|2.||Why have Solos?|
|7.||Voluntary and Necessary Soloing|
|8.||When not to Solo|
|10.||Using your Tower|
|12.||Pulling and Lane Control|
|13.||Figuring out the Situation|
|16.||Some other Solo Capable Heroes|
Playing a hard or "off-lane" solo is the most difficult early game role in DOTA - you're on your own, in the most dangerous lane, and possibly up against 3 enemy heroes...sounds fun?
Part of the appeal of playing this role is that it's very challenging - and also very rewarding when you do it right. The odds were stacked against you, but you still got the job done!
Read on for tips and information about how to survive and prosper in this tricky role...
Please note, the guide is still in development, I'd like to add more pictures, and possibly videos about positioning. Any comments or suggestions welcome...and yes, I will add some more solo heroes!
There can be several possible reasons for having a hardlane solo:
1) Gaps in the opposition line up means that particular heroes will do well as hardlane solos, maximising your team's gold and experience.
2) Your team has a jungler and your safe lane carry needs a support hero (either because he can't solo effectively, or the enemy team look to have a nasty long lane combination).
3) Your team is running a tri-lane to guarantee farm on your carry. (this is very common in Pro games)
4) One or more of your team is planning to roam early to gank and disrupt the opposition.
As you can see, this is all about changing the formation of your team to try to maximise gold and experience, get it on the right heroes, and potentially disrupt the opposition's early game. We'll discuss these below in more detail.
Junglers come in many different shapes and sizes - some are there just to farm, some to collect neutral creeps and then aggressively attack the opposition heroes in lane.
Whatever their style, junglers are ultimately played to try and maximise the total gold and experience that is collected by their team. If you think about it like this:
- Each lane spawns 4 creeps every 30 seconds. These creeps are worth say 50 gold and 50 experience each. That makes a total of 400 gold and experience every minute.
- If there are two heroes from the same team in the same lane, they split the available gold and experience between them, usually this means that one will get 400 gold, and each will get 200 experience.
- Over 3 lanes this makes a total of 1200 gold and xp to be split between 5 players, roughly 240 each.
- By having a jungler, they can collect their own supply of gold and experience independently of the lanes - increasing the total team income, as long as at least 1 hero is still in each lane.
However, as many of you will have noticed...things aren't quite as simple as this. The opposition aren't just going to let you fill your boots with gold and experience - both teams will be actively denying, harassing and doing whatever they can to win the lane battle.
Lanes with a single, outnumbered hero are going to have a much harder time claiming their share from the opposition.
In the context of this guide we're talking about defensive (safe-lane) tri-lanes, as an aggressive (hard-lane) tri-lane invalidates what we're talking about!
The main purpose of a defensive tri-lane is to ensure that the carry in that lane (usually a hard carry) can farm freely and maximise their gold income. The enemy heroes are outnumbered and risk getting killed if they try to farm or engage. The tri-lane support heroes can stack their pull camps and keep control of the lane, and potentially get kills too.
This is the theory - occasionally tri-lanes do go wrong, and you also need to be aware that the experience from that lane is also split 3 ways - so everyone gets less unless you can get kills to make up the difference.
Roaming is a risky and specialised job done by a selection of heroes with good early game killing power. Roamers actively move around the map looking to setup ganks from early in the game - and can be particularly effective against junglers.
Roaming is risky because it relies on getting kills to be successful - otherwise you're spending a long time away from the lanes and so not getting any experience to level up with.
However, successful roamers can terrify opposition teams and completely break up their pattern and strategy.
Most heroes are not especially suitable as a hard solo - sure if you get incompetent opposition, picks you counter easily or a safe lane solo to go up against...anyone can do it - but otherwise you'll need a specialist.
Almost all of these heroes have a good escape mechanism that lets them survive in riskier positions. Many have AOE or small nukes that help them to farm from a safe distance.
