The top 10 most popular Dota 2 heroes in the mid lane during 7.11. We will have a look at some of the best picks in the meta, and learn how to play or counter them.
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The heroes are arranged by pick rate, and the data considers all games played in any region and bracket during the past 30 days. Statistics from Dotabuff.
|Hero||Name||Pick %||Win %|
Shadow Fiend is the second most popular hero in the game. You must be ready to face him at any time, so it is imperative to understand how he can be countered. I explained extensively the best heroes and methods to deal with him in the mid lane in a previous article, and I warmly suggest everyone to read it.
Learn more: Countering Shadow Fiend mid.
There are many reasons behind Shadow Fiend’s popularity in the current meta, here are some:
- Strong and versatile talents. 7.07 reworked his talents, and thanks to them SF became a more reliable pick as he is able to take advantage of a physical or magic-based build depending on the needs of the team.
+40 movement speed at level 15 is a game-changer because it helps him to snowball in the mid game exploiting his huge damage. The 40% cooldown reduction at level 25 is great for any active ability - for example, he can use the Black King Bar every 42 seconds.
- Buff to Shadowraze. 7.07c increased the damage bonus per stack from 60 to 80, but 7.10 re-balanced it to 50/60/70/80. Even with the current values, with three points into the skill SF inflicts more damage than before.
A triple-raze requires a skilled player and a suitable opponent, but the potential damage during the lane phase is massive, particularly if SF gained a level advantage. Overall, the buff increased both his killing potential and the ability to farm stacked camps in the jungle.
Denied XP adjustments
Successfully last-hitting and denying during the lane phase can give you a tremendous gain.
Starting from 7.06, denying lane creeps grants 30% of the XP bounty, so you can rapidly accumulate extra experience. 7.07 diminished this value to 25%, but at the same time reduced the XP given to the enemy (the player being denied) from 70% to 25%.
All heroes with a good auto-attack animation and damage can profit from these changes, but Shadow Fiend excels in this job thanks to Necromastery, which grants a bonus damage based on the number of units killed.
Win rate below 50%
Heroes with a high pick rate tend to have a lower win rate because even players without experience pick them.
This is an issue for Shadow Fiend as the hero demands an extensive practice in last-hitting (35-41 damage at level one) and using Shadowraze. The first 5 minutes of the match are crucial, and if you can’t succeed, you will have a really bad time after the lane phase.
Fortunately, SF possesses an easy comeback mechanic as he can quickly destroy stacks in the jungle with Shadowraze - you can either stack them yourself, or ask the supports to do it. After the Support Update, they tend to do it more as killing a neutral camp stack gives a 15% gold bounty to the hero that stacked it.
Outworld Devourer has always been considered a mid dominator as not many heroes can lane against him, and he can just deny their experience with a correct use of Astral imprisonment.
Sniper is widely recognized as one of OD best counters:
The difference in attack range alone can often bring to the victory, especially when facing inexperienced players.
Sniper can last hit better due to OD’s slow projectile speed.
OD can’t level up Arcane Orb in the earlier levels, and without it his attack damage is really low (40‒55 at level 1).
Well-placed Shrapnels can give Sniper an edge in the lane phase, ruining OD’s positioning and his attempts to use Astral Imprisonment.
Sniper biggest issue is the mid game due to OD’s pure damage, but in the late game the former will have the upper hand again if properly farmed and with a BKB.
Nyx Assassin is the classic hard counter
OD possesses a huge mana pool, so the damage inflicted by Mana Burn must not be undervalued, and in the late game it may delete more than a half of his health pool.
Spiked Carapace reflects Astral Imprisonment, so OD will rarely dare to use it on Nyx.
If played by a competent roamer, Nyx will severely harm OD’s farm during the early and mid game.
Avoid prolonged fights
Thanks to Arcane Orb, Outworld Devourer can steal intelligence for 80 seconds every time he hits a hero. If you do not commit in a fight, but only harass him and run away, he will start building up INT and damage, and as soon as he gets enough he will be able to one-shot your entire team using Sanity’s Eclipse.
