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Countering Popular Offlaners

February 5, 2014 by Sando
Comments: 21    |    Views: 31637    |   



Introduction

There's a very limited pool of popular solo offlane heroes - with good reason, not many can survive the difficulties of handling up to three enemies on their own.

There are a variety of styles and tactics that offlaners employ that make them effective in their role. Most have great escapes, or some kind of health regeneration or invisibility. However, each can be countered effectively by making the right hero choices to stop them.

Minimising their impact on the game will make it much easier for your carry to farm, and also make them less of a threat to the rest of your team.

This guide will be looking at the most common offlaners and focusing on safe lane support hero picks that you can make to counter them.


This is a first attempt at putting something like this together, I think it's reasonably helpful but would welcome feedback on how to improve it. Requests for more *common* offlaners welcome if they'll be useful.

Winning the Lane

I've already talked about this at length here - essentially there are two ways to win your lane - either aggressively trying to take out the opposition player(s) or slowly wearing them down and making them play passively. Each has a right time and place to use.

The biggest thing to bear in mind when we're discussing these heroes and counters is that quite a lot depends on your carry hero - whether they have a stun, nuke or other useful abilities to get early kills or not. You might also have a mid player with early global reach like Invoker's Sunstrike...or be running with a roamer or defensive trilane. These combinations will allow you to be far more aggressive, and also to play other support heroes we don't mention much.

For example, I don't think the likes of Vengeful Spirit, Crystal Maiden and Shadow Demon really get a mention - what gives? Well, they are fantastic aggressive supports, but they require their lane partner(s) to be capable of following up to secure kills, which we're not assuming here.

Each offlaner has a counter-support marked with a * in either Green or Red. The Green represents the best hero for a harassment role - wearing down your opponent and keeping them passive when your laning partner isn't up for early kills. The Red hero is usually best when you have an aggressive carry or trilane and want to go for kills.

Aggressive Carries

Some carries have much more early game killing ability than others - although even a carry with just an auto-attack can get kills with a trilane, these heroes are the dual lane partners you want if you're playing aggressive.

With Stun/Nukes:



With Slows:



With Silences:



With Great Damage:

Priorities

While this guide will talk about which support heroes are most effective against particular offlaners, there are a bunch of other things to be aware of. First of all, DOTA is a skill based game, so simply selecting the right counter doesn't just mean you're going to stomp all over them easily, it just gives you the best chance.

The other thing to bear in mind when selecting supports is what else your team needs - yes, it's very important that you win your lane as well as possible, but you have to consider if you're going to have to hard support (buy wards, etc), whether your picks are weak on team fight and how your hero stacks up against the rest of their team. There's no point picking someone to counter only a single hero if the others will have you for breakfast.

Considerations:

- Will I need to hard support? Will that be ok with this hero?

- Is the team badly lacking in team fight? Are there any other reasonable counter-picks that have better team fight powers?

- Are we running a trilane, do we need a setup stun, or can I get away with an unreliable one?

- Have they got another potential offlane hero who they might swap with when they see your pick?

Dewarding your Pull Camp

Blocking pull camps is a common tactic used by offlaners at intermediate and above level play. By planting an Observer Ward within the spawn checking area of a neutral camp, no creeps appear, so they can't be used for pulling the lane back.

This allows the offlaner much easier access to farm and experience, and from much safer lane positions. It also denies some gold and experience to the opposition support hero(es). Knowing how to deal with this is very important for support heroes.

Hanging around near your pull camp before the creeps spawn can be quite a useful tactic - I've got first blood more than once by lying in wait for enemy heroes trying to ward on their own. If nothing else, you can drive them back, or at least know they're trying to ward it.

Wait to see if the creep camp spawns at 00:30, if it doesn't then there's a chance it has been warded. Some heroes can go invisible and stand nearby to block it (e.g. Bounty Hunter), got an illusion rune and used one to block, or used a minion to do it.

If you're pretty convinced the camp has been blocked, you're going to need Sentry Wards to get rid of it. There are two key things here:

- You remove the ward quickly, giving you a chance to stack and use the camp

- You place your sentry carefully, so you don't accidently block the camp with it


If you know your blocking placements, you simply need to keep your sentries just out of them, while still providing as much true sight coverage as possible. On the pictures below I've shown good sentry placements with the bright green circles, labelled 1 and 2.

*************PICS**********

1 is the first place you should place a sentry - covering the most ground over the likely warding spots. This means you hopefully don't need to place your 2nd ward and can keep it for other uses. 2 should cover all other possible locations.

