I am back, after a few months of... not doing anything related to guides since the last time I got that Boots guide published. Hell, I even had Lapis updating the old guides for me. However, I am now back with a plethora of new projects. The first one would be the revamp of a once notorious guide King of Solo Mid that actually never went published. This guide has the idea from that one, but it is in no way a rewrite of erednay's work (although credits is due where credits is due)
Help people be better at solo mid. It is a rather sad fact that most solo mids I face in pubs (since competitive player wouldn't look at this guide for whatever reasons needed for them to get better at this role) are well, Bottle first in DotA and can't hope to lower my win rate in Dota 2. All of these are extremely depressing to see and have on my team (remember "solo mid or I feed"?). I am also an almost exclusive solo mid player, and thus I can say that if there is any laning position I should be writing guides about it is this one.
Yes, the basis of all DotA games, heroes. You are nothing without your hero (screw you Chen). When you are solo mid, there are a lot of factors you have to consider, but the one thing is though,what hero are you going to pick?
Now, some heroes are decent at soloing some of the time against some percent of the dota population against some of the DotA heroes. I'm sorry but picking those heroes would not guarantee you the win. You would have to resort hero counters some time if you want to pull off the win. Of course there's nothing really stopping you from picking just whatever the hell hero you want and go to mid and expect to do... something, but then again if you choose that you wouldn't need a guide to tell you that now would you?
Here I would judge the most common solo mid heroes based on certain qualifications and a brief explanation of how they work and who they would work against. The criteria are set to none - bad - decent - good:
*Last hitting capabilities
*Ability to retaliate against ganks
*Ability to co-operate with ganks
The more of these criteria a hero meets, the better he will be at solo-ing
Now I'm going through the hero who most commonly solo middle in a higher-tier game. You have to note the word "common", mainly because there are heroes that can solo well, but I don't list because they're better off else where. You have to realize how this list isn't that much for best solos, but rather the best heroes to put into the solo mid position. I do not divide them by any particular order and I would never, so please don't ask. All of this expecting you already know what the hero's basics are. Note that my criteria work for level 5 downwards only, thus not accounting ultimate except Invoker.
Items are up next, since those are clearly what you equip your heroes with. Now whether you've noticed or not, going mid (especially solo) warrants different item builds than side lanes. Because:
*You don't have access to the secret shops/side shops as fast (except for Scourge) mid laner with a tree-chopping device
*You are closest (on average) to the fountain, thus making trips of courier or yourself from base to the mid lane is short compared to bottom or top. This also means that the creeps on your lane reach the opponent's faster.
*You have equal access to all the runes
*Where you are can be accessed from all sides.
*Where the creeps met is equally close to your tower as your opponents (on average)
Regardless, there are basic item schemes that one should mostly (remember, mostly) be standard. Obviously this should also varies upon the start of the game, judging from your and your opponent's team composition. Here are some general guidelines:
Yes, hero matchups. What, do you think I did the entire first section just fo' sho?
Well originally, yeah, but that doesn't matter now, does it?
Anyways, as you would probably have noticed by now, I have taken the liberty of rating the heroes you would commonly find in mid solos, and taking a look at the details should help when you're facing the opponent and going "oh shit" of how you have no idea what you're going to do for the next five minutes outside of being breast-fed through a straw (albeit that idea doesn't seem so bad). You should probably draw the conclusion how heroes with higher rankings are better than those with lower ones, except for specific counters.
That wasn't too hard, now was it? Well actually, it should be. If you're up against something you have a distinctive advantage against, then you should be aggressive, conversely, don't stick your nose in WR's business if you happen to be a Tiny running around trying to find your meths. Stay the fuck back, farm if you don't burn 150 hp everytime trying to do so and please, watch out for the ganks, you're better off alive and barely breathing than death.
I'm not going to be here and repeat all that I've said through numerous blog articles, but there is one thing you should always keep in mind:
DO NOT BE PREDICTABLE
Being predictable only spells downfall, in every aspect of this game and even your life. Everything's a competition. You'd lose if you become predictable, and then, SWAG won't help pay your rent, but doing dish washing competitions against trained monkeys would. This is a solo mid lane, and you're alone. Remember that if you fail, IT IS ALWAYS YOUR FAULT. This would be explained in even finer details comes the next section.
Here comes the real deal. Yes, I'm going to teach you how to not suck more at this, if that's possible. Regardless, I know that some of the readers are actually half-decent (or better) at this than the usual lot, but I'm going to stick with my target audiences regardless. Now, being in the mid lane, and EXCLUSIVELY the mid lane, ALONE, is different. I've already covered HOW it is different, but of course, it wouldn't be just DotA if we don't have the similarities right? Those are precisely the most part of the fundamentals, only slightly altered to fit the context of the mid lane.
