This post is a continuation to a previous post on the same topic and in this thread I'll try and cover my opinions on which hero combinations might be best on the offlane. The previous thread can be read here:
Note: I play in the Heralds and I have like 50 MMR. Although this is almost certainly due to this harassment problem related to the Russian security services, but still my perspective is regardless limited to Herald games which probably are not that insightful
The primary principles of the offlane play
Playing on the offlane is about the position of the towers and the camps, and the distance from the towers to base, as well as the position of the outpost, and to some extent Roshan's pit. Safelane is called safe because the last hitting happens closer to the safelane tower in the laning stage, and because it's easier to pull creeps on the safelane side. The positioning of the outpost also has a slight impact, because in addition to teleporting to the tower, the defending side can teleport to the outpost. This results to that the safelane player can get more experience and can get the last hits in a safer way, thus allowing them to have a better start than the offlane position. Usually the safelaner is also the one who has some kind of a farming stage in the jungle, where they would alternate between farming the lanecreeps and then farming the jungle, but that depends on the heroes in the game and the strategy the players' have chosen to employ.
Containment of the Enemy Safelaner
The offlaner then seeks to restrict the starting gameplay for the opposing side's safelaner. So if the offlaner plays very passively, the position 1 player in the opposing team has a good start. One job then the offlaner can have is to try and make it difficult to have a good start.
The danger of having to last hit further away from the tower makes defensive and tanky heroes natural choices for the offlaner
The laning stage is all about getting last hits and denying them from your opponent. Around this minigame there's the ganking potential for both sides, you want to push your limit and manage the risk of getting ganked, and if there's a misplay from the opposing side, there can be a takedown, but primarily the goal is not to get takedowns, it's to use the pressure of takedowns to limit the opponents farming rate. If one side attempts to attack another, being to able retreat under the tower, where you will receive some additional armor and health regen, will help marginally with your sustain during the laning stage, but more importantly, the opponent starts to get hit by the tower when they're attacking you under the tower. So the closer you are to the tower, the shorter the window of opportunity for your enemies to attack you without getting hit by the tower.
Capacity to get last hits and pressure the opponents a bit is what defines the offlaner
The offlaner doesn't necessarily need to be a tank, or something that can just absorb enormous amounts of damage, but these properties help mitigate the risk of getting ganked during the laning stage, while you're away from the tower, and they also allow you to add an extra sliver of pressure on the opponent, because if you can withstand some hits from the tower, there's the potential – although risky – to chase the enemy under the tower and get a take down.
Chasing the opponent under the tower (on both sides) risks the middle laner joining the fight
Whether it's the offlane pushing into the safelane tower, or the safelaner pushing into the offlane tower, if the opponents chase too far and play too risky, there's a danger of the midlane player showing up to gank the opponents, and managing this risk is a part of the game, you've to have wards incase the midlaner gets a haste rune and shows up using that, and you've to be aware of the possibility of the midlaner simply teleporting to either tower and attacking the other side.
Blocking camps and pulling creeps
There are two camps relevant to the laning stage, there's a medium camp and a minor camp. The minor camp is on the safelaner's side and it's typically pulled by the support to shift the lane equilibrium closer to the safelane tower. There are many ways to pull the camp, you can do a partial pull, in which case only 2 creeps or similar, from the lane are pulled into the camp. The camp can be stacked first, which has the effect that you can deny an entire wave with the help of the camp, and sometimes even 2 waves in succession. This then causes that the enemy creeps run into the safelane tower, and the safelane carry can last hit those creeps under the tower. If there's a lot of pressure on the lane, as in the safelaner is low on health, the opponents are at full health and have some gank potential, denying an entire wave can be dangerous, it can result to the safelane carry getting ganked under the tower. Then there's the medium camp, which can be pulled by both sides. This is easier when some of the trees are cut, otherwise the pull timing needs to be precise to work, with slight differences between the Radiant and Dire sides.
Usually the pulls are done by the supports on each side, but sometimes the carries take the time to do that themselves for various reasons, but the normal way of things progressing, is the supports doing the pulling.
So one thing that both sides can try to do is to block a camp to prevent the other side from pulling. The offlane support can block the minor camp with a sentry ward, so that the hard support can't stack and pull the camp, to deny a wave from the offlaner. If the waves get denied due to repetitive stacking and pulling, then the offlaner gets no experience nor any gold from the lane. That means they're losing the lane and the game. Thus when this pulling happens, usually the other side tries to distract it. They'll try and get the lanecreeps while they're fighting the neutral creeps, or the support tries to interrupt the pull by attacking the creeps, and so on. Whether to block the medium camp is a bit more tricky a question, as it can be pulled by both sides.