The pink circles show most of the blocking zone, with smaller circles for other potential ward locations. Be aware that players will sometimes place wards between trees, making them very difficult to discover without using Tangoes or a Quelling Blade to find them.

Bounty Hunter



Strengths: Invisible, High Base Armour, High Damage
Weaknesses: No Anti-Push, Low Hitpoints, Melee


Bounty Hunter is one of the easier offlaners to counter - most support heroes can stand up to him pretty well, on the strict condition that they buy Sentry Wards so that he can be monitored and harassed effectively. If you have a kill-capable carry then pretty much any support with a good stun/slow will work.

This is a necessary investment in getting maximum farm for your carry, and minimum farm for Bounty. Ideally you can even get a kill or assist on him to payback your gold. Dust of Appearance is also an option, but will only for kills rather than lane control. He can dodge many abilities with invisibility.

Bounty is not particularly tanky, although he does have high base armour, and often carries a Stout Shield or Poor Man's Shield to minimise auto-attack damage. He's particularly vulnerable to nukes, stuns and slows as long as you have vision.

So how do you deal with him?

Bounty Hunter doesn't have a lot of lane presence, but can still be dangerous if you allow him to run around for too long without Sentry Wards. Depending on how passively he plays, you may not get many opportunities to go on him, in which case, starve him as much as possible.

If he does try to be more active, wait for the right moment to strike, and ensure you have adequate detection. You generally need at least 2 slows/stuns to take him down, and bear in mind that nukes are much more effective than autoattacks against him.



Best Counter Supports:



Lich - essentially unlimited mana from Sacrifice allows you to constantly barrage him with Frost Blast while also reducing his experience. Be careful not to take many Jinada strikes.

Ogre Magi - strong base armour and stats combine with a strong nuke/stun and nuke/slow. You can trade hits with him and maintain a threat, although you'll struggle to stop him farming a little without a reasonable carry.

Shadow Shaman - after a slightly dodgy first few levels, Hex and Shackle offer enough lockdown ability to allow even the weakest of carries to get a kill. Considerable pushing power from Mass Serpent Ward will make it very hard for him to hold the tower once you hit level 6.

Venomancer - even with his considerable right click resistance, he will have no fun at all against Poison Sting. Pushing power from Plague Ward also a threat and make it hard for him to hide near the lane without also going invisible.

* Warlock - damage over time from Fatal Bonds and Shadow Word also help to keep tabs on his location and cannot be avoided easily. Little more difficult to get kills as you lack a stun though.

Jakiro - you're tanky enough to trade a Jinada for a Liquid Fire occasionally, while the combined threat of Ice Path and Dual Breath can make for an easy kill if he gets out of position.

Lion - after a few levels you have plenty of lockdown, and can start harassing him with the Mana Drain/ Earth Spike combo. Finger of Death at level 6, not pleasant for him.

* Lina
- While you lack the disabling power of other heroes, your nuking power after a few levels is considerable. Easily enough to take him down when combined with an aggressive carry. Just be careful of his harassment damage, you're squishy.

Broodmother



Strengths: Invisible, Health Regeneration, Cross Impassable Terrain, Block Pull Camps, Movement Boost
Weaknesses: Low Hitpoints, Melee, Low Base Damage


Broodmother is one of the most difficult offlaners to kill effectively - you need a lot of stun/slow/damage to take her down, as well as detection in the form of Dust of Appearance or Sentry Wards.

The difficulty arises from her high movement speed and ability to pass any terrain which has her webs on it - allowing her to reach parts of the map that are completely inaccessible to most heroes.

However, if you have vision of her then this ability is disabled, giving you a chance of taking her down. Be aware that she will know if you have placed Sentry Ward if this ability isn't working, so try to get the timing right if you want to go on her.

Harassing her effectively is also difficult due to her health regeneration from [[
Spin Webs]], and mass spiderlings can be a threat to many heroes in sufficient numbers.

So how do you deal with her?

You've either got to make a full commitment as a team to killing her (trilane, detection and disables), or have heroes with "proper" AOE damage and look to contain her.

If you're looking at our standard dual lane that either means an appropriate carry (e.g. Kunkka, Gyrocopter etc) who can actively benefit from the spiderlings, or you need "proper" AOE damage. What do I mean by this? Basically a spell or ability that will hit ALL targets in the area, not just a limited number. (e.g. compare Ether Shock to Anchor Smash).

Ideally you want this spell to be cheap and spammable so you can use it regularly to pressure and control the Brood.



