Table of contents:
All you need to know about the creepblock
When the action begins: the openings
It’s all about the aggro
Controlling highground (New!)
Lasthitting under the tower (New!)
Runecontrol and controlling the courier
To gank or not to gank?
Mana management (New!)
The importance of mid tier 1 tower. Tower mechanics (New!)
Doublewaving, what is it and when to use it
Hard matchups and how to deal with them
Picking the right hero in ranked -allpick (New!)
All the little things you can learn to become a better mid player
Practice – how to and why to
Ending word and shoutouts
Chapter 1. The introduction
1.1 Shoutout to the community
Never in my life have I thought that what started as such a simple idea would blow up after publishing it. My guide got translated to over 15 languages (unfortunately some people copied it without my consent, shoutout to ppl that are fair and asked me on my email first). I had over 700 thousands unique visitors from all around the world and even pro players messaging me with words of appreciation. Thank you so much for continous support, all the questions you asked me on email and reddit and sorry that I didn’t answer all of them. But enough bragging, let’s get into the interesting part: the guide itself.
1.2 The most basic question: who are you?
I’m a 22 years old swedish language student from Poland with 10 years of experience in DotA. I started playing encouraged by my friends and went a long way through many W3 platforms:
battle.net ->garena -> Iccup -> RGC – > dotalicious – > DotA 2
I got into Dota 2 beta really early – winning it as one of the first from the PlayDota lottery.
As a player with thousands of hours spent in pubs I decided to try playing in a more competitive environment, I went through several inhouse leagues and finally decided to join a team. As polish teams are extremely unstable I went through a couple of them, mostly playing 1 position.
Around 1-2 years ago I became really interested in the “2” – mid role. I started picking only mid heroes in pubs and tried to find every hint and trick possible that would make me play better.
One day I came across EternalEnvy’s stream and him practicing mid with Arteezy. For someone like me it was a gold mine – they talked about every small aspect of fighting for lasthits, positioning and creep control. As Arteezy joined Kaipi and I could watch him in competitive matches and start analysing his moves from the player’s POV. I was surprised how little – as it turned out – I knew about playing mid. As fanboyish as it may sound his mindgames and mechanical skills were far superior to any other player I knew. Special shoutout to him as watching him play helped me create this guide a ton.
After watching this VOD and analysing it I decided to start practicing in similar fashion. I played 1v1s with my friend (HRTS) for several hours a day for over a month. We shared everything we’ve learned with each other and only later, after I got to know Bulba it turned out that I pretty much replicated what Arteezy and Bulba did after one of the internationals (TI3 I think): trying to break down 1v1s by playing them in absurd numbers.
This guide is an attempt to systematically sort and share this knowledge with you – the players.
1.3 What competitive experience do you have?
After becoming mid pubstomp player and playing as a somewhat decent level standin I thought that it may be a good idea to find a really high skill team that would let me develop competitively.
An opportunity came faster than I thought – one of my best polish friends [that I met and added after a pub game] turned out to be a friend with one of the best polish players – sasu. As he was forming a new team I was suggested to him as a promising player and so I became a mid for QWERT1234 – probably the only polish team known to an average European player back then. And this is where the somewhat sad [for me] part begins – a top 1-2 page pub mid player without any particular high level competitive experience turns out to be a rather mediocre mid for a serious, semi professional DotA.
As you might have guessed I was underperforming – overwhelmed by the skill level gap jump, and soon my rather short journey into playing versus some really good teams ended with a big disappointment. To this day though I’m happy with this experience as playing against some best midders out there has taught me a lot.
Ironically enough, encouraged by this adventure I started practicing even harder to reach level of decisionmaking and skill acceptable at the very highest levels of competitive play. As of today I neither play nor plan to play on any serious team – nowadays I’m only playing pubs somewhere in the 5-6k skill bracket as well as coaching players.
I decided that my guide needed a major update due to changing metagame and because I learned a lot about laning during these 2 years.
1.4 Why are you writing this guide?
As I’m not planning to join a team in the nearest future and I don’t really care about my competition getting to know all the tactics presented in this guide, I decided that sharing this knowledge with everyone is the best option. Some people may actually hate me for making presented tricks public, but hey – that’s how the skill progress in DotA world is made: “elite” knowledge becomes well-known so you have to come up with something new! I’m also an author of a really old “Never more learn 2 farm noob” lasthitting guide and every positive comment under it made me really happy that a lot of players felt the joy of discovering new things when reading it. I guess I just enjoy making people play better by sharing some tips and letting everyone test them in real games.
1.5 Who is this guide aimed for?
Well, definitely not for beginners. When I started writing this guide I decided that it’s mostly going to cover the most advanced and only-known-to-few tactics. If you have troubles lasthitting or don’t know what runes do – this probably isn’t the most suitable guide for you, however I believe even 1k mmr players may learn a thing or two that will improve their performance on the midlane.
The guide itself is just an educational material. That means that you have to conciously practice techinques and strategies included in order to increase your skill level significantly. My guide should be just a beginning in your quest to get better; it’s what you do with the knowledge obtained that matters!
1.6 Mandatory “pros and cons of being a mid player” section:
- You get to play some [in my opinion] most interesting heroes with high skill ceiling.
- You can do all sorts of “big plays” with your high level and gold advantage
- Playing 1v1 is really fun and there’s no better feeling than killing a good mid player solo
- You don’t depend on your team that much, practicing mid in pubs is way easier than e.g. support
- Mid requires a lot of multitasking: using courier constantly, checking for enemy ganks, controlling the lane equilibrium, harassing, lasthitting and finally controlling runes
- The responsibility of ganking, reacting and dictating the gamepace relies on you
- As you own the most powerful hero early-midgame, you can also do the biggest mistakes
- If you lose your mid solo, the enemy player gets a huge advantage that often wins them the game
- This position requires a lot of practice and experience, the skill gap between competitively experienced mid player and regular pub midder is mindblowing
As I said in the introduction – I’m not going to go into details about what playing mid means generally or about what heroes should/shouldn’t go mid and why. I want to break down playing mid layer by layer and talk in a great detail about every one of them separately.
