How to Itemize Correctly in Dota 2

How to Itemize Correctly in Dota 2

Dota 2 is one of the most successful online video games and has some of the biggest prize pools in all of eSports history. So far, Dota 2 has accumulated $233.6 million in prize pools, which is nearly double the amount of the second most popular eSports game, CS:GO.

Because the game is so widespread and continues to grow in popularity, a lot of new players are interested in trying to get in on the action and start playing.

Unfortunately, they are often put off by the game’s intricate mechanics and a steep learning curve.

Even though the game looks rather simple on the surface, it requires extensive knowledge and a lot of hours of game play.

While it would be virtually impossible to show you all the secrets Dota 2 hides, the best thing you can do to improve rapidly is to learn How to Itemize Correctly in Dota 2.

We’ve created a guide to teach you how to buy items for different stages of the game, how to consider your team picks, plus much, much more.

Starting Items

Every game of Dota 2 begins with the laning phase, and you must learn How to Itemize Correctly in Dota 2 for the early game. Items for this stage of the game are inexpensive, so getting the wrong item won’t be too disastrous.

Not having the correct items can cost you the laning phase, however, and can potentially make the entire game significantly more difficult.

If you are playing a support hero, you should prioritize consumables and wards. You will often use your consumables to trade with the enemy support and hopefully drive them off the lane allowing your core teammate to farm more easily.

At the same time, observer or sentry wards can help you deward or block a camp, allowing you to control the lane by pulling the creep wave.

You should also consider a Magic Stick if you are laning against heroes who spam spells, such as Phantom Assassin or Bristleback.

After you are all set and have enough gold, preferably around the three or six-minute mark when the new bounty runes spawn, you should consider getting Boots of Speed.

When it comes to items you should get on a core, they will greatly depend on the hero you are playing. The general idea is to get some main stats to boost your damage and some consumables so that you can stay on the lane longer.

If you are on an offlane and are playing a hero who farms with spells, like Underlord, for example, it’s a good idea to get items that help you rush Soul Ring so that you can farm the lane much easier.

At the same time, you can go for early Arcane Boots, Vanguard, or Hood, depending on the hero and your matchup.

For mid-players, the first thing you should consider is whether you want to go for a Bottle or prioritize a different item.

Once you have that covered, you should focus on getting your first item for the mid-game. If you are still not certain what to get, there’s nothing to worry about since we will cover that part later on in the text.

When it comes to P1, you should always consider buying a Quelling Blade. A common misconception a lot of new, and even some more experienced players have, is to think that QB is a strictly melee only item.

While it’s true that QB suits melee heroes better, it is also fantastic for ranged heroes as well.

For example, QB costs 130 gold and provides 12 additional damage for melee and six damage for ranged heroes against creeps.

The next best thing you can get is a Mantle of Intelligence, Slippers of Agility, or Gauntlets of Strength. Each of these items costs 140 gold and adds 3 to the main attribute, which is also 3 to your damage.

Granted, while you can upgrade them into an item, QB still provides the damage increase for the gold you’re spending.

In the current patch, every player has their own courier, so make sure to take full advantage of that. Continuously bring new items, especially consumables, and try to snowball and drive the enemy heroes from the lane.

As far as the rest of the early game goes, you should make sure to use your best judgment. Additionally, as the game slowly transitions to mid-game, make sure to eventually stop or buy fewer consumables and focus on getting items for the next stage.

Mid Game

Mid-game is perhaps the most important phase of the game when it comes to buying items. Namely, while you may get away with buying poor items in the laning phase, items you buy in mid-game will help you either win during the mid-game or transition into a winning end-game.

The best way to learn how to buy items in the mid-game is to consider the following aspects.

What Hero Are You Playing?

The first thing to consider is what hero you are playing. What is your main attribute? Are you an agility, intelligence, or strength hero?

Virtually all items in Dota 2 provide you with additional stats or flat HP/Mana boosts. For example, Hex on the Obsidian Destroyed, Heart of Tarrasque on Centaur, or Butterfly on Drow Ranger. Of course, this is just one of many other variables that you should consider.

In addition to the main attribute, you should also consider the role you are playing. Namely, in the current Dota 2 metagame, there are five roles.

These roles are often referred to as Position 1 to 5, and the number represents the farm priority. P1 is a safelane carry, P2 is the middle player, P3 is your offlane core player, and P4 and P5 are hard and soft supports.

In most cases, core heroes will focus on utility or damage-dealing items. On the other hand, P4 and P5 should focus on support items, such as Glimmer Cape, Force Staff, Ghost Scepter for survivability, Eul’s, and other similar items.

What Heroes Are You and Enemy Teams Playing?

Hero picks play a crucial role in deciding what items to make. This includes your teammates’ picks, and also enemy hero picks.

When deciding on items based on what your allies picked, you should go for items that compliment your lineup.

Many heroes don’t have options when it comes to items and are limited with their choices. An excellent example of that are P1 heroes who nearly always go for physical damage items.

However, some heroes are a lot more flexible than that—for example, Shadow Fiend or Mirana.

Because these two are great as either physical or magic dealers, you can often go for an item build that your team lacks the most.

At the same time, if you have a somewhat greedy lineup, some of your cores might want to go for mid-game items to be able to fight and create space for other cores to farm.

Looking at the enemy lineup is just as important for buying items correctly. Naturally, in this case, you want to go for items that counter enemy heroes or can help save your team.

