Dota 2 Sven Guide – Builds, Items, Abilities and Strategy

Sven has a lot of problems. He’s got horrible base intelligence, and intelligence gain to counter balance his incredibly powerful early game stun. This is strange ability for him to have in the first place, considering he’s a hero seemingly designed to be a hard carry.

Having two skills that scale well with items, and levels generally places you in the hard carry pool. However, having such a powerful AoE stun that does high damage is generally reserved for nukers, supports, and roamers.

At first, that might sound awesome, having a hard carry with an epic early game stun. Unfortunately, if he didn’t have such massive mana issues, you’d be right.

Another issue he has is getting to and sticking onto a target. While his stun is fantastic for giving allies enough time to get into range to use their abilities, it’s not so great for Sven. By the time he walks up to the target, with his terrible move speed, the two seconds are just about, if not, over.

What’s even more pathetic is that despite having an AoE move speed buff, Sven still can’t keep up. So how do we try to take advantage of his strengths, while minimizing his weaknesses?

The trick is in transitioning roles half way through the game. Early game, Resulting in one of the most active heroes throughout the entire game. As a result, a result, he’s the type of hero who plays completely different depending on which skill bracket you’re in.


  • Damage: 54-56
  • Strength: 23 +2.7 per level
  • Agility: 21 +2 per level
  • Intelligence: 14 +1.3 per level
  • Armor: 1.94
  • Move Speed: 295
  • Base Attack Time: 1.7
  • Range: Melee

Even in his stats, Sven is a mess. He has terrible armor and intelligence. While having bellow-average move speed for a melee character. His strength is great, while his agility is, for some strange reason, above average. None of his stats seem to indicate what he should be doing, as they’re just all over the place.

For more help on Dota 2, read our Skeleton King, Beastmaster and Bountyhunter Guide.

You can browse through the guide through the following links – Abilities, Skill Builds, Recommended Items, and Strategy Tips.

Sven Abilities/Skills

Storm Bolt

  • Targets: Enemy units
  • Effect: 2 second stun
  • Damage: 100/175/250/325 damage
  • Range: 600
  • AoE: 255
  • Cooldown: 15
  • Mana: 140

This skill is what defines Sven. There aren’t too many situations where an AoE, two-second stun isn’t desired. The applications are seemingly endless, and abusing its power early game is the core concept behind the competitive play, with this hero.

Great Cleave

  • Targets: Enemy units
  • Effects: 30/40/50/60% splash damage
  • AoE: 200

Because it scales off of your Damage Per Second (DPS), it’s generally best to get this later in the game. Around mid game, combine this with Storm Bolt for flash farming capabilities.


  • Targets: Self, Allied units
  • Bonus Speed: 12%
  • Bonus Armor:  3/6/9/12
  • Duration: 8 seconds
  • AoE: 700
  • Cooldown: 36/30/24/18
  • Mana: 25

Warcry is generally a one-point wonder for most of the game. Even at the last rank, you’ll only be able to use it once a fight. The only time you really need to level it, is when the other team has a lot of physical damage. Alternatively, when the heavy hitting items start to come out.

God’s Strength

  • Targets: Self
  • Effects: 100/140/180% bonus base damage.
  • Duration: 25 seconds
  • Cooldown: 80
  • Mana: 100/150/200

God’s strength is a relatively straightforward ultimate. It improves your bonus damage, which is increased only through Sven’s main attribute, strength.

Don’t be afraid to use it to take down, and last hit towers. The cool down is relatively short, for how powerful it is.

Sven Builds – Skills/Abilities

Following are the builds you can try with Sven in Dota 2:

  1. Storm Bolt
  2. Warcry
  3. Storm Bolt
  4. Stats
  5. Storm Bolt
  6. God’s Strength
  7. Storm Bolt
  8. Stats
  9. Stats
  10. Stats
  11. God’s Strength
  12. Great Cleave
  13. Great Cleave
  14. Great Cleave
  15. Great Cleave 
  16. God’s Strength
  17. Warcry
  18. Warcry
  19. Warcry
  20. Stats
  21. Stats
  22. Stats
  23. Stats
  24. Stats
  25. Stats

Aside from God’s Strength and Storm Bolt, Sven has one of the most flexible skill builds around. If you’re fighting heavy nukers, you’ll be putting the three additional points into Wacry at the very end of the game.

If there simply isn’t going to be any room in the game to farm, then you don’t put any points into Great Cleave until the end. If you desperately need more stats, then, well, puts more points into Stats. Every game is different, adapt to whats happening.

