the time has come to write a GUIDE
Krazy asked me some questions last night and this morning I decided on the spot I would DO IT
become the MASTER of DESTRUCTION or at least just understand what talents and shit do what
This is my playstyle for Li-Ming and how I build her and why. Crawl into my poop chute and have a seat over there, we're going in DEEP
ah my shoulder
Li-Ming is Katarina from League of Legends but ranged which kind of makes her idiotically strong compared to Katarina. You play her as a more pokey Katarina and positioning and accuracy with skillshots are an absolute must to have even the slightest bit of success. She has incredible counter-engage power and feeds heavily on positional play.
You pick Li-Ming for offensive power and nothing else. You don't build her defensively, you go for an all-in damage build either centric on poking or medium range combat. Therefore you must be looking to play
defensively and know when to maximize your insane burst potential. Through your teleport you have super strong kill threat on anyone who tries to single you out, even tanks. You have to play carefully until you have that kill potential, however because you most likely won't be taking teleport range, teleport shield, or other luxury tank talents you will be squishy so you can do your one true job and do it well.
You can be your team's sole DPS but you function best if you have another DPS, preferably a sustained DPS like Raynor or False Dad, that can feed off of you and you off of them. An AoE dps works well, like Jaina or Kael (OR BOTH LOL). But a double support/double tank team can do enough ambient damage, especially with bruisers, that it's not always necessary. Beware of double support teams and teams with a lot of magic shield talents, you'll have to play very patiently and keep your distance more than usual. Be wary of fights that place enemies amidst minion waves and hordes of trash because they'll obviously make landing your skillshots very hard and long and firm.
Li-Ming makes a poor evo target because she is talent-centric.
This style of Li-Ming is one of the few mechanically demanding avenues of play available in Blizzard Dota. It requires a degree of luck, but overall success relies heavily on your accuracy and ability to read your opponent's movements. Successful execution will regularly reward you with hysterical results.
Li-Ming can turn around outnumbered fights and kill people who are out of position very easily, but you can't fatfinger your abilities like I did here. You need to properly mentally map out the position of your cursor and only press E or W or Q when you absolutely mean to. Discipline practice is the #1 reason why I spammed bot games in league and heroes - I always run quick/smart cast in all circumstances and mentally map out all distances and my plan of attack before hand. It's not always easy to keep on task to that plan, but ensuring your cursor is always in the right place for X ability is the first thing you will have to learn with this hero.
What She Does
- Extremely strong all-in especially with even slight level advantages
- Decent medium range poke
- Safe, albeit not very good waveclear
- Ok Objective Denial
- Excellent Anti-Boss damage post-16
What She Doesn't Do
- Split push
- Strong AoE (take Kael or Jaina)
When To Pick Her
- You have any hard CC that guarantees a Q landing
- You have peel
- The map has corridors you can funnel enemies into
- The enemy has casters
- You have 1-2 sustained damage that are closer ranged than your Q
- The enemy is dive heavy and you have an answer for it elsewhere in the comp
There are very few comps she doesn't work in or against, but what's most scary for her is -
- Double stealth with co-ordination can make your life miserable
- Double Tank/Support and specialist (Especially Anubarak + Johanna, Anubarak + Arthas, Sonya + anyone, Tassadar + Lili or Tassadar + Uther, etc)
- Your team has no siege vs a siege heavy team (especially Xul + Azmofiddle or Azmofiddle + Sillyvannus), you'll find yourself policing waves a lot
Hero & Fight Specific Counters
Li-Ming fares best against -
- Anyone centric on magic damage, obviously casters, but she can work vs Gaymane just like Lunara does for similar reasons (eat his ult = he does very little burst)
- Large targets
- Anyone who is short ranged but not melee and doesn't build defensively, especially auto-attackers who have to be still to do damage
- People who try to chase you, melee or not
- People who are easily body blocked
Li-Ming is weak against -
- Shields in particular - so Storm Shield, Tassadar, Brightwang
- Extremely dedicated long-range CC like Sonya's hop
- Melee-heavy comps who can spec shield (Thrall + False Dad)
- Teammates who hate peeling
- Lunara unless she goes thornvine or sucks at positioning (a little map dependent, see gameplay section). You must combo her at the end of her jump or avoid her entirely. Unless she didn't go shield. Then lol
- A Derphaka who knows how to engage you
- Fights amidst minion waves
- Morales and Kharazim both makes things hard for her by A.) reducing the damage you deal to a target (morales buff/kharazim shield) and kharazim's ult. Kharazim himself is nearly impossible to hit and Morales' buff keeps her alive for a long ass time. One of the worst combos for Li-Ming is Morales/Artanis or Morales/Illidan just because of damage reduction and sustain. You NEED more dps and cc to deal with those combos.
