Dota 2

Decision making as Offlane – The pos 3 guide

Content of the article: "Decision making as Offlane – The pos 3 guide"

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As an Offlane, your job is simple on paper. Pressure the enemy carry during laning, initiate teamfights, tank damage, etc. The guide below goes into detail which should you be doing in different situations, and how to transition your team from early to mid game as an Offlane and artificially generate as much gold as possible. (Without stealing farm away from your other cores who needs it more than you)

Each roles in Dota 2 has their jobs, similar to how a company will have different departments to achieve different objectives, yet all of them point towards the same thing. Run the company / win the game. Understand your role as an offlaner, don’t pick a Windranger and go MKB first item on an Offlane expecting to carry the game. That’s the job of a mid. You might get some kills and snowball, but a well-placed teamfight happens and your advantage is gone, then you realize from that point onward the enemy Centaur with a single Blink Dagger will have more impact than your MKB + Maelstrom “snowball-ranger” for the rest of the game.

Delay enemy timings and accelerate your team’s timings. That is the job of a good Offlane. Granted, everyone can do this, but this is the primary job of the offlane, especially against the enemy cores.

  • There is a limited amount of gold on the map and having that resource on the right heroes at the right time creates a “timing”.
  • A timing is a specific point where a hero is much stronger than usual (e.g. : Storm Spirit with orchid at 13-15 minutes, Sand King with dagger at 10-12 minutes, Faceless Void with MKB + BKB + MoM at 25 minutes, etc).
  • Generally, the only issue that position 1 or 2 heroes have are that they are not that capable of creating map pressure, or rather, it's not optimal to put themselves in risky situations to farm their items to meet their timings.
  • That’s where you come in, as an Offlaner, you have to recognize what plays are available and which combination of heroes in your team will result in a kill or an objective. What you want to achieve is map pressure so your position 1 and 2 can meet their timings safely.
  • Once a timing has been met, it is then possible to make a move as a team to perform pick offs and claim objectives and the game gets much easier to play from that point onwards.
  • A timing getting delayed can be a minor hindrance for some, and a major game-losing issue for others. A position 4 Earthshaker getting his Blink Dagger at 20 minutes instead of the usual 12-16 minutes can still create plays with the help of a well-coordinated Smoke of Deceit, yet an Anti-Mage getting an 18 minutes Battle Fury instead of a 12-16 minutes Fury may be game-losing.
  • With the point above, as an Offlaner, you also recognize which timing you want to delay. Generally, delaying the timing of the enemy carry always works well, but some carry heroes fare well against pressure or can afford to have their timings delayed a bit, for example, a Spectre with a late Radiance can still be dangerous.
  • Snowballing heroes also rely extremely hard on timings. A Tinker with an 8 minutes Travel will incite fear into the opposing team for the rest of the game if played well, yet a Tinker with a 15 minutes Travels will be a liability, soaking up farm from his own carry, because at 15 minutes a Tinker without Blink Dagger can be easily picked off while an 8 minutes Travel Tinker will most likely allow the Tinker to grab an early Blink Dagger as well. Not to mention, your carry might still be playing the lane at minute 8, while at minute 15 it is almost guaranteed that he will be farming the jungle.

The general pre-requisite for an offlane to create space and make plays are that the enemy tier 1 safelane tower should be down, but it is not a must. The most important thing to keep in mind is to enable your team.

Sand King is a well-rounded example of an Offlane who can initiate, has decent tankiness, can shove deep waves and farm dangerous areas. He can be played as an initiator with Blink, or a Crimson Pipe build if your team doesn't lack catch but lacks teamfight ability and survivability.


There are generally only 2 playstyles that are optimal for an Offlane and it is important to find the balance. Those 2 playstyles are determined by how much “catch” (the ability to initiate pickoffs) your team already has. Sometimes you have to itemize accordingly and supplement your weakness. For example, you are an Underlord and you are already capable of defending towers and you are sufficiently tanky but you and your team offer no catch, then the next logical decision would be to build a Rod of Atos. Preferably you want to be able to have the ability to defend towers as well as catch at the same time. In essence, the true purpose of the offlane position is to fill in the gaps of your draft's weaknesses either with your skillset or by building the right items.

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Recognize what your team lacks, and build accordingly to suit the needs.

