An image of Dota 2 heroes.

Best Counter Picking Strategies in Dota 2

Have you figured out your favorite counter picking strategies in Dota 2?

Did you know? Counter picking statistics sites are some of the most popular Dota 2-related websites. There are so many heroes in Dota 2 that knowing the best counters for each can get complicated. It will take you dozens of hours of studying to learn the best matchups for every hero you can encounter in the game.

Counter picking is a huge part of competitive Dota 2 as it can often give one team a big advantage before the match even starts. 

If you can successfully pick good counter heroes, you can minimize the impact that specific opponents can have in the game. You can even render a hero almost completely useless by counter picking against them.

If you want to learn how to get his early advantage, check out our quick guide on the best counter picking strategies in Dota 2.


How to counter pick in Dota 2: 

  1. Understand different playstyles
  2. Know the right lane matchups
  3. Learn the abilities of each hero
  4. Memorize the most popular counter picks

Dota 2 Heroes

Dota 2 is celebrating its 10th anniversary this 2023. First released in 2013 by Valve as a sequel to the Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos community-built mod Defense of the Ancients (DotA). While the mod originally used existing characters from the base game, Dota 2 has added dozens of new heroes over the years.

An image of Dota 2 heroes.

There are now a total of 123 heroes in Dota 2. They are still divided into the original categories, Strength, Agility, and Intelligence. When one of these is a hero’s primary attribute, increasing will help improve their abilities and base stats. The playstyle for a hero also relies heavily on their primary attribute and how you build that through items.

An image of Dota 2 heroes and attributes.

Each main attribute point increases that hero’s basic attack damage by one point. Regarding playstyle, Strength heroes are primarily tanks or melee heroes specializing in close-ranged combat and sustaining fights.

Agility heroes tend to have a lot of range and attack speed, dealing damage safely from afar. Finally, Intelligence heroes rely greatly on their abilities to deal damage or support their teammates.

An image of how attributes affect heroes.

Counter Picking Strategies in Dota 2

Counter picking is a vital skill to learn in Dota 2. This strategy is effective on every level, even for beginners who have not mastered enough heroes yet. There are not many things more frustrating than choosing your carry hero and then having it be rendered useless because the opposing team counter picks perfectly against it.

Here are our favorite counter picking strategies in Dota 2 that you can learn.

Understanding Playstyles

This is quite a basic skill that every Dota 2 player must learn. Playstyles are key to success in Dota 2, so knowing your preferred playstyle and how each hero is supposed to be played, is very important.

An image of playstyles which are affected by counter picking strategies in Dota 2.

For example, you need to figure out early on which heroes best fit your playstyle. After that, you can learn how other heroes are played to see whether your playstyle is good or bad against them.

A gif of the laning phase.

Once you figure out this dynamic, you can wait for certain heroes to be picked to pick your own best heroes that are good counters against them. Following the same logic, you can also see what the enemy picks are and make sure not to pick weak heroes against that matchup.

An image of matchups which are affected by counter picking strategies in Dota 2.

Lane Matchups

Lane matchups are the most standard way Dota 2 games are played for the early and mid-game. In your lane, you are basically in a head-to-head matchup against the enemy, so a good counter pick can often dominate the lane phase.

best counter picking strategies

In the lane phase, players earn gold, gain experience to level up, and try to get kills or destroy enemy towers to push their creeps closer to the enemy base. If you want to prioritize dominating your lane, choose a strong hero in the lane phase and particularly powerful against your matchup.

An image of winning the lane phase through counter picking strategies in Dota 2.

Counter picking for the lane phase is often the best way to get an early lead in the game, which you can then snowball into a win.

pushing lanes


Abilities are what differentiate each hero in Dota 2. Because there are now 123 heroes, each with a unique set of abilities, there are some very interesting matchups that you can play around with.

A gif of hero abilities.

For example, Alchemist’s ultimate ability puts his ogre in a state of rage, massively increasing his movement speed and health regeneration. On the other hand, Ancient Apparition’s ultimate ability prevents enemies from healing or regeneration. It also instantly kills them once their health goes below a certain percentage.

A gif of Ancient Apparition's ultimate ability, one of the best counter picking strategies against a strong hero like Alchemist.

This matchup means Ancient Apparition is a hard counter pick against Alchemist, rendering the latter’s ultimate ability completely useless in the game.

An image of Ancient Apparition.

If you do not have the time to memorize all the counter picks for every hero, we have compiled a quick guide for the most popular and most effective counters right now.

An image of Dota 2 heroes.

Pudge is one of the most popular Dota 2 heroes, mostly because of his simple yet very effective skill set. He relies mostly on his Meat Hook ability to start fights. 

To counter him, you will want to pick a mobile hero, preferably one with a quick dash or teleport ability to instantly dodge Meat Hook. Heroes like Queen of Pain, Anti-Mage, Phantom Assassin, and Riki are all good choices.

A gif of Pudge's Meat Hook ability.

Ursa is one of the best carry heroes in Dota 2. He specializes in getting close to enemies and mauling them with the help of his abilities that increase attack speed and damage. To counter him, you can use Bane’s Nightmare or Fiend’s Grip abilities to immobilize Ursa, buying time for your team to kill him before he can approach.

A gif of Bane's Nightmare ability, one of the best counter picking strategies against Pudge.

Another hero that counters Ursa is Phantom Lancer. This hero focuses on producing illusions to swarm enemies. Ursa only fights in melee range and focuses on one opponent at a time. He has to blindly guess which one the real Phantom Lancer is, making it very difficult to win fights against him.

A gif of Phantom Lancer's illusions, one of the best counter picking strategies against Ursa.

Now that you have learned the best counter picking strategies in Dota 2, you can start destroying opponents in your lane and dominating games to get some free wins in Ranked Mode.


To figure out how to counter in Dota 2, ensure you have a basic understanding of attributes, playstyles, and unique hero abilities. Knowing your hero’s best playstyle lets you counter heroes that are weak against it.
To counter Ursa, you can pick someone like Phantom Lancer, who can create illusions and, therefore, multiple targets Ursa will have to choose from. Batrider can destroy trees, which disables one of Monkey King’s most unique abilities. If Monkey King cannot jump from tree to tree, he will be much less mobile and effective in combat.
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