Some Grade A Solo Choices:
+ Excellent escape mechanism makes you immune to right clicks and slow enemy pursuit
+ Long range AOE nuke with Powershot
+ Good last hitter and denier
- Cannot avoid magical damage
- Escape not as effective when slowed, and is quite expensive
- Vulnerable to blocking spells like Kinetic Field and Sprout
Ok, so they're the reasons why you might be soloing. Either you've spotted a weakness in the opposition line up, and actively want to solo with a particular hero to maximise your income, or your team have made strategic choices that mean you have to.
Choosing to solo is obviously preferable - but it does rely on the opposition making a mistake or misjudgement in their picks. I'm very suspicious of anyone who shouts "HARD SOLO!" at the start of a game, before anyone has even picked - you don't know who the opposition are going to go with and whether your hero of choice could be in for a kicking.
I'd advise you to pick after other players when at all possible in these situations - see what your team needs, and what the opposition choose.
If you do manage to get a hero and enemy line up that suits them, you can afford to play much more aggressively in the lane and maximise your income. If you end up against a horrendous line up, you will probably need to be much more conservative.
Remember that as a solo, you should be able to get a level advantage against 2 opposition heroes, provided you can stay within experience range most of the time.
There can be times when it's simply not a good idea to run a solo at all. This is usually when your team is looking at having a relatively slow growing jungle hero, and the opposition have a very push heavy jungler and/or a dangerous snowball carry.
For example, someone on your team has picked up a jungling Doom Bringer and build Hand of Midas, while the enemy team have both Phantom Lancer and Chen. Your solo hard lane is going to come under massive early pressure, and your solo hero there will have to do some stellar work not to get ganked off easily, and/or stop them pushing down that tower very early on.
That helps their entire team (especially the supports) with a big helping of early gold, and they can then either push on to the next tower, or spread across the map to influence all the other lanes. In this situation, it's very difficult to see what the benefit of running your jungler is - there's no way he's going to be pulling in enough farm or experience to make that setup worthwhile.
Although your exact priorities will shift from game to game depending on your hero, opposition, team make up, etc. However, there are some definites that will always be relevant:
1) DON'T DIE. As a solo hero you simply cannot afford to feed the enemy carry if at all possible.
2) GET EXPERIENCE. Even if you're struggling in lane you still need to try and remain in experience range as much as possible, even if it means hiding in the trees or the shop.
3) PROTECT YOUR TOWER. The tower is vital for your survival, as well as important to the flow of the game - more on this below.
The hard lane tower is very important for a number of reasons. First of all it offers you a relatively safe haven where you can get experience or farm without too much risk of being jumped by the enemy team.
However, it's also very important in the context of the wider game. If the enemy team can push that tower down early then they each receive 200 gold - very useful, especially for their support heroes.
Your tower dropping also frees up at least one of their heroes who were laning against you to go and get involved in the other lanes - potentially setting up further ganks and pushes. They might even try to take your tier 2 tower, forcing some of your team to relocate or risk having your barracks under pressure very early on.
If you have some kind of AOE nuke then you use this periodically to grab some farm and/or take pressure off your tower. Otherwise, the key is to draw creep aggro away from it.
Once your own creep wave is dead, you can do this by either auto-attacking one of their creeps, or simply standing near them before they move into contact with the tower. You can "pied-piper" them away from the tower and onto your next wave of creeps. Then take the opportunity to grab some farm and experience.
Be careful when doing this however, as it does present some opportunity for the enemy heroes to tower dive if they want to. This can backfire for them though - especially if you have a stun, slow or other ability that lets you trap them within range.
A good hard lane solo needs to make the most of any opportunity to grab farm, so practice your last hitting under towers and ensure you understand how to do this as effectively as possible: (this assumes early game and that your attacks aren't very powerful yet)
- Melee creeps can absorb about 5 hits from a tower before dying, unless they're being attacked by another source you can usually set them up with 1 auto attack while, leaving them with 1 sliver of health that you can last hit.