Chapter 2. All you need to know about the creepblock
What I want to start the main part of my guide with is probably one of the most overlooked things in playing solo mid. As basic as it may sound, it’s the infamous creep block. Professional and more advanced players know the importance of a good creepblock, especially in a melee vs ranged matchup.
2.1 Perfect creepblock example pic:
[leftclickclick to enlarge the picture]
Notice how none of the enemy creeps can see you and how all of your creeps are on the highground. That means the opponent will not be able to know your positioning and you are free to harass him.
2.2 Things that perfect creeblock lets you do:
- Harassing from the highground (enemy can’t trade hits effectively with 25% uphill miss chance)
- Controlling the lane and creep balance way easier, makes enemy miss lasthits
- Enemy can’t see you and your positioning
- If he gets too close you can use one of your spammable spells
2.3 Correct reaction to enemy’s perfect block
Yes, it happens even to the best players so there’s nothing to be ashamed of. The solution to this is really simple – come close to the creeps as soon as the enemy shows up from fog and A-click him, then run back a little. You should end up with at least some of the creeps down in the river, where you can lasthit them without miss chance. If your enemy plays really passively and is not harassing you, you probably won’t be able to see him for a long time. In that case you can simply A-click enemy on a different lane. Optimally you want to lure enemy creeps into attacking your ranged creep, so the wave starts pushing towards your tower.
2.4 Abusing the perfect block
Take a look at this picture:
What I want you to remember from this screenshot is that ranged creeps give a really small circle of vision to the enemy every time they attack. If you memorize this circle and remember to never stand near your ranged creep when you get a better block you will make your opponent “play in the dark”.
2.5 How do I achieve the perfect creepblock?
There are a few little positioning tricks that will make your way better than average midder’s that doesn’t know them.
So-called RTZ block, you have to stand exactly at this spot where your heroes circle touches edges of stones on the ground in front and to the left of you:
As soon as the timer hits the 0:00 mark, you should start walking forward. If you do this properly, you’ll notice how all of the creeps walked to your right instead of one walking around the tower. What this does is basically letting you start creepblocking faster, without waiting for that one creep to join the others:
There is no particular trick on the dire side but to maximize the efficiency of your block you should stand around here on the steps, as all of the creeps will spawn just above you:
What’s the best command to creepblock? Move or Stop-spam?
To be honest, what works the best for me and a lot of pro players is the combination of both. In this video you can see comparison between players: some of them like to hold their hero hotkey to keep the camera centered, Dendi uses screen panning, and Arteezy just clicks the hero hotkey every few seconds to move the camera.
2.6 Letting ranged creep go first – when to do this and why shouldn’t you always use it.
I’ve noticed what a lot of mid-level players love to do is letting the ranged creep go first, then blocking the entire wave of melee creeps. Through testing this by myself I’ve noticed that most of the time this does more harm than good and here’s why:
- You expose yourself to harass! If the enemy sees that you have 1 creep less[that does the most damage] he will simply start attacking you and he won’t receive quite as much damage from creeps that he normally would
- You can end up “doublewaved” – I’ll talk about this a little bit later
- You lose that orientation point in lasthitting. Usually you want to time your lasthit to land just after mage’s attack. By losing that option you make it somewhat easier for the enemy to deny.
There are several occasions on which blocking without the ranged creep is desirable!
- When you know you have way more damage on the first attack and you are sure you can get the deny (eg. Kunkka with tidebringer)
- When you are against a really low damage hero (eg. Sf, Quas Invoker)
- When your creepblock is way better and you just let the ranged creep go first in the last seconds of the block
- When your enemy is really hard to lane against straight up and you’ll feel more comfortable lasthitting under the tower
Remember that creepblocking is really easy to practice in singleplayer. To practice simply make a new lobby, set cheats to “on” and take one of the slots. When the game starts pick QoP, set mode to –wtf and take your starting position. To start the game simply use the –startgame command. After un/successfully blocking your creeps simply blink back with your cooldownless spell and start over. Repeat until you feel satisfied with your creepblock consistency.
Chapter 3: When the action begins: the openings
After creepblocking it’s time for something I call openings. For me it’s one of the most important stages during your laning. The first few attacks, moves and decisions show so much about player skill that sometimes I can already predict how easy or hard the game against him will be. The morale aspect of that should also never go unnoticed – getting the first deny + lasthit combo may work very demoralizing for some players and make you feel so much better about chances of beating your opponent.
3.1 Before the horn
Before the game starts every good midlaner should make a quick “mindlist” that includes answering questions such as:
- Can I get ganked and by what heroes?
- What do I want to achieve on the midlane? Should I aim to kill the opponent or just farm?
- Can my courier get sniped? Do they have a Bounty Hunter or Nature’s Prophet?
Just these 3 questions will help youget yourself into the game and never be surprised by what happens.
3.2 There are basically 3 situations that may happen after the creepblock, as shown on the graph:
To understand this graph and overall reactions after every kind of creepblock I made a video showing some of the world’s best pucks! [+me]
Why this hero and why only one hero? In my oppinion it’s like every dream of mid player put together: you have the silence, stun, you are mobile, have decent lasthit damage and it’s hard to gank you. Also your first skill gives flying vision over the area and serves as a free blink dagger. In other words: the possibilites it gives and the skillcap it has are far higher than for most of the heroes. About the second part of the question, I wanted to make personal style of players to be comparable and it’s hard to do if they play different heroes.
PS If you want to see the lasthit score, look at the top left, not bottom right. The creepscores on the right appear to be bugged.
Chapter 4. It’s all about the aggro
“What’s that title about?” – you may ask. My answer is: if you learn and master the rules of creeps aggro your skill on the mid will skyrocket. To be honest, after analyzing Arteezy’s play I honestly think this is one of the reasons he’s such a dominant player. Not even commonly known “mid-gods” like Dendi or Ferrari use these tricks as well as him if they use them at all. Please remember that all these little strats require a ton of practice to be mastered.
