Understanding the competitive positions and roles in Dota 2

Terrorblade is the prime example of a hard carry, i.e. Dota 2 heroes that get very strong with lategame items (image via Valve)
Terrorblade is the prime example of a hard carry, i.e. Dota 2 heroes that get very strong with lategame items (image via Valve)

Like every MOBA game, the ultimate goal of Dota 2 is simple: to destroy the opponent’s Ancient building before they achieve the same.

This task is easier said than done. To beat the opponent, a team must either gain gradual advantage of resources or find a strategic master-stroke to outsmart the opponents. Resources like gold and XP are an integral aspect of Dota 2, and thus resource distribution is also part of a team’s strategy.

The ‘positions’ in Dota 2 correspond to how much farm priority the heroes gain.

The higher a player’s position, the more resources, especially gold, they will need to collect in order to grow stronger. The tactical roles in Dota 2 are balanced around this idea.

Needless to say, Dota 2's freeform nature means roles can be flexed. Rather, they are a time-tested schematic, which works as a good baseline strategy for a draft.

Position 1: The Carry

The carry in Dota 2 has the burden/ responsibility of carrying the game. They are very farm-reliant in the early game. Some are also not very strong in lanes without their support. In the late game, carries in Dota 2 scale extremely well with net worth.

Thus their play-style is to stay on top of the net worth leaderboard, hit their key item timings and capitalize on these time-sensitive power-spike to secure advantage and work towards the win conditions.

Position 2: The Midlaner

The midlaner is the strongest hero in a Dota 2 team in the early & mid game. Unlike the sidelines, the mid lane is almost exclusively a 1v1. Ergo, the midlaners almost always end up being the highest level heroes when the laning phase breaks down.


Some of them are ‘tempo mids,’ who move out of the lane after an early power spike to secure map space in the side lanes. Some midlane heroes are more defensive, and farming up a key item is priority. In any case, the general idea is to utilize their level advantage to exert pressure and eventually take objectives.

Position 3: The Offlaner

The offlaner is the most aggressive role in Dota 2. Their initiall goal is all about taking farm away from the opponent carry. Their long-term goal, however, is all about giving extra farm to their own carry by creating space.


Creating space, in Dota 2, essentially means making it safer for others to spread out and take farm with impunity. The means to this end is by posing a significant enough threat to force rotations. Whether by diving towers on a low-health carry aggressively pushing and taking towers to bait teleports from other lanes, the offlaner's ideal day out is wreaking maximum havoc

Position 4: The Soft Support

Support roles are a cardinal concept of any MOBA. Their role in Dota 2 does not differ from the norm. Unlike the core roles, supports in Dota 2 tend not to take farm in early game. They are effective with minimal gold investment, either through disables or nukes.

The soft support in Dota 2 is uniquely called ‘the roamer.' Their job is more or less the same as the offlaner. In practice, the way they carry out this task is flexible. Generally, they create momentum in the game by moving to whatever lane their presence can be best utilized in.

Position 5: The Hard Support

Hard support is often seen as the most sacrificial role in Dota 2. In the earlier days of Dota 2, this used to mean buying couriers, wards, sentries and various other support items. But the idea of support items has become obsolete. Couriers and observer wards are free, and those that are not are dirt cheap. This makes the support’s real end-goal more transparent; doing whatever it takes to find more resources for the cores.

Compared to the roamer, the way hard supports do this is defensive and direct. This involves restocking their carry with regen so they can take last hits in the lane with less risk, pulling and maintaining lane equilibrium, and stacking camps to accelerate their future farm.

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Edited by Gautham Balaji
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