Best Counter Supports:



Tidehunter - You have additional damage block from Kraken Shell which makes spiderlings ineffective against you, while Anchor Smash gives you a cheap and easy way to gain additional gold and keep her numbers down.

Earthshaker - Aftershock and Totem Smash are a nice cheap way of farming/killing spiderlings, while Fissure can cull their numbers substantially. Once you reach level 6, spiderlings are the ideal fodder for Echo Slams.

Leshrac - You have easily enough mass AOE damage to give Brood a very bad time, just to be sure to use your mana appropriately to keep those spiderling numbers down.

* Sand King - Caustic Finale is both mana free and deadly to mass spiderlings, just be careful how much you use it when your carry is trying to farm. Sandstorm, Burrowstrike and Epicenter are also ideal spells for dealing with Brood.

* Jakiro
- You're tough, tanky and made of pure AOE. This makes you a challenging opponent for her, she isn't going to be able to bully you off lane or pin you down too easily. I'd advise at least one point in Liquid Fire to give you a cheap way of fighting mass spiderlings (you don't want to have to use Dual Breath every time, it gets expensive). If she overextends, lock her down and slow her.

Dark Seer



Strengths: Movement Boost, Long Range Nuke
Weaknesses: Bad attack animation, Melee


Dark Seer is a strong pushing presence, and is especially difficult for melee heroes to deal with due to Ion Shell. Meanwhile Surge allows him to temporarily move at maxiumum speed, overriding slows that you might throw out, and allowing him to escape dangerous situations with ease.

While he can find it difficult to be directly aggressive, he's very capable of killing you if you overextend or make a mistake against him. He combines extremely well with several aggressive mid heroes, so you also have to be sure to keep an eye on potential gankers.

So how do you deal with him?

First of all, forget about slows unless you can combine them with Silence - you really need stuns or mobility impairment skills if you're going to maintain a threat to him. Secondly, you really want a ranged hero so that you can effectively harass and deny him.

Like most of these guys you need to make a decision based on your lane mate(s) about whether you just want to minimise him, or think you can actually kill him. There are specific heroes who excel at doing this, see below.

One of the keys to dealing with Dark Seer is to draw out his Surge before stunning him, effectively wasting it's duration at low levels.



Best Counter Supports:



Harassment/Containment: (dual lanes without an appropriate/aggressive partner)

Lich - While you're not going to be killing him without a very aggressive lane partner like Slark, what you can do is minimise his impact. Normally Dark Seer players will use Ion Shell on your creeps so you can't attack them - Sacrifice means you'll be able to swallow a good number of them, also reducing his experience. Constant Frost Blasts can wear him down.

* Keeper of the Light - You have a couple of tricks here - if your carry has a nuke, you can allow them to spam it and refill them with Chakra Magic. Mana Leak is very unpleasant for Dark Seer, it makes his escape extremely expensive, and carries a substantial stun if he runs out. Finally Illuminate can be used both to harass him and keep his pushes under control.

Venomancer - Although you have to be careful due to your short range and slow movement, he's not going to enjoy Poison Sting much, even if he has a Stout Shield. Just be careful with your positioning so he can't easily go on you, and be aware that he can easily override your slows.

Kill Lanes: (trilanes or dual lane carries with stuns/lockdown)

* Disruptor
- You can harass him with both your ranged attack and Thunder Strike, but your real threat is from the combination of Glimpse and Kinetic Field. You can hold him in an area for a while, and completely undo his escape if you want to. Probably the best hero for securing kills against him.

Lion - You have enough disable to give him serious pause for thought, while Mana Drain will quickly get annoying for him, making it hard for him to farm.

Shadow Shaman - Again you have substantial lockdown power after a few levels, with Shackles and Hex giving your carry plenty of time to beat on him. Be careful as your slow movement speed can make you vulnerable to Ion Shell.

Timbersaw



Strengths: Movement Boost, Long Range Nuke, Health Regeneration, Cross Impassable Terrain
Weaknesses: Needs some farm for mana regeneration, Melee


Timbersaw is an extremely difficult hero to both kill and harass, with Timber Chain giving him a good escape from level 1, and Reactive Armor boosting his tankiness and health regeneration substantially.

While he does need some farm to get his mana regeneration going, he's more level dependent than anything. His fast nuking power also makes him a threat to both squishy supports and carries, perfectly capable of turning around a misguided gank attempt with pure damage from Whirling Death. Especially once he reaches level 6 and unlocks Chakram then he's very dangerous.