- Xul and Illidan both make things miserable for her by prolonging fights or disrupting her ability to pick and choose targets. Xul also has huge kill potential on her all throughout the game just due to his E.
- I feel like Medivh could fuck up your position advantage real good
- Thrall repeatedly has demonstrated he can out-sustain a perfect combo and punishes imperfect ones heavily (if some Q bolts miss) and his collision is not that big. I consider him amongst the most threatening melee for her.
Li-Ming is strongest on any map with corridors that you take advantage of or objectives you can reliably blind shot into.
Li-Ming is weakest on Infernal Shrines and Haunted Mines because minions get in your way or there are too many access points to lanes for her to fight safely in them against some comps. Garden of Terror is similarly not that good for her, especially in mid game.
You thrive at the AA standard range and have very high threat at close range once a target is <30%. You will typically fight at a suboptimal Long Range, poking into Moderate (just outside AA range) fishing for Q spikes. You use W sparingly post-16, mostly to punish outliers and make enemies separate. While you'd like to focus on squishies, if they have small collision and you can't land hits on them reliably, you can focus tanks. Use W to pop their shields and then focus on landing Q. Move in for autos when they either retreat, their CC is expended, or you have them locked down, or the fight has progressed and they are getting low-ish.
Playing passively like this may encourage enemies to dive you when you move into AA range, which is excellent bait and sets you up for the unexpected burst. Inexperienced opponents will do this often and easily set you up for a game deciding victory. Experienced opponents will send melee like Thrall after you with bolt of the storm and they are harder to deal with, so ensure someone can help peel you while you deal with them.
Li-Ming wands bitches with a snappy and quick animation you will be abusing every single time that Illidan's cooldowns are down and he cedes the lane to you, Chromie misses her shit, and tanks fumble their engage. Early into the game you will be auto attacking every chance open to you and exploiting any and all misplays. Your AA damage is shitty as a caster's is, but 500 free damage is 500 free damage and you're looking to conserve mana when you can. As the game goes later on it becomes quality over quantity as your AA damage will be loaded with an extremely high damaging combo of on-hit talents that do as much as some character's spells. Then it becomes a priority on AA'ing the right person to make the most out of Cannoneer.
Many jump abilities do not make enemies immune to attack and projectiles will follow them. These include Tracer's Q and Lunara's R. Always be issuing that right click when you have your talents and they are looking to dis-engage, because there's a good chance it will follow them and kill them if they are low.
The D - Critical Ass
Katarina gets a % reduction or something when she gets kills. You get a full reduction of all cooldowns. Most often this trait does not come into play in a fight until you've already effectively won the fight, but I still expected it to have been nerfed already. Vikings and Murky have to be careful, as does Misha. Vikings will always get boat against you and Murky will usually avoid you once you demonstrate you know the all-in to his bullshit.
Q - Magic Missiles
In a nutshell - if you find you can't land this ability, don't play Li-ming.
This is your bread and butter. Your crop. Plant it diligently and it will reward you with seasons of nourishment.
50% of your damage is going to come from this ability even if you build for W. Landing it becomes all the more paramount as the game goes on because you will be investing the majority of your talents into succeeding with it.
This ability fires a plethora of projectiles outwards around you that then circle into an area around your cursor. Heroes skillshots always feel inaccurate to me compared to league. Think Heimer rockets. This is a very lead-centric ability, thus the importance on positioning. Ideally you want to be in the path of your enemy's movement, in an area with access to a path that their movement will be dictated towards either by disengaging, engaging, objective or target priority.
Heroes in Blizzard Dota have variable collision sizes, so hitting some heroes like Kael is easier than hitting some like Tracer.
The easiest way to hit a melee target is you target yourself and step backwards.
Become accustomed to weaving in an auto attack between Q's because eventually you're going to need to perform the QW-AA-E combo to succeed. Li-Ming's auto animation is one of the fastest in the game, so make use of it even without on-hit abilities.
Many times landing a full Q burst will discourage people from attacking you, especially early on. Getting poked is often times demoralizing. You might be tempted to chase. Unless you know exactly where they are going and they're in your AA or Moderate range already, chasing usually won't net you any more hits. Also chasing is very dangerous for you.
