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Shadow Fiend

Every unit has unique cast animations for each of its abilities. The cast animation of the ability is enacted as soon as a target for the ability is chosen, if it requires one, or when pressing its Hotkey, if it does not require a target.

The length of the animations varies for each ability as each of them is unique and made for the ability which is usually in the slot the animation is bound to. Although the Cast Animation sounds like a visual part of the game, it does have a mechanical influence on the gameplay.


Every ability has a specific time frame the casting unit has to go through in order to apply its effects successfully. This time is commonly known as the Cast Point or Cast Time. Cast Point has nothing directly to do with the visual animation of the ability. However, since the cast animation starts playing immediately, it indicates the cast point of abilities.

This means when the unit gets interrupted by disables or by their own actions before reaching the cast point, the cast is canceled, the ability's effects are not applied, the ability will not go into cooldown, and will not use any mana.

The player also can manually stop the ability cast by issuing a Stop (S) or Halt (H) command. When the ability cast gets interrupted during the cast time, the visual cast animation ends as well.

In almost every case, the length of cast animations exceeds the cast point of abilities. Upon reaching the cast point, the animation does not stop immediately but continues playing. For most abilities, the unit keeps on standing still during this part of the animation, and is unable to act until the animation has been completed, if it is not canceled. This is commonly known as Cast Backswing.

Cast Point[]

No Target abilities with Instant Cast Animation (DOTA_ABILITY_BEHAVIOR_IMMEDIATE) instant cast point applies their effects instantly as soon as Hotkey is pressed. Certain No Target abilities may not interrupt channeling upon cast.

For targetable abilities, its effects are applied as soon as a target is selected for the ability. However, if an ability requires a target, be it a unit, ground-targeting, or area-targeting, it will interrupt channeling, even if its cast point is instant.

Instant Cast[]

Most items and all toggleable abilities fall under this category, they have neither a cast point nor a backswing, and as such will never interrupt a channel. These abilities can also be cast in-between chain-disables (e.g. Sacred Arrow icon Sacred Arrow into Nightmare icon Nightmare) or any disable which uses invulnerability into a periodic area disable (e.g. Black Hole icon Black Hole) since these abilities have the highest priority of cast order. It can also be cast after an Ancient has fallen, during the scoreboard phase.

This applies to most toggled items too, but some such as Power Treads icon Switch Attribute are not considered a toggle and as such can interrupt.

There are a few conditions where an ability can have an Instant Cast Animation (DOTA_ABILITY_BEHAVIOR_IMMEDIATE) instant cast point:

Type Aspect / Definition Examples
Zero Cast Point
  • The ability's cast point is simply set to 0. If the ability has a cast backswing, it will be used.
Homing Missile icon Homing Missile
Immediate Flag
  • The ability has neither a cast point nor a cast backswing.
  • The ability activates immediately as the same server tick, if possible.
Borrowed Time icon Borrowed Time
Toggleable Abilities
  • Toggleable ability has neither a cast point nor a cast backswing.
Pulse Nova icon Pulse Nova
Ignore Channel Flag
  • The ability simply does not interrupt channeling upon cast. It may or may not have a cast point or cast backswing.

The difference Between Instant Cast Animation (DOTA_ABILITY_BEHAVIOR_IMMEDIATE) Instant Cast Point and 0 Cast Point is as follows:

  • Marci minimap icon Marci with Black King Bar icon Black King Bar is affected by Disruption icon Disruption and Chronosphere icon Chronosphere at the same time.
    • Upon the end of Disruption's duration and while Chronosphere is still in effect, she is able to cast Black King Bar icon Avatar but not Force Staff icon Force.
    • This is because Avatar has an Instant Cast Animation (DOTA_ABILITY_BEHAVIOR_IMMEDIATE) instant cast time, but not Force.
  • In this next example, she now has Shadow Blade icon Shadow Blade equipped.
    • Marci casts Shadow Blade icon Shadow Walk, then Force Staff icon Force. Force will be cast after 0.1 seconds.
    • Since Force is not an instant cast ability, its cast time is equal to one server tick. At the same time, there will be one more server tick between, since there are now two different but consecutive commands.
  • Marci now casts Force Staff icon Force, then Shadow Blade icon Shadow Walk.
    • Shadow Walk will be Instant Cast Animation (DOTA_ABILITY_BEHAVIOR_IMMEDIATE) instantly cast once Force is cast.

Instant Cast Sources[]

Instant Cast Abilities
1 Requires Talent talent.
2a Requires Aghanim's Scepter icon Aghanim's Scepter.
2b Requires Aghanim's Shard icon Aghanim's Shard.

Conditional Instant Cast[]

Certain abilities can be instant cast conditionally, more information can be found in the abilities' notes respectively.

Conditional Instant Cast Abilities
1 Requires Talent talent.
2a Requires Aghanim's Scepter icon Aghanim's Scepter.
2b Requires Aghanim's Shard icon Aghanim's Shard.

Vector Targeting[]

For Vector Targeting abilities, the cast point starts upon pressing the Hotkey and selecting the direction.