So how do you deal with him?

Low impact attacks are nearly worthless against him due to Stout Shield and Reactive Armor - each hit boosts his armour and health regeneration temporarily. If you're going to hit him, you've got to do it hard.

Timber Chain has a very low cooldown, so it's very difficult to stop him getting away without a substantial amount of stun or silence. He's very mana dependent however, so any abilities which drain or burn it are pretty unpleasant for him.



Best Counter Supports:



* Nyx Assassin - You have a nice selection of skills that can all make life unpleasant for him, the main one being Mana Burn. However, your other skills are also useful, with quick reflexes allowing you to turn his nukes back on him with a swift Spiked Carapace.

* Keeper of the Light
- Remember you have to hit him hard, or not at all. So don't bother using your auto-attack much. If your carry has a nuke, you can allow them to spam it and refill them with Chakra Magic. Mana Leak is very unpleasant for using Timber Chain and carries a substantial stun if he runs out of juice. Illuminate can be used to hit him hard enough to regret it. Be careful not to get out of position, as he can kill you quickly given the opportunity.

Disruptor - a great trilane option, although the rapid cooldown on Timber Chain means that your Glimpse use has to be very good, and is less effective than on other heroes. Be careful that your harassment is effective enough to seriously hurt him, or save your mana.

Lion - You have enough disable to give him some pause for thought, while Mana Drain will quickly get annoying for him even though he can break it easily. Again, be careful of your position as he is very capable of killing you after a few levels.

Windranger



Strengths: Movement Boost, Long Range Nuke, Auto-attack Dodge
Weaknesses: Squishy, Escape relies on movement speed


Windranger is a tricky opponent for many heroes, able to harass effectively and then dodge out of trouble quickly. She's ranged with pretty good base damage and animation, making her able to compete for last hits and denies if not dealt with effectively.

Over time she levels up both a potent long range AOE nuke and a two target stun, while her escape allows her to both slow chasers and completely avoid auto-attacks.

So how do you deal with her?

While WR can dodge auto-attacks, it's quite expensive for her to do so, and she can't afford to keep doing it. Her escape Windrun is also effected by her movement speed - so slows will work on her, as they also effect her escape speed. Forcing a Windrun and then immediately stunning is usually necessary to secure kills.

She's reasonably squishy so can be nuked effectively, although you need to have follow up damage for it.



Best Counter Supports:



Nyx Assassin - While you'll find it difficult to harass her effectively except for Mana Burn, you're still a consider threat with an aggressive carry. A well timed Spiked Carapace is a great way of returning the damage from Powershots. Once you hit level 6 she's in trouble.

* Bane
- Pretty much all your skills are useful against her, Enfeeble makes it difficult for her to harass, last hit and deny, Brain Sap is a strong nuke and also heals you, while Nightmare is great for setting up unreliable stuns and wasting Windrun. Fiend's Grip is the icing on the cake.

* Disruptor - a great trilane option, as Glimpse can make her totally waste her escape and be left vulnerable. Kinetic Field completes the trap, while Thunder Strike is also pretty unpleasant for her.

Lina - This is a risky matchup, as she's also very dangerous to you given the opportunity. You have a long range for harassment, and strong nuking damage to setup the kill. You really need a carry with an effective stun/nuke to make this work.

Lich - Constant magical harassment and denials is pretty unpleasant for her, although early on you have to be careful about trying to trade hits too much. She'll probably get a bit more farm than you'd like during those first few levels unless your carry can deal with denying.

Earthshaker - You MUST have a carry capable of getting early kills here, or a trilane that will do the same. A ranged carry is even better to give your lane some balance. Windranger has no way of crossing your Fissure, giving you up to 8 seconds of trap time and no escape for her.

Clinkz



Strengths: Movement Boost, Invisible, High Damage
Weaknesses: Squishy


Clinkz can be a difficult hero to lane against, he has considerable hitting power thanks to Searing Arrows, and his Wind Walk provides invisibility and increased movement speed.

Even with only a few levels to his name he can be a threat to squishy supports, getting into position behind them and unleashing a Strafe of Searing Arrows. As he levels up, Death Pact reinforces both his meagre health pool and his damage, while providing easy farm and experience.

He'll usually want to farm up a fast Orchid Malevolence so he gank lone heroes effectively and snowball from there.

So how do you deal with him?

While Clinkz is fast and dangerous, he's also squishy as hell and very reliant on Wind Walk for his escape. He's also farm reliant, as without equipment he'll find it difficult to start ganking effectively, so this means that he can't play as passively as many other offlaners.

