Patch after patch the offlane is becoming harder and harder to play effectively. The inability to pull the first wave, creeps meeting closer to the enemy tower, and the predominance of support heroes have made the offlaners’ life miserable and the “suicide” lane worth its title.
Gone are the greedier semi-cores and farming heroes in the offlane and their place are once again taken by heroes who can withstand punishment, don’t need much in terms of gold and XP, but can still bring a lot of utility to the table when the time comes.
While for many players it means they don’t get to play an extra carry for their team, the changes to the offlane are overall very healthy for the meta. Teams now either go for dual lanes, tying up supports in the sidelines and allowing their mid players show off their prowess. Or they pick dedicated offlane heroes, substantially increasing the diversity of the picks. Today we would like to discuss these unsung heroes in greater detail, highlighting the most successful offlane heroes in the meta.
Doom is an incredibly powerful hero in the current patch. Whenever he has his ultimate up, he essentially becomes a 1 for 1 trade against an enemy core, coming from an offlane position of relatively low farm and experience gain. That makes teamfights extremely efficient for the team with Doom and forces the enemy to either play extremely cautious and find an angle of initiation to kill Doom quickly, or respect the cooldown and only become active once Doom is on cooldown.
He is also one of the few heroes who can be absolutely devastating in lane. Doom forcers the enemy supports to pay attention to him, since very few carry heroes can stand 1v1 against Doom and his Infernal Blade spam.
Later on, especially come level 15, Doom starts accelerating incredibly fast, allowing him to purchase much needed team items. There is a clear shift in Doom’s item progression: early on all the hero needs is mobility and initiation tools, but as the game progresses and his damage starts to fall of, he really wants to have means of helping his team through other means.
The typical progression for Doom these days is Blink Dagger and/or Shadow Blade, followed by Shiva’s Guard or as many other auras as possible. When dealing with highly spread physical damage, going for Crimson Guard is a safe bet. Against Zeus and the likes, Pipe can never be bad.
The fact that the hero can afford all these things by the mid-late game is one of the main reasons he is so popular: their effect might not sound much on paper but it makes a lot of difference in engagements, turning deaths into close escapes and potential re-engagements.
Beastmaster is another example of an extremely tough laner. He has a very good HP pool and deals a considerable amount of damage with Wild Axes. Standing 1v1 against Beastmaster is equally hard for the enemy carry and he does require attention of the enemy supports.
Later in the game he offers one of the best catches in Dota: a 3-4 second spell immunity-piercing stun is no joke and it can be used as a means of initiation as well as a way to counter-initiate on a BKB target.
But the hero is probably best known for the massive army he brings with him: all his summons play a crucial role in his prowess. Hawk provides massive flying vision for the hero’s team and that generally means they will dictate the start of engagements: it gives the team better options for initiation.
Every other summon the hero has also benefits greatly from the Inner Beast aura and under the effects of Primal Roar speed boost and damage amplification of Wild Axes, Beastmaster has very high solo kill potential.
To top it all off, the hero is incredibly reliable in terms of his gold income. Wild Axes allow him to farm neutral camps in-between fights or when the lane gets too tough and that ensures a steady income. Unlike Doom, Beastmaster doesn’t get a sudden spike in gold influx, but rather has means to make guaranteed progress through his items, regardless of the situation.
Axe wasn’t a part of professional meta for a very long time, but it seems the hero is making a comeback. Unlike other heroes in this list, Axe is not so gold independent and he does require a certain amount of farm to be effective. He also needs a decent enough start, for him to turn into a non-factor. However, when Axe has a good start, the enemy is almost guaranteed to have a bad game.
Spell immunity-piercing disable — this alone is already enough of a reason to consider Axe. The cast point on Berserker’s Call might have increased and it is definitely easier to react to, but for the most part it does it’s job as effectively as it ever did: it prevents the enemy cores from attacking the targets they want to attack, while also leaving them exposed.
Couple it with the fact that the recent trend of maxing out Battle Hunger makes Axe a hard target to lane against in certain situations and you have a hero who is capable of disrupting early farm of the enemy core, can potentially go jungle and find some reliable source of income and has incredibly high utility at all stages of the game after he gets his Blink Dagger.
Moreover, the hero is also capable of dealing considerable amounts of damage, at least until the very late stages of the game. Counter Helix can potentially melt squishy enemy cores who rely on Armor for survivability, while Blade Mail can extend the duration in which Axe’s damage output is a factor. Changes to the latter in patch 6.87 made it a lot worse against heavily armored targets, but it is still damage and sometimes it will be enough to push the enemy hero below the Culling Blade threshold.
Community often exaggerates the impact of the patch and the “offlane is dead” narrative was getting a bit too stale. The simple fact is, while offlane is definitely much harder than it used to be, it doesn’t mean there are no heroes who can lane in it. It means that one doesn’t get to play a third carry for his team.
It is understandable how it can lead to a certain degree of frustration. Everyone wants to deal damage, be the deciding factor in the match and carry his team. But Dota first and foremost is a team game and sometimes we need to take one for the team. Support players do it all the time and it is time for offlane players to go back to their roots and maybe pick a utility hero instead of yet another DPS core.