For example, if the enemy team has Phantom Assassin, you should go for Monkey King Bar. Naturally, this only applies if you’re a core role.

On the other hand, your supports should go for items like Force Staff to counter Clockwerk and save enemy teams from cogs or Eul’s to cyclone Axe after he blinks and casts Berserker’s Call.

Your supports may also go for items like Glimmer Cape and cast it on an allied hero targeted by Necrophos’ ultimate to minimize the damage.

In addition, you should also make items that will help you survive in team fights longer. Against physical damage dealers, a Ghost Scepter is an excellent choice. Against heroes like Faceless Void, you might want to consider Aeon Disk since it will virtually always save you from Void’s Chronosphere, as long as you have it ready.

Moreover, if you are playing Faceless Void and the enemy team has a number of Aeon Disks, you can always go for Nullifier to dispel the buff provided by Aeon Disk and ensure the kill.

Lastly, if you are playing a utility hero like Undying, Tide, or even Bounty Hunter, you can go for items that will improve your team’s fighting capabilities.

For example, a Pipe on Insight provides a magical shield that absorbs spell damage, which is excellent against heavy magic damage dealers like Zeus.

Alternatively, you can even go for Mekasnm and upgrade it to Guardian Greaves to heal your team and boost their HP.

This aspect is perhaps the hardest to grasp, especially for newer players. To make good choices, you will need good background knowledge.

For example, you will need to know what type of items you can make in the first place, and you will also need to know about heroes and their spells to be able to counter them.

As you become more experienced in Dota 2, you will quickly realize which items counter which heroes and what the best course of action is.

Learn How to Evaluate the Game

Once you get slightly better at Dota 2, you will realize how different lineups work. In other words, you will know whether your team has an early and mid-game lineup or a lineup that can go late game. Similarly, you should also consider the enemy team’s lineup and make a strategy based on your strengths.

In other words, if you are significantly weaker in the late game, you might want to exploit the enemy teams’ greedy pick by pushing early and ending the game around the 20 to 25-minute mark.

To do that, you can go for affordable utility items like an early Mekansm or a Vladimirs, an Urn, and have your cores get one or two mid-game items that will help you push.

If you have a greedy lineup, you should use a different strategy, which also means going for different items.

For example, your core heroes can go for Boots of Travel and split push the enemy team, forcing them to go back and not allowing them to push your towers.

Another idea would be to get farming items like Battle Fury or Maelstrom and try to outfarm the other team and get your essential items.

Of course, the exact specifics and items you should go for will vary from one game to another, but as long as you follow our previous advice, you should have a good idea of what to grab.

Learn When to Buy an Item and Which One

The last thing you should learn is when to go for a specific item, and we mean that quite literally. While you should always try to counter enemy heroes with certain items, you should also rely on the game clock to decide what item to get.

Before we go into more detail, an important thing to know is that items like Force Staff and Glimmer Cape will always be useful when it comes to supports. You won’t always be able to get a lot of farm, so even if the game goes late, chances are you will still use them.

The story’s a little bit different when it comes to core heroes. For example, Armlet of Mordiggian or Echo Sabre are fantastic in the mid-game but slowly lose value in the late game.

Therefore, if you’re set on making an Armlet, make sure it’s your first or second item but avoid wasting your gold and buy it after the 30-minute mark. Instead, farm for late-game items like MKB, Daedalus, Abyssal Blade, and the like.

You should almost never go for expensive items as your first item. For example, Scythe of Vyse is a fantastic item for virtually every INT hero.

In some cases, you may even see P1, P2, and P3 go for it, regardless of their attribute. However, does that mean you should always rush it?

Most certainly not. Instead, you can go for items like Orchid, Eul’s Yasha and Kaya, or even Aghanim’s Scepter, and try and farm Scythe of Vyse later on when you have some more items.

Late Game

Buying items in the late game is perhaps the easiest since you will have a good idea of what your team needs. At the same time, items you get in late-game will most likely be most impactful and can win or lose you the game.

The only thing you should know about the late game is to make sure you remember everything we’ve previously said. Pay attention to your team and the enemy teams’ lineups.

Think of their spells and also look at their items. In a lot of cases, you want the hero’s spells as well as their items.

For example, if they have a Butterfly, you should get MKB if you are a physical damage dealer. If they have a Hex, you might go for Linken’s Sphere to add an extra layer of survivability to your hero.

Finally, as you go deeper into the late game, you should consider replacing some of the weaker items you have as long as you can afford the upgrades. Of course, don’t forget to save some gold aside for buyback!


Dota 2 has more than 100 heroes and 200 different items, which means there are a ton of variables to consider when trying to learn How to Itemize Correctly in Dota 2. In other words, there is no go-to item build that you can apply to every single game.

Not only that, but when you add strategies to the mix, it becomes virtually impossible to predict all the possible outcomes. Instead, you should try and assess the game as best as possible and rely on our guidelines to get you there.

Granted, while it may take a while until you learn what items to get and about item timings, our guidelines are designed to make you look at the bigger picture and ask yourself why you are going for an item in the first place.

Once you can answer that, not only will you be able to quickly learn about itemization in Dota 2, but you should also greatly improve as a player overall.

Finally, realize that most of these aspects heavily correlate with one another, which will make the entire process of deciding what item you should go for a walk in the park.