- Ranged creeps will die from 3 hits from a tower. Hit them once, let the tower hit them twice, and then hit them again.
- Siege creeps are trickier, sometimes they die from 3 hits, sometimes 4. Let the tower hit them 3 times, and most of the time they'll be left with a tiny bit of health you can finish.
Obviously all of these have to be adjusted if your own creeps are attacking the enemy ones, and as your damage goes up you often only need a single attack per creep.
Good use of Observer Ward can make a huge difference to your success as a hard lane solo - they're well worth considering even for semi-carry type heroes who might not normally buy them.
But what about my 150 gold, you might say? Isn't it a support's job to buy the wards? Well, in an organised game maybe, but you can't presume they'll do it for you in a pub.
Besides, that 150 gold is an excellent investment that will soon pay for itself. Warding the enemy pull camp means you'll get far more opportunities to last hit, while making it harder for them to gain hits and levels. The second ward makes you much harder to gank - even if it only stops you dying once, or taking heavy damage and using your Healing Salve early, then it's already paid for itself.
Wards can also be a potent weapon against enemy junglers, sometimes slowing them to a crawl as camps don't spawn as expected.
Buy your equipment quickly and get up to their jungle ASAP with your wards. This is risky, as good teams may have heroes guarding these spots - in pubs most people don't seem to bother. If you can, place the anti-pull ward just after the timer crosses Zero and ticks up - this means the ward will prevent that camp spawning for a full 6 minutes (unless removed). Next, run back and body block your creeps to keep the lane as close to your tower as possible.
Standard Dire Team Solo Wards: (Pictures from Team Dignitas Guide)
This is a very nice ward spot, giving you excellent vision on the other side of the trees, as well as the river. It makes it very diffcult for enemy junglers, mids or supports to flank or get behind you unnoticed, provided you keep the lane under reasonable control.
As a side-benefit, it also provides vision of the bottom rune to help your mid player out.
This only applies to Radiant hard laners (i.e. when you're playing in the top lane). The neutral camp just to the right of the bridge can be used by both sides to pull their lane.
The best way to do this is to tango a hole in the left hand side, then attack the creeps to draw them into the lane. If you do this just as your creep wave is about to pass your tower, they should be drawn off into the woods by the neutrals.
You should only attempt this when the lane is drawn right back to the tower, or you haven't warded and they've used their pull camp. Be aware that this is quite risky too - if the enemy catch wind of it, they'll usually try to intervene.
Do everything you can to keep your lane drawn back near your tower - this makes it much easier and less risky for you to get gold and experience. Attack your own creeps once they're below half health, pull the lane if you have to, and go back and body block your creep wave if you can't get close enough to the current front line.
Some heroes such as Nature's Prophet, Beastmaster and Enigma deserve a special mention for their minions here. You can use them to divert enemy creeps from their usual route - lead them through the jungle to your tower where you can farm them safely. You can also use them for other dangerous jobs like blocking enemy neutral camps from spawning.
As a hard solo you need to quickly work out the laning situation and how you can play it. You'll probably have some idea of which heroes are likely to be against you, but sometimes the opposition do unexpected things, throw in a tri-lane or a jungler comes for first blood.
This is where those Observer Wards you placed start to immediately earn their keep. Even then, have a quick look at the mini-map and ensure there are some enemy heroes are where you expect them in other lanes - don't just rush straight up to the creep wave and assume everything will be fine.
The Hero Matchup:
Hopefully you already got to base your pick somewhat on the expected enemy heroes - however, things can still change during the game. Good knowledge of enemy heroes here is a great benefit - do they have stuns? Nukes? Slows? Are they strong at level 1, or need levels? What is their ultimate like?
Do your skills allow you to easily evade or ignore any of these abilities? Can you probably survive being initiated on by them? Can you do it easily?
Figuring this out will let you know if you can go in and compete for last hits, denies and dish out some harassment. It will also help you figure out when you can't do this anymore!