Post-16 your Q becomes one of the most damaging abilities in the game, exceeding many ults including your own, so long as you can land it. It melts bosses, tanks, pretty much anything besides MR and shields. But you do have to land it, and sustain like Thrall's or Butcher's can be problematic amidst cooldowns and travel time. Your mana cost also increases with Mirror Ball, but we'll talk more about that later.
Post-16 your Q helps you take siege camps almost effortlessly.
Use Q sparingly to bush check, W is better.
W - Arcane Orab
This ability seems good because its distance damage is so high, but consider that most opponents will be diving you because you're "squishy" and "weak up close". This is what tempts Li-Mings to build defensively when they could just instead be someone else. W builds are the opposing end of this spectrum - they take you to the extremes by forcing you to depend
on max-range impacts. On paper this makes sense and it does a lot of damage (exceeding 1k fairly soonish) but the base cooldown is long, easily counterplayed by tanks, and whiffs against anyone who is paying attention.
W excels most on maps with fixed points and narrow corridors surrounding them, particularly towers of duum. The range talents also increase its potency, but robs you of valuable and reliable damage elsewhere.
W is good for utilitarian reasons, like killing minions blocking a target, popping timed magic shields, splashing targets you can't see, scaring enemies to move in a direction of your choosing, denial, and vision. It's a very basic ranged ability in the end, just don't commit to it. The travel time is also very slow, so it's highly ineffective for chasing.
W is your best ability to clear waves prior to level 7, but most people aim straight into the group of minions. Usually, melee minions are in front of the pack, followed by the caster and then archers. Your goal is to basically hit the caster to maximize damage to the entire wave. Not always possible, but as a general rule of thumb you want to splash as many of the archers as possible and the caster. Therefore you want to be casting W from an angle to the side of the wave rather than from the front. This puts you in a positional disadvantage, so keep track of your enemy's movements and your lane opponent.
If you want to be ultra conservative you can also manipulate the wave and W into them as they form an enclave around you.
E - Teleport
Li-Ming's most signature ability on paper is Teleport, a short-range blink with a moderate cooldown. Most players see Teleport as an avenue for stacking talents into so they can build defensively and feed off of Dominance procs. I see Teleport almost esclusively as a damage ability and a juking mechanism. Unless you talent it it will not take you over 95% of the walls in the game and its usefulness in escaping is arguable. Therefore, positioning remains just as important to you as it does Butcher or any other melee.
Trace abilities follow you through teleport including Melee attacks, ranged attacks, butcher's charge, etc.
Teleporting resets Murky's octograb if you use it before he lands and puts it on a 10 second CD. So very irritating for murky and can even cost his team the fight.
Generally speaking if you're forced to use this ability defensively, regardless if you talented it or not, you're at a disadvantage. You want to use it AFTER an enemy uses a gap closer, not during or before. If Muradin jumps on you, walk to the side of him, not away, then wait him to waste his stun and THEN teleport out. If Illidan or Chen comes at you their abilities will hit you even if you are teleporting. Teleport after, or they'll bodyblock you because fuck pathing in this game.
You can time your teleport for Chromie's ult to immediately after it pops and generally avoid all damage.
You probably won't escape a butcher charge unless you have illusionist and even then flail will usually hit you. Teleport behind an ally after he brands you and then combo him. He will most likely die if that ally is a DPS.
At level 7 this becomes your strongest waveclear ability. Teleport directly on top of the caster minion and archers and either W them or AA them down. The caster will usually die later on and give you a net plus in mana and the others will either die or be low enough for your wave to push. Don't get greedy with this damage, it's very high but teleporting into an enemy and not killing them is asking to die, especially in a team fight. As a rule of thumb you use teleport to kill a target that is <20% HP and not a tank, and you always use it with an empowered AA flying through the air first. Master this weaving and you'll find kills come much easier than just teleport.
At level 7 this ability and Q on-hit lets you take Doubloon camps with virtually no expenditure in mana.
At level 7 you use this ability as a part of your damage rotation in PvE.
Teleport won't save you from dedicated assassins and tanks. Your team must be willing to peel you at all times, and you don't want to get into a team fight where positioning prohibits you from having access to peelers if you can help it. That means avoid coming in directly from behind, especially onto people who can flip easily like zeratool and tracer.
R - Laser
Steak demonstrates the usefulness of Laser when positioning is just right.
