- 1 Support role – Position 4 guide – episode 1
- 2 Lane Match-up
- 3 Laning Details
- 4 I shall simplify the primary factors that affect the swing of the lane as below, in order:
- 5 Early rotations
- 6 Decision making
- 7 Due to article length, recommended heroes and itemizations of position 4s will come at a later article. Stay tuned!
- 8 Similar Guides
Support role – Position 4 guide – episode 1
Soft support (Better known as position 4) in Dota2 is arguably the most important position during early and midgame. Pos 4 is definitely the most artful role that I could say in the game. Your reactivity and awareness are of key importance because not only do you have to predict movements as per most roles do, you also have to react accordingly with conventional or sometimes weird tactics, such as cutting and double-stacking enemy creepwaves just so that your poor offlaner who’s getting pressured can get farm.
As a position 4, you need to focus on a few parts of your role like understanding early rotations, lane matchups, laning details, the transition between lanes and decision making. The guide below intends to close up more details about this unique role.
First of all, you have to be always considering the heroes and lane matchups right after the hero picking phase. You will have to decide, the heroes and laning matchup between you and your position 3 and enemies position 1 + position 5, whether it is a good matchup or nah. Good laning match up simply means your offlane duo can outlane the enemy safelane duo. Some combos are situational while some like Mars + Hoodwink are just outright broken. However, you might not get the ideal matchup every game, and you might face some weird counters i.e. an Ursa + Oracle who somehow does well or even counters the aforementioned offlane duo. What do you do next?
- Could you leave the unfavourable lane and go do something else instead?
- Could you gank mid?
- Could you trilane safelane and zone the enemy offlaner duo out?
- Could you double stack or pull enemy creepwaves so your offlaner can farm under tower?
- Could you spam pull?
- If all else fails, are there any heroes in your team that could clear ancient camp stacks?
There are (generally) two kinds of wards as a position 4. Offensive lane ward and defensive lane ward. This is an example of an offensive lane ward. You should have vision on the safelane small camp to prevent enemy pulls, and ideally vision on the enemy duo when you pressure their towers so you can dive / spot enemy TP backups. Useful when you have a stronger duo overall.
This, however, is an example of a defensive ward. With Mars being mid and Ursa + IO being pretty aggressive, your offlane duo probably has no chance of diving towers for kills. Go for defensive wards to prevent enemy mids or even position 4s from rotating down and killing you. Useful when you have a weaker duo overall.
You can leave the lane if the matchup is too bad for you to stay and have an impact. Bear in mind that, if your position 3 has no advantage against their carry, please DO NOT trade HP with enemy position 5. As a position 5, his role is to babysit and trade space for his carry to farm safely and your job is to apply pressure in the lane and create space. Hence, if the enemy carry has a favourable matchup against you, there is no point wasting HP since you likely couldn’t win the lane anyway, yet you might even create a window for the enemy duo to kill you.
In the early start of the game, just move quickly into lane and try to hide into the trees in order to place a lane ward. The purpose of doing this is to ensure that the enemy is not able to detect your observer in sight and time to move back and contest the first bounty rune. Heroes with mobility spells such as Earth Spirit and Puck can do this much safer compared to others, hence they should have ward priority. If you, as a position 4, do not have mobility spells yet your offlane does (Or he simply moves faster / has Boots), hand the Observer to him and ping the spot you should be planting.
Please DO NOT hesitate to use your spells to secure the first wave’s ranged creep and harass the enemy. After securing the ranged creep, pay attention to the clock timer as you will need to body block the enemy small neutral camp, especially if you didn’t ward block it. (Regarding this, it is almost never recommended to ward block camps in high level games because it’ll get instantly dewarded the next minute. You might get away with it in lower level games where supports are reluctant to commit money for Sentries though… in 3k MMR, the enemy Lion might be rushing Aghanims from minute 1 rofl).
I shall simplify the primary factors that affect the swing of the lane as below, in order:
- The carry’s HP and regen items left
If the carry isn’t healthy he couldn’t farm and has to either wait for his courier to ferry regen or just go back to base. Extremely disruptive if regen items aren’t ferried beforehand because couriers are super slow early game, you might as well just die. (Just kidding, don’t feed) For the position 4, if you have a ward that can spot the path behind the enemy tier 1 tower, you can camp and attempt a courier snipe the moment you see the enemy carry low and without regen.
- The offlane’s HP and regen items left
Same goes for the offlane. If the offlane isn’t healthy he couldn’t inflict pressure on the enemy carry, which basically means the carry is free farming. If the carry is a hero such as an Ursa or Monkey King who has high kill potential he might even die, causing the carry to snowball out of control.
