I am tired of losing every game to Phantom Lancer in Dota 2. What are some hard counters to beat him?

I have tried Legion Commander, but late game her Q has no relevance and it seems like the only counter is a well fed Magnus.

  • does medusa's ult still insta kill illusions?
    – l I
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 22:00
  • Yea it does, so i guess i have to pick Medusa every time there is a PL Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 22:09
  • One thing I used to do was pick a skywrath and try to pick fights with him after I hit lvl 6. Couple of reasons here: 1. I can silence him so he can't run away that easy or burst me with spear. I also do burst dmg on him and it helps with point 2. 2. The ultimate does dmg only to heroes. Meaning that even if he has illusions he'll burn down very fast. Important to know is that you will need dust in case he tries to run away.You might need to throw some Qs after him.Also, always be careful that there are no supports nearby when you pick a fight.
    – sir_k
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 11:24

6 Answers 6


To avoid repeating other answers: if you can't change your pick against him (Captains Draft, last minute PL, whatever), changing your itemization can help. Ghost Scepter, as a poor support, or an earlier BKB, as a more farmed role, can do wonders against PL's swarm in the mid/late-game.

You can potentially turn the tide of any fight if you don't die for a precious extra couple seconds: of not losing all your health (ghost scepter), or 5+ seconds not losing all of your mana (BKB; you don't know how much you like your mana pool as a carry until it's gone!).

Other items are, as always, situational. You can't pick, say, KotL, and skip a necessary Mekansm for Eul's and Ghost Scepter and expect to be as helpful. Eul's Scepter provides a similar escape, much more so when paired with a blink dagger. Agh's or Refresher might be helpful per hero. Force Staff on a 3-5 role is almost always a good idea already, but unless you're doing some coordinated plays staffing allies over a cliff to save them from PL, it might not have the escapism effect you want with PLs passive chasing ability.

More expensive items that could help include Shiva's, Battlefury (on Ember Spirit in particular; stack them), Mjollnir (much more so than a casual Maelstrom), and Crimson Guard.

Misc. items of note: Dust of Appearance, similar to Bounty Hunter's Track or Slardar's ultimate, will persist on the "real" PL after he uses his second ability. This, or hero abilities like those, can move your itemization options to single target lockdown actives, including Abyssal Blade, Orchid, and Sheepstick. But finding the real PL in a fast paced skirmish is hard to coordinate consistently, so as always, situational pickups.

Note: PL isn't generally an issue in the very early stages of the game; depending on his itemization, a good Jakiro combo can nullify a horde of illusions. Later in the game, when PL is a higher level and has tankier illusions, not many heroes have abilities that scale for these illusions en masse. Lion and Disruptor, for example, can knock out any single illusion easily, and Jakiro can deal with early level illusions well, but for the real issue, a horde of farmed PL illusions, a diffusal blade charge, or a dual breath isn't going to help. My suggestions are more geared toward that ominous mid lane push from a team with a farmed PL.

  • The item is called crimson guard by the way, and I have always wondered, does tinker's heat seeking missile always hit the real Phantom Lancer?
    – Kim Minseo
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 2:45
  • @KimMinseo no, it can hit 2 illusions :( or 4, even
    – enche
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 4:20
  • You mention BKB . What is it?
    – carl crott
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 4:16
  • @delinquentme Black King Bar.
    – enche
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 14:12

Earthshaker. When their team is maxing the number of units in a small area, get Earthshaker going with a blink. His ultimate does bonus damage based on enemy units within a radius, so wait until the Phantom Lancer is there with a creep wave and his team and you'll see health bars melt.

  • His long cooldown ultimate is a lot of eggs in one basket if the PL can just dodge it completely with good reaction time, or something else goes wrong. It's by no means a hard counter
    – enche
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 18:13
  • 3
    @enche But when it works, tears of happiness all around
    – Yann
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 18:47

Phantom Lancer is a really weak starting hero. With low damage, low health and low mana, and without any CC or disable, he can be shut down quite easily at early game through constant ganking.

1. Gyrocopter
Most likely, he will pick mid lane for ganking. He will harrass Phantom Lancer constantly using his homing missile, and his ultimate, Call Down, is a huge AOE nuke, instantly killing or nearly killing all of Phantom Lancer's illusion.

2. Lion
He has 2 skills - Mana Drain and Hex - that kills illusions instantly or after 0.25 second delay. Lion can basically destroy Phantom Lancer's illusion, making his main skills, Doppelwalk and Juxtapose useless.

