The ultimate skill countdown - Mid Solo!

Posted by George "L3vaThiaN-" Psimmitis 3 years, 40 weeks ago
Since the dawn of time for competitive DotA, there has been a lane that was meant to be solo'd by some certain heros.
Through a thorough inspection of older versions (starting from 6.43b), I will attempt to analyze the whole "package" of the mid lane for every map that has been considered "Stable Map" for enough time to create its own stereotypes. Heros that are used as solos, their purpose in the game and some core-builds were taken into consideration in this in-depth analysis that spans over 5 years of competitive DotA and will help you understand the role of the mid-lane solo heros in almost each and every metagame the competitive scene has witnessed.



DotA-Allstars v6.43b
Purpose of the soloing heros Common mid-Soloers
As one can see, most of the solos back then were gankers and squishy heros that needed a core build of around 2,000 to 3,000 gold so they can be extremely effective. Core builds in this version used to include Bottle, Boots of Speed or Power Treads and x2 Bracers/Wraith Bands/Null Talismans.
We used to have mid-lane solo heros constantly rune whoring and trying to set-up ganks, using the old bottle (2/3 charges after rune, 200 hp 150 mp heal per charge) to recover after each fight while running towards another lane to gank - yes, again! The main goal of the soloer, back then, was to attract attention to himself, in order to create some space for the hard-carry to farm. The solo lane usually belonged to the most intuitive member of the team, however, back then there was no standard solo-er. Two, or three of the most skilled players in each team used to mix up their roles of mid solo-er, semi-carry and hard-carry. This stereotype, unlike most of the other "unwritten laws" of DotA, doesn't include the mid lane under the "exceptions" tab.
Warlock belongs to a category of his own, for being one of the most versatile solos in the game. Back in the day, you could witness a Warlock used as a support in one game, equipped with Mekansm and Eul's Scepter of Divinity that turned into Guinsoo's Scythe of Vise, while in the exactly next game you could see him building items such as Stygian Desolator and Monkey King Bar.

Shadow FiendQueen of PainNerubian AssassinLord of Olympia Priestess of the MoonTinkerNetherdrakeBeastmasterShadow ShamanOblivionDoom BringerDragon Knight

DotA-Allstars v6.48b

Purpose of the soloing heros Common mid-Soloers
Back in that era, the role of the Soloing hero was to out-level every single non-soloing hero in the game. We used to see most of the solos stay in their lane and farm until they would get their Blink Dagger. Thereafter, they would proceed to gank 23/6 and literally everywhere.
Everyone remembers the glory days of ganking-oriented DotA back then, and how could one forget? This is the age of DotA that the soloing hero was literally the commander of the game and most of the team captains were also their teams' soloers (eg. Loda, PGG, joliE, Dendi etc). My personal opinion is that those old DotA days did set the best foundations for the evolution of the game from a farm-wars wc3 map to a competitive game with almost infinite possible strategies.
DotA-Allstars v6.48b was undoubtedly the map with the most lasting impact on the scene, so players had enough time to adjust to the map's metagame needs. Solo-hero players started slowly using heros that could be used both as a lvl 7 and above ganking machine or a mid to late game carry, thereby adding versatility and balance between early game farm and gank gameplay which would also include some quick sidelanes farming along with the constant 23/6 ganking. The changes done to the sideshops in this particular version, also helped, while the nerfing of the babysitter-requiring hard-carries in the likes of Faceless Void, Spectre etc, forced the teams to use more semi-carry heros as soloers (eg. Shadow Fiend, Queen of Pain) who ganked almost constantly, with some short farm breaks in the free sidelanes.

Shadow FiendQueen of PainMagnataurNerubian AssassinFaerie DragonCentaur WarchiefBeastmasterPriestess of the MoonTormented SoulStone GiantSilencerStorm Spirit

Dota v6.52e

Purpose of the soloing heros Common mid-Soloers
During the 6.52e era, the soloing heros were mostly semi-carries with excellent AoE and teamfight abilities. As you can see, most of the soloers back then were initiators in one way or the other. Starting from 6.52e, mid-soloers started focusing more on farming their lane and then ganking using a Scroll of Town Portal rather than rune whoring, due to the change of Scourge's Jungle structure and design, which made it a lot easier to ward a huge area including the rune (when it comes to top lane).
Thus, the metagame actually forced the mid-solo players to take under consideration that every second they were out of the lane resulted in a great loss of exp and gold in comparison with their enemy. Also, this is the time that we start to see constant ganks being carried out in the mid lane (as a result of adding Scrolls of Town Portal to the sideshops).
This is the time that the Euro-DotA scene started embracing some Asian turtling strategies, with heros in the likes of Sniper.

Shadow FiendQueen of PainMoon RiderNecrolyteTinkerBane ElementalPandaren BrewmasterInvokerFaerie DragonAdmiral ProudmooreObsidian DestroyerMagnataurOblivionStorm SpiritBroodmother