In 99% of cases you will be taking Disintegration Ray. Not because it's super high in damage, because it isn't, but rather because it's safe
damage. This is the tradeoff for taking a close to moderate range engagement zone to the maximum but having little in the way of defensive talents.
Resist the urge to blow your ult immediately into the teamfight. As a rule of thumb, I don't R unless;
- Can hit two squishy targets at once
- Can hit 3 or more of any target at once
- Too risky to dive in for Q (Judgement/Hunt combo)
- Someone is semi-close and low HP but I don't want to chase or dive
- There are objective minions I'll kill during the ult.
- It is a DPS fight (a duel) and my other abilities are ALL on cooldown. I Interrupt R for Q if I know I can hit it.
Post-16, Q is higher damage than R but R remains more efficient. If another Li-Ming attempts to laser you at close range just get your free QW-AA-E combo and laugh.
Will also discuss this more later.
R - Saving Knockback
90% of the time the Wave of Force is used it saves someone rather than harms them. Pre-20 this ability is nearly useless outside of its ability to interrupt and push some targets out of position. It is worthless for peeling Sonya, Thrall or Butcher until you sacrifice Tal-Rasha's Elements for it at 20, a damage spike you sorely needed at that stage.
Take this if you're facing down at least two high value channels your team has no way to interrupt, like ETC and another Li-ming, and you have at least two other good damage dealers. Else, don't take it, not even for the interrupt. You sacrifice a lot to make it work and most of the time it's just an annoyance. Build for team fighting because that's what TL is most of the time, and this will only rarely save you from a gank. Maybe it's just my experience, but I've never seen a Li-Ming make this work in a situation the beam wouldn't have been just outright better. Usually because she put herself in a bad position and needed disruption to escape. Just play better and organize a better team comp.
That said, if you do talent this at 20 it becomes far stronger, gaining range and a ton of knockback force. You can propel people across the objective on Infernal Shrines and suddenly a lot of positional plays become more realistic to make. This is viable if you have a team with a lot of heroes that can really pounce on people even slightly out of position. We don't usually play heroes like that, so I haven't really tried it.
In a Li-ming mirror (QM) this ability is a good duel skill because it can fuck their skillshot aiming, but I only think of this guide from TL perspective.
Li-Ming is a highly talent-centric hero. How you build her determines her function and it's kind of a big deal unlike most of the heroes.
Traditionally, most Li-Mings regardless of skill level go for a defensive build, heavily centralizing their talent choices around Teleport, especially Illusionist and the shield you get from it. Curiously, they also tend to go for the Astral Presence talent at level 1 which conflicts with defensive builds. After many games I have worked out a very reliable build for Li-Ming that focuses on her strengths as a DPS rather than trying to make her a tank. I will cover all of the talents and the logic behind them.
Astral Presence - Increases mana regen by 100% when below 25% max mana.
Let's put this plainly - 100% of shit is still shit, and if you're below 25% mana you need to go back. Manage your mana and your rotations and you won't ever need this talent. I feel this talent is a trap and it robs you of the single most important (and only in my build) defensive talent you can get.
Power Hungry - 100% mana and 10% AP for 20 seconds after touching an Orab.
This is a good talent for specific maps like Towers which involve a lot of early game fighting and rotations. It's superior over Astral Presence because it offers mana regen all the time for something as simple as picking up an Orab AND it gives you ability power on top of it. There's no reason to ever take Astral Presence over this if you're looking for a mana talent. The more involved you are in policing waves or rotating with your team the stronger this talent becomes.
Force Armor - 50% spell damage reduction block per Q cast hitting
The only time this talent isn't virtually mandatory to take is when the enemy team is either full of pure AA damage (Raynor, Zagara, Sylvanas) or you have such an insanely well-played front line you are 100% confident you will never, at any point, take spell damage.
The thing is, even physical centric heroes like Gaymane and Nova do the vast majority of their damage through spells, and reducing that damage by 50% just because you hit the ability you're going to be hitting anyways is a really big deal. This defense CAN be counterplayed but don't expect anyone short of pro teams to even realize you've taken it. I am not sure if this game actually has spells that are not "spell damage" but it doesn't really seem like it.
Keep in mine, aids chews charges. Aids includes Sylvanas. Avoid them if they have a caster on their team so they don't chew them.
Multiple Q's from one cast do not give you multiple charges. Poke before committing.
