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The Universal Truths of the Offlane

Dec 202017

The offlane is one of the most dynamic roles in Dota 2. Not only does it change from patch to patch, teams have wildly different ideas on how the role should be played. This diversity is one of the reasons why Dota is such a fascinating game, but there are some universal truths that stay constant for every single aspiring offlaner. 

As one of the most accomplished offlaners in Dota, Saahil "UNiVeRsE" Arora has survived unfavorable metas, nerfs, and more than a few obstacles. He shares some key insights on how to become a successful offlaner. 

[Editor's note: This interview was conducted before UNiVeRsE parted ways with EG]

Do More With Less


I think the current patch is better for the game because you actually have to be really good. To be a good offlane player you need to be a player that’s good at doing a lot with very little resources. Whereas before, you would have tons of farm and it was basically like having 3 core roles. It wasn’t really very defined, with an offlane, safelane, and mid.


Before this patch I think offlane was more of a farming role. You got a lot from the offlane because the creeps met closer to the off-lane tower. So the offlane normally got a lot of farm, and honestly the offlane was like the safelane in that patch. But with the release of 7.07, they made the creep equilibrium closer to the safelane tower. That means that the offlane is more like a sacrificed role now. It’s a true offlane, a true hard lane — whatever you want to call it.


Sometimes You Need to be a Little Crazy


The Iron Talon was part of the offlane for a long time and they removed it in a recent patch, so you can’t just hop into the neutral camps when you’re having a bad lane. It just means that you have to be a lot crazier to try and get experience versus before where a safe kind of playstyle was better. You can just sit back, farm jungle, and it’s risk free with plenty of gold and experience for playing that way. But now you can’t really do that, so you have to be a little bit more wild in the offlane.


I’m not historically a crazy offlane player, I’ve been more of a safe and stable player. But the patch changes things. I think I’ve already succumbed to the craziness. I’ve stopped caring as much if I die trying to get experience. If I die, that’s just life, you know? The way the lane is right now, it’s much better to die and get experience than just sit there at level 1 and not die. 


Learn to be Independent


I’ve been playing a lot of heroes again, but I enjoy playing Clockwerk in pubs at least. I think he’s a pretty fast hero so all I really need is to get something out of the lane. I don’t need help from anyone else. I can just cogs the wave back and get experience myself, and at level 6 I can just run around and kill stuff. I don’t really have to farm very much so it’s good for me.


Independent offlane heroes are good for me, because I tend to let supports make their own decisions. If they want to help me or if they think they can help me, I’ll let them come down. I will never drag supports to my lane. Because if I’m losing my lane, then I just assume the other two lanes are going to win and winning 2 out of 3 lanes isn’t so bad.


Adjust Your Playstyle and Hero Pool to the Patch


The way the offlane is played changes patch by patch. Icefrog might make small tweaks to the jungle in the next patch, and then the current playstyle won’t be the way to play anymore. We’ll just have to see. Consequently, offlane players need to adjust, not just to their lane, but to the way the rest of their team plays in the patch.


Overall, I think I do well when I have cores that farm a lot because I don’t really like farming that much. So it just makes sense for me to use less farm dependent heroes to complement our team that way. Offlane Bane was something that I spammed a lot in pubs and he’s a super strong laner, and I thought, why can’t we just pick it? And the team told me that if I think it’s good then we’ll try to make it work.

Different Teams Need Different Offlanes


A good offlane hero changes from team to team. For us, it’s a hero that is self-sufficient and plays more off his abilities than his items, because you’re not going to get many items playing in the offlane this patch. So someone with good spells for the team.


For example, Puck’s skill set is more of a utility skill set so it makes sense to put him in the offlane. If you ever get to late game, he even has a strong GPM talent if you need it. 


Teams that don’t have farm-dependent cores like Team Secret can make more farm oriented offlaners work. Ace can be less farm-dependent than some other cores, so it frees up stuff for the offlane. The offlane hero can be a bit more greedy in this case.


If I’m playing a greedy hero then I just need help from my team because I’m probably not going to get anything from the offlane right now. If I’m on a utility hero, then I’ll basically say, “Don’t come to my lane unless you think we can get a kill.” I’ll just get what I can and then make space for the team afterwards.


Focus On the Laning Phase


The change to denies makes laning a lot more important than before. Before, even if you get denied, you’d still be able to get experience. But in this patch, if you get denied over and over again you’re not going to get anything. It just makes laning so much more important. If the other team kills a low level offlaner you don’t really care that much if you’re trying to get something out of the offlane. 


Another thing to consider is that Valve changed the way denies work. If a creep dies to a neutral, it used to be that you’d get less experience. But now you get full experience if the creep dies to neutrals. I just think it was just a slight buff to the offlane because they nerfed the offlane with the creep equilibrium. So I think Valve just decided, “if the offlane is going to get f***ed, I guess we’ll throw it a bone.”


There Is No One Way to Play the Offlane


I think there are a lot of different way to play the offlane this patch, so it gives players a lot of room to be creative. You can basically pick almost any hero; you just have to know how to make it work in a different way. I would say there are three ways to play it, but I can’t tell you what because that’s my own personal secret.