The battle starts as the creeps move out. As a solo mid, unless you're warding, which you should've done prior anyways, you should stay with your creeps. However, even though you can, and should to a degree, try to block your creeps, don't stand in front of them at all times. You might just get caught in the next Fissure block, or be that guy who died blocking himself in between the creep lines. It's embarrassing for you, your team and me to even have to spell it out loud. Remember though, creep block does not only apply to the first wave of creeps, but also that time when yours are pushed beyond the river into enemy's tower range and you don't want the next line to end up with the same fate. If you feel like it, by all means, go back a bit and stomp in front of the next creep line, drawing the meeting point closer to your tower. This should not happen usually, however, but just in case, don't do it if you're missing out on a lot of xp.
Seems like easy, does it? WRONG. You are by yourself, facing against a presumably equally-skilled opponent who is just as good as last hitting as you, and you might not get laid afterwards, how frustrating is that? I can't really teach you about this though, since it's part of your DotA learning process. However, remember to never let anything sucks in your total attention. This is a mother fucking war here, and if you want to win in the long run, be sure to keep your eyes open, none of your hands on your penis at all times. No, you can't touch your penis even when you die, that's just gross, get over it. Watch some porn if the game's over, geez. Of course, having said that, there are certain benchmarks to hit. You should, by min 10, have at least 5 creeps per minute, ideally. However, you should hit ~30 creeps by min 5, and get off from there. You can or cannot do better, but regardless, you just have to improve on this front.
Also captioned: "stop being such a masochist and fucking hit back". Yes, fond memories. Regardless, harassing is key to winning a lane. If you don't harass them, they're not going to be so kind to you. So, don't just put down your pants, arch your back and take it, be a fucking... erm... never mind. What I mean is, you are to be either aggressive or passive based on what I've said about hero matchups before. What you need to take into account while doing this, however, is to not lose your sight on the creeps. It'd be of no profit to you if you end up missing last hits just to harass, and not actually drive the opponent off the lane or down right killing him. You should always try to take the last hits, considering how cs-ing is also a form of "harass" controlling the exp and gold flow in your favor. Also be aware of creep aggro, as they would cock block you and sometimes even make your harassing meaningless as they hit you back while the opponent retreat to safety. Be wise, be cool, be calm, think, but don't be a pussy either.
Yes, it exists. It's that small square recap of what's going on, fit at the bottom left of your screen. It's also extremely helpful, since wouldn't you like to care, knowing what the fuck is going on at other places than the stretch of your screen apparently provide actual benefits. Who would'a thunk? The heroes are represented by freaking huge dots. You should turn it to color discriminative (lol racism) in order to tell the enemy apart easier.
Still, it's a fun thing: you're low on health, it's rune spawn time, but the top laners are missing? Don't fucking check the top rune genius. Back the fuck off or keep your eyes on the bot rune. It's actually simple, but people forget to do it all the time. Also looks for your team's go as well. Most likely they'd inform you of a gank in your favor prior to the engagement, but there are sometimes when you have to *gasp* use your brain and figure it out for yourself.
Originally Posted by erednay
In this pool you would just need to memorise CM's color. She has both a slow and a stun, you don't need to know the color of every hero (unless you have a good memory). Tiny has a stun too but he probably won't gank so rest assured.
If you've ever heard of complains about randomness in DotA, yeah, the rune spawn is one of the arguments. Look, I've been screwed over by runes more time than I can count, but I don't fucking bitch about it. Sure, sometimes it really is just bad luck, but more often than not it is no one else's but YOUR fault that you LET the enemy Pudge get the invis rune uncontested, turn his far rotting ass towards you and hook your neck off. Don't blame anyone else but yourself.
There are, of course, somethings you want to be reminded of.
Runes spawn every 2 minutes, starting from when the creeps do.
The top rune spawn is more easily overlooked from the mid lane, not having to compensate too much for vision, so if you can, make note of that and turn your attention away from the pushed creep waves banging at your opponent's tower, stop standing around like a fool and get your ass to where the rune could spawn in the next 5 seconds. Is it there? yes? grab it. No? Be prepared, because your opponent might just get it and comes after you. Always be proactive in getting to the runes first unless you have a rune control spell, or derpy wards, at your disposal. In higher levels of gameplay however, rune checking IS SRZ BUSINZ. Why? Who's to say the enemy tri-lane isn't standing up hill, under cover of smoke, waiting for just the right moment your ass shows up and bang it, hard.
Well, this doesn't happen often in the lower level games, but in the upper levels or as I like to call it "where people know what they're doing", it's quite prevalent. Sometimes you're just there chilling, farming good and harassing like a god, and suddenly this giant ass Tidehunter and WD come out of nowhere, rape your shits, and bam, you're down 300 gold, death time and a TP. Look, it sounds devastating, probably because it is, but you're going to have to learn from it. Look, no one gets where they are without trying (in DotA). In order to not get ganked, you should be able to constantly watch the minimap at all times, and not go "noob bot no miss" whenever you have your ass handed to the enemy. As I've said, it's ALWAYS YOUR FAULT. The enemy VS is missing? You are on 400 hp and your opponent's mid lane hasn't died yet? You should really watch your back.