Detection equipment is obviously at a premium here, with Dust of Appearance and Sentry Wards both offering different strengths. Dust slows him down a little, while sentries allow you to keep constant tabs on him in case he gets out of position.



Best Counter Supports:



* Warlock - While you're probably not going to kill him outside of a trilane, you can cause him considerable discomfort. Fatal Bonds and Shadow Word can both cause strong and unavoidable damage over time, while allowing you to keep tabs on his location. You're strong enough to stand up to a few hits from him, and don't need to risk bad positions.

* Bane - Pretty much all your skills are useful against him, Enfeeble makes it difficult for him to harass, last hit and deny, Brain Sap is a strong nuke and also heals you, while Nightmare is great for setting up unreliable stuns. Fiend's Grip is the icing on the cake.

Keeper of the Light - This is a slightly risky option as he can make mincemeat of you if he catches you out of position, however with good play you can put him under considerable pressure. The easiest way is to feed your nuke-spamming carry with Chakra Magic. Mana Leak makes his escape difficult and expensive and Illuminate can power your own harassment.

Lina - Another risky option, you need a carry with a nuke/stun to make this work. By level 3 you'll have enough damage to take him down, make sure you have detection. In the meantime, play safe and don't let him get the drop on you.

Lich - The usual combination of Sacrifice and Frost Blast can wear him down effectively and allow you to remain in safe lane positions. Again, play safe and don't let him catch you out of position.

Lion/ Shadow Shaman - This is all about disables, and the threat of big nukes a little later. As always, be careful due to your base armour and don't get caught of position ( Hex can get you out of trouble, but it will still hurt). Once you have a few levels you should have enough disable to take him out with your partner(s).

Clockwerk



Strengths: Long Range Nuke, Tanky
Weaknesses: Melee, Reliant on Power Cogs for escape


Clockwerk is a tough little box of tricks, with an unusual but effective escape. His Rocket Flare provides an easy way for him to farm, as well as steal gold from the pull camp and scout dangerous areas for him.

Meanwhile Power Cogs serves him well for multiple jobs - creep blocking, harassment and escape. Combined with Battery Assault it can also let him punish careless supports and pickup easy kills.

It's very difficult to minimise his income or kill him.

So how do you deal with him?

First of all, you must not give him the chance to get next to you, as you're unlikely to survive a Battery Assault/ Power Cogs combo if you have a squishy ranged support. Feeding him will really hurt your carry and make him considerably more dangerous.

Actually killing Clockwerk isn't easy as he's quite tanky, and Power Cogs can make it very difficult to go on him, blocking the lane and draining your health/mana if you get too close. However, they can be used against him too, and often the best time to go on him is after he's just used them to harass your carry and has them on cooldown - giving you a 10 second window to go on him. He's also very vulnerable to slows as he has no movement boost.



Best Counter Supports:

Rubrick

Ancient Apparition - Turn Power Cogs against him through clever use of Cold Feet, making him bail out or take the stun and the damage. Chilling Touch and Ice Vortex combine well against him, and makes trilanes pretty lethal.

Sand King - Another good trilane option, you're one of the few supports who can escape from Power Cogs relatively unscathed through the use of Burrowstrike. Caustic Finale needs to be used carefully to avoid pushing/stealing farm, but can prove unpleasant for him.

Venomancer - A somewhat risky pick as your short range and squishyness leave you vulnerable to a Power Cogs/ Battery Assault combo. However, Venomous Gale and Poison Sting are both pretty unpleasant for him.

* Io - Like Sand King, you can escape Power Cogs fairly easily using Tether, while providing good backup for your carry.

* Leshrac - I pity the fool who wants to be trapped in an enclosed area with Diabolic Edict. Now drink your milk Leshrac, we've got a plane to catch.

Rubrick - Telekinesis provides a very effective way of dealing with Power Cogs - you simply pick Clockwerk up and throw him onto the other side of them, problem solved! Long ranged attack also useful for harassment and Null Field provides some protection later on against most of his abilities.

Mirana



Strengths: Strong AOE Nuke, Movement Boost, Cross Impassable Terrain, Invisible
Weaknesses: Squishy, poor base damage


Mirana is a tricky and evasive hero to bring down due to her high movement speed and Leap, which can take her swifty out of dangerous situations, and allow her to dodge many spell projectiles.

