Ultimate Dota 2 Mid Guide: How to Play like a back to back TI winner
We’ve previously covered what it takes to be a good support & how to become the ultimate carry, but there’s also a 3rd group of people that really enjoy playing the wonderful game of Dota 2 and that is the mid laners.
The mid lane is the most unique role in the game and it is without a doubt both the most rewarding and most frustrating position in the game. What makes it so, is the fact that you are for the most of the time all by yourself against your opponent. This means winning and losing is almost always due to the actions that you take which can be very satisfying and it is why it attracts a lot of people.
For this guide, we looked at the god of Dota 2 himself, Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen, the mid laner from OG, the only team who has managed to win 2 TI’s and do so in a back to back manner.
He has created a 3-hour mid lane masterclass for Dota 2 lovers where he shares all of his secrets.
The most important thing when you start playing midlane is to have a solid understanding of matchups. If you’re not an experienced player this may sound like an intimidating task however Topson explains that there are ways to learn this quicker.
Play only a handful of heroes at a time to start mastering the mid lane matchups and win conditions. Some heroes struggle against others however if you know how to play the lane well enough you can manipulate it in your advantage by securing a rune or requesting a gank.
Denying the enemy runes from heroes who rely on their bottles to stay in the lane can be a nasty tactic that will secure you miles ahead even if you end up missing a couple of creeps.
Have a Solid Game plan
Having a solid game plan is extremely important because it allows you to focus on execution rather than planning. Knowing before you start the game what you want to accomplish with your hero is a significant advantage.
Following the same line of thought Topson explains that figuring out in what types of scenarios you are going to die is going to help you avoid those types of situations and know how to deal with them when it happens. If you are playing against a lineup with only 1 stun, then knowing beforehand that you can teleport out after this one spell is cast it will be a lot easier for you to execute that in the middle of a fight rather than having to search for options during the fight.
Don’t Roam all the Time
It’s a common misconception that comes from the very beginnings of Dota 1 that the mid laner is the one who is supposed to constantly help the side lanes through ganking & roaming.
The back to back champion teaches us that isn’t always the case. You can roam but only when it will not hinder your game. Pushing the lane before leaving is a very important task you need to accomplish before leaving.
And even so, in certain situations, you might not want to do that at all. Thinking about your opponent’s timings and ideal scenario is crucial. If you are crushing in your lane, leaving it to gank might be the worst thing to do as it allows the enemy to claw back in the game in the case of an unsuccessful gank attempt.
The position 2 is often considered the second carry however that’s not really what the current meta dictates. Topson teaches us that your primary job is to get yourself ahead in gold and levels and use that advantage to help other teams by applying pressure.
Pressure comes in many different forms. Pushing towers, grouping with everybody else except your carry and going for a smoke, split pushing a side lane or finding solo kills on underleveled supports are all types of pressure.
In general, the main idea behind the mid lane is that your moves should always create as much pressure as possible and that’s why you will rarely be hitting neutral creeps as the mid lane.
Build the right items
Itemization is by far one of the hardest things to get right in Dota 2 which is why in Topson’s masterclass he has 3 full episodes dedicated on this topic.
When you are a core player, you have a lot of gold and the items you build with this gold should have a long & meaningful impact to make sure that you are always pushing your advantage.
Good itemization theory suggests that you always take a look at what counters the enemy and what strengthens your team. If you opponent mid lane goes orchid, having a Eul’s Scepter before will completely negate the enemy power spike and vice versa can apply as well.
Looking at your own teammates it’s a good idea not to overlap too many damage or utility items. If your carry is having a rough game, perhaps going some more damage could be what you need before building items that provide powerful late game utility.
As mentioned earlier, Topson suggests that you never really hit neutral creeps unless you’re very close to a specific timing. Farming smart means you are always farming with a purpose and not just simply to get gold.
Instead of mindlessly hitting neutrals in your own jungle you should always be looking to play on the enemy side of the map.
If you control 60% of the map and they control 40%, in the long run you will start winning the game
The reason why Topson managed to win The International twice is because he has a very clear understanding of Dota 2 as a resource based game. The more resources you have the better it is and the best way to gain resources is by taking them from the enemy.
Play Your role
Last but not least, understanding your role as a hero in every game is crucial and is what makes Topson’s play style so unique. To play like him you need to look at your team first and figure out what they need you to do and then adapt that to your hero.
This is how a lot of times you can make heroes that wouldn’t traditionally be sent to the midlane work. He constantly carries on non traditional heroes because he understands exactly what he needs to do to enable his other members of the team and make their games easier.
A simple example is playing morphling mid when the team lacks late game carry potential. This works especially well when paired with a lycan who wants to group up early and push towers, creating space for the mid laner.
However, you wouldn’t want to pick morphling when your carry has a greedy position 1 hero like Anti-Mage because then both of you will want to be playing on the same part of the map and end up losing very early.
If you want to get a better understanding of how to play the midlane, we highly recommend you watch the entire 3-hour class which is filled with hidden gems and secret strategies that even some of the pros have started implementing in their games.
For more information on other roles, go ahead and check out Nikobaby’s Ultimate Carry Guide, Boxi’s Advanced Off Lane Class & our wide selection of support classes with players like N0tail, Misery, Handsken & Cr1t.