Sven Builds – Items

Roaming Sven
Starting – 4x Clarity potions, 1x Tango, 1x Healing Salve, 1x Observer Ward
Alternative – 4x Clarity potions, 1x Tango, 1x Healing Salve, 1x Courier, 1x Iron  Branch
Early – Boots, Flying Courier, Observer Wards, Clarity potions, Healing Salves
Core – Tranquil Boots, Soul Ring
Luxury – Mask of Madness, Black King Bar

Roaming Sven is my amalgamation of how the competitive scene play Sven, while compensating for the general unorganized and chaotic nature of playing in pubs. It takes advantage of Sven’s great early game potential, by addressing his mana problems via stacking up on Clarity potions until you can purchase a Soul Ring.

In this way, you can provide constant pressure to all lanes by traversing between lanes, and always having enough mana to stun. Once the laning stage of the game starts to die down, you’ll start to put points into Great Cleave, so that you can farm up the rest of your items.

In this way, you get to do what no other roamer is capable of. By using the momentum swing of your constant ganking, you can sling shot yourself into a carry position, by transitioning into being able to clear creep waves rather quickly.

Tranquil Boots are taken for many reasons. To be a roamer, you need to be in the right lane, at the right time. Tranquil Boots allow you to do so, by not only offering great out of combat move speed, but by giving you a massive amount of health regen.

Between Tranquil Boots and Soul Ring, the only time I’m at my fountain, is when I’m respawning (hence why a courier is so important not just for your own team, but for your ability to constantly be on the field).

Soul Ring and Tranquil Boots are quickly becoming one of my favorite item combinations. Between Soul Ring’s active ability that greatly extends your mana pool, and Tranquil Boots ability to compensate for the hp loss with its active, makes this combo amazing. The best news, is that each item is easy to build, and very cost efficient.

Mask of Madness is taken, because it solves two issues in a relatively inexpensive manner. For 1900 gold, you solve your in combat mobility issues, while skyrocketing your DPS through its massive +100% attack speed. Because Sven’s ult only increases his base damage, which is affected by levels, and strength, it’s generally very inefficient to try to boost his ult through straight strength items.

Armlet of Mordiggian is the exception to this rule, but doesn’t solve Sven’s mobility issues when he struggles with it most, in team fights.

You must keep in mind when using Mask of Madness, that once activated, you’re going to be taking 30% more damage. This isn’t too big of a problem, if you play Sven as a counter-initiator.

Try to baby sit your teams ranged heroes, so that whenever someone gets too close, you hammer them with your stun, and your not-too-shabby DPS. With smart positioning, and good timing, you’ll rarely be taking more damage than you can handle.

Once you get your Black King Bar, the entire game changes. You become a blitzkrieg machine, that tries to apply offensive pressure. If you can eliminate the largest threat, then it is often a worthy trade for your own life, assuming you actually have a hard-carry on your team.

Pub Stomp Sven
Starting – Quelling Blade, 2x Tango, 3x Iron Branch
Early – Phase Boots, Orb of Venom
Core – Armlet of Mordiggian
Luxury – Black King Bar
Situational – Satanic, Mask of Madness, Daedulus

This build is for when roaming sven simply isn’t an option. If you’re in a lower-tier bracket of matchmaking, you can get away with this build. Phase Boots and Orb of Venom are taken early game, so that you can actually get in more than one auto attack on a target.

Armlet of Mordiggian is simply the most cost-efficient way to increase Sven’s DPS, and has a great build up. With Phase Boots and Orb of Venom, Armlet actually becomes a viable choice for Sven.

Black King Bar is normally a situational item on most heroes, but in Sven’s case, he can’t afford even a single second spent slowed, stunned, or otherwise disabled.

If the game progresses on, you’ll have to decide what you need more of. Sell your Orb of Venom for a Mask of Madness if you need to be faster, hit faster, and can take the punishment.

If not, sell the Orb of Venom for Satanic to bulk up on health points while increasing your ultimate’s damage. In the even that things are really going your way. You can pick up a Daedulus for very large, and very satisfying critical hits.

Dota 2 Sven Gameplay Strategy Tips

Knowing when to pick roaming Sven is of paramount importance. It takes a very specific line up to make Sven a plausible pick. By roaming, you’re giving your team another solo lane.

If your team composition can’t handle this set up, then its quite possible that by picking Sven, you’ll be setting your team back more than you will be helping them.

Before picking Sven, be sure to tell your team of your intentions. Ask your team to pick a solo capable hero. In the event that your team picks a jungle, don’t pick Sven.

If you’ve already picked Sven, you’ll probably have to abort roaming in favor of the carry build. That is, of course, unless you can lane with a high damage nuker. Preferably, with someone who has a hard disable. My personal favorite lane mate with Sven, is Lina.

Sven locks the target down so that Lina can land her skill shot nukes. Very few heroes can survive the onslaught of Lina and Sven.

Some common line ups that allow for roaming Sven would consist of heroes like Windrunner and Mirana. Heroes that can solo a hard lane through their escape abilities, and long range. They also have a lot of power, so when you go to gank that lane, they can follow through to ensure some kills.