Ether Walker - Free/shorter cd teleport out of combat
I am not 100% sure about the value of this talent because "Out of Combat" is a bit weird in Heroes (I think it's if you just didn't take damage). Therefore this talent is probably a bit stronger than I give it credit for. But I can't see a reason to get it over Force Armor unless you're going a straight W build. You aren't using your E to navigate the map and you're almost always going to be taking some kind of damage from something when a shorter CD would really matter, and if you wanted mana you'd take a mana talent instead.
Charged Blast - Q marks targets for on-AA damage
Bread and butter for early game damage, especially against tanks. Helps your rotation and synergizes with both Q and cannoneer. Why wouldn't
you get this? If you feel you can make Dominance work or if you're hoping for W resets. Both of which are situational and suboptimal at the best of times.
Triumvirate - Reduces W cooldown when hitting at long range
I don't care for W based builds because I find that enemies past bronze will dive me, especially tanks, and prohibit my access to people who need to be tapped with W for it to work. In an ideal world you abuse free teleports to maximize W range and get as many pops as possible later in the game with the W talents, but in the real world you play a long-ranged character and get far more reliability and tools to make it happen than Li-Ming. Even if I want W talents I often don't get this, but I can see how it can work, especially if the enemy comp is short on ways to access you.
Dominance - 20% health restore on kill
Sounds good on paper, but consider this - if you're getting kills you're already winning. If you're performing well you don't need self-heals. It's the same reason I think traits like Tyreal's and Leoric's are dumb as fuck. If the player is doing well a part of their power budget is never going to get used. It just doesn't make sense to put in talents that only reward sloppiness. That said, Li-Ming is a character that is often times the focus of enemy attention and this game has a lot of point-and-click CC and damage that is going to find you eventually. While Force Armor and teleport shield helps, having health restore is very enticing.
However, the situation remains - you only see benefits from this ability when you see kills. When you start seeing kills that already means you are winning in most cases, especially if you're playing well. If there's Vikings, they'll take Boat. If there's Murky, you need to perform the E-W combo perfectly or he will murder you late game. If there's neither, I can't see a reason to take this talent UNLESS it's QM and you have no support.
Let supports do their job and go greedy on damage. That's what Li-Ming is all about. If you absolutely must have Dominance then don't feel too bad about taking it - you can still get Cannoneer later on and out of Charged Blast and Cannoneer the latter is superior because it's more reliable. Another reason to take Dominance is if you team has another 2 DPS and you can afford to lose some damage. However, you lose very much needed early game PvE damage that is virtually free and in low-kill games this can set you behind.
Seeker - Damage proc on 3 Q hit
It might seem odd that I say I never get this on a Q-centric Li-Ming. That's because you A.) can't guarantee you'll always hit at least 3 bolts and B.) Calamity deals over twice as much damage, is aoe, and always hits. No-brainer.
Zei's Veangence - W +25% damage at max range
If you're putting all your eggs in the W basket then this is a must. Remember that you are sacrificing your most reliable nuke for it and play safely.
Calamity - High AoE Damage on Teleport
I expected this talent to be nerfed by at least 50% on release week for this girl. It has yet to be touched. I am absolutely bamboozled. This ability's damage is flat out overpowered and contributes a good chunk to your all-in. It also gives you better waveclear than W. Lots of uses - killing tumors, killing boners, killing minions, killing tracer, it turns your utility spell into a hybrid of utility and near ult-level damage.
Cannoneer - 75% AA crit from spell cast, stacks 3 times
On its own it doesn't seem like much, but when coupled with the overloaded damage of Q, Calamity, W and the on-hit from Q's proc, you can dish out so much damage in the blink of an eye it's absurd. No reason not to get this.
Glass Cannon - +15% damage -15% health
While the damage is nice, considering I avoid defensive talents (including the most valuable, Illusionist, in this tier) it doesn't make much sense to make yourself squishier. This is something I reserve for a W build. Cannoneer is also more damage and it doesn't have anything more than a mechanics cost to it.
Illusionist - E range + cd reset on 20% max hp damage
This talent used to be good pre-nerf, good enough to contend with Cannoneer. Tele range makes sense when you have little in the way of peels and Zeratool keeps jumping you. At 16 you could be blowing him up instead, though, and since the nerf the 20% proc almost never goes off unless you're already dead. It would make more sense if you could take this AND Glass Cannon, but you can't, so I don't see a reason to take it. Position yourself better and ask your team to peel if dives become an issue. The biggest loss from not taking this is you can't use calamity to kill unless you're very close, but that's ok because calamity has a stupidly high radius and your all-in is usually reserved for divers or people who are CC'd anyway. Like I said, pay attention and keep your positioning at the top of your mental breakdown.
