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”...Riki, the small middle son, seemed born for the art of invisibility. It was an art he cultivated, and one which ultimately saved his life on the night that his people were betrayed and his family slaughtered. Of all the royal line, he alone escaped—small and agile, unassuming, using smoke as cover. He cut his way out of the royal grounds, using the advantage of surprise, quietly slitting the throats of one enemy warrior after another…” - Riki, the Stealth Assassin
Riki is a small, blue, dagger carrying, carry?
The 7.23 patch brought huge changes to many heroes, Riki included. Before the 7.23 patch, Riki was a hero caught in an awkward position. He was a situational support and a situational carry. With the reworks to him, Icefrog and co. seem to have decided that Riki is a core.
He’s in an awkward transition phase but since the changes, we’re seeing Riki picked more in the pro and pub scene. Before Riki was too greedy to be picked as support but now he’s a team fighting core so pros are trying him out with mixed results.
In this article, we’ll analyze Riki’s viability in his new role as a core.
The biggest change was obviously Cloak and Dagger being his ultimate. This forced Riki out of his support position. Before he could roam around as a 4 and help his team around the map or hunt couriers right away.
With this change, he has to play in lane because there’s no point in running around as Riki when you’re not invisible. He’s also not a great lane harasser without invisibility so that forces him to play as a core.
Another huge change was adding charges to Blink Strike. This helps his escape and initiation a ton. Riki is a squishy hero so if you get caught and disabled, chances are you’re going to die. An extra charge allows you to blink in to fight, and if things get messy, you have another charge to blink away. Or you could use two charges to blink longer distances.
Tricks of the Trade is now a basic ability. This turns Riki into an untargetable cloud that attacks units within an area. This is a welcome change because it’s a useful spell that helps Riki escape, initiate, and survive.
In all these games Riki was played as the safe lane carry.
Riki is still not a meta hero but he seems to be rising in popularity. We almost never saw Riki picked in the pro scene for years. He’s been picked 7 times in the last two tournaments with a new meta and has done better at each one. He’s also only been picked as a carry so that may be his new role.
In the Dotabuff meta page when sorted by win rate % of safe lane heroes in Divine/Immortal games, Riki is 11th. When you remove the supports on this list then Riki is 6th. His win rate here is 53.28% with a 7.02% pick rate.
These are some encouraging numbers if you’re a Riki fan. He’s now a common safe lane carry with a top 6 win rate.
The most popular item for Riki is still Diffusal Blade. After that it’s common to build a Skull Basher but nowadays players are switching it up. Battlefury, Manta Style, and Sange and Yasha are becoming more common.
On Riki’s item section, the item with the highest win rate that’s been seen in over 50,000 matches is Manta Style with a 67.31% win rate. Another escape and dispel can help Riki survive longer in team fights. This leads to more Smoke Clouds, damage, and time for your teammates to contribute something.
Riki is one of my favorite heroes to play. I love playing aggressively and Riki allows this style while still providing protection thanks to invisibility.
In my hero page, Riki is my #1 hero for the “success” stat. I’ve played him as a carry since long before the 7.23 patch with great results. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.
If you’re surrounded while in Tricks of the Trade, don’t wait for the full duration to end. Your enemies are trying to time the full duration with their spells so you can simply start it, and end it unexpectedly then the enemies will have to react to that rather than their predicted full duration. You can then walk or Blink Strike away while catching them off guard.
A Blink Dagger isn’t a bad item to build. This allows you to blink away while in Tricks of the Trade like an [missing hero: outworld-devourer] can blink away after his Astral ends. This also allows you to choose the +0.8 Backstab Multiplier talent (which has a 0.5% higher win rate) over the +600 Blink Strike Cast Range without losing mobility and gaining a ton of damage. You can close gaps to supports in the back lines way easier with a Blink Dagger.
Position your Smoke Cloud at the edge of where the enemy is with the majority of it in the direction you want them to go. So if the enemy wants to go south, put the cloud mostly south with the edge of the north side on the enemy. This forces them to walk the maximum distance out of the cloud or go in the direction they don’t want to go.
Always be hunting! Riki snowballs off kills. Try to find some easy support kills all the time. You should get a Diffusal Blade before they can get any survivability items which means you should get some free kills before then.
You don’t “have” to buy Sentries. Simply avoid that part of the map.
Riki is now in a position where his role is clearly defined. He’s now a core. The changes he went through make his position as a support really weak so now he’s a core.
We’re seeing carry Riki more often in the pro scene now as well. His pub status as a carry is in the top tier in the current meta. I hope to see more Riki games in the pro scene, watching the same carry heroes is getting old and Riki is a fun hero to play and watch.
What do you guys think of Riki? Anyone else play Riki as a carry?