[Skill Build Analysis] Ember Spirit

With both Ember and Earth Spirit being completely new to many Dota 2 players, I thought they’d be worth looking at how players have been using them.  If you’ve been watching Dotabuff, you saw both heroes starting at extremely low first day win rates (~38% for Ember, 32% for Earth), but both win rates improved significantly over the first week of their release.  Frankly, even though his win rate has been lower, I think Earth Spirit is the much more viable hero of the pair, but Ember’s hero ID comes first so Earth will have to come later in the week.  As usual, here’s a brief rundown of the skills:


For a more detailed description, here’s the Dota2 page.

Now for the skill builds, I’m going to try something different this week.  First, here are how the primary builds break down.


In Normal the playerbase is pretty evenly divided between maxing Sleight of Fist and Flame Guard by 8.  As you move up, Flame Guard clearly becomes the dominant build.  To get a better look into how things are developing, let’s include the Secondaries (basically, the second skill maxed in the build)


What we find is that skill priorities are fairly mixed in Normal, but as you move to Very High they make a pretty distinct transition to Flame Guard -> Searing Chains -> Sleight of Fist.  Do win rates support VH players in this decision?


It appears so.  Discounting the result for Q->Split (a build only featured in 93 games), the Flame Guard -> Searing Chains -> Sleight of Fist hierarchy held up pretty well.

My suspicion is that Sleight of Hand doing so poorly suggests that Ember Spirit works much better as a ganker than a carry.  A complete 6.79 Farm Dependency test will be coming a bit later, but I don’t expect that Ember Spirit’s score will be very high.  At best his carry potential revolves around Sleight, which is comparable to Kunkka’s Tidebringer in that it provides burst potential but no sustained damage.  Shortly after Ember came out, I watched a pro player play him, dominate the game with the highest CS and 6 slot item build including a rapier, a teamwide 2:1 kill advantage, and still lose the game.   What you want from a carry is a hero that can turn that kind of an item advantage into a guaranteed win, and Ember Spirit just isn’t capable at that.

Given that, maybe Flame Guard -> Searing Chains are better because they’re better at being the mid game ganking complement to an actual carry, or maybe they’re just performing better simply because the players going that build aren’t even trying to fulfill the farming carry role.  Honestly it’s probably a bit of both.  Ultimately, I don’t think Ember Spirit’s in a great place right now.  He’s not an amazing solo laner, but he also doesn’t really warrant a protected lane.  Early findings suggest that his overall performance is up in VH, but it’s likely mostly driven by VH players emphasizing ganking over farming.

I looked into his items but didn’t make any graphics because they were really boring.  Basically look at the Dotabuff item page and assume that VH players build the typical VH items (Wand, Drum, BKB, Bottle, etc.) more frequently.

In any case, that does Ember Spirit for now.  Earth Spirit will be coming later in the week.

4 Responses to [Skill Build Analysis] Ember Spirit

  1. Few comments I have on your analysis:
    1) I think ember spirit is HIGHLY dependent on understanding how he scales. He scales with damage and cleave and does not benefit much from AS. I think a more useful analysis would focus on item build rather than skill build.
    Why is cleave important? It makes your sleight on fist damage scale exponentially rather than linearly with increased damage. When you use SOF you get one attack per creep and per hero. That means 1 damage increase translates into 1 extra damage per hero using SOF without cleave. If you add cleave your SOF attacks splash from creeps to heroes, from heroes to heroes, and from illusions to heroes. This is especially relevant for highground defense when enemies are clumped and charging in with the creepwave. In stark contrast to jugg who also has a similar mechanic with his ultimate, ember’s SOF is quite spammable and therefore much more likely than jugg to actually benefit from cleave (BF is pretty bad on jugg for that reason).
    I recommend comparing two battlefuries (8700 gold) to items of similar cost like drums, linkens, maelstrom (9650 gold)

    IN ADDITION: cleave is enhanced damage which means it is not reduced by armor value. That means that it does insane damage against heroes that rely on high armor (morph, AM, riki, etc). If you play ember enough you notice that after your second bfury you start to do incredible damage in teamfights with SOF even when you have equal gold as your opponent.

    This mechanic of SOF leads me to my next point:

    2) Another important aspect is hero composition with ember spirit. He benefits greatly when heroes are clumped together when he has cleave. Like your analysis on skeleton king ursa winrates which showed that they had higher winrates combined than their individual winrates which suggests a unique synergy (albeit a very obvious one), I recommend looking at magnus + ember spirit combo. When magnus gets an RP it clumps the enemies together leading to a phenomenon I like to call the doom cannon. Ember spirit with cleave from bfury and empower can one hit the enemy team if they are caught in RP which suggests a unique synergy. Although this wasn’t in the highest bracket (I queue exclusively in very high but use an alternate account when playing with friends of lower skill) this replay tested a theory I had with ember:


    In this replay we test the “doom cannon” out to great success. Ember gets two ultra kills in a matter of .3 seconds after he is able to farm his second bfury.

    Here’s another replay from my main account when our ember is able to farm 2X battlefuries and turns around a lost game (our main carry feeds 6 kills in 10 minutes):


    I’m guessing that if you compile winrates with ember and magnus in very high MMR you’ll see winrates that are much higher than the heroes combined winrates.

    • phantasmal says:

      It’s really hard to do anything definitive with items using the API, and it’s even worse given that Ember Spirit hasn’t been out long enough to have a significant number of returns. There’s plenty of arguments out there over what Ember should build to take advantage of Sleight or if he should build something more general purpose like Drums, and I don’t feel that what I’m seeing contributes much to those discussions.

      Magnus has a similar problem. I haven’t wrote up the search, but I suspect that the number of Ember Spirit+Magnus games I have right now are a couple hundred at best and not enough to determine if there’s a significant increase in the combined win rates.

  2. max1c says:

    How the hell do you still determine N H and VH? I thought Valve blocked all API access on that?

    • phantasmal says:

      As far as I know, skill information was only disabled on player calls. You can still access it while using date and hero parameters.

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