She has a dangerous nuke/stun in Sacred Arrow, and can rapidly clear creep waves and cause damage with Starstorm. She has a long range attack and will try to harass your carry and steal farm where possible. She can make her entire team invisible from level 6.

So how do you deal with her?

Mirana can be tricky to take down while Leap is available, as it allows her to cross impassable terrain and dodge spells like Magic Missile. However, it has a long cooldown, so go on her if she gets out of position while it's unavailable.

Without considerable disabling power you're going to struggle to take down a smart Mirana, making magical harassment a good option for keeping her quiet.



Best Counter Supports:



* Warlock - Mirana may be able to dodge auto-attacks and missiles, but the constant drain of Shadow Word and Fatal Bonds can't be avoided so easily. A relatively squishy hero like her can get messed up pretty quickly by this, and forced to play passively.

Lich - A similar story to Warlock, but with more of a battle to land Frost Blast as she will try to lure you onto a Sacred Arrow if you become too predictable. Keep denying her and landing as many as you safely can.

Keeper of the Light - I'd only really recommend this if your carry has a spammable nuke, as although your other abilities are useful, you need considerably more levels to make Illuminate effective.

Bane - Poor base damage can be utterly destroyed with Enfeeble, but really you want to have a partner with an unreliable stun/slow that you can setup with Nightmare and then finish up with Brain Sap.

* Disruptor - Provided you have a partner who can inflict some damage, Glimpse can cancel out her Leap and leave her very vulnerable. Consider placing an Observer Ward near their tower to give you vision for this. Thunder Strike is also pretty good against her.

Shadow Shaman - considerable disabling power is necessary to take her down, hence Hex and Shackles.

Weaver



Strengths: Strong AOE Nuke, Movement Boost, Invisible
Weaknesses: Squishy, Mana Dependent


Weaver can be incredibly difficult to deal with if you have the wrong heroes, with Shukuchi giving him a burst of nuke damage, max movement speed and invisibility. This can be easily enough to take down a squishy support when combined with Geminate Attack.

Later on Time Lapse allows him to easily shake off debuffs like Dust of Appearance, while restoring his health/mana and letting him escape.

So how do you deal with him?

As always, there are two effective approaches here - harassment and nuking/stuns. Another thing to bear in mind is that he's much more vulnerable at lower levels - this is due to the relatively long cooldown on Shukuchi, giving you a window of opportunity to get to him. Detection is still necessary



Best Counter Supports:



Warlock - Like many others, Weaver will suffer greatly to your damage over time spells and can't just avoid the damage by going invisible. You're unlikely to kill him unless he makes a mistake, but you can make him very passive.

Lich - A similar story to Warlock, but with more of a battle to land Frost Blast he will try to actively dodge around to avoid it...get Sentry Wards to prevent this and stop him from trying to go on you in retaliation.

Nyx Assassin - Ok you're going to struggle to harass him, so a ranged carry is preferable here, but you have some great tools for setting him up. Spiked Carapace can work nicely against Shukuchi, while you have Impale to follow up, and Mana Burn to work away at his mana.

* Bane - Poor base damage can be utterly destroyed with Enfeeble, but really you want to have a partner with an unreliable stun/slow that you can setup with Nightmare and then finish up with Brain Sap. Fiend's Grip is great against him all game.

Shadow Shaman - considerable disabling power is necessary to take him down, hence Hex and Shackles. He won't make it easy to get in range, so make sure your carry has enough damage and is ready to get stuck in.

* Lion - You have enough disable to keep yourself fairly safe from him once you have a few levels and a Ring of Protection. The combination of Earth Spike and Mana Drain can make laning very unpleasant for him, and Finger of Death will always be a threat once you reach level 6.

Bristleback



Strengths: AOE Nuke, Tanky
Weaknesses: Melee, Reliant on rear armour


Bristleback is a tough nut to crack. His passive allows him to soak up considerable amounts of damage from the back and side, and retaliate with free Quill Sprays. He's extremely difficult to kill under these conditions, and can even turn ganks around completely if enemies are too aggressive. His slowing Nasal Goo can let him take down squishy supports, and he's a considerable threat once he has his ultimate.

So how do you deal with him?

Actually killing him can be difficult, but you do have some opportunities. Most Bristlebacks will level Quill Spray straight away, so don't have the extra rear/side protection at level 1. This gives you a chance of a firstblood if you have a tri or kill lane and he gets out of position.

His next weakest point is his mana - for a tanky strength hero he's actually quite mana reliant, so any heroes with abilities that can drain it can be a real problem for him. Always make sure you get an early Magic Stick to soak up charges from his abilities.