Now let’s read a couple of facts that will prove extremely useful later:
- Creeps will aggro anyone trying to attack allied hero in a 500 radius. That means if you attack a hero while 501 units away from the nearest creep, the creep will not attack you.
- Creeps have aggro cooldown of 2 seconds. I’ll describe how to abuse that later in this chapter.
- It doesn’t matter where the enemy hero you are attacking is. As long as you are in 500 radius to the closest enemy creep you might as well A-click hero on a different lane and you still will draw aggro.
Now, as you know the very basics let’s move on to the really advanced things: in a good players’ hands aggro is an extremely powerful laning tool that can be used in many different ways:
4.1 Aggro tricks – securing lasthits
Let’s take a situation like this:
You are more or less as far from the enemy creep as your opponent. If your projectile speeds and timings are similar – the factor that decides who gets the lasthit will be your damage. And guess what, the damage on every single hero is randomised before every attack. As a good player you don’t want to rely on luck, you want to use some sort of strategy to have the upper hand in this little game. This is where creep aggro knowledge comes into play. By A-clicking the enemy hero as the creep is getting low and instantly backing off, you drag the creep very close to you without exposing yourself to harass. Let’s say the creep was 500 distance from both of the players. After using this trick, it’s 200 units away from you and 800! from the enemy. Amazing isn’t it?
Remember that this trick will not work if enemy creeps do not have vision of your hero. You can also use this trick if you get a perfect creepblock but first you will need to put the knowledge from point 2.4 into use: before you rightclick the enemy hero to pull the aggro simply walk into the small vision circle around your ranged creep. This will guarantee that the enemy can see you and you will be able to pull this trick off.
Notice the circle around my hero, it’s drawn at a 500 range. Currently you can use this command only at private lobbies with cheats on, but if you practice with your friends make sure to turn it on to get used to it later! The best thing you can do when using this strat is to position yourself before A-clicking enemy so that only one creep gets drawn towards you. This will make you push less than when pulling all the creeps.
Take a look at this video: Arteezy has memorised the 500 radius circle so every time he rightclicks the enemy, he pulls only the single creep that he wants to move towards him:
As you get more and more advanced in doing that trick, you will discover that the uses of this tactic are only limited by your creativity. On this picture you can see a fight for 2 lasthits:
Most of the players would just accept the fact that you can’t do 2 attacks at once – so you can only get 1 lasthit or 1 deny. But with aggro tricks knowledge you can have both. Simply repeat the regular A-click + back off but instead of lasthitting your creep, deny the enemy one first. As you can see – it’s currently being attacked by the ranged creep, so if you attack at the perfect timing, you should be able to get both the deny and the lasthit to leave your enemy wondering what the hell just happened. This kind of awareness comes with time and experience but if you practice enough, soon you will surprise even yourself.
4.2 Aggro tricks – messing up lasthits
The above tactic can be also used to mess up enemy lasthits in a simple way:
As you can see on this picture, there’s one green creep getting attacked by most of the enemy creeps. When the creeps need about 2 attacks to get lasthitted, you have to get most of the creeps in your aggro range then A-click the enemy hero. Obviously creeps will immediately switch their target to you and iIf you did this correctly, opponent will perform the attack leaving you a free deny. Remember that this time you want to get as many creeps as you can in your 500 range circle!
4.3 Aggro tricks – attacking enemy without drawing creep aggro.
This legendary ability, mastered by the chosen few does indeed exist and in fact it’s not as hard to pull off as some people may think. Perhaps you’ve even done it before but you might have not noticed it. If you’ve ever wondered how some of the players attack enemies without being attacked by their creeps – this section is for you. To start off, this works the best against melee/low ranged heroes. Here’s a little video that may help you understand the concept:
As you have probably noticed, despite being in the 500 range aggro zone, I’m not getting attacked by any of the creeps. The magic behind this is amazingly simple: you have to attack the hero outside of the 500 aggro range, then without issuing any other command run to him and attack. What happens is that after you attack, the creeps want to attack you but can’t as you are not in their aggro range. Your attack command triggers 2 second cooldown on their target so as you run to the creeps you have 2 seconds of free attacks on your enemy when you won’t get damaged by the wave. The number of attacks depends mostly on your levels and attributes – for most int heroes it’s 1, sometimes 2 attacks before the creeps start attackign you again.
This mechanic can be used as one of the “openings”: as you approach the first enemy creepwave you can A-click your opponent from 500 range to the creeps and do one or two attacks. He won’t be able to trade hits effectively as he will most likely trigger creeps aggro himself.
Chapter 5. Controling highground (New!)
This chapter will cover all the things you need to know in order to control the positioning of creepwave. This is a very overlooked topic in our community: I think that players do not seem to understand the importance of having your creepwave in a favorable position.
5.1 Controlling the first creepwave.
Just as the laning starts you need to ask yourself a question: do I want to get level 2 faster than my enemy and make him farm under the tower? Am I rushing bottle so I can afford pushing the wave? If you answered “no” to both these questions you most likely want to keep the lane static and not push one way or another. You should just focus on getting as much cs as possible while harassing the opponent if he gets out of position.
5.2 Blocking only the first wave: a common misconception
As the title states: it’s a common misconception that midlaners should only block the first wave. Every time both creepwaves die you need to go back to tier 1 tower and start blocking. By doing that you will ensure you have superior positioning, you are less likely to get ganked and your opponent has to play scared because every time he goes for a lasthit he will be vulnerable to your supports’ rotations.
5.3 Pushing the creepwave to get the rune – the intentional pull into tower range
The concept of pushing the lane before runespawn is definitely widely known. Although not everyone knows you can do it using tower! If you see enemy has a huge wave incoming, you can aggro the creeps as many times as it takes to get them in your tower range. This trick will make it easier for you to get the creep equilibrium back but also requires you to feel confident lasthitting under the tower.