Does your heroes lack catch? (e.g. a position 2 Zeus/TA, Position 4 Skywrath, Position 5 Lich) Then get an early Blink Dagger and move around as a team around the map without showing much on lanes. The main goal here is to fight away either from your main farming core (Pos 1) or make the opponents be afraid to make plays by limiting the information that you are giving out (e.g. Lich is frost armoring creeps and pushing waves and Zeus is nuking random waves from afar and nobody else is showing on the map) This creates a degree of uncertainty and makes the enemy be more afraid to farm to reach their timings because 1 blink stun + Skywrath ult and anyone can be dead. This results in artificially slowing down the enemy game tempo and timings and accelerates your own teammates' tempo. It is not a must but try and pick fights closer to locations where your Pos 1 can potentially join later on to clean up, if he is strong enough to do so. If your pos 1 had a terrible laning and only wants to farm, fight away from him. A useful tip when smoking as a team is to leave either your position 4 or 5 (The one without catch) out of the smoke to make it less obvious and have them show and hit creeps and let them connect to you when you find someone on the smoke. Functions as a great bait, too.

Notice in the Dire draft, the only heroes capable of providing a fair amount of catch ability will be a Rubick with Dagger or a farmed Void Spirit, which is why Slardar rushed Blink Dagger first to provide adequate catch and initiation ability to the team.

Do you have sufficient catch but no front line heroes or can't defend towers? (e.g. a position 2 Ember/Storm, Positon 4 Tiny, Position 5 Disruptor) Get items that make you more survivable and make the opponents commit more resources to kill you (Hood against magic-heavy lineups, Vanguard against physical) There are typically only 2 scenarios with some exceptions that will present themselves to you. Whether the enemy is pushing or if they are not pushing. What you want to do in the scenario where the enemy is pushing is to sit near which tower the enemies are going to push. Delay the opponents push as much as possible to enable your team to meet their timings. (e.g. Ember Maelstrom, Tiny Dagger, etc). Or if the enemy is not pushing, be in parts of the map that are awkward for the enemy to kill you and then take useful objectives which brings me to my next point, knowing where to play early-mid game.

Underlord typically isn't considered as the best initiation hero, but he is super tanky, great aura carrier and is generally a great counter-initiating teamfight hero. This Underlord did built an Euls to complement Pit of Malice as decent catch for Puck and OD though.

Recognize which timing you want to delay and for how long

A common mistake in lower MMR games (This scenario applies more towards mid players, but is still relevant for Offlaners) is that they tend to kill the same hero over and over again while ignoring other heroes. Happens a lot when they are playing snowballing heroes with high kill potential such as a Queen of Pain. Killing the enemy SF repeatedly in lane might be great and may be game winning in lower MMR games simply by breaking the enemy spirit and causing his teammates to flame him, but in higher MMR games the amount of time spent focusing on the SF is the amount of time spent NOT focusing on the enemy carry and Offlane, which will speed up their timings. In this scenario, you have a high chance ending with the SF counter-killing you once and taking away all your advantage because the enemy Offlane got a quick 12 mins Blink Dagger and decided to use it on you. Why? You didn’t focus him, and at the same time you probably have streak gold on you, and Shadow Fiend is at a disadvantage. Naturally, you’ll get targeted.

In this scenario, a better plan of action will be to kill the Shadow Fiend whenever you can during the laning stage, then after maybe 2 or 3 kills at most proceed to use your advantage to find the next important target. Check the enemy inventories for any valuable information. Enemy Offlane has a Hood? Probably not as dangerous, go for their carry instead. Enemy Offlane doesn’t have any major items at 8 minutes yet you’re sure he didn’t lose his lane that badly? Probably rushing a Dagger, focus more on playing his lane and taking his tower. Enemy carry building / built a Battle Fury? Good, that’ll be your target for almost the rest of the game.

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In this sense as well, you want to do the exact opposite for your team. Your carry going for a Battle Fury? Either play his lane and put pressure on the enemy Offlaner, or ready your TP scroll as skilled enemies will definitely try to TP to the safelane and try to take the safelane tower, then invade your jungle to prevent the Battle Fury from delivering value.

Maximizing map pressure early-mid game to make the transition from early to mid game smoother and knowing which part of the map to play.