3. Medusa
Medusa's ultimate, Stone Gaze, instantly kills illusion, and have Phantom Lancer's attack speed slowed, movement speed slowed, and have a chance of being stunned and taking bonus physical damage.

4. Pugna
His ultimate, Life Drain, instantly kills illusions and drains Phantom Lancer's HP. Nothing much to say here.

5. Disrupter
His W, Glimpse, will instantly kill illusions.

6. Diffusial Blade
Purging will instantly kill all illusions.

Hope I helped :)

  • 5
    Another notable counters are : Earthshaker,Sven,Storm Spirit,Magnus,Slardar,Centaur.
    – Mentales
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 1:41
  • 3
    @Arremer +1 for listing some much better counters, most of the heroes listed in the answer can destroy a single illusion, which is pretty much useless against PL.
    – Miniman
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 4:31
  • 2
    @Miniman especially now that PL's illusions have been nerfed in duration
    – franglais
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 10:33
  • Of the OP, Medusa and (carry) Gyro are your best bets. I agree with @Arremer, except for Centaur. Diffusal on PL will get you one stomp off and your ult at best, and unless you've got a heart or two, double edge and return aren't going to be significant.
    – enche
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 16:33

Current patch. Drow ranger against diffusal pl. But not any kind of drow ranger, but specifically, tesla ranger. You only need aghanim, this helps you farm a maelstrom.

Why? Because this gives you 3 chances to proc chain lightning every attack, which do not suffer -50% damage from aghs upgrade. With this build, you can totally disregard your mana, because your mana is gonna vanish within 2 seconds anyway. You dont have a very big mana pool anyway so after your mana is gone, pl wont be hitting so hard. You either have to be good at game and react fast, or be just decent with game and buy passive abilities i.e. chain lightning. Also, no pl player will buy a black king bar to counter those lightnings because that defeats the purpose of having illusions.

Countering PL is easy. I think the bigger problem is to counter medusa late game. Its not enough that stone gaze does heavy AoE slow, it also has to turn you to stone if you stare too long, and this pierces bkb. Most other late game carries rely on illusions spells, or item illusions, meaning medusa counters other late game heroes because stone gaze kills illusions, and she is a late game hero herself. Now that is a bigger bullshit than a puny PL.


While some decent counters have been mentioned , what i will mention are heroes that can match PL in late game that is basically clear illusions or fight PL . Of course you can say pick pushing heroes and end game before PL gets six slotted as the general answer. But what i will say is picking any hero that uses battlefury or has cleave or good ablities like flak cannon or mjollinir (not that great as game goes longer i feel).

  1. Antimage - good split pusher , hard to gank , probably the best user of battlefury and can clear PL illusions very effectively and also usually goes abyssal which is a good item to have against PL . also AM is probably the 2nd fastest farming hero.

  2. Alchemist - with a mjollinir, attack speed, acid spray can kill illusions pretty fast , though if game is going for more than an hour he wont be effective as he is a carry that falls off after say 30-40 mins .

  3. Bounty hunter & slardar - for their ability for tracking original hero , but an intelligent pl would escape these heroes easily with diffusal/manta
  4. earthshaker - can be effective till 40-50 min but you cant clear illusions just that you can during a team fight , not when there are only illusions pushing your base.
  5. ember - sleight of fist + battlefury really good against illu
  6. void - a good bfury / mjollinir carry also chrono helps a lot for singling pl out
  7. gyro - flak cannon basically helps a lot in clearing illus, also in fights .
  8. invoker - lots of AOE spells , potential hex carrier
  9. kunkka - tidebringer effective
  10. Outworld Devourer - ulti clears illusions instantly and the orb does lots of damage to illusions , but OD is only good against PL in a team fight i feel
  11. PA - bfury holder again , blur really effective vs illusions
  12. SK - massive aoe damage and passive helps clear illusions
  13. sven - cleave
  14. tinker - PL usually isnt a bkb carry which makes tinker good vs PL , but tinker not that great illusion clearer without say shivas . but he can chain hex and do lots of dmg with ethereal blade + dagon
  15. tiny - probably one of the best late game heroes vs PL with aghanims

Medusas ult works. Her first ability when upgraded with aghanims is also very useful for taking down illusions in one shot

  • Hi Kailash, welcome to Arqade. Your answer is being downvoted because the point you make is already listed in the top answer, and doesn't add anything worthwhile to what has already been mentioned. If you edit your answer to include new information, it might attract more upvotes.
    – Gigazelle
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 19:22

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