Position 4: Adventurers and Backpains
Position 4: Adventurers and Backpains. What should a semi support do? Here's an answer: all at once.
Position 4 is a farming support, aka "four", aka "offlane support" or even a theoretical "roamer". While hard carry at safe lane, mid laner and hard support are almost always tied to their responsibilities and the gameplay of these positions does not differ depending on the team's tactics, it is the hardlane duo that always has a diverse role. Pos3, or offlaner, is rigidly tied to their line; however, it can have tasks depending on the pick, strategy and enemy heroes. So, we can see the conditional Dark Seer / Sven / Pudge / Tidehunter / Bristleback / Viper - strong heroes who, alone, are able to withstand a pair of enemy position 1s and position 5s, gain experience, farm and go to make an impact when necessary.
And what should a semi support do? Here's an answer: all at once.
Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk, ex-pos4 player for NAVI, VP, Winstrike, and others:
Position 4 is a semi-support and semi-core, which has the most space for creativity, more opportunities to make an impact, and whose gameplay is tied to pure improvisation from the beginning to the end of the game.
In this article, we will analyze the most important moments of playing as an offlane support, try to understand the best heroes, enlist the arguments of pro-players (we asked Gustav "s4" Magnusson, Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk, Tommy "Taiga" Le and Alexander "Immersion" Hmelevskoy), build the correct sequence of actions and find out why Position 4 it is the most interesting role to play.
Semi Support Basics
The first step is tactics. Depending on your teammates, you need to think over the pick. Unfortunately, in pubs, the supports' burden is not easy: first picks, neutral ideas and the risks of being drowned with toxins. Consider the first pick's unspoken responsibility as an advantage because your pos3 will have to build on your idea. Remember: communication is the key to victory. In thirty seconds, you can discuss the heroes, synergies and tactics.
So, in order to determine which characters are better to be picked as Position 4, you need to assess your responsibilities in a particular match sensibly. There are three important aspects:
Nukes and constant damage dealing
Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk:
In the current meta, pos4 most often helps the offlane to set up the lane at the beginning, controls the runes, then, later in the game, stacks the jungle for the cores, pushes lanes or defends towers, often sacrificing oneself. Semi-supports cover their cores, take on the rivals' smoke ganks. Also, they are initiators. After getting Blink Dagger, they try to hide as much as possible from wards and creepwaves, thus creating passive danger.
We get a pretty clear description: a mobile hero that moves around the map, deals damage and interferes with the enemy's core hero helps on all lines, creates space and initiates, if necessary.
First of all, save items to help the team, then MKB/ Diffusalls / Aghanims.
Position 4 is still a support. Give the creeps to the hard carry and mid lane, don't forget about offlaner with the higher farm priority, so you will have to get what you can find.
Listen and follow teammates; they may need help. They might not need help either, which is also necessary to understand!
Offlaner, or pos3, is your starting partner. There should be synergy between the characters.
Pos4 Dota 2 Heroes
So we figured out what to do with the job description, now it's time to pick according to the meta.
Mirana, Earth Spirit, Disruptor, Earthshaker, Rubick, Grimstroke, Phoenix, Dark Willow, Nyx Assassin, Queen of Pain
Windranger, Pudge, Snapfire, Techies, Shadow Demon
YapzOr is one of the greatest Pos4 players and definitely the best Rubik of our time. Rivals almost always send Yazied Jaradat's favorite character to a respect-ban, and it was he (or the genius of Puppey) who introduced the pos4 Sniper+Aghanim meta.
. @YapzOrdota has just been drafted his 200th pro Rubick.— Ben Steenhuisen (@Noxville) May 22, 2020
Only 6 hero-pairs are above him: 3 are retired (Universe, Akke, Bulldog), 4 are TI winners (the 3 from before, along with KuroKy), and 2 are Rubicks (Kuro and Fy). pic.twitter.com/tT44XfqQLd
One of the best characters for the position, but quite challenging to learn. You have to practice the arrows, Mirana's movespeed is not that great and the increase in attributes is very disappointing. However, a 5-second stun, a three-charge (!!!) escape with a buff, an area nuke and invisibility for the whole team is pretty sweet. While playing Mirana, you need to get the right items, as well as practice launching arrows.
It would seem that Shaker is the ideal choice for Pos3. However, he is also suitable for soft support: all the same, the opposing team will not start gathering before 15-20 minutes, which means that the dagger can wait a little. Stack the woods, pull camps, get along with offlaner, ask for a bit of farm and voila, you can start making an impact. Initiation + damage is a very good combo.
Invoker's buddy will deceive anyone with kindness and frivolity. However, playing Rubick is a real test of skill. Positioning, a huge pool of support items and micro and macro; Rubick is a very serious weapon, unfortunately, only in the hands of a very skillful player.
Mireska is mobile, she can become invulnerable for a few seconds and hits painfully - a basic set for a character in Position 4. Her strong points are nukes and attack damage, so it is much easier to become a semi-core in the late game. Plus, she's cute.
The green fellow is hard to handle and will be second only to Rubick in terms of control. For the same reason, he is the second most valuable hero for a Pos4 pick. He is nowhere more mobile, deals tremendous damage, silences enemies, pushes other characters and can turn off the enemy team for a long time.
Summary: Almost all heroes suitable for Position 4 require a high level of micro and macro skill, which is greatly compensated by the impact they give. Practice makes perfect. And yes, first with bots, only then, in pubs.
Let's gradually understand the responsibilities of Pos4 in the late, mid and early game, and farm priority.