Finally, armour reduction can work to make him considerably easier to kill.



Best Counter Supports:



* Lion - You have to give him due respect until you have a few levels and can safely disable/escape if he tries to go for you. However Mana Drain is a considerable pain for him - with his pool empty he's no real threat. Try to drain from sensible positions where he can't just go on you, even if it means you drain less overall.

Dazzle - A sneaky Shadow Wave to the face when he comes in to last hit is pretty unpleasant for him, and it's not something he can turn his back on either. Poison Touch gives you a chance to escape or slow him for gank attempts, while Shallow Grave offers more protection. Weave can really do for him later on.

* Vengeful Spirit - You need team mates who can go in with you for this, but a combination of Magic Missile and Wave of Terror makes him pretty vulnerable with the right backup.

Nyx Assassin - You need to bide your time a little here while you level up Mana Burn, and his strong intelligence growth begins to make up for his poor initial stat. Then start burning. Your other skills can contribute towards kills on him.

Keeper of the Light - You have to be careful with this matchup as you're quite vulnerable to him if he starts landing Viscous Nasal Goo on you. However, you can make both chasing and escaping very expensive for him using Mana Leak, ideally you'll have team mates who can make him want to move...

Nature's Prophet



Strengths: Minions, Teleportation
Weaknesses: Squishy, escape can be stunned


Nature's Prophet is an unusual offlaner in many ways - he's relatively squishy, with no escape other than a slow Teleport that can take him back to base or other lanes. However, his treants from Nature's Call are his main way of securing farm and screwing your pull camps.

He'll generally stay near the tower and try to block the pull camps with treants, and then use them to "steal" your creepwave, running them through the jungle to his tower where he can safely farm them.

So how do you deal with him?

First of all, you need stuns, as otherwise he can just Teleport out, laughing all the way. Generally he won't want to take any risks by moving far from his tower, and will use his treants to provide him with farm. You need to deal with those treants as a priority and starve him of gold and experience from the beginning. He may well decide to go jungle then, but he'll still have lost valuable time and farm, and will leave your lane uncontested.

Dealing with the treants can be tricky, you need to spot them early and get plenty of damage on them before they can work their mischief. If you can stop him getting any experience early on you can severely impact his game, if he gets even a few levels it's easy for him to go to where the farm is and be back in time to defend his tower.



Best Counter Supports:



Crystal Maiden - Frost Bite has a very long effect time on non-hero units, making it ideal for dealing with rogue Treants. An early point in Arcane Aura helps pay for it, but you can have problems if he uses multiple treants to pull.

Lich - This is something of a backstop strategy: you're probably not going to be able to get rid of the treants alone (as part of a trilane this can work, especially as you'll have mana for Frost Blast), but you can slow his experience pretty consistently.

* Venomancer - An early level in Poison Sting gives you a very cost effective way of dealing with treants, provided you can find them early. Plague Wards will help you keep tracking of them later on.

Bane - You can really punish any positioning mistakes with Nightmare/ Fiend's Grip, while Nightmare is an expensive way of stopping lone treants from pulling your creeps (they'll lose interest) it can be worth it. Your good base damage helps.

* Leshrac - You have an expensive, but extremely effective way of dealing with treants via Diabolic Edict. You also have a non-vision dependent stun (for Sprout), and can push his tower extremely hard if he leaves the lane to farm elsewhere.

Abaddon - the free slow from Curse of Avernus can help you chase down those pesky treants, while Aphotic Shield is great for tower diving if you think you can grab a kill on Prophet.

Lone Druid



Strengths: Minion, Effectively 2 heroes in one
Weaknesses: Druid is squishy, no escape


Lone Druid is a potentially frustrating opponent, his Summon Spirit Bear is incredibly tanky right from the start, and it's difficult to wear it down or kill it without considerably more farm and levels. He can use it to pull your creeps through the jungle to his tower, effectively "equalising" the lane as both sets of creeps avoid each other.

Druid himself has a ranged attack, and fast movement speed which means he's not easy to pick off if his positioning is right.

So how do you deal with him?

Despite the frustrations, there are multiple ways of dealing with him. First up, kill him - he doesn't have an escape, and a good blast of stuns/slows can be enough to pick him off fairly easily.

However, to do this, you need to get him out of position or risk fighting underneath his tower. Tower diving is very risky without the right heroes, so much better to draw him out. He needs both levels and farm, so if you can prevent him pulling with his bear you've got a good chance.

