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How to Play Chaos Knight in Dota 2

Patrick Bonifacio

Nessaj the Chaos Knight has silently snuck his way into the Dota 2 pub metagame. As of the time of writing, his win rate in the Divine and Immortal bracket stands at around 53.2 percent according to Dotabuff. This is enough to give him the 12th highest win rate at the top level of public matchmaking.

Chaos Knight Dota 2

A hellish champion of mayhem, Chaos Knight is a reliable core pick in Dota 2 pubs. (Image courtesy Valve)

By most indications, this win rate makes Chaos Knight one of the most reliable core picks at high MMR. His playstyle has remained more or less the same over the years, relying mostly on his extreme single target damage to delete key heroes in the blink of an eye with his Phantasm (R) illusions. A ton of buffs over the last several patches have only helped him in this regard.

Fancy a go at sowing chaos yourself on the battlefield? Read on to learn how to harness mayhem and havoc to vanquish your enemies in Dota 2!

What Makes Chaos Tick

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of this hero guide, it’s important to discuss what makes Chaos Knight so strong. Understanding his strengths will make the game plan and why it works a lot clearer, which helps with the execution thereof in turn.

Reality Rift and Blink Dagger

Reality Rift has always been one of Chaos Knight’s most important abilities, primarily because it instantly pulls all of his active illusions towards the target. This makes surrounding and bursting them down way easier, and prevents enemy heroes from simply kiting Nessaj and his illusions.

The ability itself actually used to have an “illusion search radius” of 1,375 units. Back then, any illusions outside this radius upon cast would not be pulled in, making it impossible to use Phantasm alongside Blink Dagger. The search radius was removed entirely in an undocumented change, making it so that the spell pulls illusions no matter where they are on the map.

In turn, this makes it possible for Chaos Knight to cast Phantasm out of sight, leave the illusions behind, then blink onto an unsuspecting target. The critical strikes from Chaos Strike are typically more than enough to erase supports this way, granting Chaos Knight and his team an immediate teamfight advantage.

Scepter and Shard

There’s also his Aghanim’s Scepter and Aghanim’s Shard upgrades — both of which are crazy strong if we’re being honest. The Scepter upgrade practically doubles his team’s damage output, given that Phantasm illusions deal 100 percent damage. Sieging high ground becomes ridiculously easy with so many illusions in play.

The Shard is just fantastic as well, and there’s no reason not to get it in every game. Having an illusion hitting the Chaos Bolt target for six seconds almost entirely unabated is frankly nuts. The cast range bonus is also very welcome, making Chaos Bolt more reliable overall.

Controlling Pandemonium

Though Chaos Knight has a slightly more complex game plan compared to other carries, his playstyle isn’t difficult to master at all. The learning curve is a bit steep but can be overcome after several games of practice

Laning Phase

The first thing to note is that Chaos Knight is primarily played as a safe lane carry, which means that farming is the name of the game for the most part. You’ll want to play to pull the lane back to your tower, making sure to play mostly safe in order to get your early items quickly. This absolutely does not mean however that Chaos Knight is unable to go for kills in the lane.

With the right offensive support by your side (i.e. Crystal Maiden, Shadow Shaman, Grimstroke, etc), both Chaos Bolt and Reality Rift can help you score early kills and quickly capture momentum. All the while, you’ll want to rush Power Treads and Armlet of Mordiggian. We recommend buying the Gloves of Haste first, as the bonus attack speed just makes you a lot stronger in the lane. Chaos Knight has more than enough base movement speed anyway.

Mid Game

Once you have both of these items, it’s time to run around and kill people. You’ll want to coordinate with your team to set up ganks on supports as often as possible, using Phantasm whenever it’s off cooldown. Remember that Phantasm only has a 75-second cooldown, which was reduced from 125 several patches ago. This makes it very spammable, especially when it comes to ganking in between farming.

If your team isn’t quite set up to fight often, though, Phantasm can be used to accelerate your farm in the jungle or push out lanes. The latter is especially important, as it keeps your opponents honest and helps you apply pressure without having to commit too much. Just sending your Phantasm illusions to push waves or hit towers is enough to force a response most times.

Your item progression at this stage should be Sange and Yasha into Black King Bar. Both items will help you ramp up in strength significantly and make you harder to lock down overall. Make sure to also get the Aghanim’s Shard when it’s available.

Late Game

Late game is all about leveraging the cleave talent to get fully slotted. Assault Cuirass is the goal when it comes to items here, followed by Blink Dagger. As mentioned before, Blink Dagger synergizes supremely with Reality Rift, and can be used to close games out with a swift kill

After Blink Dagger, we recommend getting an Aghanim’s Scepter, which will facilitate high ground sieges. Having full-powered illusions of your teammates should not be underestimated. The additional stats are also welcome, given Chaos Knight’s mana issues.

The Magic of Chaos

Contrary to his overall game plan, Chaos Knight’s skill and talent progression are both quite clear-cut. Get value points in each of your abilities, with Chaos Bolt going first. Max out Chaos Strike from there, and get Phantasm as soon as it’s available. Max out Reality Rift, then Chaos Bolt. Simple.

Recommended Chaos Knight Build

Our recommended skill and talent build is as follows:

  • Chaos Bolt
  • Chaos Strike
  • Reality Rift
  • Chaos Strike
  • Chaos Strike
  • Phantasm
  • Chaos Strike
  • Max out Reality Rift
  • Chaos Bolt
  • Phantasm
  • Max out Chaos Bolt
  • Level 15 Talent: 35% Cleave
  • Level 10 Talent: +5 All Stats
  • Phantasm
  • Level 20 Talent: Reality Rift Pierces Immunity
  • Level 25 Talent: +10% Chaos Strike Chance

Alternative Anarchy

It’s worth noting that Chaos Knight can also be played from the offlane, leveraging his good laning in order to keep the enemy carry in check. The only difference between carry and offlane, in this case, is that Blink Dagger should be purchased right after Armlet, followed immediately by Aghanim’s Scepter. This allows Chaos Knight to create space on the map by joining the midlaner for ganks. If you are snowballing hard from the offlane though, you can opt to continue with the standard item build as outlined earlier in this guide.

If your team needs a fast space creator, consider putting Chaos Knight in the offlane. Nessaj doesn’t suck up that much farm on his own either, which leaves a lot left over for your actual carry.

Patrick Bonifacio

Patrick Bonifacio

Patrick has been playing Dota since the dawn of time, having started with the original custom game for WarCraft III. He primarily plays safe lane and solo mid, preferring to leave the glorious task of playing support to others.

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