How to Play Offlane in Dota 2

In Dota 2, the offlane or position 3 role is among the most challenging. But it can also be one of the most fun to play if you know what you’re doing. Here are the fundamental principles of the role, know how to play offlane in Dota 2.

Stay Alive

To know how to play offlane in Dota 2 – the position 3 role, tends to be a challenging one. You’re often placed in a 1 versus 2 situation, and the enemy team will harass you non-stop. The goal for the first few levels is to stay alive. You don’t need to do anything fancy, especially if your hero cannot threaten the enemy duo.

You might get a good start if you have one of the two supports. For offlaners in Dota 2, that means getting a few last hits on the first creep wave and not allowing the enemy carry to deny your farm and experience.

If you’ve managed to stay alive for 4 – 6 creep waves, you’re probably already strong enough to start contesting the enemy farm. In some cases, you’ll be able to do that from the start. It all depends on the matchup and how strong you are relative to the opponent.

Because you’ll get harassed quite often, you must always bring a lot of regeneration items with you. Invest in mangos, consumables, and items that give you stats. Mobility can also be important, but the number one priority should be to become as survivable as possible. 

How to Play Offlane in Dota 2

Hinder the Enemy Carry’s Farm

Another thing when how to play offlane in Dota 2, as an offlaner, one of your goals should be to make the enemy carry lose farm. If you can make him lose even one creep per minute, that translates into several hundred gold over the course of the laning phase. And that gold difference will be felt in the first few fights.

It may make the hero easier to gank and kill. Or it may simply slow down his jungle farm. What may seem to be a small amount of gold in the late game is significant in the early game. Because the progress of the hero depends on it significantly. Even a 10% difference can ensure victory.

In Dota 2 as an offlaner, you should always check the enemy carry’s damage and strive to make it hard for him to last-hit creeps. You’re already in an excellent position if you can force him to hit creeps under his own tower. Ideally, he’ll want to keep the creep wave right outside the range of his tier 1 tower. Your goal is to disrupt that.

Pick the Right Hero for the Matchup

Your job will be much harder if you pick the wrong hero against a given enemy duo. Of course, you don’t always have the luxury of picking after the enemy team has revealed its carry choice. And that can lead to situations where you’re outgunned and counterpicked.

One of the core principles of picking an offlane hero is this: make yourself unkillable as fast as possible. Or, if you cannot do that, make yourself hard to catch. Some heroes, such as Dark Seer, are very difficult to catch because of their abilities. 

If you can blink, teleport, or run fast, the enemy duo will need to spend a lot of mana to kill you. And that’s not always an option.

Heroes like Bristleback, Tidehunter, or Phoenix are especially good in the offlane role. All of them have excellent defense capabilities that either minimize enemy damage or make the other team unwilling to chase you.

If you play your cards right, you often get the chance to destroy the enemy safe lane. Heroes like Slark, Anti-Mage, and Morphling are particularly weak in the first 5 minutes of the game. If you can force favorable exchanges and heal yourself while the enemy cannot keep up, your lane will be won.

Of course, that’s the ideal. In most cases, you won’t need to win your lane to do your job. All you need to do is to get enough farm and experience to further develop after the laning phase and to slightly hinder the progression of the enemy carry. If you can do these two things consistently, you’re an excellent offlaner.

Build Yourself into a Tank and an Initiator

Throughout the game, the role of the position 3 hero is to tank damage and initiate. If you can do that, you will greatly impact your team’s success. However, no two games are the same, and there’s no exact recipe that you can follow.

In some games, rushing a Blink Dagger is what will give you a big advantage. In others, making yourself extremely tanky will be the right approach. From time to time, you’ll be expected to buy a Pipe for your team or a Vladmir’s Offering. 

Based on the situation, you should focus on making yourself stronger or your team. What’s important is to have a significant impact and to offer the other team members the chance to use their spells and damage the opponent.

If your midlaner is constantly isolated and killed at the beginning of every fight, that’s almost guaranteed to result in a defeat. But if the enemy carry or mid gets killed quickly thanks to your intelligent actions, this is likely to result in a victory.

Always figure out what you need more of: armor, magical resistance, HP, mobility, utility for your team, damage, etc. Ask yourself: what would win us the game? What would win us the team fights?

Never buy an item without thinking about the specifics. In some situations, a perfectly standard item may not work. Take, for instance, a situation where you’re playing against a Venomancer. Rushing a Blink Dagger is almost guaranteed to be useless because against that hero, you will rarely get the chance to blink.

A better idea would be to buy a Pipe and protect your teammates with its active ability.

Posted by
William Westerlund

William is an author, editor, and an avid gamer with over 10.000 hours in CS:GO (Counter-Strike 2). He also enjoys playing Rust, Dota 2, and TF2 but never became a top 1% player in any of those games.