5.4 Tanking the creepwave to control the highground
Sometimes you want to maintain the enemy creep advantage by tanking the creepwave. Here’s a clip illustrating this technique:
In this case Queen of Pain tanks the damage to keep her highground advantage over SF. This means that if he moves closer for a lasthit she can blink behind him and kill or harass him.
Chapter 6. Lasthitting under the tower (New!)
Another overlooked thing in playing mid is that in order to not “outplay yourself” you really need to know how to lasthit confidently. There are a few rules that will make it far easier for you to do it but all in all it comes down to practice and getting comfortable with timings and the animation of your hero.
6.1 General rules of lasthitting under the tower
T1 Damage: 110
Ranged creep 300 hp, 0 armor, 0% reduction damage.
- Your damage > 80:tower, tower, you
- Your damage < 80:you, tower, tower, you (can also be T,you,T,you)
Melee creep 550hp, 2 armor, 10.7% damage reduction
- Your damage > 67-70:tower x5, you
- Your damage < 67:you, tower x5, you (can be for example: T, you, T,T,T,T,you)All credit for that info goes to reddit user /u/Jkaos92.
In a nutshell all you have to remember is that if your hero dmg is lower than 67 then you need to attack the melee creep once then wait for 4 tower hits then lasthit it.
6.2 Lasthitting under tower using spells
The rule of thumb here is that almost every spell that is level 2 will let you lasthit ranged creep after tower hits it one more time. This includes:
Shockwave, Illusory Orb, Scream of Pain etc.
Usually spells that do 140-150 damage will also let you lasthit full hp melee creeps easily.
6.2 Getting creep into tower range only for a second
This technique gives you a lot more time to judge whether you need to attack the creep one more time or leave it as it is. All you have to do is drag a creep into tower range then move out of it. Tower’s attack projectile flies pretty slowly so you’ll heave a plenty of time to do your calculations.
Remember that this is just an example video. Don’t try tanking 4 creeps with a level 1 or 2 hero without a stout shield.
Chapter 7. Dodging smokeganks
If you have ever played any higher level DotA, you’ve probably met the biggest nightmare of every mid player: smokeganks. They make you feel in constant danger and you can’t focus on the laning as much. What methods can you use when roaming supports appear during the draft and you know you’ll have to deal with them?
7.1 “Stop the rotation” method
If you want to win mid with an easily gankable hero and you know enemy can make your life a nightmare: get an aggresive trilane against them. This forces them to either stay on the lane and fight back or get detected fairly easily because your allies will call miss as soon as the supports are gone. Remember that as the game starts, before you see most of the enemy heroes on the map – you are not safe, and shouldn’t take any risky moves as they can be just flanking you.
7.2 Colors method
This method works mostly in pubs, where supports aren’t missing from the map as much as they do in more competitive games.
It simply relies on you memorizing the color of player/players that can gank you easily.
In this game I’ve chosen crystal maiden as the biggest gank threat. If orange dot is missing from the map and enemy carry is not farming under the tower because of CM pulling, I have to play really defensively.
7.3 Scorescreen and enemy carry position method
This method relies on you checking the scorescreen constantly and seeing if enemy supports are gaining any levels. If you feel they may gank you at level 1 and are still level 1 when they should have already done pull or two, you should really be expecting gank soon. Another way to check the position of enemy supports is watching if their carry is farming under the tower: if he is – supports are currenlty pulling, if he’s not then it’s time to start worrying. This method is unfortunately not 100% reliable as they may smoke immidiately after doing the pull and by the time you see enemy creeps back on their safelane you’ll already be dead.
It’s also really important to have a path which you are going to take depending on where the enemy support will come from.
Chapter 8. Runecontrol and controlling the courier
Whether you like it or not – runes and randomness that comes with them often wins or loses games. Controlling who gets the rune is an important factor in how good of a mid player you are. You probably know the basic “start pushing 10-15 seconds before rune spawn” rule so I’m not even going to go into details about it. What I want to talk about instead is what you should do if the enemy secures the rune and what are the ablities that every rune gives.
8.1 Bounty runes at level 1 – should you give up your block to get them?
Short answer: yes, if you know you are not in danger of dying when picking them up. Generally you just have to judge which team has better level 1 teamfight composition.
Heroes that you have to look out for:
- Undying – Decay
- Mirana – Arrow from fog
- Ancient Apparition – Chilling Touch
- Earthshaker – Fissure
- Spiritbreaker – Charge of darkness, very tanky
- Tuskar – Snowball
8.2 Bottle crowing, controlling the courier
The answer to [almost] every problem on the mid: bottle crow. Nerfed in the last DotA version, but still viable if you are melee hero with a spammable nuke.
Some bottlecrow tips:
- The only significant change that the bottlecrow nerf brought is that you shouldn’t ever use courier’s speed buff as it flies to you from base. Wait until you put your empty bottle in it, then feel free to use it.
- If you feel like enemy offlaner or supports are going to get your rune, already fly your courier somewhere into the trees near middle lane and if it indeed is what happens, bottle crow instead of wasting time checking the rune.
- You should be especially careful if your opposing team has a Nature’s Prophet or Bounty Hunter. They love sniping couriers and the gold you give them is almost like a free tower.
- Use item hotkeys in the shop! This makes shopping way faster and can save your courier. If you forgot about it and the enemy Qop is about to jump on it, quickly click shop hotkey then “courier upgrade” hotkey – for me it’s N and 8. If you’re lucky you will trade 220 gold for a kill on an overextending opponent.
- You have to have a courier hotkey and all his possible actions binded too. Toggling between your hero and courier and checking if your bottle is already refilled or if surge is available saves a lot of time and sometimes even your life.
8.3 Rune usage
- Haste: If you sense an opportunity, you can gank enemy safelane with this rune or you can just nuke your mid opponent and make him unable to come close to creeps because of the death threat. Earlygame most useful used 10 seconds before the next rune in order to secure it.
- Double damage: The “mid autowin” rune. If you get it you should push your advantage to the max: zone out the enemy, deny all of his creeps and get all the lasthits.
