A lot of players often ask how to play Io. The character is more complex when it comes to execution, unlike other supports like Crystal Maiden or Lich. This is because Io’s gameplay is much different from other heroes.
Similar to Yuumi from League of Legends, Io is a stick-to-someone kind of hero that reflects in its kit and the items players go for when playing it. Let’s find out Io’s core gameplay, and how you can use this to climb up the MMR ladder.
For the sake of simplicity, this article will cover a support-style Io. However, that doesn’t mean we will discount other playstyles. Dota 2 is ultimately a game where you can execute any playstyle to win.
How to Play Io – Key Support Abilities
Let us look into the ability that enables Io to be a strong support. Its first ability, Tether, is a stronger ability than most supports. In simple terms, Io becomes linked to an allied hero or unit.
Its cast range is deceptively large. When cast beyond a certain range, Io will fly over to its linked target, stopping close to melee range. Yet, what enables Tether to be strong is its ability to share Io’s health and mana regeneration with the linked target.
The Tether between Io and its ally can also slow enemies that touch it, rewarding good positioning from both Io and its ally. This ability also matches Io’s movement speed with its ally, reducing the need for an early boots purchase
The second ability, Spirits, is Io’s farming ability and is Io’s only damage ability. It summons five spirits that circle it, dealing minor damage to creeps and moderate damage and vision if popping to enemy heroes. Pair up with Aghanim’s scepter and Io will always have its spirits up, and this time, with a 15% slow to enemy heroes that pop each spirit.
The next ability that enables the support playstyle is Io’s 3rd ability, Overcharge. It gives Io bonus attack speed, spells amplification, and health regeneration based on his maximum health.
This bonus, however, can be applied to allies when they are Tethered to Io. Though self-explanatory, one would use Overcharge during fights to fully enable an ally’s right-click or spell damage.
With the purchase of Aghanim’s Shard, Io gains additional Spell Amplification and can now share Spell Lifesteal. Buy the shard if your team has reliable spell casters like Leshrac, Bristleback, or Razor.
Io’s ultimate, Relocate, teleports Io and/or a Tethered ally to a point on the map of Io’s choosing after a delay of about 3 seconds. Good relocate execution relies on team communication, thus Io players should tell their team ahead of time if they plan on using relocate to prevent misplays.
Relocating also alerts the enemy team by displaying on the minimap where Io will relocate into. To reduce the likelihood of the enemy retreating as you relocate, it is suggested that relocating should be done as a fight is happening, as enemies won’t have time to focus on the minimap.
Also, be mindful of the 12-second window Io has before it is relocated back to its original position. It is up to the Io player whether to bring back his tethered ally or not.
How to Play Io – Key Support Items
The support play style has a collection of core items with a bigger pool of situational items. Most Io players begin with a Headdress and some consumable regeneration items. The reason Headdress is a starting item is due to the popular core items to support Io: Holy Locket and Mekansm.
These items give Io players the choice of funneling all healing to a single target (Holy Locket) or being able to heal the entire team (Mekansm). Despite this, any tethered ally will greatly benefit from both items, regardless of which is built first.
But what about mana regeneration? Io players opt to go for Arcane boots or the situational Soul ring. An Arcane boot purchase will lead right into the Guardian Greaves, which has Mekansm as its component.
How to Play Io in Fancy Situations
Being a powerful support, knowledgeable players will take an Io player down before killing the position 1, and knowing how to itemize defensively will increase your MMR even faster.
Against heavy burst damage with little time to react, Aeon Disk is the go-to item. Dropping to 70% health will negate all damage and gives 75% status resistance for 2.5 seconds, giving more than enough time to react.
Against heavy spells, go Glimmer Cape or Pipe of Insight. The choice falls to either individual or team-focused gameplay, so the choice is yours.
Against heavy right click, go Ghost Scepter or a Heaven’s Halberd. The ghost scepter allows one to be temporarily immune to right clicks. This can be built into an Ethereal blade, used to save an ally from taking more right-click damage, or used on enemies to increase magic damage.
Halberd has a disarm active, which cannot be dispelled even by Black King Bar, and it also gives evasion and amplifies your healing.
Against disables, go Force Staff, Eul’s Scepter, Lotus Orb, Linken’s Sphere, or Black King Bar. Regardless of individual or team play style, these items are essential to keeping yourself and your team alive.
Neutral Items and Talent Choices
Since neutral items are based on chance, one would have to go for self-enabling items first, and survival items second. Philosopher’s Stone, Arcane Ring, Bullwhip, and Paladin’s Sword are good items to buff farming speed and regeneration.
Nether Shawl, Blast Rig, Ascetic’s Cap, Stormcrafter, and Trickster Cloak are good survival items. Tier 5 items are a rare occurrence, but try to pick up Mirror Shield or Book of Shadows for survivability. Pick Seer Stone, and Book of the Dead for teamplay if they show up.
For talents, the popular choices are 1st for level 10, 2nd for levels 15 and 20, and 1st for level 25.
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