You can also bodyblock the spawning of the creeps, by standing in the camp area. This is often done by the position 4 player on the minor camp.
Additionally if there's a successful stack and pull of the minor camp, on the safelane side, the opponents usually try to respond to it immediately, or if it doesn't happen on the first time, when the second wave is getting denied, they'll try to intervene. Sometimes, though I've seen it only rarely, there's counter-pull, if that's the term, which means that when the hard support pulls the minor camp, then the other side's support pulls the medium camp, and thus the lanecreeps from both sides are pulled. But this can be sensible regardless of what the other side is doing. However, this also includes a small risk of getting ganked by the midlaner, if the hard support stacks and pulls the camp and signals using a ping that they've done it, the midlaner can expect the opposing side's position 4 player or the position 3 player to try and intervene with it, and they might try and gank them when they do that, although at my Herald-tier games this doesn't happen a lot.
So often times there are rotations, someone else showing up on the safelane on either side, to try and gank the other side. This can employ smoke of deceit, especially if it's the midlaner doing the gank attempt, but also the position 4 player can sometimes rotate to try and get someone on the safelane. This is mostly relevant from the warding aspect.
So both sides want to have some kind of vision about the camps on the lane, in order to respond to pulling of creeps, and also in order to defend against rotations and gank attempts from players who come from somewhere else. So typically the supports have their own game of pulling and preventing pulling, warding and dewarding, while the safelaner and the offlaner are primarily focused on getting last hits. In addition to this warding and pulling game, the supports can also try to harass the opposing side. Placing wards efficiently is another minigame of it's own.
General laning principles also involve managing both sustain and gank potential
If your opponent can deal a lot of damage over time instead of a single spike, that can force the defending side to spend gold into sustain. Not doing so then increases the gank potential if you're not able to keep your health up high enough. One side getting a takedown on the other side, though, is not so much about the sustain, it's more about the total health and damage mitigation properties, but one side failing to sustain increases the gank potential for the other.
A player can commit to a fight knowing that they're probably not going to make it out of it, but also knowing that their team mate is probably going to get a takedown afterwards. This is typically something the supports might attempt to do.
So what then makes a good offlaner?
Being able to manage this risk of opponents trying to gank you far away from the tower, allows you last hit more effectively. Typically this means tanky heroes with damage mitigation properties and large amounts of health.
Having good sustain also helps because this indirectly prevents the gank potential increasing by making it harder to soften you up and force you to retreat from the lane.
Ranged attackers can also reduce the risk of getting ganked by last hitting from a distance. There's a downside to this, which is that projectiles have a limited speed and that decreases your precision when last hitting, thus decreasing your last hit count. For an example juggernaut with high attackspeed and melee range, might find it easy to deny against a ranged last hitter. Some ranged heroes have faster projectile speeds than others, like Sniper for an example, in addition to having a long range.
Having defensive abilities like Sprout that Nature's Prophet has, can help survive either by immobilizing your attacker to make your escape, or by sprouting around yourself and then try and TP out. This of course doesn't work equally well against all opponents. Nature's prophet can also shield themselves to an extent with their critters, as well as last hit with the critters, or even harass the opponents with them.
Blink abilities naturally increase survivability againts gank attempts like Anti-Mage, Phantom Assassin, Queen of Pain, Riki. But these heroes might have low health pool or low sustain, as a defect. The blinks can also help indirectly to pressure your opponent, because they know that they won't be able to runaway as easily, when you can chase them with your blink, therefore they'll have to sometimes start retreating earlier. But then this is partially mitigated by the tower, even if you have blink, chasing under the tower is still dangerous.
These properties also apply to the offlane support, with the exception that they don't need to be excellent last hitters.
Scaling is also a factor, depending on the team compositions. One approach is that the offlaner requires less itemization to be effective compared to the safelane carry, this also means that the safelane carry can be farming the jungle, while offlaner is getting active around the map. But this isn't strictly necessary, it's more a team coordination question, rather than offlane specific question.
Scaling is also a factor from another perspective. For some heroes it's a valid strategy to try and gain a clear advantage during the laning stage. Heroes like these are in so far as I know called 'Lane dominators', so some heroes are good for the offlane because they're strong early on and can make it difficult for the safelane carry on the enemy team to have a good game.
