Dota Underlords: How Elusives Work
Unlike Knights, Scrappies, Savages, and other popular builds, Elusives are very difficult to transition into and manage. Their alliance bonus gives them +20% evasion for 3 Elusives, +45% for 6, and +75% for 9, which can be truly amazing, but only under specific conditions. As such, before you commit to this build, there are a few issues you should consider.
To begin with, Elusives don’t do well when they are contested. You should avoid the build at all costs if one or two other players are going for it alongside you. In addition, you might encounter difficulties upgrading key units like Luna if several other players are doing Knights, which is not a reason to abandon hope in and of its own, but can sometimes cost you a placement in top 3. The same goes for Phantom Assassin if other players are building 6- or 9-Assassin squads.
Secondly, because you need all 9 Elusives for the alliance bonus to truly shine, this build can be very expensive. Not only do you have to find the heroes and their upgrades, but you almost always have to level to 10 in order to have enough damage. If you don’t build a strong economy quickly, you’re likely to lose all of your HP before you find the right upgrades.
Finally, it’s impossible to run more than 3 alliances at a time while doing 9 Elusives. To compensate for this, you absolutely need 3-stars – and quite a few of them. Luna and PA are a good start, but more are required if you want to place first in a high-ranking match.
The Full 9-Elusives Shazam
Elusives is probably one of those builds you should never force, simply because there are just too many units and upgrades to look for. However, if you get 3-4 Elusives in the first 10 rounds of a match, committing to them can be a good idea. These are the heroes you’re looking for:
A 1-cost unit and a great hero to have throughout the mid-game, Anti-Mage is an easy instant buy during the first 5 rounds. Getting him to 2-stars early can help you shut down many of your opponents’ teams, as well as counter heroes with Blink Dagger. He is great with Mask of Madness and can stay relevant in the late-game if he makes it to 3-stars and is paired up with Terrorblade.
A pretty terrible unit overall, Nature’s Prophet is great in Elusives if you can pair him with Treant Protector. The two Druids ensure an easy 2- or 3-star presence on the board and can be used as frontliners at a time when you might otherwise lose a lot of HP due to using many squishy heroes.
Your main source of AoE damage, a 3-stars Luna is absolutely part of the win condition for Elusives. Like Anti-Mage, she works well with Mask of Madness, but she can also benefit greatly from any big damage item. Unfortunately, she is currently one of the most contested units in the game since both Knights and Elusives want her fully upgraded.
Of all Hunters in the game, Windranger is probably one of the weakest. Her auto-attack damage is fairly poor, while her ultimate does great DPS, but is very narrow compared to other AoEs. Always put her in a corner to maximize her damage, but don’t make too many sacrifices to upgrade her to 3-stars.
One of the best Elusive heroes for the early-game, Treant Protector must be played together with Nature’s Prophet to unlock the Druids alliance. He is one of the very few tankier heroes in this draft, has a great HP pool, can heal, and is easy to take to 3-stars.
He is currently one of the best Mages in the game, but his AoE damage suffers a lot from the fact that Elusives don’t let you unlock the 3-Mages alliance buff. Still, he is your only other source of AoE damage apart from Luna, so you should take him to 3-stars if there is enough room on your bench.
She is your main damage dealer in this draft, as well as your top-most priority in terms of upgrades. It’s hardly ever worth venturing into Elusives if you think that you won’t be able to find a 3-stars PA – for example, if someone is already going for 6-Assassins or 9-Assassins. Her item of choice is Mask of Madness and she should be prioritized for it before both Luna and Anti-Mage. If you don’t get MoM during loot rounds, though, any high damage item will do.
She has great survivability thanks to Refraction and can take ages to kill in an Elusives draft. However, because she is a 4-cost unit, you can rarely ever upgrade this hero to 3-stars, which eventually leads to her being left behind by your PA and other units in terms of contribution to DPS.
This hero is fairly mediocre when you consider the fact that you have to pay 4 gold for her. Still, she did get a little better over the last few patches and Hunters are generally very strong right now. She can also take a few hits as a frontliner since she is usually tanky enough to charge her ultimate and jump away.
Possible 10th Hero in Elusive Comps
The only alliances you have with a 9-Elusives comp are Elusives and Druids. That’s significantly less (and weaker) than other popular drafts, which can turn into a bit of a disadvantage. If your economy is strong enough, you should first upgrade your centerpiece units (PA, Luna, Treant, Puck – in that order of priorities) and then level to 10 in order to include one or two more alliances. The best 10th units include:
A fantastic damage dealer and a veritable monster with Helm of the Undying, Terrorblade has been slightly nerfed recently, but is still a perfectly viable option in Elusives. He synergizes with Anti-Mage for the Demon Hunter alliance and can clear entire teams on his own if you can keep him alive long enough.
Using Viper unlocks two additional synergies – Assassins and Dragons, whereas using Slark only gives you the first. Since 2 is obviously more than 1, you might be tempted to go for Viper, but Slark is much stronger individually and can be an excellent source of DPS when paired with Mask of Madness. The choice is usually pretty clutch so remember to check what others are building and which hero you are more likely to upgrade to 3-stars during the late-game.
Adding DK to Elusives is not as strong as either of the other two options mentioned above. However, if you happen to get a quick 2-stars DK in the shop, it might be worth using him for the Dragons and 2-Knights bonuses. This is not so much to enable Puck’s passive ability, but rather to take advantage of DK’s considerable damage at 2-stars.
Elusives are a difficult alliance – that much is clear. You need a lot of units, many upgrades, a very powerful economy, and to somehow maintain a decent amount of HP through the early- and mid-game. If you can manage all these aspects that are intrinsic to an Elusives match, though, the result is nothing short of impressive during the late-game. It’s no coincidence that so many pro players love this draft to the point where they are tempted to force it match after match.