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Beginner’s Guide to Dota 2: Intro to Laning

Ok, so now you know the basics of positioning and creep aggro, and thus how to position yourself to stay safe in your chosen lane. Time to cover the first phase of a Dota 2 game: the laning phase. Once you have mastered positioning and how to stay safe from creeps and towers, the next step is to stay safe from enemy Heroes, which can be much more challenging.

Firstly, we must explain the three lanes in Dota 2, and how they differ from each other. There are two “side lanes” and a “middle lane”. The two side lanes are called “top lane” and “bottom lane”. The side lanes have different properties specific to the two teams Radiant and Dire, properties which make each lane either the “safe lane” or “hard lane” with respect to each team. See the Dota 2 map below:


We will first explain the side lanes. In most low level public matchmaking games, there will be two Heroes in each side lane, and one Hero in the middle lane. That means that if you are in a side lane there will be two enemy Heroes who will be doing their utmost to disrupt your laning, and constantly trying to kill you. You must be aware at all times of your position, your laning partner’s position, and the enemy Heroes’ position.

The first key concept to cover here is “last hitting”. The instance of damage (whether it be from a basic attack or a Hero ability) which takes away the last of a creep’s Hit Points is called the “last hit”. If you land the last hit on an enemy creep, you are rewarded a gold bounty. If you land the last hit on a friendly creep, you “deny” the creep and reduce the amount of experience nearby enemy Heroes receive from its death.

The next fundamental laning skill you must master is that of harassment. This ties in with creep aggro and positioning, and can make the difference between life and death during your laning phase. Harassment at its most basic level involves dealing damage to the enemy Heroes in your lane. Effective harassment means dealing enough damage to surpass any regeneration they enemy Hero may possess from items and abilities, while at the same time minimising damage you receive in return. This can be achieved through basic attacks or abilities. The ultimate aim of harassment is to force the enemy Heroes away from “farm” or the gathering of gold and experience, either by bringing their HP low enough to kill them, or forcing them to go back to their fountain and regenerate, costing them travel time from and back to the lane. Either way, if you succeed, you have won your lane.

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