Additionally the team has certain kinds of potential roles and tasks that the heroes might have. The offlaner being a defensive hero, often has the role of initiating fights later in the game, because when they're a defensive hero, your opponents usually don't want to call you as the first target, and that means you have time to provide vision as well as distract the opposing side's heroes before a team fight. For an example Axe might blink in and literally taunt the enemy, and it might be disadvantageous for the team to start attacking axe, if the rest of your team is ready to join the fight within a couple of seconds. But this is also a team coordination question, and it isn't strictly necessary that the offlaner plays like this. However, it is something to take into consideration, that if you're taking an atypical offlaner, there might be a vacancy in your team regarding certain kinds of tasks, and how the team deals with that is somewhat questionable. Sometimes the other carries can be the initiator, or they're active early on or whatever.
Usually the Offlaner is also a team fight oriented hero, to an extent, but not necessarily. They might build items that help the entire team more often than for an example the position 1 player, such as pipe of insight, shiva's guard, and the like. Lotus orb, Vladmir's offering.
My opinions on which heroes are actually good on the offlane
Underlord is a team fight oriented hero, with an Area of Effect root, and Area of Effect damage spell. They also have a passive aura that decreases the basic attack damage of all opponents within a certain radius, thus helping the entire team with their abilities in a team fight. The ultimate teleportation ability is also clearly a team fight oriented skill.
Underlord is a strength based hero, although their stat gain is fairly low, only 3.0 strength and 1.6 agility per level, their base armor is relatively high at 5, and their passive aura makes them (and their support) indirectly more tanky. The root ability also increases both gank potential, as well as helps escaping and avoiding getting ganked. I think these properties make Underlord naturally good for the Offlane. However, I don't play Underlord at all because I find them a bit gross.
I think they're best played with a support that increases the gank potential against the enemies by dealing damage or to an extent by additional disables.
I think a good supports for the Underlord could be the following ones:
Pudge, Undying, Bounty Hunter, Hoodwink, Venomancer, Viper, Ancient Apparition, Disruptor, Enchantress, Jakiro, KOTL, Lina, Pugna, Skywrath, Witch Doctor, Elder Titan.
If I'd have to pick 3 out of these as the best options, I'd have to go with Undying, Enchantress and Skywrath Mage.
The reasons are also fairly straightforward; Pit of Malice allows Enchantress to dish out some damage increasing the gank potential. Undying is strong in the early game with the decay build into a Tombstone, and that's when you don't want to be in the Pit. Skywrath is a pretty heavy nuker in the early game and they're probably going to get Arcane boots to help Underlord sustain his mana, and as soon as they hit level 6, Pit of Malice becomes a free rod of Atos for the Ultimate.
Axe is a natural initiator due to his Berserker's Call ability, and his Counter-Helix ability allows the hero to counter some other heroes which the team might otherwise be in trouble with. Such as Chaos Knight or Phantom Lancer. Axe also has a high base health regen, allowing him some free sustain, their stat gains are decent at 3.4 strength and 2.2 agility per level, although their base armor is not great at 2.3. Axe can also mitigate some dangers related to creep aggro due to his counter-helix, because it can result to the opponents taking additional damage from counter-helix, instead of the creep aggro working for the opponents. Axe can also clear camps with the Counter-Helix, thus allowing him some farming capacity even without items. Their base mobility is higher than most heroes' at 310, thus further increasing the ganking potential on the offlane, as well as helping Axe make his escape.
I think good supports to go around with Axe in the laning stage would be the following:
Pudge, Undying, Dark Willow, Ogre Magi, Shadow Shaman, Bounty Hunter, Disruptor, Witch Doctor, Venomancer, Dark Seer, Skywrath Mage, Enigma, Sand King
If I'd have to pick 3 out of these, they would be: Skywrath Mage, Undying, Disruptor
The rationale is fairly straightforward and it's based around 2 factors: Axe doesn't have a slow of his own, and he has the Berserker's Call when he actually catches his opponents. Skywrath mage can provide a slow with the Concussive Shot, and Berserker's Call increases the chances of ganking someone during the laning stage, so Skywrath's Nukes help with that. Once Skywrath gets his Ult, the Berserker's Call sets up the Mystic Flare. Undying again same reason as before, the decay build up into Tombstone is strong early on, and the Tombstone Zombies provide some slow, which Axe is lacking, thus enabling Axe to catch his opponents and taunt with the Berserker's Call. Disruptor's Glimpse and Static Field abilities work with Axe's Berserker's Call, you can taunt them at the glimpse point and the Berserker's Call also sets up a Static Field, (or vice versa) basically extending the duration the opponent has to fight with Axe, thus chances of the culling blade takedown increase, additionally Disruptor's magic damage is reasonably high contributing the gank potential. I'm not sure if these are the best picks, perhaps Undying is the most dubious choice, since the duo still doesn't have a real slow.
