Monkey See, Monkey Do

DAC showcased the strength of the latest addition to Captain's Mode: Monkey King swept the pro-scene, becoming one of the most coveted roamers in the game. Despite numerous post-release nerfs the hero still looks incredibly strong, filling the niche of Bounty Hunter and Riki, but without the unreliable invisibility mechanics and with far greater teamfight presence.

Leading up to the Kiev Major, the hero received another set of nerfs, primarily aimed at his early game. Naturally, it is worth questioning whether the hero is still as good of a pick as he was before. It does seem that with a few adjustments, the hero will still be as popular.

The most important position

Position four heroes have become increasingly important in the current meta. The increase in the amount of resources available on the map and slightly greedier playstyles allowed for a whole set of heroes to enter the competitive scene. Most of them can be classified as “catch” heroes, with low cooldown AoE disables that make them amazing initiators, regardless of whether you are initiating on the whole team or simply ganking individual heroes.

Monkey King fits the description perfectly and even more. He is an amazing harasser in lane and can be played both similarly to Bounty Hunter and Riki, occasionally revealing himself to deal damage and scare the enemy away, or as Ogre Magi and Bane, staying in lane and utilizing his long range to get some free hits on the enemy.

He is an amazing scout and roamer, with massive flying vision in-between Tree Dance Tree Dance jumps. It is also much harder to keep track of him, since he doesn’t rely on potentially counterable invisibility mechanics and is much more unique in his elusiveness. It is a much higher risk endeavour, especially in certain matchups, but the reward is similarly higher—unlike most other roamers Monkey King can consistently initiate a gank even at level 1.

Finally, unlike most other position four heroes, Monkey King is incredibly useful in teamfights. His ultimate deals a lot of damage, can provide a lot of utility and has a psychological effect on the enemy—even if Monkey King is underfarmed and deals little to no damage from his statues, it still looks very intimidating. This aspect is probably less relevant in pro-games, but is massively undervalued in pub matches.

New Playstyle?

Throughout the DAC, professional players have levelled Monkey King up in a single way: after a single point in Tree Dance Tree Dance, Boundless Strike Boundless Strike took priority and was maxed out first to maximize the stun duration.

With 7.05 substantially changing the hero, this might no longer be the go-to build for the hero. The mana cost scaling on Tree Dance Tree Dance was reversed and the ability actually costs less with more levels put into it. Moreover, Boundless Strike Boundless Strike’s stun duration was reduced, while the slow from Primal Spring Primal Spring was increased for later levels. The latter is also frequently superior damage wise—a fully charged Spring deals 340 damage, compared to roughly 200 from maxed out Boundless Strike Boundless Strike. The strike does get a lot more potent with Jingu Mastery Jingu Mastery, but as a support-initiator, you rarely get the chance to fully stack the ability.

80% slow for 4 seconds is a really good initiation during the early levels, before enemies get items to counter or dispel the effect. In fact, from the perspective of dealing follow-up damage from auto-attacks it might even be superior to 1.6 of stun, unless the enemy hero has mobility spells. The paradigm shift is not guaranteed, but it is very likely to be at least a situational build in some games.

To compensate for amazing abilities, the hero has very boring talents. On top of being boring, they are also not particularly game-changing. In the majority of cases, support Monkey King should go for survivability options at level 10 and 15, since they allow him to survive longer during Wukong's Command Wukong's Command. The level 20 choices are a bit harder, since the statues from Command get full benefits from the bonus damage and unless you are playing against a lot of spell casters, +40 Damage might actually be a better option. Level 25 option is more or less based on whether you’ve managed to successfully transition your position four hero into an extra core for your team.

Item Builds

The item build for the hero has been pretty straightforward: Phase Boots Phase Boots into Hand of Midas Hand of Midas into Skull Basher Skull Basher. This allowed the hero to rapidly gain levels and be a complete nuisance in teamfights. It was generally followed up with Shadow Blade Shadow Blade or Black King Bar Black King Bar.

