Whenever someone new picks up Dota as a game, often you’ll hear advice such as “play Dota with a friend, it makes it easier and more enjoyable”. In fact, we wrote a blog on heroes your loved ones could play with you if you decided to introduce them into Dota 2. Laning together with your friends is not uncommon, if after all you do want to have fun.
Outside of the beginner scope though, there are numerous dual lane opportunities that allow you and a friend to have fun and win. There are timeless classics that most people know of, such as a variety of Tusk or Tiny combinations. But these are just a fraction of combinations you can run.
First, what are the advantages of a dual lane? The most common dual lane is played in the safe lane. A classic carry and a support will be here to secure the carry’s farm and ensure the offlaner does not gain as much. The alternative is to have a dual lane in the offlane. The primary goal here is to contest the safelane and hold down the enemy carry as much as possible.
There are of course also dual lane combinations for the midlane--the ever so popular Tiny+ Io combo comes to mind that is especially popular in the pro scene. The same concept of the safelane applies here, where securing the farm is the top priority while keeping control over the runes, and thus having a more stable laning stage.
Overall, dual lanes provide reliable experience early on. In trilanes, one support usually suffers heavily, possibly both, but in a dual lane, the support is guaranteed more exp while also giving more to the carry.
We discussed it before, but there are several heroes in Dota that have proven to be extremely flexible in regards to laning. Some of them can be considered top picks for any scenario, and you can almost never be wrong by picking them. Bane is a prime example here. He provides everything you could want out of a dual lane support. He needs the xp from a dual lane scenario, he can zone out the offlaner with Nightmare, set up a kill or prevent him from contesting pulls, while Brain Sap allows him to trade favorably.
Io is very mobile and has a long range, while his Spirits are a nuisance to deal with. The sustain he can provide in the lane makes it easier for the carry to lane and possibly even be aggressive.
Well rounded carries for dual lanes are usually those who benefit from the xp and kill potential, while also being durable enough to last hit under a tower during a pull.
Juggernaut is always a stable pick as we recently discussed, especially in dual lane scenarios. His mobility, his damage output and the sustain through a value point in Healing Ward make his lane difficult to contest.
Slark is also a hero not to be underestimated in the laning stage. Unlike many other carries, he can in fact set up a follow up stun or nuke from his support.
What combination of heroes you should go for always depends on the enemy offlaner. Does he require heavy nuking to be effectively zoned out? Is zoning him out rather difficult, so that you can only hope to not let him farm? Can he contest pulls, and if so, how reliably can he do that? Can you expect to kill the offlaner? Once you’ve established these conditions, that is when you start to plan out your dual lane.
If the enemy offlaner is weak and has no innate skill to escape with, exploit it. Slark can devour offlaners who aren’t tanky or can get away from his Pounce. Together with Dark Pact and Dazzle’s Shadow Wave, there is sufficient amount of burst damage to take down a hero. Grave also allows Slark to be more aggressive and provides a backup in case the offlaner is aggressive himself. To top it all off, this combo proves to be strong and reliable outside of the laning stage as well.
If you wish to zone out the offlaner, Skywrath provides the sufficient amount of nuke damage through Arcane Bolt to do so. He can usually zone out enemy offlaners far away from the creep wave. Phantom Assassin’s ability to either jump into the action with Phantom Strike or to nuke from a distance with Stifling Dagger allows her to help in either zoning out the offlaner or even killing him.
For the midlane, it’s important to have mobile heroes and/or heroes that can contest the runes reliably. Often times engagements will occur every two minutes just to secure said runes, so having reliable slows, disables or escape mechanics is vital.
It’s also worth noting that a dual lane mid has the biggest drawbacks out of any dual lane constellation, as the midlaner will lose crucial xp. Thus running a dual mid is usually only done to secure your own farm safely, if the mid match-up is considered unfavorable, or if there is an opposing dual lane mid that you need to save your midlaner from.
Lina by herself is a strong laner, but with a set-up from Bane she can easily net kills early on. Both are able to harass efficiently, while also staying safe through long range and Bane’s Nightmare End.
Lich is another hero who excels in most dual lane scenarios. He works best though if he can use his nuke aggressively as well. Leshrac has a high damage output early on, if he can hit a Split Earth. The slow from Lich’s nuke is a sufficient setup. [missing skill: lich-sacrifice-5136] helps pull back the lane and makes it easier for Leshrac to lasthit, who’s right-click damage is not the strongest and could thus use the assist. Also, the lane tends to push out whenever Leshrac uses a spell to harass or kill with, so being able to balance the equilibrium out is a huge advantage.
This is where dual laning becomes tricky. You want to be able to reliably contest pulls, contest the farm and can’t be too squishy to give away kills. There are popular combinations with heroes such as Undying, heroes who are difficult to kill and annoying to deal with. But there are some heroes who require a bit more action and that have implications outside of the laning stage.
Through Chilling Touch and Geminate Attack, one can deal incredible amounts of damage early on. Both Weaver and AA are ranged, giving them the ability to harass efficiently. The slow and vision from ice Vortex should also not be underestimated and Shukuchi and The Swarm allow them to contest pulls reliably. They are squishy and suffer against disables, but can punish a weak safelane quite severely.
Lifestealer is one of the go to heroes in aggressive laning scenarios, as he is born to fight. Rage protects him from any counter-initiations while Open Wounds and his high movement speed are true nightmares for any support. Together with the setup from a support Lion, the enemy safelane will need lots of regen and defensive abilities to sustain.
While we did list a few combinations that are worth trying out, these are just merely examples of greater concepts. Many of these heroes are interchangeable with other heroes. Constructing any laning combination requires the knowledge of what you want to achieve and how you wish to achieve it. Break it down to simple terms and ideas. We need a slow, we need a stun - how about Crystal Maiden? Set goals for the laning stage and plan with your partner on how to accomplish it.
Simple goals such as “Let’s try to zone out the offlaner so he does not get any exp until minute 4” help you choose a hero. Make sure, however, that you fully understand the power levels of your enemies in the lane at any time, so that you know when you can or cannot play aggressively.
At the end of the day however, Dota is still about fun. If you prefer running that Tiny + Centaur combo because it is more fun to execute, then who’s to judge you?