As the storm begins to abate after the much-promised server merge, I am sure that every EN player has encountered the new builds, tactics and strategies of Russian players. There is a significant gap between the typical English server playstyle and the much more aggressive and developed Russian meta.
During the course of my playtime, I have seen countless things that other EN players do that concern me. However, I will not needlessly expunge upon patronizing advice neatly packaged in a politically correct essay because that is not my style. For the most part, players need to learn from their own mistakes and develop their own solutions to the challenges they face in a match.
Overall, matchmaking post-merge has seen a tremendous improvement in delivering fair matchups. However, I feel that English players are still very much a work in progress in responding to certain threats. Much like how Sesha and Doctrine dominated the early days of the game, the EN community still needs to grow and learn how to respond adequately to one specific threat that is very common in the Russian playstyle.
Shadow/Whisp and Eraser/Assassin have made life hell for many EN players. Many players seem to be taking too long in analyzing what they could do better in response to an invisible in the enemy's lineup. A roaming Faceless/Phantom is also quite scary but I feel he is not such a dominating threat that requires a specific topic to discuss countermeasures. Also, please don't waste time trying to kill Kiton; he's too complicated to kill and 99.9999999% of the time you are better off doing dragon.
Back to the topic of invisibles, I would like to share a few tips that would vigorously improve your odds against a team with Shadow or Eraser. First, unless you are jungling, always start the game by buying two wards. Not one, but two. Yes, it means that you will start the laning phase without a talent, but in the early game it almost never matters. What is more important is that you have security beyond a very narrow range from your tower that you can lane safely under. I suggest you place one ward just beyond your tower at the start and hold the other ward in reserve. Also, no matter your role (tank, support, carry), ALWAYS buy wards or a true sight potion for the entire match. If you are too lazy to buy wards and subsequently get ganked repeatedly in your lane, it is your fault that you let it happen so easily. In good teams, you can rely on support/jungle to ward your lane, but in most pub matches you have to take care of yourself, and that means buying wards even if it means you are a few hundred prime short of that shiny new talent.
At the start of the match, when the shadow inevitably comes to harass you, just poke her enough that she gets the message and leaves you alone for the first 10 minutes. I have found that Shadows never bother to stick around once they know you have placed a ward. Still, if they are harassing you from an unconventional angle, place your second ward to discourage harassment from that direction. Otherwise, place your second ward at the location of the first one once it expires. As you move forward with this habit of buying wards at the start, you will survive your lane much more, allowing you to avoid losses and earn more resources, talents and silver than ever before.
Not a lot of people have started the habit of buying wards after the merger, but I am confident that most will inevitably improve and wisen up. If you are laning top (for Imperium) or bottom (for keepers), you do not need to buy wards immediately, as you can very easily visit the nearby shop to buy wards and other items. This is also an option for the mid player, but I do not advise it as the Shadow nearly always starts to harass the mid lane, so having a ward at the beginning will pay itself off at the first minute. If you are laning bottom, you are playing the hard lane, so try to play a character that has lots of sustain and can survive difficult situations (such as Wanderer or Arcane Wyrm). As for the jungler, your situation is the most difficult; if possible ask the Zuma/Support player to place a ward in the mid lane between the first and second tower. The enemy shadow will try to seek you out in the jungle and cross between the lanes at some point. Use the information that ward gives you to avoid her movements.
As always, this is just my personal opinion, but one that I found has worked very successfully so far in avoiding to feed the enemy gankers. If anyone has any disagreements or other pieces of advice, I would strongly encourage you to leave your feedback in this thread.
To killing Shadows,