Illidan is a melee assassin that is capable of focusing on a single target and killing them quickly. He is extremely mobile when chasing and thanks to his ability to leap onto enemies, he can often escape easily by targetting minions or walls. Although he remains popular, he requires a high amount of mechanical skill to get the best out of him. In the right hands he remains a real threat and is regularly picked in the competitive scene. 

Besides his mobility, Illidan is an incredibly sticky Hero that can relentlessly pursue and attack his enemies. His trait, which allows him to lower his ability cooldowns, also provides invaluable sustain through his ability to block basic attacks. Despite his power if played well, Illidan is countered fairly hard by Heroes who deal burst ability damage.

With the right setup around you however, Illidan can comfortably snowball. 

Guide Updated: 16 November 2016



He can focus on and chase down any enemy Hero with ease

He relies heavily on Dive for escaping and initiating 

He is capable of dealing good, consistent damage

He has a relatively low health pool (1400)

He's able to mitigate damage and sustain himself easily

A very challenging Hero to play well

With Heroes such as Abathur or Lt. Morales he's ridiculously strong

Can be neutered heavily by high burst ability Heroes

Can comfortably solo any camp Very vulnerable to stuns and roots


Betrayer’s Thirst (Trait) – As one of the strongest traits in the game, Betrayer's Thirst is key to Illidan's playstyle. Each basic attack heals you for 40% of the damage you deal, while it also reduces the cooldowns of your abilities by 1 second - per hit. Unsurprisingly and to maximize his trait you have to constantly be hitting something. Without doing so, your cooldowns are fairly long and you simply can't survive when diving deep (unless you've a pocket healer with you). I will add that Betrayer's Thirst makes Illidan pretty amazing at soloing just about any camp, including bosses (with the right build). 

Dive (Q) – Dive can be used on any enemy or neutral target, including structures. This allows you to re-position yourself in very creative ways, and even get over walls if there’s a target on the other side. It can be an initiation tool, although it’s usually better to hold on to it to either chase a fleeing enemy, or get out of a bad situation. Again, Illidan’s mobility is key, so make sure to use this ability wisely. Remember that Dive places you on the opposite side of your target, granting you plenty of time to body block and secure several basic attacks before repeating the process. Diving multiple times against the same target is often key - but remember when to disengage. 

Sweeping Strike (W) – This is your dash that doesn’t require a target, but should be used much more offensively. In addition to dealing significantly more damage than dive, it also gives a large attack damage boost if you hit at least one enemy. During fights, make sure to use this when available and always ensure you hit someone. I'll also add that despite being an offensive skill, Sweeping Strike should also be used defensively, when neccesary. The fact it doesn't require a target allows you to disengage easily and create space between you and the enemy team. 

Evasion (E) – A melee Hero who has to dive into the fights needs to have a source of survivability, and this is it. Pop Evasion right as the enemy team tries to focus you, and you’ll be able to take out your target without needing to worry about a lot of that pesky damage. Be aware however that Evasion only provides mitigation against basic attacks. It won't protect you from ability damage such as Kael'thas' Flamestrike or Li Ming's Arcane Orb. If you can, try to only use it when being focused by basic attack heavy Heroes. 

Metamorphosis (R) – There are multiple uses for this Heroic. Increasing your health pool, dealing extra damage, and even evading abilities due to becoming untargetable while traveling to your destination. It’s usually better to not initiate a fight with Metamorphosis, but to save it to get to the correct target, or dodge an important ability as a fight breaks out. It's also worth ensuring that when you do trigger Matamorphosis (offensively) that you try to hit as many enemies as possible in its AOE. Each Hero hit provides a boost of health that you'll need to survive. 

The Hunt (R) – If you’re less worried about survivability and more concerned about isolating and taking down a single priority target, The Hunt may be your Heroic of choice. It lacks some of the offensive tools offered by Metamorphosis, but has half the cooldown and can be just what you need to assassinate that one enemy Hero that absolutely has to get taken out.


Level 1: Immolation

Illidan is all about damage and Immolation, considering it's a level 1 talent, provides good early pressure. After using Sweeping Strike you'll cause burning, dealing around 50 damage per second, for 4 seconds. It's a considerable amount which scales well as you level up. Alongside your fast basic attacks, it's solid damage that also allows you to clear camps and lanes easier. 

Level 4: Rapid Chase

Dive now provides a 15% movement speed increase after use thanks to Rapid Chase, allowing Illidan to not only chase easily but also escape if he needs to. It's invaluable at hunting down enemy players or evading when retreating. 