Phase Boots, Basher, Shadow Blade, Black King Bar and smaller trinkets, such as Blight Stone Blight Stone and Orb of Venom Orb of Venom are still bread and butter for the hero. The Basher is simply non-negotiable, since it essentially transforms Wukong’s Command into a 780 radius makeshift Black Hole. But is the Midas still worth it?

It probably is. There is an argument regarding the new cooldown scaling for Wukong’s Command and it is a very valid one. Losing 0.75x XP multiplicator hits the item hard for most Midas heroes, but Monkey King doesn’t generally suffer from the XP problems by the time he gets his midas. Level 9 more or less provides the hero with all the tools he needs. At the same time, increased reliable gold gain for a hero who can be killed from an unfortunate quelling blade usage is a massive boost.

Midas still boosts hero’s XP gain and it will still get you to level 18 faster, which is now crucial, given how the Wukong’s Command cooldown has been increased.

Closing Thoughts

Monkey King will not leave the meta and will probably still remain one of the most popular heroes. It is still worth learning to play the hero in the pub environments as well—he still outclasses most roamers with higher utility, consistency, item independence and damage.

That said, adjusting skill builds will probably be necessary: the hero can be developed in two ways and priority on Boundless Strike Boundless Strike or Primal Spring Primal Spring should largely depend on the mobility of the enemy heroes.

More from The Dotabuff Blog








          A E S T H E T I C



              idite naxuy!

              Fight Machine

                Compared to 6.88, there are 70% resources(creeps) on the map. But games are as long as or even longer than 6.88 which gives a room for a dormant backup core to come online later.


                  eights .. :(

                  Brock Hall

                    First off: I love the changes made to MK. They are in reaction to the way pros are playing him, giving him better survivability in exchange for a lower damage output. He is more consistent now but without the power spike, which allows him to play the four position a little more naturally.

                    Second: Jingu Mastery doesn't seem to fit too well with the hero as he currently stands. There might be a better skill for him to have, but that would mean easing off on his other skills yet again probably.

                    Finally: I am anticipating some sort of addition to the tree mechanic. MK is currently one of an extremely tiny group to have such early access to flying vision (off the top of my head only clockwerk comes to mind pre 6) which is often the largest argument people have for hating the hero. I personally think it isn't too horrible especially as his early game has been cooled off and there are still great ways to escape his initiations (escape heroes shrug off the slow and the stun early is short enough that setting up a chain stun is easy to sniff out) but I would not be surprised to see Valve introduce either a new item or a skill to a current hero that gives them a better way to keep tabs on MKs position. The latter is probably more likely as it is easier to implement without ruining his unique advantages.

                    Brock Hall

                      @Fight Machine

                      There might be less creeps but isn't there more gold because of ancients and stuff?


                        I deny 11






                              14th and still down with 1k MMR

                              Fight Machine

                                Camps gold on average: S=75, M=100, L=125, A=238, R=100.
                                6.88: 2*((3*125)+(2*100)+75+238)= 1776 gold every two mins.
                                7.xx: (3*125)+(3*100)+75+(238*2)+(2*100)= 1426 gold every two mins.


                                  I really like the rework


                                    @Brock Hall, Batrider also has flying vision, but your point is well taken.

                                    Brock Hall

                                      @Fight Machine

                                      Hmm. You forgot bounty runes but that hardly makes a difference.

                                      Still, it's not like Kawaii is wrong that supports have been living in a relative utopia with cheap wards, tp scrolls, xp tomes, and opportunities to turn into cores. It's a greedier game these days, but that began almost a year ago, and I still remember when tp scrolls were 135.

                                      Brock Hall


                                        Actually I'm gonna change my tone a little and say people are bellyachers about the flying vision problem. There are SOOOOOO many sources of flying vision it isn't funny. Here. I'll give a list of non ultimate skills that give unconditional (like requiring a target or proc upon hitting something) flying vision for any duration above 0:

                                        Firefly, Sticky Napalm, Beastmaster Hawk, Blood Rite, Rocket Flare, Sun Strike, Ice Path, Illuminate, Sprout, Illusory Orb, Meat Hook, Plasma Field, Wave of Terror, Shrapnel, Ball Lightning, Static Remnant, Chakram, Ice Shards, Venomous Gale, Power Shot, Lightning Bolt.

