is a hero with a lot of magic resistance, but in reality he only gets an extra +25% Magic Resistance at max level of Berserker’s Blood and only at low HP. That is the reason why most current Huskars are forced to rush BKB — they cannot survive high magic burst, yet a lot of players even at higher levels of play tend to save their big nukes out of habit.
Make sure to lead with high magic damage to maximise efficiency and then follow up with auto-attacks and you should be fine on most heroes. The only big exception is Necrophos who over the last couple of years turned from being countered by Huskar to being a full on Huskar hard counter.
Huskar’s popularity is on an upwards trend and it will continue rising, we believe, as the hero currently holds a very high win rate in ESL One Kuala Lumpur. Hopefully our blog post will leave you prepared for it and will save you some frustration. Feel free to share your ideas on countering Huskar in the comment section below as well.