Before we start with our guide to laning and positions, let’s get a couple of things straight. Anything can work. Not everything does work, of course, but pretty much anything can.
We’re going to go over the role of each position. This includes reliable hero choices and how they can be most effective to ensure you walk away with that sweet +25 MMR.
Dota 2 Positions
You can think of the numbering as the farm priority scale. If your position 2 and position 4 are in the same place, for example, then the farm should always go to position 2.
We’ve pitched this guide to laning and positions at everyone from unranked players and Heralds to those pushing Ancient. Pro players are welcome, but this probably isn’t for you. The pro players could beat the rest of us while playing as a permanently silenced Skywrath Mage with two wet pool noodles instead of wings.
Miracle, N0tail, SumaiL – you can probably skip this guide.
Position 5 – Support
Common Heroes – Lion, Rubick, Shadow Shaman
In his quest to boost his MMR in pub games, Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner has taken an interesting approach to his support game. His philosophy is to assume you are the best player on the team, take as much farm as possible in the lane and get as many kills as possible. This won’t work in your pub game. Here’s why.
The role of the position 5 support is to give your carry space to farm. You do this by zoning offlane heroes, maintaining lane equilibrium and stacking camps.
Let’s imagine you’re playing an ideal safe lane support like Lich and you take all the lane farm. You might get Aghanim’s Scepter faster making you better in team fights, sure, but your carry is going to be completely starved and will fall behind, making them worse.
Zoning, stacking and pulling properly can make a 3k MMR carry play like they’re 3.5k MMR. If you give them space and help them transition into the mid-game with an advantage then you are in a better position to win as a team. Much better than if you go into the mid-game with Guardian Greaves and they go into it with brown boots and a Magic Stick.
Position 4 – Support 2 / Roamer
Common Heroes – Pudge, Earthshaker, Tusk
This is where you can get a little more creative with your hero choices. Depending on your offlane pick you might decide to play a roaming hero.
It’s tempting, but be careful about the amount of time you spend off lane looking for kills. Roaming heroes, if played poorly, can quickly fall behind in experience and gold and become fodder in the mid-game.
A safer option might be to pick a great zoning hero like Witch Doctor or Undying. Both have decent kill potential, good self-sustain and both can make an enemy P1s life a nightmare.
Position 3 – Offlane
Common Heroes – Mars, Tidehunter, Magnus
The role of the offlaner is basically to stay alive. The offlane hero will be on your team’s hard lane against the enemy P1. You might even be solo. For this reason, survivability and escape abilities are very important.
Your job will be to soak experience in the lane and avoid giving away kills to the carry. Once the offlaner has their key abilities they can transition into a roaming role to get kills in other lanes.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your mid lane or support heroes. The last thing your team wants is for the enemy carry to accelerate ahead unchecked.
Position 2 – Mid Lane
Common Heroes – Viper, Kunkka, Puck
Depending on your team composition, a mid lane hero needs to have good early-to-mid-game kill potential without needing too many items to come online.
You will be trading early and often with the enemy mid hero and trying to turn any advantage into a kill, a gank or a tower push.
Since his Nethertoxin change in 7.07, Viper has been an exceptionally viable mid hero. According to Dotabuff, at the time of writing, he has the highest win rate in both Archon and Legend tiers and is in the top 3 at Ancient level. This is thanks to his highly valuable break ability.
He is currently a solid pick choice for a mid laner in almost every situation. However, if you’re looking to experiment, take a look at the 2019 Battle Pass for some hero challenges that might incentivize you to change your playstyle.
Position 1 – Safe Lane
Common Heroes – Anti-Mage, Spectre, Luna
Your role here is to maximize last hits and denies. A typical P1 does not become useful until they have a few items completed. With the help of your P5 (and P4 if you tri-lane), you may be able to secure some kills in the lane, but don’t over-extend. Be greedy with last hits, not with chasing.
Try diving into the jungle between creep waves to maximize your farm. If your supports have been stacking camps this should give you a big gold advantage. If they haven’t, don’t be afraid to stack a camp or two yourself during your downtime to accelerate you into the mid-game.
Some heroes need more babysitting than others. Until level 6 and without the help of support with good control, hard carry Spectre does not have much kill potential. Juggernaut, on the other hand, has great kill potential with Blade Fury and his passive Blade Dance crit. Despite both being carry heroes, they come online at different times and are strongest in different areas of the game.
We hope you’ve found something useful in our short but sweet guide to laning and positions. Play to win, but remember to have fun. It’s only a game after all.
And remember, no matter which lane you play on, and whatever position you’re in, if your team loses, it’s clearly all your fault and you should delete Dota. Omgwtfnoob.
Did you disagree with anything in this guide to laning and positions? Perhaps you have your own favorite heroes for each position? Let us know in the comments below.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattyMead2006.
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