                                        That's 21 skills spread over like 18 heroes BEFORE we add in conditional and non duration spells. Granted it's mana expensive to spam, but you can't take away every advantage you get with tree dance.


                                          tree dance is still far far superior to any kind of flying vision you might have aside from beastmasters hawk maybe.

                                          1-IceTea 🌟

                                            22nd is mine
                                            It's funny when MK story is he can 1 v 1K gods but in real game he just a roamer support and properly fail most 1v1scenario

                                            This comment was edited
                                            *not as* Braindead

                                              @Brock hall

                                              Doesn't pudge's meat hook require a latch onto an enemy before granting vision around the hook?

                                              $plit Image

                                                I have never seen a Monkey King do a hand of midas in pro games or casual before the nerf.
                                                A support MK needs other utility items and core needs to up the dmg asap from what I have seen.
                                                Where are you gettting your information regarding Midas pickup?
                                                Edit: Checked dotabuff and Midas is less picked and has almost 10% lower winrate than echo sabre.
                                                Edit2: Top 10 MK players use midas sometimes. But it is not standard for a MK.

                                                This comment was edited
                                                *not as* Braindead


                                                  I agree, i recently played a game as monkey king and started as a roamer and transitioned into a core quite easily without Midas with little to no farm for the first five minutes. I was still able to solo gank heroes by 10 minutes and participate in teamfights with just a wand, phase boots and basic regenerative items. Midas would have slowed down the game too much without me being able to contribute

                                                  This comment was edited

                                                    No mention of the solar crest build? Item is super good on this hero as you can easily 1v1 enemy heroes you catch out alone and when you're in the team fight you just throw it on your carry perfect for a fighting support. Also a natural transition from blight stone while still allowing your carry to build desolator. Great article nonetheless, I was beginning to think this hero was going to be pushed out of the game for a while.

                                                    Brock Hall


                                                      oops, you're right on that one. However Invoker meatball can be added as the last spot gets 3 seconds linger time.


                                                      Like I said before, you can't take away every unique thing a hero does. Nobody is as consistent with ranged attacks as sniper is. Nobody puts out aoe damage like gyrocopter can. Nobody can hop around the map as often as NP. If you take away what makes a hero unique or what gives them an advantage in a certain situation you ruin the hero.


                                                        Very fun hero to play and watch, im happy he is seen in the pro scene.

                                                        Napoleon Borntoparty

                                                          28th ???

                                                          Shegz #afktillsummer

                                                            I see Monkey king, I pick Zeus!


                                                              I love how the best win percentage and most picked rates of the talents are opposite of what they suggest, I assume is because monkey king is played as carry by pub players so often.

                                                              Brock Hall


                                                                Riki has made it to the support position in many of my pub games so it can happen but it'll take a bit


                                                                  @ffinnaggann @Brock Hall if you play in the trash skill level as I do, you may even see a carry Jakiro; no one plays Support in that range

                                                                  Brock Hall


                                                                    Feel for ya man in some ways, but in others that must be a wonderous place full of ill conceived but creative solutions that I would love to be a part of.

                                                                    This comment was edited
                                                                    ♥♦ GED ♣♠

                                                                      The marvelous 2k dimension


                                                                        I personally believe his ability to gap close still makes him one of the most invaluable supports out there, as well as providing crucial behind the lines vision.


                                                                          I think the winrate only accounts for when you finish with Midas in your inventory, most good games you will sell it before the end


                                                                            Mids and Roamers get hit the hardest with the Nerf hammer. So just be careful.


                                                                              Maybe big dp ult Cooldown reduction talent at level 25?


                                                                                Макаку порезали ну уж очень хорошо

                                                                                  This comment was removed by a moderator