Fireflies - Lower Q CD/less mana
In a game so full of shields and sustain where your primary function as Li-Ming is to burst, it doesn't make sense to me to do sustained damage when you can choose to do more burst. Managing your mana becomes easier at this stage because fights are far faster.
Mirrorball - + 2 Q bolts, +5 mana cost
I consider this ability mandatory. You won't notice the mana cost and the damage increase is absolutely insane, marking your highest damage spike since level 7. If you acquire this talent and your team is ahead you have entered snowball territory and a few well-placed Q's will end the game. This ability opens up your sustained damage and lets you blitz down immortals, Chen, and other targets normally annoying or impossible for you to deal with. It's also marginally easier to land Blast procs on small targets and you can outright instantly kill them if they land of you.
Arcane Orbit - +25% W range/damage
Even in a W centric build I am tempted to take Mirrorball, but this talent is ultimately what makes W "good".
Diamond Skin - 20% max hp as shield for 4 sec after tele
Attractive enough but the damage cost from losing Mirrorball is too high for me to ever consider this talent, even if I was speccing defensive otherwise. I picked Li-Ming to kill people, not tank. If my positioning is so bad I need a 20% shield to regularly survive then I need to fix myself, not my talents. The exception is, again, if you lack support and the enemy is full of stealth and point-and-click bullshit. Most notably, pyro, if you can't land Q.
Temporal Flux - Ramping 60% slow on laser
Situationally useful at the best of times, pre-nerf that is. Post-nerf I don't know why I would go for a ramping slow over having damage bonus on my existing abilities. At 20 you start seeing Storm Shield and a lot of other defensive talents on your opponents which is going to curb your damage spike. If the map favors it, though, you can afford to drop tal-rasha's telements for this.
Repulsion - Wave of Force range/strength boost
I feel like if you took wave of force at 10 you absolutely must take this talent for it to be as valuable as laser. Once you do get this talent you can seriously fuck with people's positioning and doing so is much safer for you.
Tal-Rasha's Elements - Cycling abilities grants 5% AP up to 20%
I can't see why not to get this. I mostly spam Q but cycling W and dropping in E gives you a nice AP nice on the fastest of all-ins and more damage is always better. Like I said, this is the tier you start seeing survivability seriously spiking for defensive teams and you're going to want every bit of damage to succeed.
Archon - Channel laser free and forever but use nothing else
Archon is a toggle, it has an animation cost, and the laser is still less damage than Q spam. This comes at the cost of everything else you can do. Not worth unless you are killing immortals and no players for the rest of the game, and even then I'd take Elements. For a level 20 I'd expect to see this buffed some day.
Li-Ming is a poke caster with a shit ton of hidden power in her talents you almost never see because people copy "pro builds" or "highest winrate builds" which are exclusively defensive. When you build her offensively you gain an absurd amount of damage usually relegated to stacked Zeratuls or Kael`Thas. This coupled with a bit of mobility and a smaller frame makes her far more attractive to me than any other hero in the game.
I built like this specifically to counter the horror that was release tracer, and with hilarious results.
Li-Ming is part mechanics, part positioning, part psychology. She is entirely skillshot centric and none of her skillshots are particularly easy to hit. A portion of the early game against your lane opponent should be spent poking them with Q and W and seeing how they respond, but don't commit to a kill. You can poke their towers with W but expect to be ganked if you remain extended for more than a second or two. Li-Ming is very easy to gank depending on the enemy comp so after 10 you should never be anywhere but with your team unless you need to clear waves and you have vision of your opponents. Even so, you are vulnerable to ganks and should be wary of Zeratul, Dehaka, and others who have tools to either outsustain you or outplay your Q.
At all stages in the game you rely heavily on baiting enemies into running at you to land your Q or dictating where your enemies will move by positioning yourself angular to them or near the front of them. Never, however, give your enemies an easy way to access you from more than one angle - retreat before engaging if you are sure they can reach you. Living > trading 1 for 1. Always.
Your weakness is chasing and fighting mitigation comps. As with all cases, judge if your contribution to a fight actually means anything. Once you start picking up AA talents, Calamity, and eventually Mirrorball, it is safe and fast for you to take siege camps on all maps and bruisers on demon maps. Doubloons are just as easy as Jaina and safer. Each Q is an individual hit on a chest and you are excellent DPS for bosses.