- Invisibility: Before level 6-7 it’s not that useful as you’re not going to gank anyways and ganking supports usually have sentries. Remember that you can use bottle once after activating it without breaking the invisibility buff.
- Illusion: Players usually activate the rune, A-click illusions into the enemy and watch them die after dealing 15 damage. This rune actually has more uses than any other: you can stack 2 neutral camps/ancients at once, scout and deny the next rune, bodyblock to kill or send the illusions to his highground to zone him out. Illu rune can also tank Rosh if you issue the “move” command and then click on Roshan.
- Regeneration: Be really aggresive, get rid of all the mana then use it. One very common mistake is overextending to spend all mana then dying in a humilating way. Don’t do that. Please.
- Bounty rune: Even though after 2 minutes of keeping it in the bottle you will get about 2 gold and a few xp points more I suggest you use it right away. If you get ganked and need to bottle up inbetween enemy attacks you may find yourself surprised that you need to activate the bounty first.
8.4 Wrong rune usage
A really common mistake that 80% of students that I coached do is using runes right away. If you have level 5/6 and you get a really good ganking rune then using it to heal up is a huge waste. Try going back to fountain, use it as you tp to the enemy safelane then return mid after a successfull gank. Here’s a short movie to illustrate what I mean:
After bottling the rune I got hit by stun + lightening of leshrac. I could have activated the rune then used all bottle charges to stay on the lane but what I did instead was get back to base then use invis to gank the sidelane.
Chapter 9. To gank or not to gank?
That is the question. You probably often ask yourself in pubs “should I listen to my teammate? He’s feeding and saying he cant do anything on his lane but I’m just level 3…”
The answer is no. Never listen to offlaners crying about how hard their lane is, if they tell you to come gank before you’re even level 5/6 it means they have no idea about this game.
9.1 It is way easier to list when it is advised to leave your lane and gank than the other way around:
- When you are not level 6 but get a rune like haste and see that enemy is low-hped and won’t be able to back in time
- When you’re level 6 or higher and you see enemies diving your team under the tower. Always carry tp scroll past 6 level in came something like this happens! TP into double or triple kill means a lot at early stages of the game.
- When you see a fight somewhere near your lane and you’re sure you will get some gold or exp from kills/save your ally
- when your supports dewarded the enemy so you are sure nobody will see you coming
9.2 Why is looking at the clock so important?
It takes wards 7 minutes to expire. Ganking enemies earlier simply means relying they don’t have any wards which in fact is gambling. If you gamble and lose – you waste a lot of time, experience and gold what your opponent is going to capitalize on. In the worst case scenario enemy trilane seeing you coming with rune will set up an ambush and even kill you. Usually using a tp to get to the lane you want to gank is an even better idea.
If you got your lvl 6, ganked successfully and still havent used your ulti, go back to base and regain mana then use smoke and come back to gank the enemy carry again.
9.3 Balancing ganking and farming
Rotating too much is by far the most common mistake 3-4k mmr players do. Every time you want to gank you have to ask yourself: what am I getting and what am I losing in return? If we assume that every creepwave is ~150-200 gold then spending 2 minutes on the other lane may cost you up to 800 gold. Meanwhile you are also sharing experience with your allies while your opponent is freefarming and getting solo xp. It takes a while to figure out when you should farm and when you should gank: going with the rule of “sum of the gains and losses” and watching your own replays is the fastest way to learn it.
Chapter 10. Mana management (New!)
Mana management is an extremely important aspect of playing midlane that I only discovered after playing competetive DotA for a while.
10.1 Why is having mana so important?
If you stay on the lane with low a series of consequences is going to rain down on you:
- You are unable to solokill the opposite midlaner even if you get a good rune
- Some heroes like Puck or Magnus get really vulnerable to ganks if they dont have the mana to use their escape ability.
But the most important by far is:
- You are not a threat to the enemy on two other lanes. If you play against good players or a good team – they will notice it and they will abuse it. This means that they will attempt risky kills and dives under tower that they wouldn’t have otherwise. With 100 mana even if you tp you won’t be able to do anything more than rightclick them.
10.2 How do I preserve mana?
- Do not nuke waves for no reason. You should either harass the enemy with them while getting ~2 cs each time or just rely on your autoattack to get every lasthit.
- Do not attempt a solokill unless you are absolutely sure you are going to get it or at least force a rotation. You’re going to waste all of your mana and become a liability to your team.
10.3 What if I run out of mana?
Mana management is a bit like managing your water level during sport competitions. What pros say is that the moment you feel thirsty is the moment you are already dehydrated. DotA works surprisingly similarly when it comes to mana. If you run out of mana it’s already too late. You should have brought a clarity or bottlecrowed: clarity is only 50 gold and it regains a ton of mana for what it costs, dont be afraid to ferry it casually together with your boots or a tp.
Chapter 11. The importance of mid tier 1 tower. Tower mechanics. (New!)
Guess what… another aspect of playing mid that needs people to be more aware of.
11.1 Why is mid tower so important?
- It controls the access to your jungle – if you lose it you effectively leave a huge chunk of the map open to the enemy
- You become way more susceptible to ganks – your team has nothing to tp to in case of opponent’s aggresion, the aspect of vision/truesight plays a big role as well
- Tier 1 mid tower plays a big role in controlling the roshan area
- Getting the enemy tier 1 tower gives you such a huge advantage that it’s really to counterpush the enemy mid tower in the next 5-10 mins
11.2 My little study on the topic
I have analysed exactly 100 of my games to find out what the winrate of the team that gets tier 1 mid tower first is. The results showed a clear winner: teams that get the t1 mid tower before their opponent had 61% winrate!
I do realise that the sample may be pretty small but such a big advantage may not go unnoticed.
11.3 How to abuse the facts that you’ve learned about mid T1?
- Never gank when you’re up against a hero that can push your tower really quickly: Shadowfiend, lvl 6 Death Prophet, Leshrac, Beastmaster – they will outpush the lane with their nuke then take the tower before you are able to react
- If you really want to gank – ask one of your teammates to stay mid and keep creeps off the tower
Exactly the same logic applies when your opponent rotates on one of the other lanes to gank – the moment you see him run towards your safelane start pushing to deal as much damage to the tower as possible.