For lategame there are also other heroes that work well with Axe, but I'm thinking more about the laning stage.
Some other picks in no particular order: Bristleback, Morphling, Wraith King, Slardar, Lycan, Legion Commander, Riki
In this section I'd like to discuss some other Offlaners that are atypical compared to the usual offlaners, heroes that might not fit the standard team roles, but which for one reason or another can be played on the offlane.
Pangolier is played a lot on the offlane, but they're a bit atypical. They're not super tanky, and before they hit level 6, they don't really have a lot of sustain or escape abilities. Shield Crash is a defensive ability, and Swashbuckle can be used defensively. However, they're regardless pretty strong in the offlane despite being a bit different. They're good at clearing waves especially after getting a javelin with Swashbuckle, and can deliver fast burst damage with Swashbuckle. It also allows Pangolier to chase his targets and it also allows escaping targets due to the initial movement. Once they get their Ultimate they can also fill the initiator role. Their ability to put pressure on the safelane carry is though what make them a good offlaner, in my opinion, opponent kind of needs to be on their toes about whether they can handle being on the receiving end of the Swashbuckle.
Sniper on the offlane is fairly atypical, because they're not tanky at all. Instead they have something most ranged attackers don't have, which is very high projectile speed. This allows them to keep some distance from their opponents and still manage to last hit effectively. But this might cause some issues with the team coordination side due to the team not having a typical tanky character on the offlane spot, and might also place some special requirements on what kind of support you can play with. If both supports are squishy there can be issues with that. Sniper might not be able to put enough pressure on the opposing side's safelane carry, and despite their range, they're still somewhat at a risk of getting ganked. (Ps. Don't send me Hate emails if you lose your precious MMR points after reading his section <3)
Queen of Pain
Queen of Pain has the blink, that allows them to escape takedown attempts. They also have the shadow dagger throw, which eats away at the opponents sustain and can potentially lead to a gank. Their ability to chase their target with blink can also add some pressure. But the Queen is not very tanky, and they don't have natural sustain, so you probably need to have a very tailored support pick to make this work well. Once they get enough points into their AoE they can also clear waves reasonably well. But they're also a ranged attacker and having to escape from the lane can also mean you're not getting those last hits. I'd still like to include the Queen here as an alternative approach to the conventional style of playing the offlane.
Phantom is an unusual hero in that they have evasion from their Blur ability, and an upgrade to that from the level 20 talent. This makes them indirectly somewhat tanky, but only when facing right-clicks, and not necessarily in the laning stage. They also have the blink, albeit it's more restricted than QoP's blink, because you need a hero/creep to target, but it also comes with some extra ganking potential. The Stifling dagger can be used to last hit at a safer range, and it can also be used to slow down pursuers as well as chase those are escaping your takedown attempts.
This post turned out to be way longer than I intended
So I'll have to cut the content here. There probably some dubious thoughts in this post, and I would appreciate your feedback.
What's your favourite offlane combo of heroes? Write a comment with your opinion.
I'm looking for people to play with
I'm rated between 0 and 500 MMR fairly consistently. I've tried looking for people, but never found a consistent bunch of people to play with despite posting on Reddit, and facebook and joined pretty much every DOTA2 themed discord I could find, and posted bunch of looking for players messages on them. Unfortunately there was just a handful of people who sent me an invite and I end up playing mostly soloqueue, but if you'd like to add me to friends list then please do, the Steamid is:
Then go ahead and invite me to party!
- EU West and US East (Occasionally EU East, Russia, esp. when queue captain's mode)
- +18 only
- Herald, Guardian, Crusader, Archon
- I enjoy all positions 1-5
Note: I receive harassment related to the Russian security services in DOTA! This started in real life long before started playing DOTA. I'm mentioning this to deter future trolling and to warn those who don't want to deal with anything of this sort.
I have this twitch stream set up, although currently not using a microphone or a camera, but I have enabled the full screen record mode so you should be able to see me write this thread for an example. You can visit the stream from the url posted below. Unfortunately I don't know how to enable a notification for Twitch chat
- How to win the offlane as a Pos 4 support – A laning stage guide
- Offlane tactics: Dragging the creep waves – pros & cons to the many choices
- So you queue pos 5…
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