1 Requires Talent talent.
2a Requires Aghanim's Scepter icon Aghanim's Scepter.
2b Requires Aghanim's Shard icon Aghanim's Shard.

Spell Steal[]

Main Article: Rubick

For abilities acquired with Spell Steal icon Spell Steal, if their original cast point is < 0.15, it will be set to 0.15 instead, except for abilities flagged with DOTA_ABILITY_BEHAVIOR_NORMAL_WHEN_STOLEN in the game files, listed below. For these abilities, the original cast time is used.


Main Article: Items

Most items with active abilities have a 0 cast point and they do not have a cast backswing, except for the following sources:

Item Abilities with Cast Point Greater than 0

The following item abilities have an Instant Cast Animation (DOTA_ABILITY_BEHAVIOR_IMMEDIATE) instant cast point and do not interrupt the units' animations upon cast.

Modifying Cast Point[]

There are currently no sources in the game that modifies cast point.

Cast Backswing[]

The part of the animation which occurs after the ability's cast point is the ability's Cast Backswing, the caster will stand still and is unable to attack or use any other abilities until the remaining animation is played. The cast backswing has no effects on the already cast ability and is purely cosmetic.

The player can cancel the cast backswing by ordering the unit to Stop (S), Move, or simply by casting another ability during the cast backswing. Shift-queue does not cancel the cast backswing, the next command in the queue will be executed after the cast backswing ends.

Cast backswing is either bound to the unit or the ability slot, and it is not necessarily the same length even for abilities with the same total animation time. If the ability has a 0.3-second cast point, while the entire animation has a 1-second duration, the cast backswing will have a 0.7-second duration. However, another ability's animation of the same length with a 0.6-second cast point would only have a 0.4-second cast backswing. It is difficult but possible to cancel a short cast backswing. This affects things like acquired abilities from Talent Death Pact icon Death Pact, Devour icon Devour, Spell Steal icon Spell Steal, Morph icon Morph or Ability Draft Notes Ability Draft.

Modifying Cast Backswing[]

For example, Doom minimap icon Doom uses the same 1.1-second cast animation for both Devoured Ability 1 icon Devoured Ability 1 and Devoured Ability 2 icon Devoured Ability 2, meaning that irrespective of the brevity of the Devour icon Devoured unit's animation. When Doom casts the acquired ability, the cast backswing will be the difference between the original cast point and the total cast animation for that ability slot.

The cast backswing for the ability cast can be defined as
1.1 - AbilityCastPoint

If Doom casts Chain Lightning (Harpy Stormcrafter) icon Chain Lightning, with a 0.3-second cast point, the cast backswing necessarily takes 0.8 seconds, to conform to 1.1's ability total cast animation, even though when cast by the Harpy Stormcrafter icon Harpy Stormcrafter itself the ability has a different backswing time. The same goes for Rubick minimap icon Rubick and for both Unknown icon Stolen Spell 1 and Unknown icon Stolen Spell 2, the cast animation will conform to the 1.07-second total cast animation based on the ability slot.

Modifying Cast Backswing[]

  • These acquired neutral abilities uses the original cast point.
  • However, the cast backswing can be defined as
    SlotCastAnimationTime - OriginalCastPoint, 0 when OriginalCastPoint ≥ SlotCastAnimationTime.
  • Certain cosmetic items also modify the cast backswing of abilities due to using different animations. These are mostly listed in the ability's respective notes.
Cast Backswing Modifying Abilities

Instant Cast Backswing[]

There are a few conditions where an ability can have an instant cast backswing, other than being a toggleable ability or having an Instant Cast Animation (DOTA_ABILITY_BEHAVIOR_IMMEDIATE) instant cast time:

Type Aspect / Definition Examples
Ignore Backswing Flag
  • The ability's cast backswing is ignored and causes the ability animation to instantly stop once the cast point is reached.
Magnetic Field (Radiant) icon Magnetic Field
  • Channeling abilities start their channel time after reaching its cast point.
Upheaval icon Upheaval
Forced Orders
  • The ability's cast backswing is immediately interrupted by another component of the ability (e.g. transformation or channeling abilities).
Pierce the Veil icon Pierce the Veil
Burrow icon Burrow
Extended Cast Point
  • In some rare cases, the used animation is simply too long to have any backswing animation.
Teleportation icon Teleportation
Set Cast Backswing
  • The abilities simply do not have a cast backswing value. This includes all item abilities.
Release Illuminate icon Release Illuminate


Main Article: Channeling

Channeling abilities start their channel time after reaching its cast point. If the unit is interrupted before reaching the cast point, the ability neither starts channeling nor goes into cooldown, and consumes mana. Channeled abilities might not have cast backswings, as the channel must follow the cast point where the cast backswing otherwise would.

Channeled Abilities


Cast Speed
Can be used by illusions.
Talent icon
There is no description for this ability.
Cast Speed Bonus: 30%

  • Reduces the hero's cast point and backswing.

No hero has this talent.

Version History[]

  • Updated all of the cast animations so they more fully match the hero models.