11.4 “The tower chipping technique”
If you watch a lot of pro DotA you may notice how they always manage to juggle the tower aggro in order to keep attacking the tower and never get attacked back by it. On the midlane every small detail matters so getting 2 or 3 bonus attacks every now and then may have huge consequences in the future.
As you may notice in the short clip above I stop attacking the tower just about the ranged being attacked by the tower is about to die. As soon as the tower switches to the next creep you are free to attack it again. Tower will always focus on the melee creeps that are currently attacking the tower over you and it will never switch aggro from a creep to a hero unless you attack the enemy hero in 500 range. That means that you only have to stop attacking when the tower is about to switch target from one creep to another.
11.5 Movement under the tower
A common mistake middleskill players are doing is leaving the opponent to freely farm under his tower. If you use the knowledge I provided you with you can do some amazing things right in front of the enemy tower. Remember that as long as you dont rightclick your opponent while being less than 500 units away from tower it will never switch aggro to you. It should look like this:
Chapter 12. Doublewaving, what is it and when to use it
Doublewaving is a strategy designed to make laning against melee, low ranged and heroes that want to be aggresive early way easier. It may also prove extremely useful if getting level 2 before the enemy gives you a significant advantage.
Example: Puck vs TA
Normally Puck is considered to be severely countered by Templar Assassin. By using this trick though you may gain enough advantage early to snowball and even win the lane. Getting level 2 when TA is lvl 1 you are able to dive under the tower without risking to be hit and you can avoid any harass easily.
So what exactly is this strategy and how do I use it?
To “doublewave” someone means to accumulate a lot of creeps that start pushing him towards his tower. Meanwhile you are free to harass with all the aggro tricks you’ve learned (yes they work on towers too) and deny his creeps as he tanks them under the tower. Here’s a video of me performing this strategy against my friend:
There are few things you have to remember when trying to do it:
- never let enemy get 2 ranged creeps, actually the first creep that you kill should be his ranged creep – you stop the pushing and you can harass the enemy easier
- you DO want to focus more on attacking the enemy hero than on lasthitting on the first wave. That way you start pushing ijust in the right timing.
- use your spells! Using spells like static remnant/illusory orb/scream of pain deals damage to creeps comparable with 4-5 autoattacks
- dont push too fast! If you kill the first enemy creepwave before your second wave arrives you will just give the enemy a lot of lasthits for free and your plan will be ruined
There are a few things you can do to prevent getting doublewaved:
- Pull the enemy creeps into your tower range
- Autoattack the enemy creeps/use your nuke
- Try killing the ranged creep first
Chapter 13. Hard matchups and how to deal with them
There are some heroes that make you want to quit DotA after laning against them. Remember though that every hero in this game is beatable. “OD walks into a bar. There was no counter.”? Not anymore!
13.1 Playing as a melee hero against ranged, very disadvantageous matchups like DK/ember vs viper
This is another common question I get: What do I do if I get into an extremely disadvantageous matchup like Viper vs Ember?
First thing you need to remember is: do not die. Dying means you won’t be able to come to this lane anymore without dying again. There are a few advanced techniques you can use to get a few more cs from an unwinable lane.
13.1.1 From tower to tower
One way to make sure your opponent is unable to zone you out of experience is to give the creepwave some momentum so it jumps from one tower to another. This should be performed with a very specific timing as if you nuke the creepwave too early the enemy tower will kill all creeps by the time your second wave reaches midlane and you will end up with creeps in the same spot as when you started. Try practicing this strategy in a private lobby before you get into a real game.
To do this try to push the wave really hard approximately 10 seconds after the creeps have met in the middle of the river. The desired outcome is your opponent farming the second wave under his tower and then you farming the next one under yours.
13.1.2 Aggro, aggro, aggro
This strategy uses the trick that you’ve already learned in the Chapter 4. Rightclick your hero while being less than 500 units away from the enemy creeps. In this case you don’t want to do it just once. You want to keep using it as many times as it requires creeps to spread really widely all across the midlane. The opponent won’t be able to both cs and harass you that easily.
13.2 Playing against Templar Assassin
As you just read, there are strategies to make Templar Assassin a beatable hero. One of the most impressive performances I’ve ever seen was Arteezy’s Puck beating TA with treant’s armor. Luckily I have a ticket for that tournament, so here’s a video for you!
Arteezy uses every trick possible to outlane his opponent. His lasthitting under the tower is also flawless this game. Despite not getting any runes he outcses TA severely and even gets a kill with some help of a jungling DS. This video proves what an amazing impact hard work and dedication have on your play.
13.3 Playing against obsidian destroyer outworld demolisher Outworld devourer
This hero used to be the ultimate antimidder. Unless you played Razor, Kunkka or Lone Druid there just was not much you could do after he hit level 3. As of 6.84 this hero should win most of the matchups against int heroes but some of them that can stay away from astral imprisonment can do OK (such as Queen of Pain, Leshrac or Lina). You should not focus on playing aggresively against an OD. What you’re looking for is getting as much CS as possible, leeching experience, rune control as well as stacking woods to get back into the game. After you hit level 6, go gank and contribute to the team’s current situation. Maxing the nuke that will let you grab few extra lasthits against him is strongly advised.
PS If everything else fails, there’s always good old “gank him you’ll be fine”.
13.4 Playing against a batrider
Batrider’s sticky napalm is one of the most annoying skills in the game. It makes you turn forever, easy to harass and zone out. I’m probably not going to say anything particularly new here but getting a stick and backing off every time you get 3-4 stacks is a must. One of the biggest flaws on batrider’s laning is his projectile speed. Good bat will get 100% of his lasthits, but as napalm obviously doesn’t work on his own creeps you should be able to farm a bit too. If you don’t die to him by getting caught will already be a big win for your team. Heroes that are pretty decent against a bat are OD, Puck, Queen of Pain and… Zeus !
