Dota 2 basics: Lane equilibrium
Each team’s objectives are simple in Dota 2. All you have to do is destroy the enemy’s Ancient. The only way to do this is to control the creep lane. That’s why top players have to learn how to optimize the lane equilibrium more importantly than knowing how to kill enemy heroes.
The lane equilibrium refers to the balance struggle between the two sides of the lane. The area where creeps clash is where the wave is. Creeps from both sides have equal strength so the heroes from each others’ side determine the equilibrium. Here’s how you do it:
Basic actions you can do to creeps
The only way to manipulate the lanes in Dota 2 is to attack the enemy creeps. Every strike you land on an enemy tips the balance to pushing the wave. However, pushing the wave further into the enemy’s territory will make you vulnerable to ganks. You will also be vulnerable to the range of the enemy’s tower.
Draw the wave to your side of the map so you can be protected by the tower. The best way to do this is to simply stop attacking any of the creeps. However, you can gain gold and experience (XP) by simply being near a dying enemy creep but striking the last hit gives you a bonus.
To prevent the enemy from getting the last hit, you can slay ally creeps by attacking them when their health reaches a certain threshold. This is called ‘deny’ and it can also be done on ally heroes and structures to prevent the enemy from getting gold and XP. You can poke enemies out of range to stop them from denying.
The last basic action you can take to control creeps is used in advanced strategies called ‘pulling’. This is done by attacking the enemy creeps to redirect their attention towards you. However, they will continue to attack the closest eligible target instead of you. Harm the enemy hero to steal their attention away from your ally units.
Expanding on the idea of pulling
Pulling takes skill to execute well because you have to be exactly within targeting range of the creeps you wish to pull. Stepping outside of range will cause them to return to the lanes. You can pull these creeps all the way to your allied towers or to nearby neutral camps.
Pulling creeps lets you bring them to a safer area where the enemy can’t poke you or have roaming support ganking you from behind. This is a great way to set a trap against the opponents if your roaming support is near you. Draw the creeps to you which can bait the opponent into chasing you, thus opening an opportunity for the support to surround the target.
Although pulling opens a lot of ideal opportunities, it is also a dangerous strategy. Creeps are dangerous if you let them attack you so you have to pull them from a safe distance without losing their attention. Likewise, this stunt often brings you closer to the enemy’s range, making you susceptible to traps like Pudge’s hookshot.
Wave clearing in lane
Clearing the wave lets you gain so much gold and XP in a short time. However, doing so will make your creeps march further toward the opponent’s defensive structure. There are only two times when it’s best to clear waves. The first is to let your creeps crash into the structure so you can destroy it while the other is to apply pressure into your lane so the enemy can’t abandon your lane.
Advanced tips to manipulate the lane equilibrium
Lane equilibrium is complicated but it’s the concept that separates a good Dota 2 player from beginners. Here are some tricks that you can try on your next session:
- Pull the enemy’s creeps towards your range creeps
Attack the enemy hero and have their creeps chase you towards your ally ranged creeps then move out of range. Doing so will cause the creeps to attack your ranged creeps. Ranged units have higher attack damage but lower health so removing them will make your allies less threatening for the opponent. This is great for slowing down the lane progression and slowly building up your side of the wave. Do this when you plan to attack the enemy structure in the next two minutes.
- Pull the enemy creeps towards a nearby camp
You can both weaken the enemy’s creep wave and hasten farming with this strategy. All you have to do is ambush the enemy creeps from behind the first tower and pull them towards the nearest neutral camp. You can predict where they are because their position is parallel to your incoming creep wave.
- Pull the enemy creeps all the way to your second tower
A more advanced but helpful tactic is to walk all the way to where the next enemy creep group is going to be then draw them to your second tower. This ensures that there won’t be reinforcements to push your lanes. It won’t tip the equilibrium to the opponent’s side, either, because you are likely to meet your third group of creeps by the time you get there.
- Block your creeps with your unit
Creep blocking is one of the oldest tricks in Dota 2’s history as it dates back to DotA Allstars. Essentially, you just have to move ahead of your creeps and use your hero to block their progress. It will take practice because some creeps can move around you. Centaur Warrunner is the best hero to do this with because of his huge hit box. Doing this ensures that the equilibrium is closer to your side of the lane.
- Block creeps with abilities
Another old trick in Dota 2 is using abilities to block creeps but the only one who can do this, for now, is Earthshaker with Fissure, his first ability. Create a large blockade that corners the creeps from the front and have the trees block their path to the side. By the time this ability wears off, the first batch of the opposing side is wiped out and the reinforcements for the ones you blocked are on their way. Using this to block enemy creeps gives you a lot of farm but doing it on your allies means that the enemies have no choice but to charge your turret.