Monkey King
© Valve

What to expect from Dota 2’s Monkey King

Monkey King, AKA Sun Wukong, is a MOBA staple, so here’s what moves he’ll be throwing when he lands.
Written by Chris Higgins
4 min readPublished on
The legend of Sun Wukong is one of the most enduring in traditional and popular culture. The tale of a Monkey King on a journey to the West to rescue some Buddhist sutras is full of incredible feats of agility, such as somersaulting halfway around the entire planet in a single leap. Perfect fodder for a MOBA hero, then.
Meet the Monkey King
Meet the Monkey King
As such, Wukong has appeared in every major MOBA, ARTS and third-person shooter hybrid in existence, with all of them drawing from a similar pool of skills. With Dota 2’s version of the simian sultan poised to arrive in the next few months, we examine the evidence for what abilities he’ll land with.

Heroes of Newerth

The forgotten precursor, lost among the tidal waves of fans League of Legends and Dota 2 amassed, HoN had its own Monkey King – voiced by the same actor as Dota 2’s version, Matt Mercer AKA Overwatch’s McCree.
Of course, as with most things in this slightly incestuous MOBA family tree, much of the thematic implementation is also shared around through other games, including the original Dota’s Monkey King, implemented in the 6.80 beta and never released.
HoN’s Monkey King used his iconic bo staff, Ruyi Jingu Bang, to vault over enemies and knock them back or to smash the earth, upheaving a mound which could then be vaulted onto. The Nimbus cloud Wukong used to travel around was also an ability to allow for faster travel after five seconds out of combat, while Illusive Dash allowed him to immediately move forwards dealing damage to enemies caught in it.
While the staff and cloud are common motifs of Wukong, the teaser video Valve released of Monkey King at The International 2016 shows another side of his personality; mischief and trickery. Something League of Legends achieved in a similar way: illusions.

League of Legends

Wukong is one of the more annoying tanks in the game thanks to his ability to slip in and out of combat through stealth and decoys. His Nimbus Strike allows him to dash, similar to HoN, however he also sends images to attack two other non-target enemies, too.
The utilisation of his staff is his ultimate, Cyclone, which is very similar to Juggernaut’s Blade Fury in Dota 2. While spinning he cannot use other abilities but gains immense movement speed the longer it goes on while dealing damage per second to everyone inside the whirling storm of pain.
Though not quite capturing the same form of agility as a monkey demi-god who can somersault halfway across the planet, this version is very similar to what IceFrog originally envisioned a Monkey King hero as being in the original Dota. The dash which spawns illusions to fight other enemies in the path was the original design description of his Flicker ability.
The 6.80 beta form of Monkey King also had a passive ability, Nimble Nimbus, that caused a percentage change for your hero and its illusions to jump over the target to hit them in the back while they’re turned away from you for a short while, reminiscent of LoL’s Decoy but with a bit of HoN’s Vault thrown in. But it’s still missing that famous cloud, something Smite really nailed.


As with the others, Sun Wukong is a fast and very aggressive staff-wielder in the battleground of the gods. His Magic Cudgel can be slammed down causing damage in a line, useful for wave clear, and looking quite a lot like how Monkey King enters the battle in Valve’s teaser cinematic. But it’s his ultimate that really sells the character.
Somersault Cloud lets Wukong escape a fight and leave a decoy behind to occupy the enemy while he regenerates health on his invisible Nimbus. If the decoy dies or gets stunned, Wukong is revealed, but until then you can sit up on high laughing at your foe below.
The original description of Monkey King’s ultimate in Dota 6.80 has him somersaulting off a cloud to crash down on an immobilised target unit, surrounding them with four illusions. The perfect setup for a lot of Nimble Nimbus procs to continually keep your opponent spinning in circles, guessing which is the real Wukong.
If we match up some of these abilities with what we saw in Valve’s sneak peek of Monkey King at TI6, it’s not looking great for the high-flying cloud somersault finishing act. It appears the army of illusions charge is still there, and possibly the ability to leave a decoy or vault over an enemy to confuse them with illusions. But the illusion confusion schtick is already a strong part of Phantom Lancer’s design, himself obviously a nod to the Monkey King trope with staff in hand. We’ll have to keep our eyes peeled for December to make sure Valve don’t slip anything past us.
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