Chapter 14. Picking the right hero in ranked -all pick.
I get a lot of questions regarding the topic of raising your mmr. In my opinion to raise your mmr reliably you can’t just pick the same hero every game and expect it to work (with a few exceptions of overpowered meta heroes of course). Personally I like to wait for the 4th or last pick when selecting my hero. I do that not only to counter the enemy mid but also to see what my team composition still lacks. So…
What should you keep in mind before selecting a hero?
14.1 Question one: what does my team need?
If your team consists of 3 agility heroes picking another carry would obviously be really questionable. If your team already has so much physical damage – the most optimal heroes will be either boosting their damage (Magnus, Beastmaster) or providing them with reliable disables to give them more time to attack the enemy (QW Invoker, Puck, Brewmaster, Warlock, Magnus, Beastmaster)
14.2 Question two: can i counter the enemy lineup with just one pick?
- Lack of instant disables – > pick mobile heroes: Queen of Pain, Storm, Puck, Tinker
- A lot of mana intensive heroes -> pick Pugna or Nyx
- Lack of outpush abilities -> Leshrac, QE Invoker with necronomicon, Beastmaster, Dragon Knight, Death Prophet, Mekansm SF
14.3 Question three: does my team need more damage/a carry?
If you answered “yes” pick heroes that farm fast and scale well into the lategame:
Shadowfiend, Templar Assassin, Storm Spirit, Ember, Kunkka
14.4 Question four: Does my team need more outpush against enemy deathball?
Pick heroes with outpush abilities:
Magnus, Lina, Puck, Tinker, Zeus
14.5 Question five: Does my team have map control heroes?
(heroes that outpush lanes a lot/gank: Nature’s Prophet, Antimage, Nyx, Clockwerk). In that case I like to get mid hero that can easily get a lot of solo pickoffs
Examples: Storm, Lina, Euls + max E Invoker, Queen of Pain
14.6 Question six: Am I really confident in my skills and want to carry the game alone?
If so you can just pick one of the “meta heroes” while counterpicking the enemy mid. Usually these heroes are capable of getting a lot of pickoffs while farming quickly. These are the heroes that are used by 6k+ players that want to raise in MMR/don’t want to rely on their team to win.
Examples of counterpicks to common mid heroes in the 6.84 meta:
- Leshrac -> Lina, Pugna, Huskar
- Lina -> Templar Assassin, Puck (if you’re good at it)
- Queen of Pain -> Windrunner, Lina, Storm Spirit (if you win laning stage)
- Shadowfiend -> Leshrac, Lina, Queen of Pain, Templar Assassin
- Storm Spirit -> Shadowfiend, Lina, Queen of Pain, Windrunner, Leshrac
- Templar Assassin -> Viper, Ember Spirit, Windrunner
As you can see there’s much more to picking your hero than just looking at what the opposite midlaner has chosen. Counterpicking is indeed generally advised but you should always look at the broader picture and ask yourself whether the hero you are about to pick is going to work with your team’s lineup and against 4 other enemy heroes. There’s still a lot of DotA to be played after the laning stage is over!
Chapter 15. All the little things you can learn to become a better mid player
This chapter is devoted to all the things that are too inisgnificant to deserve their own chapter. Together though, they give you a ton of knowledge that often proves really useful in-game.
15.1 The unwritten rule of every 1v1 matchup
Always go for a lasthit over deny. It’s always more important for you to have items rather than prevent your enemies from getting them. More gold – more opportunities.
15.2 Mouse precision matters. A lot.
Clicking heroes in complicated teamfights, precisely selecting which creep to lasthit and which to deny, checking things on minimap quickly – all of that requires a lot of mouse precision. I noticed that after practicing my mouse skills I am a lot more confident during every match.
To get your “clicking skills” to another level I suggest minigames like this one:
You should be able to get over 50k+ points before you can say that your mouse precision is OK. 100k+ means you are really good and with 200k+ you will never have to worry about your mouse precision again.
15.3 The damage of combined level 6/7 spells
For some people this may seem completely redundant but I’ve seen some pro players checking enemy’s hp before going for a kill. After all it’s always better to know something than not to.
Remember that this is a pure spell damage output calculation . You’ll almost always be able to add 1-4 autoattacks to the combo what will deal somewhere between 50-200 additional damage.
- QoP lvl 6: 432 dmg, lvl 7: 488 dmg (no shadowstrike)
- Puck lvl 6: 285 dmg (+75), lvl7: 338 dmg (+75) [75 is the coil break damage]
- Zeus lvl 6: 439 dmg, lvl 7: 495 dmg (no passive included [40-120dmg])
- Magnus lvl 6: 312 dmg, lvl 7: 368 dmg
- Tinker (laser rocket build,no rearm) lvl 6: 428 dmg, lvl 7: 508 dmg
15.4 Dodging Qop’s shadowstrike procs with phase shift/euls
When I died to something I should have been able to avoid I decided to learn how to dodge each one of the shadowstrikes ticks. One of the methods is to count to three and phaseshift every time you are about to get hit, but this metod is not realiable at all. How I do this is by memorising shadowstrike’s status icon, where each tick occurs on the timer then phaseshifting just as it’s about to hit you. Here’s a picture with green lines showing when to use phaseshift to dodge every damage instance :
15.5 Dodging sniper’s assassinate with phase shift/euls/blink etc.
Same as above, this method uses status icon to determine when to blink or use you item that will dodge enemy’s spell projectile. Works every time, regardless of how far from the sniper you are:
Sniper stops channeling when the assassinate status is just a few pixels to the left from the centre. Use your spell or euls at that exact moment to dodge the flying bullet.
15.6 TPing out from puck’s coil without taking damage
Sometimes you know you won’t survive puck’s ult orb silence + autoattacks combo, especially if you break the coil. Tping out breaks the coil even in your fountain so that’s not a viable option. Or maybe it is? If you wait for puck’s coil to go past 1/2 of the status bar, you are free to tp back to base and you won’t receive any additional damage! That’s because puck’s ultimate lasts for 6 seconds and tp channels for 3 seconds.