Mana management is a critical aspect of Li-Ming because you are tempted to spam your low cooldown spells. While mana will not be an issue for most of the game, back whenever a fight ends and you have <60% mana and no milf or objective to damage down, clearing an unattended wave first if need be. Your goal is to arrive to a fight as it starts with near full mana. This is attainable on most maps very easily.
Low-mana play is very possible with Li-Ming. Once you have Mirrorball that is all you need to win many small fights. You can fight at 0 mana for a long time if you time your engages and AA's well. Your Q does more damage than many full rotations of characters in the game 16-19 and if you have a level advantage you can utterly decimate when OOM.
POWER SPIKE CHART!!!!
You do "ok" damage pre-calamity, respectable damage post-10, but spike the hardest with Mirrorball at 16. Depending on the enemy comps you'll probably observe a little less effectiveness after 20 and have to rely very heavily on positioning. If you have a level advantage 10+ things get silly in a hurry, if you hold a level advantage at 16 your reliable damage is nearly unmatched in your engagement range.
Early fights like those on tributes are heavily reliant on you popping the Q on-hit proc over and over and over. This helps you sustain your mana for the long slugfests that tend to drawl out on these objectives. W remains your highest damage ability during this time and should be projected towards the rear of the enemy body to hit their squishies, whereas your Q should be directed towards whoever you are confident you can hit.
Pay close attention to your shield during this time. A large chunk of illidan's damage comes from his W and you will absorb a chunk of it if you hit him before he dives. If you bait him next to a tower or land both your Q-W you will win a lane trade instantly. Poke melee every time they come in for orbs or minions if you have access. Sneak W's into towers and, on applicable maps with access to their fountains, you can sometimes get kills or more poke in if you throw W over all when they retreat. I've killed a Valla by hitting her when she drank fountain and I hit the fountain instead of her. Be careful, though - W tends to hit walls due to its huge collision. Practice intensely vs bots to get a feel for her with quick cast, you need the fast responsiveness of quick cast to make these combos fluid and second nature and it will improve your gameplay mechanics as a whole.
I have a "warm up" period during the early stages of the game where I throw out a lot of spells and "remember" how the motion works. I can endure extremely long game times and I do not fatigue very quickly (1 hour+ league games always ended in me playing better at the end than I did at the beginning). To me the make or break point is that sweet 16, but serious fight potential begins at 10. Although the laser does its damage over time a good CC chain can set you up to land major damage early on, damage you can further capitalize with the on-hit talent and calamity. You must also be extra cautious, though, because now people generally get the tools they'll be using to dive you repeatedly.
Early game you gain kill potential on several people with your shield up you might not expect, including Jaina, Nova, Illidan, and gaymane. If you do not have your shield you play defensively until you get it, then you can seek a trade if you think you are safe from ganks. The shield greatly reduces damage from Snipe which is Nova's primary damage until she gets more talents, but you don't want to commit to fights until you recognize kill potential. I'll explain kill potential in a bit.
10-16 is mid game to me. At this stage you see Hunt, Mosh, and all the other stuff you don't want on you. You hang out far back, far far back unless poking, and you fold back the second it looks like they want to fight, burning E liberally to avoid engages even at the cost of damage. This is why having other DPS sources, even if it's just bruisery tanks, is important. Most people will be singling you out and if they are good you can have an extremely miserable time and be tempted to build defensively from hereon. It's a bait. In a comp where you are the main source of damage you must commit to playing defensively and building offensively. W builds do not work against tracer, and Lunara will fuck you up even more if you lack the damage to burst her the one time she screws up positioning in her all-in.
Look to poke with your ult if the going is tough and it can and will be tough before cannoneer and mirrorball. Li-Ming may be strong but so few players manage to succeed with her even when they do not die. They will kind of hang back and watch their team die and feel like they can't contribute because their damage is not very high. At this stage, tanks with shields seem almost unkillable to you, especially Anubarak and Chen. The worst tank will be Sonya in all likelihood, though. Not only does she sustain her shield is strong and she has two stuns to shut you down. If she singles you out your team must spend these early levels learning how to peel you.
Opponents over commit to an overleveled D and Jaina positions herself against the wall and kindly asks for me to obliterate her and nova. However, the chase is fruitless and instead I return to PvE to push our level advantage.
Which ultimately results in a hysterical button mash to victory because balanced.