Good positioning is key to surviving the long lane - the problem is that "good positioning" varies depends on the situation rather than being a simple set of instructions to follow.
For example, against a Pudge, good positioning means keeping a creep between you and him at all times. Against Windrunner, the opposite can be true. When laning against a Timbersaw, you need to avoid standing next to trees as much as possible.
The position of creeps is important too - you can draw enemy creeps closer (within a 500 range) by trying to auto-attack an enemy hero (even as a melee, just the click will do the job, you don't actually have to hit them).
Also be aware that especially early on, your creeps give you a certain level of protection - they'll attack enemies who try to harass you, and can also absorb shared damage from some abilities.
Be very aware of missing enemy mids, and aggressive junglers - you're the most vulnerable target on the map, so keep your awareness as switched on as possible, and be ready to retreat at the first sign of serious danger.
- Uh, I went up to ward their jungle but they were waiting for me. I either died, or managed to get away but it cost me a Healing Salve, what do I do?
Unfortunately this does happen sometimes, although even at higher levels it's amazing how often people don't bother to defend their pull camps. Write it off to experience, on the whole this is still worth doing where possible - just don't get yourself killed trying to get back in there too soon.
- Ow, ow, ow! The enemy ranged support is harassing me really aggressively out of the lane!
It depends very much on your relative strengths and equipment - in some situations you may be able to out hit them and drive them back, possible even get a kill. Other times, you just have to back off temporarily and make sure you stay alive. Be aware of creep waves here, they can make a big difference and make you harder to harass. If you really can't take the harass, play passive and sneak into XP range where possible.
- It's been going really well, my invis has kept me safe and I've been getting some farm. Now the enemy support has Sentry Wards and I'm afraid to go near the creep wave.
This is perfectly normal, don't try to continue playing as you were and assume everything will be fine. You're either going to have to play more passive, buy your own Sentry Wards to get rid of his, or go and roam to another lane if you can help there. On the plus side, you've just made their support spend 200 gold he would have much rather used on something else.
- I got caught out and killed almost as soon as the lane started. My team are slagging me off for giving away first blood and I'm feeling bad less than 2 minutes into the game!
Unfortunately this does happen sometimes, they find an invis rune, DD, or otherwise catch you out unexpectedly. You're a hard lane solo and you've got a very difficult job. Have a think if there's anything you could have done differently afterwards, but for now just concentrate on avoiding the same mistake again. Don't feed, don't try to overcompensate, good solid, sensible play is what will get you back into this.
- Those Observer Wards were working beautifully to get me some farm, but the enemy support has dewarded! Now I'm getting nothing - what do I do?
It depends on the situation - if the wards were set to expire soon then it's no biggee. Either way you've made the enemy support waste 200 gold he can barely afford at this point. Sentries expire after 3 minutes, so you might want to try and re-ward at this point, depending on how much longer you expect to stay in lane.
- I didn't buy wards and the enemy keeps stacking and pulling. I'm getting nothing!
Sometimes you can be sneaky and hide within experience range of their jungle camp - you still get XP this way. Some heroes have long range AOE spells, you may be able to steal some hits this way, although you have to be careful not to get caught out of position.
- I've taken a lot of harassment and I'm out of consumables. Although I'm ok can't afford to contest the farm at all.
Especially as a solo or support you should fly yourself some supplies out if you need them - there's no point sitting on a few hundred gold and half health. Sure, consumables have no "long term" value, but a few last hits will quickly pay for them and allow you to get more farm, avoid dying, etc.
Here are some more heroes who can do ok as a hard lane solo...although they have more weaknesses than the "Grade A" options...
+ Firefly provides a pretty good escape, especially from trapping spells
+ Great harassment and last hitting from Sticky Napalm
+ Benefits a lot from the extra levels
- Short attack range
- Firefly doesn't provide speed boost or slow
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