How to play Lifestealer in Current Meta
Lifestealer is a very strong carry at various stages of the game. He is formidable in the mid game if he finds a good synergy with the other heroes of his team. He is very good to participate in fast ganks on isolated targets, thanks to his ultimate fate. The advantage that is taken at this point of the game normally ensures a substantial farm that allows him to make a successful transition to the late game. The hero is often played in trilane and rather defensive than offensive since the updates of the end of 2013. However, he can also be played in position 2 or 3 solo lanes, with a serious option as a semi-carry.
In terms of abilities, you start leveling up both Open Wounds and Rage, with a single point in the passive ability, Feast for survival in the laning phase. Depending on how the game is played out, priority is given to Open Wounds or to Rage (if there are many spells to avoid). Infest, the ultimate is to be taken as soon as possible. It not only provides an option to initiate but also to escape. He can infest any creep and take control of the unit’s ability to move and attack.
For items, there are many options. If you want to take the lead in the mid game, you have to move towards choices that will make Lifestealer effective quickly. Classically, this gives a progression of the Phase Boots type – Armlet – Desolator even Sange and Yasha (towards 20-25 min), then later of big items to ensure dominance in the late game, like Assault Cuirass / Basher-Abyssal Blade.
If you are going for a fast Radiance – Power Treads should be the first priority. The idea is to get out big items as soon as possible, without trying to participate much in the early game. You can try out various items that work well with this build. Solar Crest, Sange and Yasha, Nullifier and Bloodthorn are privileged targets in this perspective.
It is advisable to go Radiance against illusion heroes like Phantom Lancer and Terrorblade. Lifestealer has all single target spells except Infest. So the radiance aoe damage and miss chance is very helpful. Lifestealer can easily take down Roshan and enemy Towers.
His heavy damage makes him a formidable predator for all fragile heroes and his natural spell immunity usually saves him from buying a BKB. Coupled with very mobile heroes like Storm Spirit or initiators like Slardar and Puck, he makes powerful ganks and is clinical for victory in every game played. He has been nerfed a lot in the past patches, but still deals tons of damage in the early to mid-game.
As long as he does not have a Basher, Orchid Malevolence, or Nullier, Lifestealer has trouble catching his enemies if they have a way to escape under Open Wounds (any blink, Force Staff, fate increasing speed etc.). It must be accompanied by one or more heroes capable of immobilizing the opponents, or Lifestealer spends his life chasing after his targets without reaching them.
The Phase-Drums build seeks to compensate for this weakness in mid game also the movement speed talent is a must for the radiance built. Lifestealer deals a lot of damage, but it can be fragile as soon as it is stun or silence. He must be careful not to face natural predators (Ursa, Razor etc.), who can destroy him fairly quickly in 1v1 combat.