OD is the primary target you should take down in a teamfight. Do not let him freely auto-attack from the rear-lines or he will punish you.
Beware: if you buyback during a teamfight, and OD hasn’t used his ultimate yet, there are big chances he may have enough INT to send you back to the realm of death.
|Hero||Name||Pick %||Win %|
|Queen of Pain||7.2%||47.2%|
Zeus has success in all MMR brackets and is extremely powerful in the lower ones. You might consider this a joke, but I believe one of the main reasons behind his high win rate up to 4k is the ability to deward without buying sentries. In fact, Lightning Bolt provides true sight in a 750 radius around the targeted area.
Do not underestimate the greediness of many supports who prefer saving money for the Aghanim’s Scepter before thinking to the needs of the team.
A very versatile mid laner
Zeus is not the best hero you can pick in the mid lane, neither he is the solution that will work against everyone, but he is able to adapt to most opponents and get his farm.
Arc Lightning is the key behind is triumph in the lane phase. Even when facing a counter or a player with superior mechanical skills, Zeus can just use this spell to harass and get last hits while remaining safe in his area of the map.
Of course, in that case also the opponent mid laner will free-farm.
The Clarity is overpowered
In order to spam Arc Lightning, you must either have a solid control of the runes to refill your Bottle, or buy multiple Clarity potions during the early game. This is a topic I love to discuss because most players in pubs ignore them.
For a cheap cost, you get a lot of mana, and the regeneration is influenced by your Intelligence:
Base Clarity: 3.2 mana regeneration.
With 50 INT: 6.4 mana regeneration.
With 100 INT: 9.6 mana regeneration.
Buy Clarity potions also after the lane phase. The 50 gold cost is quickly paid back as you can keep farming or ganking instead than losing time going back in your base to regenerate.
Gank Zeus in the early game
Zeus is very susceptible to ganks in the early game as he has no crowd control effects or escape mechanisms. In a meta full of roamers and gankers, he shouldn’t have an easy life, instead he keeps a solid 51.97% win rate even past 5k+ MMR.
If Zeus can accomplish a good early game, he is able to snowball in the mid game, and can become a real nuisance. Thundergod's Wrath and Nimbus offer a great control of the map and high ground defense. People often complain when the Lord of Heaven steals their last hits, but they love his terrific burst damage in teamfight.
Learn more: Zeus - The pub destroyer.
Queen of Pain
Queen of Pain’s popularity and win rate rise at higher ranks as she requires an expert player to make use of her high mobility and burst damage.
Winning the lane is your priority
When playing her, winning the lane must be one of your main priorities. Thank to her abilities and the innate Blink, QoP can avoid most ganks directed against her during the lane phase, maintain the control of the rune, farm, and harass the opponents.
The poison and slow provided by Shadow Strike, coupled with the burst damage of Scream of Pain, are a perpetual threat for the enemy mid laner. You must steal their creeps, zone them out from the experience zone, and harass until they are forced to leave the lane. Of course, getting a kill is a nice extra, but it isn’t mandatory.
- A reliable farmer. She possesses a great attack animation and a decent damage (45‒53, which you want to boost with some Null Talismans) thus last-hitting during the early game isn’t an issue. Later on, she will be able to clean entire creep waves with a maxed Scream of Pain.
- High snowball potential. The mobility and burst damage provided by her abilities make her a great ganker since the early game, but in most cases I suggest to wait level six prior attempting anything. The pure damage of Sonic Wave is perfect to secure kills due to the vast range.
The Veil of Discord is a strong ally
I suggest to buy a VoD in almost all games, particularly if you are still learning the hero. It provides good statistics, armor, health regeneration, and an useful active ability at a cheap cost.
Note that Magic Weakness won’t work with your ultimate because it deals pure damage, but it is great in combination with Scream of Pain due to the low cooldown. The active ability lasts for 16 seconds and has a 20 seconds cooldown; SoP has a 7 seconds cooldown: it is enough for two screams, and you can debuff the hero again in time for the third one.
Moreover, the Veil of Discord is exceptionally helpful if you have more casters in the team, as it amplifies all magic damage that affects the target.
Header image and hero icons: Valve
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.