Image by 42
There is a common misconception about Viper being weak past the laning stage. He is seen as a lane dominating hero that falls off a cliff as early as midgame. That is not necessarily true anymore. Today we want to share how professional players squeeze the maximum out of this both venomous and poisonous menace.
Viper is an offlane hero, who is at his best when used as a carry-pressuring position four or three. He can technically go mid, but the current meta of long-range, nuke-farming heroes make Viper more or less irrelevant in this position: he can’t really flourish in a situation, where the enemy hero can shrug off most harass and keep farming by continuously refilling the bottle.
Recently nerfed enemy safelane, where Salve sharing is making both carries and hard supports cry, is where Viper feels at home. There, he will be typically facing a late-game oriented, farm-dependent hero who will have trouble playing aggressive into Viper and who will typically lack waveclear early on to ignore the lane.
That is Viper’s bread and butter: the hero can’t really farm and can even have trouble last-hitting, but he can make the enemy's life miserable as well and what better target is there to make miserable other than the enemy carry?
Viper starts the game with a single idea in mind and as such, his build is very straightforward as well. He has a default 4-1-1-1 skill build by level seven, with Corrosive Skin taking priority afterwards. He also has a default item progression of Power Treads into Dragon Lance into BKB on core Viper.
Always be aware that you can disassemble your Dragon Lance to get an Ogre Axe for BKB if you are being pressured. The extra Attack Range is not particularly critical on Viper and Dragon Lance is mostly a stat item and a Hurricane Pike component for him anyways.
Getting Shard after core items is also pretty critical: the Shard allows Viper to convert his oppressive early game domination into objectives. This solves the hero’s main problem: Viper is not a strong late-game hero, so why play the long game.
It doesn’t mean that your team has to rush the enemy throne, but heavily restricting the enemy access to the map can create an economic disparity that will more than make up for the lack of scaling potential.
Survivability and Offence hybrid items are what Viper wants, and going for Skadi and Butterfly is usually the build. Give priority to the former in games against healers.
One nice alternative is Wraith Pact, though it is very game-specific and is usually built on position four Viper, rather than position three. The hero lacks armor and against heavy physical damage compositions, getting an early Vlad’s can be very beneficial.
Perhaps the most important part of this post. Viper can be an extremely annoying lane opponent and will absolutely ruin your game if you allow him to. Here are some tips to help mitigate some of the hero’s impact.
Do not buy boots on core melee heroes. You will be slowed down and your 500 gold will be irrelevant during the laning stage. Instead, get as many early stats as possible and, most importantly, get Gloves of Haste. This is the most efficient early jungling item in the game.
Have one Salve to spare. Yes, this includes core heroes. In fact, after the latest Salve changes, it is mostly core’s responsibility to have their own regen. Your job in the lane against Viper is not to have a good time, lots of gold and top net worth. Your job is to get enough levels and early game items to start effectively jungling as soon as possible. Viper is an extremely slow hero so any attempts to gank you, as long as you have at least one ward in the area, will most likely fail.
Always keep an eye on Viper mana. The hero is very mana-starved and fully relies on his auto-attacks and abilities to harass in lane. He has a pretty pathetic stat block and can do very little without abilities. It also creates an interesting play for Anti-Mage, where you can buy an additional Salve early on and go for a heavy trade, before blinking out. By trading your HP for Viper’s mana you can actually win the lane, or at least make it even.
Finally, if your offlane is doing well and has a hero who can quickly take stacks, ask them to get neutral items as soon as possible. Ping camps, remind them several times in both text and audio chat, draw on the map — do whatever it takes for them to react. Because if you get Possessed Mask or Chipped Vest at ~7:15 in-game time, you have successfully dealt with and completely countered Viper’s default game plan, once again highlighting how amazing the neutral item system is.
Viper has a 51% win rate in Divine+ pubs this month and an almost 52% win rate in Divine+ pubs this week, meaning that his win rate is slowly increasing. More importantly, his win rate increases with the level of play: the hero is statistically better in higher level pubs.
This trend is usually associated with hard to execute heroes, yet Viper is anything but. In our opinion this trend mostly has to do with how long lower level pub games usually take to end. Viper is still a tempo core. Most importantly, come late game, disables and teamfight abilities the conventional position three heroes provide are going to be more beneficial to the team.
So as a Viper, try to end the game as soon as possible. Against Viper, try to abuse the hero’s low mobility to prolong the game, generally by split-pushing different sides of the map. Most importantly: don’t feed Viper unnecessary kills by overstaying your welcome in lane, while as Viper, try to push in the wave once you see the enemy carry leave it, so that you can start working on objectives.