Naix, the Lifestealer, is one of Dota 2's most popular hard carries. The hero has been in the game since the original DotA and has remained just as popular.
Lifestealer is a popular hero in the Dota 2 pro scene. The hero has appeared in 361 games at The Internationals. He usually has a high pick-rate in pubs, having reached an all-time low after being reworked in 7.28.
Lifestealer's tool kit is one of the best in Dota 2. His first skill, Rage, makes Lifestealer spell immune. This removes the need to make a Black King Bar which is a core item for every carry hero in Dota 2. The 2nd skill, Feast, is a passive skill that heals Lifestealer for a percentage of his target's max health on attack.
His 3rd skill was added to Dota 2 in 7.28 and causes Lifestealer's attacks to slow the target for 1.5 seconds and grant Lifestealer bonus attack speed. His ultimate ability, Infest, allows Lifestealer to enter the body of his target, making him untargetable and healing him rapidly. He can burst out causing damage in an area.
The ultimate gives Lifestealer a great escape ability as he can infest enemy creeps and run away. With Aghanim's Scepter, he can even infest enemy heroes for 5 seconds, attacking them 4 times from inside and healing an insane amount.
How to play Lifestealer in Dota 2?
Realistically, Lifestealer can only be played as a hard carry. Pro players have played mid and off-lane with the hero, but it is not recommended. Lifestealer is a strong laner as once he gets to level 3, all of his skills give him a power spike which he can use to get easy kills in lane.
Lifestealer is also a fast farmer since his Feast ability allows him to farm jungle camps easily. The only two problems this hero has are catching enemies and damage. His only catching ability, Open Wounds, was removed in 7.28. The replacement Ghoul Frenzy is a decent slow but not as good as Open Wounds.
Lifestealer's Early Game
Lifestealer players should start the lane with the usual Quelling Blade, some regeneration, and an Orb of Venom. The little slow provided by the orb goes a long way. Players should rush the Orb of Corrosion as fast as possible and then start running at the enemies trying to get kills.
With a disabling support to accompany him, Lifestealer can easily win the lane after finishing the Orb of Corrosion. Phase Boots are the best option since they allow Lifestealer to close the gap between him and his target. The last early game item should be the Armlet of Mordiggian since it is one of the best items in Dota 2 after the buffs it received in 7.29.
Hand of Midas might also be viable if Lifestealer has a free and dominant lane since it amplifies a hero's farm by a lot.
Lifestealer's Mid Game
Lifestealer mostly deals single target damage. An early Maelstrom increases his damage output in team fights and lets him farm faster as well. With the changes in Dota 2 7.28, Sange is one of the best items in the game. Sange and its upgrades also synergize perfectly with Lifestealer's skills and other core items.
Sange and Yasha is the perfect item for him as the attack speed provided by Yasha is greatly beneficial as well. Once Sange and Yasha is done, Lifestealer can start joining team fights with his team and try to secure an early Aegis of the Immortal. With Aegis, Lifestealers can push towers and take over the map.
Abyssal Blade is the best possible item next. Players can build a Monkey King Bar or Silver Edge before if there are heroes like Phantom Assassin or Bristleback on the enemy team as Lifestealer must specifically counter them. If Lifestealer has a dominant early-mid game, a Radiance instead of Maelstrom could also be viable.
Lifestealer's Late Game
In the late game, Lifestealer's itemization is situational. Maelstrom should be upgraded to Mjollnir to gain extra attack speed and damage. Assault Cuirass is one of the best items for Lifestealer as it amplifies the massive amounts of physical damage that Lifestealer does to both heroes and buildings.
Like most carry heroes in Dota 2, Lifestealer can go for a Swift Blink. Swift Blink was added to Dota 2 in 7.28 and is one of the best late-game items for right-clicking heroes. Lifestealer can easily kill enemy support heroes with this item. He can also go for a Bloodthorn if the situation asks for it.
Finally, Lifestealer is a great hero to make a Divine Rapier on. Lifestealers with Aegis and Rapier are nearly unstoppable. The hero can take on the entire enemy team alone and come out on the winning side.
Lifestealer is one of the best carry heroes in Dota 2. The 7.28 patch nearly ruined him but thankfully Valve buffed him in the next few patches. After Dota 2 7.29 was released, his win rate rose over 50% for the first time in six months, and hopefully, it will stay that way.
Related: How to play Rubick in Dota 2 7.29b?