Riki’s terrorizing pubs across all skill levels and it doesn’t look like the usual mantra of “just get detection” is working. We’ve already discussed why the hero is as good as he is, so today our main focus is going to be on dealing with this annoying hero.
One of the big problems with Riki is that he can be played in both support and core positions, and these two roles are distinct enough to require different adaptations from your team. Check the enemy profile, deduce from picks—it doesn’t matter how, but you need to know what kind of Riki you are facing, with one or preferably two picks still open for your team.
Support Riki is greedy, he is still sub-par in lane and, while annoying, can be dealt with through good positioning and map awareness. As long as you have a general idea of where the hero is, you can play aggressively on a lane he is unlikely to be in, while getting more conservative on a lane he rotates to.
His greed can also be matched with heroes like Bounty Hunter and Slardar, who are both great counters to Riki and are decent in the current meta, if your opponent plays greedily. BH allows you to outfarm the opponent and makes grouping up early a lot more economically viable. He also allows for very quick Force Staff and that item is always good and amazing against Riki. Slardar is an ok laner and can support his offlane relatively well, while posing a threat to the enemy core.
Don’t allow the hero to snowball, generally play conservatively and Riki will face the same problem most roamers face in the current meta—he will fall off and will have hard time catching up.
Playing against core Riki is quite different. While Support Riki is greed incarnate, core Riki generally wants to be active on the map as soon as he gets his first couple of items and talents. His lane weakness is also somewhat mitigated by the ability to last hit creeps without ever losing invisibility, so the hero will generally get some farm regardless of your efforts.
Against core Riki you want a lineup who can match or survive through his aggression. The hero farms excruciatingly slow, so as long as you are not actively feeding him, he will start to fall behind. Another very important part of playing against core Riki is the ability to defend your towers. Riki himself doesn’t push too fast, so you will generally have time to react.
This prevents Riki from getting much needed map control and safe space. As soon as your map starts shrinking tower-wise, you will need to start spending more gold on vision and detection, while Riki will have more angles to attack from and will have more pathways, where there is a chance he will remain undetected.
Group up and push, but prioritize defending your own towers. Play conservatively as long as you don’t have some defensive options on both your cores and your supports and, most importantly, don’t feed. Only go for the highground pushes and base destruction once you are absolutely sure there is no way for the enemy to fully isolate a target. And have vision prepared around the area, where you want the fights to happen.
Riki is dominant in all lanes, except for when he is played in the safelane or roaming. One thing you can do is swapping lanes—both support and core Riki are at their best when facing the enemy carry, who isn’t as much of a kill threat and wants to farm, so don’t give him that opportunity. It is hard to remain undetected and pull off a surprise unconventional laning against a hero with permanent invisibility, but the payoff is worth it.
Aggressive trilanes are also worth considering, as long as your team is on the same page. There are several heroes who are quite capable of standing against a 1+Riki lane, while your trilane can punish the enemy core, secure item progression for your carry and be relatively protected against Riki ganks. Sometimes trying to salvage a lane lost during the drafting stage is inferior to trying to make the game miserable for both sides.
Riki is a drain on your team’s resources. While core heroes can generally outfarm Riki by hitting creeps, supports will always struggle. Both cores and supports have to understand that and play accordingly: you can’t die unnecessarily against Riki.
To do that, you need items on your supports, but they also need to buy detection. As core players, you can alleviate some of the pressure, by occasionally buying Dust yourself. It is especially important on heroes with gap closers and chase potential. You can’t rely on a single, low mobility, underfarmed hero on your team having detection.
You also absolutely need to be in close proximity to each other as long as you don’t know where Riki is. It saves your team a lot of gold, as you need less sentries if you play one side of the map. And it saves your teammates from dying, or at least allows for return kills.
What we often see professional players do in general, and against Riki specifically, is sacrifice a full lane, generally their offlane, and play around mid and safelane. This way your sentries do more for less gold.
Still try to defend you structures, when necessary, especially in the early game, but don’t go pushing a lane, if you sentries were already committed on the other side of the map.
By playing conservatively with your detection and playing around it to maximize effectiveness, you can actually save up some money to get actual items even as supports. Force Staff is generally going to be your number one priority, but depending on the game Glimmer Cape, Ghost Scepter and Aeon Disk can all be great.
Don’t look for ways to win more with aggressive items. Your main goal in a game against Riki is to stabilize, outfarm and outscale. As long as there aren’t many unnecessary deaths and gold fed, Riki should be less of a problem.
Be very aware of level 20 powerspike for the hero, since it increases the initiation and escape range for a crazy amount. End the game before support Riki gets there or play extra carefully against core Riki in the mid-late game. Any isolated target without a Force Staff support is a freebie.