Credits to Valve
Not long ago, calling Razor a hard carry would elicit nothing but laughs. But recent pro trends have pointed to the hero not just being a good carry—but one of its best.
How has Razor gone from an anti-carry known for his poor farming speed, to one of the meta’s defining hard carries?
Enter Refresher Razor, wielding Black King Bar and Refresher Orb—the unorthodox carry item that allow him to put most heroes to shame in physical damage output, while still maintaining good defense.
Refresher Razor is not a novel concept. Popularized by Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao, the build was usually meant for direct building push rather than teamfights.
But Razor’s recent resurgence in the pro scene is due to several factors, including the hero’s flexibility in roles and lanes, Refresher Orb’s strength in this patch, the item’s synergy with the Lightning Revenant’s kit, and more.
The perfect storm: Flexible pick, dominates lanes, farms everywhere
With a few exceptions (Tiny at TI10, anyone?), cores that become first-phase pick/ban material tend to be role flexible. This makes the pick less punishing for pro teams, as they can shuffle the hero to a lower farm priority to make an opponent’s counter less effective, or pick up a stronger carry later in the draft.
Razor is able to function as a core and lane dominator across any lane thanks to Static Link (W), which drains an enemy hero’s damage. If your opponent is a melee core, they’ll be playing break-the-leash more often than last-hitting.
The hero really only lanes poorly against mobile heroes or those with high magical burst—Queen of Pain, Lina, Weaver. If so, well, just put him somewhere else.
He’s no longer a poor farmer too. Plasma Field (Q) is good for clearing waves and normal neutrals. His ultimate, Eye of the Storm (R), has a decently low cooldown of 80/70/60 seconds and half a minute duration, letting him regularly clear through the jungle and farm ancients.
Later on, Static Link remains a great anti-carry spell, while Eye of the Storm deals damage merely by existing.
But both of Razor’s powerful physical spells require him to get close and stay close, meaning he needs to keep moving and prevent lockdowns. To do that successfully, there’s the classic Black King Bar.
Refresher Orb and Black King Bar give 12 seconds of magic immunity
Spell immunity is Dota 2’s most powerful mechanic, and therefore, BKB is its most powerful item. Once Razor gets his BKB, he can participate in team fights. But once the duration runs low, only one other item allows you to keep up spell immunity.
The change in patch 7.29 to lower BKB’s max duration and increase its minimum duration actually helps swing things in Refresher Orb’s favor even more.
Refresher Orb is the only way to get two Black King Bar abilities, amounting to 12 seconds of magic immunity, instead of 10 in previous patches. Two seconds of extra immunity is immense—for example, Lifestealer only gets an extra 1.5 for his level 25 talent.
In patch 7.30, many carries opt to pick up Refresher Orb purely to renew their BKB duration, but usually in the late-game. But for Refresher Razor, the order is a little different.
Larger windows of BKB and spell availability means Refresher Razor has less downtime.
Plus, since Razor’s primary farming tool is through his spells, the item’s mana regeneration—especially its Void Stone build-up—gives a decent boost to the hero’s farming speed.
This makes Refresher Orb a viable pickup as the Lightning Revenant’s second big item, improving your abilities across the board. The item gets better as you pick up more powerful actives, like Satanic.
Razor is the hero with the seventh-most purchases of Refresher Orbs, according to Dotabuff. But he’s the least popular among the seven and the only physical carry hero.
Yes, Shadow Fiend is above Razor and can be a physical damage carry, but Refresher Orb is generally bought by magic Shadow Fiends.
SF is also 11th in popularity, hovering at 15 percent pick rate, while Razor ranks 76th with around 6 percent pick rate.
Usually, there’s an opportunity cost for most carries—you can get Refresher and lower your damage potential, or get an offensive item at more risk to yourself, or get another defensive item but still run the risk of melting without spell immunity.
For Razor, however, Refresher Orb has the added benefit of being one of his best damage items. That’s what makes this item combo uniquely powerful for him, blending offense and defense—like how you’d blend your opponents when they get near you.
Double the spells, double the fun
Razor’s ultimate, Eye of the Storm, is one of Dota 2’s best sustained sources of damage. It reaches another mid-game spike thanks to Refresher, and maintains relevance later in the game with his powerful level 20 talent, reducing strike intervals by 0.1 seconds.
It’s a 20 percent damage increase on paper, but since Eye of the Storm takes away one point of armor each time it strikes an enemy, the actual damage boost—coupled with your painful right clicks—is much higher. Then, double that.
This extends to Static Link as well, which requires you to get close to your enemies and stay there.
The more you stay near your enemies, the more damage you drain, the more armor you reduce, the more damage you deal, the more they want to run away, the more you want to stay near your enemies… and so on.
Building damage? Not a problem
Refresher Razor will never be a Luna with Moon Glaives (W), but his natural bulk, long range, and item build (usually Assault Cuirass for armor and to synergize with Eye of the Storm and Static Link) helps him to siege safely.
If Razor really wants to explode his building takedown potential, however, Aghanim’s Scepter upgrades Eye of the Storm to affect buildings and an additional target.
It can be hard to fit in the item sometimes, since it ranks pretty low on what you need, namely survivability. But a timely third or fourth Roshan with an Aghanim’s Blessing could be what you need to close the game out.
Refresher Razor item build
- Power Treads
- Falcon Blade (optional)
Power Treads are generally the more efficient damage boots for a ranged carry, and tread-switching allows you to conserve mana early on to use more Plasma Fields.
In the same vein, a Falcon Blade can help alleviate mana issues, but can be skipped for Clarities if a Black King Bar is needed to start fighting asap.
- Black King Bar
- Refresher Orb
- Other defensive item (Linken’s Sphere/Platemail)
As a new convert to the church of BKB-Refresher Razor, you will want to eagerly grab these two items as soon as possible.
What makes the build work is survivability due to double BKB. But against some lineups, another defensive item will help you stay in the fight longer.
For example, Linken’s Sphere is good versus single-target lockdown, like Bane’s Fiend’s Grip or Beastmaster’s Primal Roar.
Or you can opt for a simple Platemail for armor against high physical damage carries that do not care about BKB, which can be eventually built into Assault Cuirass, one of Razor’s favorite items.
Luxury items for late-game
- Assault Cuirass
- Sange and Yasha
- Aghanim’s Scepter
- Last slot to counter
- Upgraded Blink for catch, Linken’s Sphere against single-target etc.
Pick up items with a tendency towards defense. You have all the damage you need with Refresher Orb.
Assault Cuirass is a solid two-way item, and the armor also helps boost your offense a little. Satanic can sometimes give you a second life, and as an active, works with Refresher.
Sange and Yasha offers status resistance and movement speed, which can be the difference between life and death.
Aghanim’s Scepter is viable if you have no other building damage on your team.
The last slot can be used for standard late-game items, like Overwhelming Blink, Swift Blink, or Boots of Travel.