Dota 2 - How To Lane Properly
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Being one of the biggest esports in the world, Dota 2 is definitely a very complex game. Even though it might seem like a pretty straightforward game, there are many obstacles on your way to the big goal - kill the throne of your enemy. After you learn what does every single hero and item do in the game, it's time to focus on some of the fundamental gameplay mechanics - the laning stage.
Having a good laning stage is one of the most important things because it will give you a sign of what will happen later in the game. In nine out of the times, a good laning stage is the key to success. Very rarely can you see someone having a dreadful laning stage and then actually winning the game (at least in pub games.)
Let's dive in and check some of the critical elements that you need to remember in order to have a proper laning stage. Keep it in mind that some aspects of this guide might change in the future because every single big update changes the game drastically.
If you ask a new player to Dota 2 when does the laning stage begins, he will answer: "When the creeps spawn." While this is true up to a point, it doesn't really show the whole picture. The laning stage begins immediately after all heroes are picked. There is a brief period (around a minute and a half) where you can move around on the map, place your wards or decide to do a five-man smoke gank. Whatever the case may be, always take advantage of that little extra time that you have, especially if you're playing support. Of course, the course of your action depends heavily on what position are you playing, but we will cover this later in this guide.
Before you start fighting on the lane, you need to buy some items. There were times where some players started without any items so that they can buy "a big one" from the side shop. However, after their removal in patch 7.23, this "tactic" doesn't work anymore.
The starting items you have to get on your hero depend heavily on your position in the game. If you're playing support, you will always have to buy Observers and Sentry wards, HP and mana regen, as well as a Smoke of Deceit in order to gank at some point. On the other hand, if you are playing core, you will mainly have to focus on getting as many starting stats as possible. This is especially true for mid, where you will most likely play in a one versus one scenario. Items such as Null Talisman, Bracer, Wraith Band, or just good-old Branches can do wonders in these scenarios.
Of course, let's also not forget about the consumables - HP and mana regen. Every single hero always has to buy HP regeneration from the start in the form of Tangos and/or a Healing Salve. Sometimes when you're playing mid, you might run out of gold and won't be able to buy Tangos. If that's the case, don't be scared to ask some of your teammates to "share" one of theirs. After all, you are playing the hardest and most crucial role in the game.
Prior to patch 7.23, the support heroes also had to buy a courier. This is an allied unit that helps you deliver your items from your base to your lane. This saves you a lot of time because if you don't have one, you have to go to your base all the time to gather your items. After the Outlanders Update, every single player has his courier, so the "courier issue" doesn't exist anymore. In fact, it plays a lot of other functions now as well, such as getting levels and carrying items that you might use later on.
Your typical laning stage
After you get your stating items and do your primary duties, the "official" laning stage begins. As we mentioned previously, your laning will depend a lot on what type of position you're currently playing. That's why we will divide this section into two - cores and supports.
The hero that goes mid, the carry, and the offlaner all fall under the name Core Heroes. As the name suggests, they are the "more important" heroes in the team that have a very different laning stage from the supports.
- Mid lane - the mid hero is perhaps the most important in the team because if he fails, the chances are that the entire team will collapse with him. As a mid-laner, you have one main thing to do - kill as many creeps as possible without allowing your enemy to do the same. In order to do that, you need to learn the art of "last-hitting," which can only be done when you play a lot of Dota 2. Getting the last hits can be comfortable with some heroes and very hard with others. Usually, the melee heroes in Dota 2 have an easier time last-hitting because they can buy an item called Quelling Blade that increases their damage against none hero units. Regardless of the type of hero you play, remember that you should NEVER auto-attack. When you start auto-attacking, you will always push the enemies' creep wave, which will make the life of your opponent easier. He will be able to get last hits under his tower, which is not where you want to be, especially if his team-mates start ganking you.
- Safelane carries - the name of this position says it all. The carry has one job in Dota 2 - to win the game for his team. In order to do that, he needs to get as many items as possible. Apart from getting last hits on creeps, gold can be earn when you kill enemy heroes. Unlike the mid heroes, carries are typically very vulnerable early on, which is why they always have someone to help them out - a support hero. Together, they have the hard task to survive against the enemy offlane and get as much "farm" as possible.
The safelane is usually the place where there is constant action early on, so be prepared to have some fun. Other than that, the same "tactics" apply here in terms of last hits, wave pushing, and not allowing your enemy to farm.
- Offlane - unlike the first two lanes, this lane is the least fun, at least for the people who are new to the game. Your primary job as an offlane hero is not to die too many items while also securing as much farm as possible early on. However, this is easier said than done, especially when you have to defend yourself against three enemy heroes.
We don't recommend you to play as an "offlaner" alone until you have a good understanding of Dota 2 because you will die way too much. However, once you are confident enough, the offlane is the easiest way to get MMR.
If you choose to play support (which we advise you to do, especially if you're new to Dota 2), your laning stage will be very different from the cores. We will divide this section into two - the "hard" support and the "soft" (a.k.a roaming) support.
- Hard support - this is the role that not many people want to play because it can get annoying sometimes. However, every good core player knows that hard support is THE most critical role early on. You have to take the role of a playmaker, spacemaker, guardian, and harasser, which is definitely easier said than done.
In a typical scenario, you will have to stay on your carries' lane until he gets strong enough to be on his own. While you're there, you need to continually try and harass the enemy heroes while also keeping yourself alive. In fact, that's one of the main issues when it comes down to the hard supports - they die really, really fast. Staying alive might seem like an easy thing to do, but believe us, it's not. The worst thing that can happen is you constantly dying, which will "feed" the enemy offlaner, and things won't go well from there. In order to prevent any unnecessary deaths, you can try to do a technique called "creep pulling." This is a little bit more complicated for new Dota 2 players, but the faster you learn it, the better.
There are situations where you and your carry will get a very solid start and crush the lane. If that's the case, it is advisable to move around the map and help your teammates on the other lanes. The last thing you want to do is just to do nothing.
- Soft (roaming) support - this is the hero that needs to make the big plays early on, which means that he has a tough job. In a typical situation, the roaming supports are heroes that have stuns or other disable mechanisms that help you secure kills. There are many good examples here, such as Pudge and Mirana, for instance, which are one of the most popular Dota 2 heroes.
Unlike soft support, this one should be a lot more aggressive and needs to move from lane to lane continually. It's widespread for roaming support to stay in the safelane early on, at least until he gets a couple of levels.
Sometimes, ganking might be very hard, especially if your team is losing every single lane on the map. If that's the case, and you're playing roaming support, you can always try to do a thing called "jungle camp stacking." There is a specific timeframe in which you can attack the Neutral creep camp, and if you time it right, it will spawn another stack of creeps. By doing this, you will provide a solid farming spot for your core heroes.
Regardless if you're soft or hard support, you should NEVER steal creeps from your core heroes. Remember that your job is to help them get stronger, not preventing them from doing so.
Dota 2 is a very complex game, so it's impossible to cover everything in one guide. However, the information here will be enough for you to get a general idea of what to expect from one of the biggest esports in the world.