Once you're 16 you are at the strongest you are ever going to be. It's time to seek out fat targets you can unload on, tanks included, popping shields with W and figuring out who is the easiest target you can hit. Quantity over quality matters now - you want to kill as many people as possible so your team's utility exponentially increases in effectiveness. Tanks who eat your full combo will start to go down very fast, so don't be afraid to unload if Chen dives through your team to you. However, be super careful of Thrall, Zeratul, Graymane and others who either stack gathering power or have tools to CC you. Death timers are long and mistakes, especially as a lone DPS, are going to cost you the game.
Li-Mings fast cooldowns and low mana costs make it easy for her to switch targets, something that you should always be looking to do. She can easily focus on targets diving an ally as tunnel vision tends to open them up for an easy combo. You can't save emus like a tank can, but you can potentially kill someone in return. Don't be afraid to W just because they are in your face, every point of damage counts.
Use your resets to reposition yourself with E rather than just diving into the enemy team blindly because you got a reset. Unless you can guarantee another kill instantly you should never blink TOWARDS an enemy and never blink early.
Understanding Kill Potential
What makes an engagement good for you and what makes an engagement poor?
"Give nothing, take everything."
Blizzard Dota is a very messy game with invisible damage, difficult to see buffs and debuffs, and a ton of seemingly small numbers behind the scenes. I don't think of things mathematically, I think of things as a series of potentials and equations. To cooly step in and surgically remove every kebab requires a level head and precision. Focus on the movement of the parts and less on the parts. I think of heroes as how durable they are and sort out priority in terms of Ease of Accessibility -> Durability -> Value. So, Butcher takes priority because he's fat, easy to access, and valuable to kill. He has a binary engagement pattern and there's very little diversity in what that pattern is. It then becomes an equation. Am I branded? No? Fight. Yes? Backstep. Kael`Thas - Has he used E? No? Backstep. Yes? All-in. Get a Q in either way because of pyro.
Kill potential is when an opponent is guaranteed to die if you confront him directly. Kill potential is attained early on during a gank when you position yourself so that you can throw W between the gate and their minions. Since they'll usually retreat to the gate, you have very high kill potential on them because you in position to deny them access to disengaging. The opponent will want to juke your W by moving upwards or to the side, whatever direction seems opposing to the gate, but many enemies will not do this. Those that do can still be counterplayed by ensuring your W splashes a region adjacent to the gate as well as the gate itself. Ergo, your goal is not to hit the gate, but probably a tower or wall next to it so the effect radius is utterly maximized around their path.
A Jaina who burned W on minions cedes control to you because she has expended her most damaging ability by far. You have kill potential if she is extended and <50% pre-7. If you land Q she'll retreat and you can E for an aggressive W followed by AA. Illidan has kill potential on you if you extend out to his wall and don't actually do any damage to him.
That is QM, the world of solo queue heroes where everyone has to carry and is willing to dive you. Team League is far more defensive and you really should never be extended beyond early game. Don't get greedy, don't tunnel vision. Basic shit, sure, but discipline is the #1 requirement to actuating knowledge. Is my build the best? I don't know. But I do know I have success with it when I stick to the plan and practice discipline.
So, an enemy FP's Li-Ming and I rub my testicles against my chin. What next?
99% of players build her defensively and, honestly, I largely ignore her in the draft. There has been a few that have taken a build like mine but traditionally don't adopt the playstyle.
Lunara destroys her post-16 when played properly and Murky can be a real hassle. It helps if she positions herself in a manner that makes it easy for you to tickle her taint.
I go pure AA damage on Lunara (attack damage and speed on W) and while thornvine can work, leaping strike is the highest burst and instantly nullifies her shield and everything. You first bait out the W and wait for her to try to laser you or whatever. Leap once, W, AA, leap again if necessary and then rip.
Tanks don't have to dive her to work against her, all they need to do is block her shots on more valuable targets. It gets harder as time goes on for them to survive, but with supports or trash mobs helping them it really delays her. Arthas worked well for me, Anubarak and his beetles is probably amongst the best. Dehaka is also very good if you can catch her off guard.
Late-game, Nova can wait for her to blow her cds and then attack, and Kael`Thas does 5000 damage with one living bomb so that's always annoying. There was also the team who blew Sonya jump, butcher post, tyreal judgement, and hunt on me all at once. That one is a bit hard to escape from.
Just the general gist of it there, you can check my videos for indepth analysis on various elements.