Pos4's task at the laning stage and the beginning of the game is to control the runes, harass the opponent's core and, for example, Crystal Maiden, help in the mid and/or easy lanes (if necessary), divert the creeps and stack the triangle. Your most important item at this stage of the game is the scroll of teleportation. As soon as your teammate is in danger, fly to the rescue immediately.
Gustav "S4" Magnusson, offlane pos3 player tells what he needs from his pos4 teammate:
There's a lot of details you have to do in lane, but most important is actually buying the right items, understanding what you need on what heroes and then your positioning on the lane is very important. Maybe sometimes you need to stand in the trees, so you don't get harassed by their support heroes. Sometimes you need to stand close to the support. But one of the most important things is actually pulling the hard camp for me, that makes me feel good as an off lane player because when the wave comes to me. So that's very important for a pos4 player. It's very important to have good teamwork between the three and the four on the lane. I think if the teamwork is not there, the lane is going to look bad.
In this case, it is very important to prioritize the map correctly. If your core's life is hard on the lane, but they are sure that with a little more help, it will be possible to catch up on what was lost by farming the jungle. If the Position 2 player loses the lane, it is better to help them, because the mid lane will obviously join fights with you before Position 1. And, of course, you don't need to leave your offlaner, especially if there is a greedy hero who needs fast artifacts. Keeping balance, being everywhere, managing to farm and giving away farm at the same time is not an easy task.
The further, the more responsibilities pos4 acquire. Closer to the end of the laning stage, depending on which of the lanes are won, you need to provide support on one or another part of the map and push the lane. At this point, you should form an understanding of which opponents' heroes are most serious threats, and how to deal with them: pos4 save build is more important than pos4 damage build, but if the gold and in general your team state allows you, becoming an additional core hero is acceptable.
- Tinker is blinking and spamming missiles? Wards, Eul and Atos will help.
- Enemy core disappeared from the map and does not show themselves for several minutes? It's time to block the triangle and/or woods.
- Is your core getting ganked? Jump into the fights, divert attention and sacrifice yourself, but only if the teammate has a real chance of survival.
- Playing against powerful heal and regen? Farm on Spirit Vessel (if offlaner doesn't have one) and Shiva's Guard.
- Does support nuker have an ultimate that turns fights against you? Track him down to a fight and try to turn them off with stun/silence/Eul.
- Is your team's pick weaker in the late game than the opponents'? Buy smokes, convince your teammates to attack and push.
Closer to the fortieth minute, you should already have a small but set of important artifacts. Actually, in the late game, everything will happen the same as in the midgame, except that in the fights, you will need to press more buttons. Life is easier if you chose the path of a half-core; however, half-supports still need to set wards, think about protective support items and try not to feed.
In general, of course, artifacts vary greatly from hero to hero. Melee characters need urns, armor and damage, while ranged characters need control.
Nevertheless, here is a list of universal artifacts for pos4:
- Eul's Scepter of Divinity - control, mana regen, movement speed
- Arcane Boots - yes, often full supports buy Tranquil Boots, and there is no one else in the team to solve the "I'm out of mana" situation in the middle of a fight. Moreover, AB can be disassembled and converted into other items
- Rod of Atos - control and stats
- Blink Dagger - mobility
- Force Staff - if you're tight on money but need mobility or have to save teammates
- Lotus Orb is an expensive but very useful artifact that will add armour and stats, and also allow you to save friends
Tommy "Taiga" Le, Team Liquid soft support
If you want to win games, you play like ten heroes that win the lane. If you win the lane, you will pretty much win the game. Because people with low MMR usually struggle, they don't know what to do after the laning phase. Win the lane and it's 90% to win the game. But if you want to practice and win, it's going to be a lot harder.
Lifehack: pull second waves. Let's say I play Willow, I just pull a second wave and then I keep pulling. I don't lane; I just get XP for myself. And then I go gank mid and safelane. My offlane is going to cry a little bit, but you can tell the offlaner to also pull. After you pull the second wave, he pulls the next one and you guys just don't lane — keep pulling. And then I connect it to the way behind your tower. Like that's how pulling works. If you can do that, then you will pretty much always, always have levels and XP. Both of you offlane and position four need to do it right, it's not that easy. You're going to need practice for it.
Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk
Pos4 half-cores play for themselves and try to find farm on the map in order to eventually turn into a full-fledged core. Also, the Fours are often required to buy team artifacts and auras in priority to help the team. A good "four" must have an impeccable micro, good macro, know the limits of their characters, their strengths and weaknesses, correctly and timely make decisions regarding item/skill builds, movements, etc. and is always in the right place at the right time.
Alexander "Immersion" Hmelevskoy, pos4 at NAVI
Everything depends on the hero. If you have a roamer, allocate resources and help your cores to farm. If you are not roaming, secure your offlaner's position. It is important to think about allied heroes and distribute your capabilities correctly, think more with your head, and not do the same thing every game. Do not repeat after everyone and come up with non-standard things to become a good soft support.
After hundreds of hours played as the fourth position, a huge number of watched professional matches and conversations with pro-players, it is safe to say that pos4 in modern Dota 2 is the most creative, interesting and exhausting position.
An unstable lane phasing holds the risk of death for you and your teammates, experience and gold losses and getting space for the enemy core. If it is impossible to farm artifacts, such heroes as Mirana in the late game ceases to be absolutely useless, if Pudge / Silencer don't get passives — they will die without any impact in fights, Rubick will also crumble without a chance to steal something important, and BKB's will nullify Earthshaker / Earth Spirit.
Playing pos4 is constantly surprising your opponent with non-standard solutions, monitoring the situation on the entire map, not dropping out of the game for a second, acquiring every untouched penny and entertaining your opponents (read: creating space for your friends). And sometimes you just want to calmly farm the creeps in the jungle...