For a moment in 7.20 it looked like the historical utility offlaners are here to stay—heroes like Beastmaster, Centaur Warrunner, Dark Seer and Tidehunter were very popular, creating space and initiating teamfights for their teammates, while building auras and utility items. This nostalgic period didn’t last long and once again we are seeing the return of greediness in the hard lane.
It might sound like we are complaining and to a certain extent we are: offlane hasn’t felt unique since the switch to dual lanes. We’ve even had patches where teams would essentially draft three DPS core in each lane and that made the offlane meta pretty narrow. Luckily, 7.21 is slightly different.
First of all, teams are still picking pure utility offlaners: they are a viable option during the draft. Currently the split between pure utility and DPS offlaners is close to 50:50 and that increases the diversity of picks in the game as a whole.
DPS offlaners are also in their own niche. You generally won’t see typical Juggernaut or Lifestealer in the offlane, since it would still be too greedy. Instead you get tempo heroes with the option to scale DPS-wise.
Finally, despite being DPS-oriented, these new heroes generally build utility items and their playstyle revolves around trying to get to the backlines and killing supports. They deal just enough damage and have just enough farm to kill supports quickly and effectively, without the need to contest the farm of their own carry across the map.
Today, instead of going over still-viable utility supports we’ve talked at length about in 7.20, we would like to concentrate on these new DPS/Utility Hybrids that are making waves in both high-level pubs and the pro-scene.
Ursa runs at 332 MS at the start, making him one of the fastest heroes in the game. Barefooted he outpaces half of the Dota 2 roster with brown boots. Ursa can just run at you and demand an immediate response. He needs to be disabled, otherwise he will just shred through supports regardless of the stage of the game and disables going on Ursa means they don’t go on the opponent’s main carry.
With high DPS and decent tankiness from his spells alone, Ursa doesn’t need much more than a Blink Dagger. Given his movement speed and lane pressure he should also theoretically be able to afford it from the laning stage alone or shortly after it concluded. After that the hunt begins, with Ursa capable of creating tons of space for his team, while bolstering his economy through ganks.
The hero is currently winning almost 60% of his Divine+ games and that comes down to the ease of execution and overall effectiveness. Make sure to adjust your playstyle once the enemy starts grouping up, however, since it is incredibly easy to feed a ton of gold to the enemy after a good start.
Winning almost 56% of his pub games, Night Stalker is a force to be reckoned with. Crippling Fear is an incredibly powerful silence that demands a BKB response and can’t be played around with a Manta Style. This alone means the enemy is either forced to skip or delay one of the most farm-efficient Agility items in the game or has to constantly feel threatened during the night time.
The cyclical nature of the hero is a major downside and Night Stalker does feel almost useless during the day. He can’t even farm during this period, but every time Dark Ascension gets turned on, the enemy has no other choice but group up and hope they survive through the night.
The hero can be easily punished in lane since he does close to nothing there. With 5 armor the hero is decently tanky, but he doesn’t apply any pressure or offer any kill opportunities. Force Night Stalker to play catch-up during the first night and you will have much better chances against the hero.
We’ve recently talked about the hero and most things that apply to a safe lane Chaos Knight also apply to a an offlane one, with the difference being farm priority and how actively CK should play.
It is also worth noting that while high level pub players are still rather chaotic in their ability builds, almost all professional players opt for maxed out Chaos Strike in lane. As discussed previously, this greatly helps with the hero’s sustain without sacrificing DPS.
With no farm priority and most of the economy coming from ganks, offlane CK is also under less stress to actually carry the game and his main teamfight priority becomes killing the enemy supports. So instead of getting as much raw HP, Armor and Attack Damage as you can, offlane CK can go for some utility items and later transition into a Blink Dagger.
Maybe not as popular in the professional scene as he is in pubs, Wraith King is still an amazing dual laner and perfectly fits into the current meta of speedy, space-creating offlaners. Unlike other heroes on this list, he doesn’t offer as much damage from his abilities alone, but the second life coupled with an access to a powerful disable make him great for initiating fights.
Unlike other heroes in this list, Wraith King is also a decent pusher. CK with his ultimate up will probably outpace Wraith King, but the low duration and the necessity to use ultimate during teamfight generally means he won’t have it up for the push. Mortal Strike skeletons might not look impressive on paper, but they tank the towers really well, can provide a meaningful amount of damage in lane and deal a significant amount of damage en masse. They also passively farm some gold for the Wraith King, while having a very low bounty.
Once again, 7.21 made some meaningful changes to the 7.20 meta. It didn’t cut much from the pool of viable heroes, instead adding more heroes into the mix. It is more options, even if the new options are not necessarily canonical for the offlane.
Most pure utility offlaners in the game are still very much viable and there is nothing wrong with going with true and trusted Beastmaster or Tidehunter. Though, if we are being honest, having the ability to contribute more damage and solo kills for your team is probably going to be more impactful in pubs, especially in the lower brackets.