The offlane equilibrium changed in 7.07. Creeps meet closer to the safelane, and blocking or not the offlane can be useful depending on the opponents faced.
Lane equilibrium advantage
In 7.07, successfully blocking the creeps won’t always reward you with an easier lane. Let’s analyze all the possible variants.
- The safelane blocks and the offlane doesn’t: offlane advantage. Creeps will meet in the range of the safelane tower where last hitting is harder at level 1 for most heroes and players.
- The offlane blocks and the safelane doesn't: offlane advantage. Creeps will meet closer to the offlane tower.
- They either both block or neither blocks: safelane advantage. Creeps will meet in a favorable position for the safelane, and not in their tower range.
Should the offlaner block the creeps or not?
There isn’t a precise answer because you need to predict your opponent’s moves.
For years, Dota 2 players followed this simple rule: blocking the creep wave will delay its arrival in lane and grant you a position advantage. I believe that most of the playerbase will need months before noticing that sometimes creep blocking can be not profitable.
Your course of action mostly depends on your matchmaking bracket.
Against low MMR players
Even in the high 3k MMR range, usually the supports are able to get only a partial block. While in the previous patches it still helped, now they will cause the first situation explained above.
If the creeps fight in the safelane tier 1 tower range, they will die quickly, and the lane will be pushed towards the offlane. Afterwards, as the offlaner you should tank the wave before it reaches your tower, while waiting for your own creeps. You will earn three to four waves in a perfectly safe position.
The equilibrium can be altered by the work of the supports, but the lower the MMR the harder it is to find capable players that know when to pull and how exploit the jungle. We don’t have official data on the MMR distribution, but the great majority of the players doesn’t reach 4k MMR.
As an offlaner playing in a low MMR bracket you rely on your opponent's mistakes - often not blocking at all will be the best solution.
Against high MMR players
The safelane should always block, if the players know how to behave in lane.
- If the first creep wave is heading towards the safelane tower, the support is smart enough to tank it for a while.
- Even if the creeps meet under the tower, the carry has enough practice and experience to get almost all the last hits and restore the lane equilibrium
Heroes who can control the creep wave
If you want to make things easier, there are many heroes with abilities that can manipulate the lane, some examples below:
Lone Druid, Nature’s Prophet, and Beastmaster can use their summons to block their own creep wave or pull the enemy one. Beastmaster is the weakest option because the boar has a limited amount of hp. But, often the enemy support won’t figure out what you are trying to do, ignoring your creature during the first attempt.
Earthshaker and Clockwerk can alter the path of the creeps using their skills: Fissure and Power Cogs.
Dark Seer’s Ion Shell can quickly destroy an enemy wave. You must be careful and use it at the right time, otherwise you could shift the lane equilibrium in favor of the safelane.
In the Dueling Fates update, IceFrog modified the offlane and removed the Iron Talon: now, you can’t just earn easy extra gold from the jungle camps if you lose the lane.
More than ever it is imperative to learn how to act in lane, and honestly I believe that the offlane is harder than in the past. It will be interesting to see if in future we will have more dual lanes and less solo heroes.
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Vincenzo is an esports writer with five years of experience. Former head editor for Natus Vincere, he has produced content for DreamHack, FACEIT, DOTAFire, 2P, and more. Follow him on @SkulzDota.