Level 7: Thirsting Blade

When your Sweeping Strike bonus is active (after hitting a Hero or enemy) your health gain from basic attacks and your trait is increased from 30% to 60% thanks to Thirsting Blade. It's an enormous amount and although the window is short (3 seconds) it's more than enough to keep it up, especially if you're continually hitting your opponent. 

Level 10: Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis provides Illidan with extra survivability and damage, while also gaining a teleport that can even be used to dodge abilities. If you're low health, you'll gain a temporary health pool and be able to portal away. 

Variable: Against the likes of Li Ming or Lt. Morales, The Hunt is a fantastic option. It deals huge damage and allows you to pressure them instantly.

Level 13: Elusive Strike

Against basic attack heavy compositions, Elusive Strike can be invaluable. Lowering the cooldown of Evasion by 3 seconds every time Sweeping Strike damages a Hero is significant. Combined with your basic attacks lowering the cooldown of your abilities, you'll rarely not have Evasion ready. 

Variable: We've mentioned several times that Illidan needs to be able to survive, and Sixth Sense goes a long way towards doing just that against ability heavy teams. Providing a 75% ability damage reduction when you use Evasion, it offers a huge amount of mitigation to any potential damage you might take. 

Level 16: Marked for Death

A little easier to gaurentee than Fiery Brand (below), Marked for Death causes a spike of damage against a target if you use Dive on them twice, within 10 seconds. Considering Dive has a default cooldown of 6 seconds and each basic attack you do lowers this, it's near impossible not to cast two in succession. 

Variable: As a sexed up Giant Killer, Fiery Brand allows you to deal 6% of the targets maximum health to them, if you keep hitting them over 4 attacks. It's an enormous damage boost against any Hero but especially double tank compositions. 

Level 20: Nexus Blades

If find you're surviving easy enough, take Nexus Blades. The 20% boost to your damage and attack speed is significant. The slow is also more than welcome. 

Variable: Demonic Form is a brilliant alternative as it makes Metamorphasis permanent. Not only that but it increases your attack speed by 20% and reduces any crowd control against you by 50%. 


These Hero Threat Levels (1 being lowest threat and 10 being highest threat) are to help you determine which enemy Heroes can give you a headache. For the Heroes listed here, take extra care as they're particularly dangerous for Illidan. 



Li Li: Blinding winds is incredibly annoying. Li Li certainly won't kill you, but she can make your life much more difficult 


Kael'thas: His Gravity Lapse combined with his raw damage can quickly kill you if you're out of position. 


Murky: Will obliterate you with Pufferfish plus Octograb in late game. 


Jaina: Illidan can't evade a block of ice, but he somehow dodges bullets. Jaina's Chill and series of skills that slow your mobility can seriously hurt your ability to fight. 


Thrall: His superior healing and better health pool make him a problem 1 on 1, especially if he roots you or boots up Wind Fury.


Zagara: Hydralisks are a pain against anyone and his range make him a nuisance to deal with. 


The Butcher: Butcher's Brand, Hamstring and Lamb to the Slaughter will make your life a misery. You cannot kill The Butcher 1 on 1.



This list of tips and tricks are just a handful of things we think will help your Illidan play. We'll continue to add to the list as required and if you have any tips you'd like to share, let us know in the comments below and we'll place them here. 

1. If you get focused, you will die almost immediately without Evasion up. Be sure to have it ready against basic attack heavy teams. 

2. Don't engage instantly - wait a few seconds before entering the fray and choose your target wisely.   

3. Evasion will only mitigate spell damage once you reach level 13 and talent for it. 

4. Metamorphosis is a valuable escape tool due to it providing a temporary amount of health (on Hero hit) and an ability to teleport. 

5. Remember that you can Dive onto any enemy or structure, including walls. Use this to escape if needed. 

6. Try to always focus squishy targets and don't be afraid to Dive head first once a fight has started as it's fairly easy to escape again due to Dive's low cooldown. 

7. Remember that basic attacks reduce your ability cooldowns by 1 second. This is key to surviving and staying in combat for Illidan. 

8. You don't always have to Dive > Sweeping Strike instantly. Remember that Sweeping Strike when talented boosts your healing and is your only mobility skill outside of Dive. Don't just waste it. 

9. Illidan really struggles against anyone that can self heal or who can deal high ability damage quickly. 

10. Although Illidan has lots of mitigation and mobility, he can still be focused easily. Don't dive in when the odds are against you - you'll die quickly and your team won't be happy. 

11. Don't be afraid to take camps often. You can clear them quickly and help your team pressure lanes.

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Last Updated: Nov 16, 2016

About The Author

Burnell 1
Lover of all things MOBA, Lewis splits his time between Heroes of the Storm, Paragon and SMITE.