For Dire, you do NOT want to commit anything for the Undying. This hero serves to die for map control. You should be aiming for the Anti-Mage to delay his item timings because if he snowballs chances are you're screwed, while Monkey King is also a snowballing core and has a fair amount of kills which will probably give decent streak gold. For Radiant, Void Spirit is the obvious target for streak gold, while Naga should be focused for the same reason as focusing the Anti-Mage.

Your options largely depend on how your laning stage goes

If for some reason the matchup is horrible, like a melee stength offlaner against Ursa/MK/Troll and you only have a boots + bracer + wand at 10 minutes, it's much harder to exert map pressure. However, that doesn't stop you from enabling your team and yourself. Determine which core in your team has a better game than you and go to them and make plays together. Typically either your mid or carry player would teleport rotate to the enemy safelane and kill or kick the heroes there out of that part of the map to push the safelane tower to open up the map but since the laning stage went horrible for you, or the mid player got camped hard and didn't get lucky on runes or just the circumstances in general doesn't allow the mid/carry player to rotate then the next best thing to do is to go to them and cause the enemy to react.

As a Beastmaster, it is a simple question of whether to request your carry to come and take the enemy safelane tower, or teleport to the bottom lane and take the enemy offlane tower, then proceed to invade their nearest jungle area.

The intent isn't so much as to kill or take objectives but to force heroes to waste their teleport scroll and be stuck at that part of the map. Becauce once that happens, you are free to either push the tower if they don't react to your rotation or free up map pressure and trade towers if they do react to you by having your team teleport to either the enemy mid or safelane tower. This play gives your team space to meet their timings. But 95% of the time your offlane rotation to the mid/safelane will result in a kill and a tower. Because it is pretty much a numbers game for the early-mid game. If you have more heroes than the enemy team, chances are things are going to work out. (If this example is unclear to you, understand that it is the same as the concept of split pushing where you splitpush a lane, force 1 or even 2 heroes back to defend, immediately teleport back to your team and attempt to start a 5v4 or even 5v3 teamfight. Pushing lanes also functions as pressure, pressure to force the enemy team to commit heroes into reacting.)

Also the same Beastmaster game, taking the Dire top tier 1 tower opens up the jungle for the Radiant to play. It allows Radiant to take teamfights in the Dire jungle and then proceed to steal the resources away for their own cores.

If the lane went even or you are ahead, the game gets much easier. In most cases, the very nature of an Offlane hero makes them inherently stronger than the carry hero with the same net worth, so the enemy carry would typically either retreat to the jungle or rotate to your safelane to push the tower as a team. Once that happens, there are 2 choices you have to consider. Should you defend your safelane tower or should you trade safelane towers with the enemy team. Obviously in a best case scenario you take the enemy safelane tower and defend your own but in most cases that should not happen. If it does happen chances are you are extremely ahead in the game as a team. The most important thing to keep in mind is to waste the enemies’ time. If you are survivable enough and confident enough that you will not die or if your death results in the enemy team losing too much resources (hp, mana, ults) to be able to threaten your towers with the help of your supports and you can deter the enemy push from your safelane tower, you have pretty much wasted 3-5 heroes worth of time and delayed their game as well as cause them to be stuck in a really awkward position of the map where they can't take objectives and their farm is limited.

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Despite going 1-3 early on as Beastmaster, taking the top tier 1 tower and a good teamfight in the jungle gave him 2 kills, which resulted in a 3-3 score. The Phantom Assassin, despite enjoying a great laning phase, is going to have his Battle Fury timing severely delayed as her jungle is no longer hers to farm safely. This is how good Offlaners get back into the game despite having a shitty laning phase, by playing relevant objectives.

Remember, do NOT afk farm as an Offlane. This almost never happens in high MMR games but I see it happening often in lower MMR games. You aren’t a carry or a mid no matter what you think or how big of an advantage you get in your lane. If you had a great matchup and stomped the enemy carry in lane, great. Get some pickoff items and incite fear into the whole enemy team. If you afk farm in lane, you are constantly showing on your lane which tells the enemy cores on other parts of the map that they’re safe. Worse, you may be taking farm away from your carry, which is indirectly helping the enemy because you’re going to fall off lategame and farming as an Offlaner will indirectly drag the game towards lategame. If you want to farm, queue carry. Offlane is for play-making chads.


Guide created by our coaches at Gamejitsu. Check us out at

Coach: Kazami, 7k MMR SEA offlaner.


Please let us know shall there be any errors in the guide, and we will fix accordingly.

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