This, of course, goes both way. If you happen to see a gank coming your way, in your favor, I mean, then be prepared. You can afford to spam cheap cd nuke, but never too much that it might scare off the opposition. You don't have to do anything alone, and there're times when you realize you actually have teammates with brain that actually land their stun AFTER yours have gone out and allow you to squeeze that last auto attack in, getting an impossible kill should you have been alone. Cooperation is always extremely welcome in this team game, and you should appreciate whenever. I have seen self-failing roamers though, don't get me wrong, but this guide isn't about those.
Now, again, at the highest level of games (public) this go three ways. Ever seen how you're caught in the middle of the opponent's gank on you and your teammate's gank on the opposition? It's fucking hilarious and also pretty fucking dangerous. One fail move and you're caught in the crossfire, burst down so fast it's not funny. Being the mid solo, you should always try not to die. Your teammates who are ganking are usually more expandable. Don't be a pussy, by any means, but overextending gives you NOTHING other than death and flame. This is about the situation, and how (sometimes ~5) other people react at once. I can't teach you this, simply because there's no blueprint on how to do this properly, just like beating Yajirobe.
Obviously, you should be the one out-lane ganking (or counter-ganking for that matter). Make sure your leaving the lane isn't obvious, or else the gank wouldn't succeed and you're just going to lose the race of xp and gold against the enemy mid lane. It's humiliating and time consuming, don't do it. Carry a tp if need be, for when your opponents are dangerous past your tower. Get a fucking boots, grab that rune and attack at the back of the opponent if you get the chance. However, in a pub, don't commit too much to side lane ganks unless you're sure your teammates know what they're doing, and is not a combination of SB + BH lane or similar.
Your opponent might try this as well, remember. Saying "mm" or "mia" or similar shits isn't going to hurt you. But not saying so might be the equavalent of giving a double kill to the opposing mid solo, and you don't want that. It's their fault for not noticing, but it doesn't turn in your favor either, so do what you can and counter-gank, anticipating the opponent's movement and turn it around, if possible.
Assuming you're up against a competent mid solo, then you're still up for a challenge on solo killing in this lane. Mid is such a short lane, that it's hard to catch the opponent off guard, far from that tower of his which would surely hurt anyone this early in the game. It doesn't mean it's impossible, albeit extremely hard. Having a distinct advantage over the opponent is almost required for this to work, and you must been constantly burning down your opponent's hp. However, when you're about to go for the kill, be sure to always think ahead, not engaging the opponent from full hp but rather just enough so he cannot Salve up without losing some of the benefits.
Despite what others might tell you, killing isn't the most important thing in a lane like this, but mostly instilling your domination over the opponent and hopefully snowballing uncontrollably into the mid game. This is mostly about hero matchups and individual skills, so really, I can't actually be telling you on how to do this, and you'll just have to figure it out for yourself. Hopefully what I've written so far had helped you from being at the short end of the stick.
Now, the title of this one is slightly misleading. This is obviously a guide on solo mid, so you're doing this alone, against the opponent's solo, right? Wrong. It would not always be that way. There are times when you head out to mid as Xin, you see Panda + CM coming at you and all you can say is "fuck". There are times when you're not against one, but two, and blasphemy, more enemies in that specific lane. It's like ganking, only constant and with much better autoattack. Unless you're an A tier hero or the enemy combo is something quite retarded, you're not expect to do much. In this lane, safety is always first, as they most like would leave you alone from ganks, because there's already 2 there man-handling you. It's a scary though, but it's not that bad when you're used to it. Remember, taking precautions is always the best move, and not chances.
Most of these are reminders, so fret not. What I've said above is about it, concerning as far as the basic of this role goes. Please, don't embarrass yourself by losing against Riki as Batrider next time, please. After reading this, if you have something you don't understand, read it again, if you still don't understand, either you're stupid or you have a legitimate reason not to, post it, and I'll patch up the loop holes.
Remember your priorities, which actually should be different each game, but generally goes like Rune (with bottle) > Last hit > Rune (without bottle) > Harass > Deny. Usually deny and harass can be interchangable depending on the match up.
Also, hotkey your chick and circle of power. Please don't ask "where's chick" when you could just [Ctrl] +  it. As a general rule of thumb for new players, assign 1 to chicken and 2 to circle of power, which would allow you to buy things even when the courier's not at home. You should also memorizes the courier's hotkeys, but that's not for me to teach.
I can't be getting too much replay just yet, but here are some of you're interested (not only from me, of course). I'd try to do some soon:
There's also Dendi's take on the whole thing, you can watch it right here
*Erednay, for inspiration
*IceFrog and the dev team, for obvious reasons
*Kris & clan_iraq for the replays and statements
*Kenshiro for the graphs, respect