15.7 Positioning your courier closer to the mid lane
In DotA every second matters a lot. Sometimes the smallest things can win or lose the game. Things like getting your bottle 0,5s faster. I remember dying to pudge just because my bottle was a quarter of second too late to get delivered. You can prevent this kind of situation by positioning your courier as far as possible, but still in the shop’s range. Here’s how it looks like:
15.8 Camera hotkeys
Camera hotkeys are a great way to make checking for rune way easier. If you don’t know what that is – it’s basically binding certain camera position somewhere on the map to a single hotkey, in this case: runespot. In DotA 2 console allows you to bind them once and forever.
To set runespot camera hotkeys paste following commands in your console:
bind “X” “dota_camera_set_lookatpos -2287 1817”
bind “Y” “dota_camera_set_lookatpos 2960 -2353”
Obviously you can change the X and Y hotkeys to any other key you want.
15.9 Random useful facts
DotA is an incredibly complex game and there mechanics that even DotA veterans are surprised to discover.
I prepared a short list of random facts that may prove useful when you play the mid solo role:
- You need two or more levels in exort to take off Templar Assassin’s refraction charges with icewall. Orb of venom will not trigger refraction charges.
- If someone stands exactly 450 units from your hero, you can hit him with all three Shadowfiend’s razes
- If you have troubles with detecting when kunkka fakes his torrent – buy a stick. Whenever you gain a charge – you know it’s coming.
- Tinker’s laser miss buff is applied after a short interval. You can dodge it [but not the damage] by using skill like phaseshift or bane’s sleep immidiately after getting hit.
- Storm spirit’s overload can be triggered when your projectile is already mid-air. Abuse this to get easy firstbloods.
- You can use salves and bottle while under effect of pudge’s level 1-3 rot.
Chapter 16. Practice – how to and why to
People who play support say that the 4 and 5 positions require the most practice. People who play offlane and carry say the exact same thing. And to your surprise every mid player believes his position is the hardest and needs the most experience. So how, what and with who do I practice?
16.1 How to practice mid
Host a lobby with your practicepartner, set it to: cheats on, only mid and start the game. Depending on what you want to practice you can set your match to:
- bottle crow on, runes off: allows you to bottlecrow, this training is usually focused on farming spells usage as you can them a lot and it’s difficult to kill the enemy
- runes on, bottle crow off: makes you practice runecontrol but sometimes is luck dependant
- runes on, bottle crow on: balances the luck factor
– if you want to, you can add additional 220 gold at 3:00 with -gold 220 command to pretend your support has upgraded the courier
– some people like to practice with “pooled” tango, to get one or two of them use -createhero lich, then wait for the bot to buy items. After he does you can “pool yourself” tangoes”
– type -startgame when you are both ready to waste less time on waiting for the creeps to spawn. This feature still seems to be somewhat bugged because if you do this later than -0:30 it will spawn two creepwaves.
16.2 Some of the most common/interesting matchups to practice:
- Puck vs QoP
- Puck vs Bat
- Puck vs Storm
- Puck vs Magnus
- Puck vs Windrunner
- Qop vs Magnus
- QoP vs Storm
- Qop vs Bat
- QoP vs Windrunner
- TA vs QoP
- Storm vs Sf
- Storm vs Windranger
16.3 Things you get from practicing mid
- You can master all the aggro tricks I presented you with in this guide
- You get better at timing your lasthits and “feeling” the hero
- Your bottlecrow and rune control gets way smoother
- You learn about some mindgames that come with practice
- You can learn your mistakes if your practice partner is better than you
16.4 Where do I find players to practice with?
If none of your friends likes to do it, then it’s time to find a new friends 🙂 Try searching popular chat channels like “purgegamers”, “merlini”, “reddit” or “Na’Vi”. If you still haven’t found anyone then try this guild: http://steamcommunity.com/groups/1v1Dota2Guild
If you ask the admin, he will add you to the guild inside the client and there you will find a plenty of players looking for practicepartners. Other good places to search for decent players are are ixdl-Open/Invite channels respective to your continent and big forums like joindota.com
17. The ending word and shoutouts
On the first place shoutout to You for reading this guide, every comment also means a lot to me, thanks! 🙂 Even though writing this took me some time, seeing the final result I don’t regret any second spent on it.
Secondly, shoutout to my first reader and reviewer, HRTS. Thanks for supporting me at late hours when writing this, all the deep conversations and uncountable practice sessions done together.
Special thanks to Arteezy for providing “research material” and EternalEnvy for infecting me with his passion to detail and optimisation.
Thanks to all of my students that I coached, you guys really helped me realise a lot of things about laning.
Last but not least shoutout to Icefrog and Valve for creating and developing DotA 2.
Thanks for reading !
If you have any questions regarding mid, feel free to email me at ChaQDotA@gmail.com
I recently decided I’d like to start streaming but my current 8 YO PC and slow internet connection will not let me do that. If you want to make it happen please consider supporting my “road to streaming”, every donation is greatly appreciated!
As I mentioned before after publishing my guide to solo mid I got a ton of emails from all around the world and there was one question asked in almost every one of them:
Do you do coaching? Can I 1v1 you? Can I add you for you to tell me what mistakes I make in my laning?
Getting mails like this every day made me think that if there’s demand then maybe I should consider giving it a try. By now i have coached over 100 people from all around the world.
My coaching session includes:
Your replay of choice analysis – laning, gameflow, biggest mistakes
learning to get the most of the matchups in which you should dominate your opponent
1v1s and deep analysis of your laning – solo mid or 1v1 off/safelane
Watching you play as a coach, giving you live feedback on your decisionmaking.
I felt like 1 hour is not enough to analyse the biggest flaws in the play of my students so I offer 1,5h coaching sessions for 20$ each.
In case you are interested send me an email at ChaQDotA@gmail.com