Preventing bear pulls requires having the right abilities/damage to make it really unpleasant for him. You can also "cancel" his pull using the neutral camps, as you being attacked nearby has a higher priority than following the bear. However, good LD players will try to block the pull camps early on, and will still hang around to try and grab the creeps if possible.



Best Counter Supports:



Bane - An expensive, but effective way of preventing bear pulls is to use Nightmare on it. Your creeps will lose interest and have enough time to return to their usual route before the bear recovers. Can go on the Druid effectively if he gets out of position. I'd advise using Nightmare early on to deny his pulls, starve him of XP and force him to come out.

* Lich
- You have a few tricks up your sleeve that can make life difficult for him - the usual Sacrifice to deny him experience, drop some Frost Blasts on him, and Chain Frost works well between the two of them.

Venomancer - You can cause the bear some fairly serious pain with Poison Sting but you probably won't be able to kill it before he can respawn it. However, as you level up it becomes increasingly problematic for him - Venomous Gale is also a great "kill" spell, and can hit both him and the bear at once.

* Witch Doctor
- Been able to chain a stun on a "solo" hero makes it potentially very dangerous, and Maledict is a great way of ensuring damage will be fatal. Not a lot you can do to stop the bear pulls, but after a few levels you can throw a cask in and make it pretty unpleasant.

Windranger - Despite already featuring as an offlaner, there's no reason she can't also support. Her auto-attack can harass druid pretty effectively, and she has minimal risk of being hit back thanks to Windrun. The two heroes provide an ideal opportunity to land a great Shackleshot

Dark Seer - not a conventional support hero, but very effective against this offlaner. If he wants to pull your creeps you slap an Ion Shell on the 2nd or 3rd melee creep, causing a lot of damage to the bear as he leads them back and tanks under the tower. Semi-jungle and stay out of the way of your carry the rest of the time unless a kill is on.

Slark



Strengths: Strong AOE Nuke, Movement Boost, Invisible, Health Regeneration, Cross Impassable Terrain
Weaknesses: Pretty Squishy, Melee


A good Slark player can be tricky to go up against, even though offlane is probably not his best position. His Pounce gives him a useful escape that can take him over impassable terrain, or even just away from the gank quickly enough. A well timed Dark Pact can almost instantly remove the effects of most spells, and that's before we even get to his ultimate...

Yes, he can heal, move faster when out of sight, and even go completely invisible (even to true sight)...just remember that well targeted AOE spells can still hit him!

So how do you deal with him?

Despite the difficulties of killing him, there are several weaknesses that can be exploited. The first is that at level 1 he can only have Pounce OR Dark Pact, so is at his most vulnerable. The escape from Pounce can be somewhat nullified with good positioning - if you stand in the way he won't get as far as he will latch to you instead.

Ideally you want to try and bait out Dark Pact instead of just throwing stuff at him and let him clear it all in one go - hit him just after the pact has ended and you're guaranteed a proper effect on him for at least 8 seconds.

Most damage over time spells are useless against him due to Dark Pact, so forget about Ignite and Dual Breath. Really you want to get a kill on him ASAP, as once he has Shadow Dance he's much more challenging to get at. If your lane isn't capable of dealing with his escapes, you need to harass and zone him out whenever possible. He's somewhat farm dependent, and making life difficult for him should make it much more difficult for him to snowball out of control.



Best Counter Supports:



* Bane
- You have a number of abilities that counter him effectively - a few levels of Brain Sap make it very difficult for him to kill you, and also can hurt him a lot. Nightmare is an excellent setup stun thanks to it's minimal cast time giving him no time to queue up a Dark Pact, if it can be followed up with a big stun, he's in trouble.

* Lich
- The usual combo will minimise his experience and keep him reasonably passive. The instant damage of Frost Blast means he can only debuff the slow. Not so effective once he reaches level 6 however. Be careful not to get Pounced.

Venomancer - You need to respect his abilities once he has a few levels, so do your best to be on his case right from the get go - zone him out completely if possible. Once he has level 3 you need to be much more careful, and by level 6 it's your turn to be relatively passive, as your harassment is rapidly healed.

Lion - This isn't necessarily an easy matchup, and I'd advise it mostly if you have an aggressive carry - otherwise you need to play smart and just try to make life difficult for him. Good use of Earth Spike, Hex and Mana Drain can be pretty annoying for him, but you have to be careful not to get Pounced or you'll be in trouble. Finger of Death is nice against him once you hit 6.

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