Generally, a hard-support will accompany a hard-carry in the short lane with this set up. This works out perfectly, because your hard-carry will get easy creeps kills, due to the other team being too afraid to push, or over commit to anything. Seeing as how you could pop out at any second to gank them.

That’s the ideal team composition. Sometimes you’ll get compositions that involve passive, farm heavy heroes soloing the short lane. While two, generally strong early game heroes, go into the hard lane.

In such cases, you’ll often find yourself having to tower dive the hard lane to set up kills. Because two early game heroes in one lane, will naturally push the lane towards the enemy tower, through establishing lane dominance.

If your mid lane isn’t strong, then Sven can really end up struggling with trying to find people to efficiently gank.

Since there is nearly a limitless amount of team compositions that you’ll experience, it’s best to keep this general rule in mind. Sven wants players and heroes that will get pushed in, but offer enough early game offensive capabilities, to ensure kills once Sven enters the lane for a gank.

If you’re playing with a friend, you can play like the pros, and go with a double roaming strategy. Your team must know what’s happening, so that they can pick heroes that are capable of  soloing.

A perfect partner for double roaming, would be Vengeful Spirit. A well-established roamer, she brings ranged attacks, an additional stun, and -armor to the table, making it extremely easy to get kills early game.

Whether you’re roaming alone, or with a buddy, the strategy stays the same. Stealth and map awareness are the name of the game. You should constantly be looking at the mini-map, and panning your camera from lane, to lane for weaknesses and strengths to exploit.

If your mid lane is harassing fairly hard, it should be easy to come in and stun, to set up the kill. Try to note the behavior of players when you pass through common ward spots.

If they immediately fall back for seemingly no reason at all, it’s a fairly safe bet that they have a ward there (rune locations.

It’s your job to plan out a longer, fewer visible path to get to your target next time. Adaptation is the key to success, here. Always try to stay out of vision for as long as possible, while trying to flank the enemy.

The concept and goals behind roaming are quite clear and simple. Be where you’re needed, when you’re needed. The difficulties lie within the execution. There are simply too many variables to consider that change wildly from game to game.

As a result, it’s impossible to list them all, so listening to and communicating with your team mates become imperative. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as, “Does anyone have an opening for a gank?” Your team will be more than happy to provide you with the information that you need, to succeed.

Perhaps the hardest part about roaming as Sven, is knowing when and how to transition from roaming to farming. This changes from game to game, but generally, the roaming stage starts to die once all the outer most towers have been destroyed.

You’ll want to be putting points into cleave before that point, so the status of the towers, and the pace of the game are all things you should be taking note of. Once the speed starts to stagnate, you’ll want to start taking this opportunity to farm lanes that are safe, and your main carry, if you have one, isn’t at.

Sometimes this means popping into the jungle to clear a wave or two, before some action starts. With Soul Ring, you can use storm bolt to finish off creeps once you’ve weakened them enough with your cleaving attacks.

By doing this, you don’t waste any mana farming, while having enough regen to easily heal up the hp. Spending 25 mana on Tranquil Boots health regen active is absolutely worth it, if your passive hp regen just isn’t enough.

Team Fights
Your role in team fights is often dictated by your team composition, and how well your team has been doing thus far. Preferably, you have a better hero on your team for initiating, allowing you to properly play Sven as a bodyguard.

Most of the time, this probably won’t be the case, leaving you with two options. Sometimes you’ll want to let the other team initiate for you, so that they position themselves for a perfect Storm Bolt. An example would be, allowing their Enigma to blink in and ult, so that you can run in and cancel it a second later.

Obviously, this stops working once he gets Black King Bar, so if you’re relying on counter-initiating, be sure to keep track of what the enemy team has in their inventory as often as possible.

Another option is to play a mixture of initiator and bodyguard. Initiate on a target or two that’s over extended, by throwing a Storm Bolt at them. However, this doesn’t mean that you should actually run in to auto attack. You’re way too squishy for that, and unless you actively want to take the brunt of the enemy team’s arsenal, it’s best to let other people try to take advantage of your stun.

Once the clash starts, you can then allow the enemy team to use their abilities to get into range of your allies. At this point, activate your ult, and start to beat on people that are attacking your most valuable teammates.

If you obtain a Black King Bar, you will be able to play more of an offensive initiator role. Which will, hopefully, take some of the pressure off of your teammates? Just barrel down on their squishies, while your teammates use the distraction to clean up house.

Sven is in an odd place, and will probably remain there for a long, long time. He does too much, without doing any of it really well. It’s up to you if you really enjoy that extremely active, transition style gameplay. While Sven doesn’t fit into most line ups, when he does, he’s tons of fun.