In our article about Mars, we discussed how the offlane meta is currently returning back to its glory days, at least in a sizable percentage of games. Professional teams and individual players are typically looking for an offlaner that offers both good utility and damage, while being relatively gold and experience independent, or capable of securing his own farm early on.
Every lineup needs a space creating hero that their team can group up on and start applying pressure. Playing reactively for the whole game rarely works out, and you absolutely need to be able to make moves around the map. Luckily, there are many heroes who are capable of spearheading ganks in the early game, making for a decently diverse offlane meta.
Mars needs no introduction. Appearing in more than a third of all 5k+ games, this hero looks like he was specifically designed for the offlane role. He has great lane presence and can start ganking as soon as level 6. Moreover, he doesn’t need many items to be effective at it.
His win rate took a dip after the 7.21d, but he is still one of the most successful heroes in pubs and is absolutely worth playing. More on the hero can be found in our previous blog post
Dark Seer’s popularity and win rate started increasing seemingly out of nowhere, despite several minor nerfs to the hero. We believe it is mostly related to how the hero is currently played, with a focus on Surge as an extremely versatile and powerful initiation and disengagement tool.
The hero currently wins more than 55% of his games and it can be mostly attributed to how many MS-reliant heroes are currently in the meta. Heroes like Lifestealer or Ursa benefit greatly from being able to chase without any issues and not only does Dark Seer provide this chase potential, he also has ways of bolstering his team’s teamfight potential through a rather powerful combo, involving Vacuum, Wall of Replica and dominated Centaur creep.
The last part, while slightly complex in execution, provides Dark Seer with his own, reliable way of initiation and catch—something we previously pointed out as lacking.
Considerably less popular than the previous two heroes, but equally effective, Beastmaster never truly leaves the meta. In a game of Dota, vision is always going to be important—it allows easier targeting, better decision making and helps in both tactical and strategic senses.
Primal Roar is one of the most straightforward initiation tools that might not look as highlight-worthy as Vacuum+Stun combo, but is going to be at least as effective in the majority of cases. The popularity of Abaddon does make it slightly worse, but with the current agreement that the supports always pick first, it is never truly impossible to sneak Beastmaster in.
Beastmaster is also among the few offlane heroes who offer a lot of direct tower damage, allowing him to play split-pushing game. Most of it is also possible with Beastmaster staying relatively safe, since he relies on his summons to deal damage. Our current stats show that maxing out Call of the Wild first and the Aura second is the most popular and most successful build for the hero, with the vast majority of players simply ignoring Wild Axes.
To be fair, the hero currently sees most play in the safelane as a position 1 carry, but when his kit was slightly reworked back in the day, Wraith King was most common in the offlane, and there is no reason not to try to play him there, especially in a 2v2 setup.
It seems some players still underestimate Mortal Strike skeletons—most successful Wraith Kings max out this ability first, to accelerate their farming speed and apply more pressure to their lane. This allows the hero to be extremely effective at killing low-armor supports in the early game, while also pressuring the tower, if the lane suddenly gets abandoned by the enemy.
Wraith King received the same MS treatment as both Ursa and Lifestealer in 7.21, and the latter two have been running rampant in both pubs and the professional scene, already forcing some nerfs. Is Wraith King some hidden gem or is he is simply too situational? Professional players tend to think the latter, but the rules of the professional scene do not fully apply to our everyday pubs and according to stats the hero is absolutely worth at least trying.
Tidehunter can’t push towers or split push very well, and he doesn’t offer continuous pressure, yet the hero is still picked quite frequently, with a decent win rate. Much like Dark Seer, we believe it has a lot to do with Tidehunter’s consistency.
It is hard to completely zone out Tidehunter and even then he always has an option to go jungling. He is almost guaranteed to hit his item timings and provide some powerful auras for his team, and sometimes it is all you need. Tidehunter stabilizes the draft, regardless of what heroes were picked before him or are going to be picked after him.
The threat of Ravage in the early game, especially on a hero who goes for sustainability aura items, allows teams to group up on Tide and start pushing. If done early enough, in the pre-BKB timing, it can allow your team to get most of the outer towers uncontested.
Ursa and Buybacks are the only two big problems the hero is currently facing and even they can be played around.
Despite a rather insignificant 7.21d patch, we are starting to see some new heroes in our games and it is a great thing. Mars is probably going to continue dominating the offlane for now, since he is a new and a very effective hero, but the second most popular offlane hero slot is contested by many different characters.
We are hoping that Valve is going to continue to let the meta develop naturally with 7.21d. There doesn’t seem to be a hero that can’t be dealt with, at least in the higher levels of play, so it is up to community to continue thinking of new ways to punish the stale picks—there are answers in the game, we just have to find them.