- The position 5’s HP and regen items left
If the pos 5 is low, the enemy pos 4 and 3 will both pressure your carry. Pretty self-explanatory logic.
- The position 4’s HP and regen items left
Same scenario as above.
- Side pulls by the offlane duo
Not only does this mess up creep equilibrium for the enemy safelane duo, it also denies farm + accelerating the enemy offlane duo’s farm. It creates (or widens) the gold and EXP gap.
- Small camp pulls by the safelane duo
Same as above, just to a lesser scale.
- Creep equilibrium
Generally the stronger hero in the lane will get to control the creep equilibrium closer to their tower (or closer to the enemy tower, shall they actually want to push so their supports can pull, it depends on the hero matchup. Heroes like Spectre want to stay closer to towers, while heroes like Wraith King don't really care and probably want to push so his support can pull instead.) Disruptive creepwave pull / stacks by the enemy pos 3 / 4 behind the safelane tier 1 / 2 tower also falls in this category.
Basically, just focus on the points in order, depending on which one you can achieve. If all else fails, go gank other lanes or stack creeps.
Most of the position 4 heroes have little bit like a power spike at level 2 such as Tiny / Earth Spirit. If an enemy mid hero is an easy target for ganks such as Storm Spirit / SF / Zeus, visit them whenever possible and give em hell. Ideally you want to roam after pushing out the creepwave, so try to communicate with your offlaner beforehand, which also helps preventing your offlaner from dying alone and then wondering where his position 4 is.
If the enemy mid is a hero such as a QoP or Puck, you can forget about ganking them except if you are sure you and your mid can insta-kill them with chain disables.
Talking about mid rotations, always remember 3.45. It is when you have to rotate mid to secure the 1st power rune. The first power rune is a timing where you either secure the rune for your mid or even get a kill when the enemy mid tries to contest it. Your mid might even get a Haste or Invisibility which he could use to help gank your lane, too. After the 4 minutes power rune, you will have to decide where you want to contest for the 5 minutes bounty rune. Try to contest a bounty rune which may lead to a kill for your team. Playing around the runes is really important. Besides, the first catapult timing is the best timing as a position 4 to abuse. Check your lanes regarding any pushing potential in conjunction with the catapult wave and rotate / TP there, whether it may be your own lane, mid or even the safelane.
While position 4s are generally decent initiators, it would be even better if your cores have initiation abilities because that way, you can almost ensure a kill without you sacrificing your own life during the initiation process. There are too many Tusks snowballing in firsthand, throwing every spells and then only to die initiating because you probably only have boots and some random stuff that doesn't give stats early on.
Most of the time as a position 4, you will be doing all the initiations (at least for the early game where your Offlane doesn’t have his Blink yet), calling for smoke ganks and running between lanes. Your decision and call decides the early game and mid game a lot. While you generally start from the offlane, you have to choose two lanes that you want to play with afterwards, for example either midlane and safelane or midlane and offlane. (You can’t play both safelane and offlane for obvious reasons, except if you’re Spirit Breaker then fine you maybe could.)
While the position 4 Windranger has more networth (and kills) than the position 4 Nyx, the Nyx actually helps his team much more because despite not having the ability to farm as well as Windranger, Nyx creates terror even without networth. (He ganks even better with networth though.) Common mistakes of position 4s are building damage / carry items when his team needs utility rather than damage, which unfortunately happens in a lot of pubs, even in this game. (This is a low Immortal game, rank 1k+ average)
Also, some position 4 heroes actually do more by not showing, especially the infamous broken Nyx Assassin (after level 6) as of this patch and Bounty Hunter. Most position 4 will hit item timing at around 15 – 18 mins i.e. heroes like Tiny / Earthshaker have their Blink Daggers, while some heroes who rely more on level 6 instead of items can come online much sooner such as Nyx / Bounty / Puck. Remember to abuse your Blink pickup and call for smoke immediately after getting the item. During the midgame, you generally do not have to smoke your whole team. Ideally, a smoke squad of 2 or 3 is the best because you have two other heroes showing on the map so the opponent doesn’t suspect anything.
For some heroes like Nyx or Clockwerk, the game actually begins for you when you reach level 6. These heroes create more terror by staying out of vision. It creates a deadlock where the opponent will be reluctant to play aggressively unless you show yourself on the map. In fact, the lesser you show yourself on the map, the more likely each gank will succeed, which in turn will frustrate enemy supports so much they will spend even more on dusts / sentries / force staves depending on whatever your hero is.
Due to article length, recommended heroes and itemizations of position 4s will come at a later article. Stay tuned!
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