DotA v6.59d
Purpose of the soloing heros Common mid-Soloers
Special Note: Back in the days of 6.59d, I used to be inactive from gaming, so understandably there is not going to be an in-depth analysis based on personal experience rather than clues and assumptions extracted from replays. With this being said, let us proceed!
Mid-lane solo heroes were mostly initiators and semi carries when it comes to 6.59d too. However, there was one main difference from the 6.52e era. Teams back then preferred to use mid solos that were mostly based on disables rather than raw damage, unlike the 6.52e era. Noticeably, we start seeing the idea of long range initiation getting more and more space to evolve. Heroes like Clockwerk and Storm Spirit start being used in order of having the advantage of surprise provided by the fog of war.
Meanwhile, teams started getting used to the idea of prioritizing mid-lane solo heroes and heroes that get together their supports (eg. picking an Earthshaker would result in a Priestess of the Moon follow-up pick) instead of picking their carries and semi-carries first and then whatever support that was left.
-Replays Analyzed: Every single Recommended Replay, along with most of the highly rated ones, that can be found here: http://gosugamers.net/dota/replays.php?&map=6.59&format=5on5&order=klick t
Shadow FiendBane ElementalAxeClockwerkStorm SpiritDeath ProphetDemon WitchWarlockLord of OlympiaWindrunnerShadow ShamanTinker

DotA v6.67c
Purpose of the soloing heros Common mid-Soloers
Slowly, we are approaching the age of DotA that no hero can be categorized. As we can see, the list of the most used solos includes all-times-classic solos like Shadow Fiend, hard-carries like Gorgon, pushers like Broodmother, gankers like Demon Witch and generally, mid-lane solo heroes were played to fit the needs of a team rather than abide by the metagame, since we start to observe teams using every possible kind of strategy (most extreme is 4-1-0 by Team Bulgaria, versus AEON.CGC @ ESWC 2010: http://gosugamers.net/dota/replays/33753). ).
This is the version in which some solo players (YaphetS from China, Yamateh from the rest of Asia and 13abyKnight from EU are the main examples) started to rise in popularity and along with their excellence in the use of some certain heros actually did, in my opinnion, play their role in the formation of the standardization in soloing heros, back then(most obvious example is YaphetS' usage of Beastmaster that slowly started re-establishing him in the commonly seen mid-soloing heros).
Shadow FiendInvokerBatriderDemon WitchStorm SpiritDoom BringerOblivionGorgonDark SeerBroodmotherAlchemistEnigmaNecrolytePandaren Brewmaster

DotA v6.69c
Purpose of the soloing heros Common mid-Soloers
One last pitch of categorization, one last look on teams that follow trends. Version 6.69 brought the 'fast push' strategies to the game, using heros like Lone Druid with the support of junglers like Enchantress teams tended to finish the game as soon as possible. However, this didn't mean that classic solos were forgotten, at least for the time being. Just because going for an all-out push may result in a fast ending, it didn't mean that teams were guaranteed a win. Sure, pushing used to be overpowered when 6.69c was in play, but there are many examples where a good soloing counterpick like Oblivion could utterly turn the game the other way round and 'fast push' the "pushers", mainly due to the lack of gold if some early pushes fail.
Understandably, v6.69c is the version in which the pushing solos risen in fame and use as much as ever but this doesn't mean that classic solos were not compatible with the game.
Special mention goes to Dendi's mid-soloing Shadow Priest in WDC 2010 (www.gosugamers.net/dota/replays/39569) that started giving the players some getting used to supportive soloers that had the ability to keep almost everyone in the team alive during the whole battle.
Shadow FiendInvokerAncient ApparitionBatriderDemon WitchStorm SpiritLone DruidOblivionLichWindrunnerDoom BringerEnigmaClockwerkNerubian Weaver

DotA v6.71
Purpose of the soloing heros Common mid-Soloers
The mid-lane solo in this version didn't fit a single purpose. Teams picked heros that fit their strategy, and every single strategy has its own 2-3 trademark mid-solo heros. One of the similarities most of the soloing heros share is that everyone has at least one disable while most of them are 'Crowd Controllers' by either tanking many spells and hits and still being able to deal excellent damage (Nerubian Weaver) or by using their arsenal of skills and versatility to actually force the enemies to play the battles the way they want it (Invoker).
Following the pushing trends that existed back then, competitive teams used solos that could rapidly assist in the killing potential of the supports to counter pushes(eg. Demon Witch) or started using heros that could push down lanes rapidly by either tanking the creep waves or by dealing fast and big amounts of damage to towers (eg. Stone Giant).
Another interesting fact of the 6.71 era, is that for the first time in the history of competitive DotA, we don't see the Shadow Fiend being used that often, in fact a Shadow Fiend tended to be a surprise pick, rather than something that anyone would expect.
InvokerAncient ApparitionBatriderDemon WitchDoom BringerEnigmaWindrunnerOblivionNerubian WeaverLone DruidFaerie DragonStorm Spirit

DotA v6.72c/v6.72e
Purpose of the soloing heros Common mid-Soloers
Purpose-wise and strategically speaking, up to now we've seen one thing and only. Total chaos! Every team develops a certain amount of strategies to keep in handy, every single solo-able hero has his/her own purpose and on top of it all there are many examples where we actually see no laning phase in the game, following the teams' attempt to roam around till the bone or their hardcore push strategies of 4-1-0.
Special mention goes to GG.Net team's captain KuroKy for re-introducing the Omniknight,this time as a mid-soloer, following Dendi's Shadow Priest, a fact that seems to be slowly establishing some support heros placed in the position of the solo, due to their huge contribution in team fights.
Let's not forget though that using supports and mostly healers in the solo position heavily disrupts the team's ganking potential, due to the lack of disables and mobility on healers(every single healer in the game has really low mobility, eg. Lord of Avernus, Warlock, Holy Knight).
Common mid Solo-ers include every single solo of 6.71 with the addition of Shadow Demon, Prophet
and the frequent re-appearance of Beastmaster

One thing is for sure, we have at last reached the era that almost nothing in the game can be categorized, a point of total freedom, where teams may attempt to execute each and every possible strategy, starting from the good-oldie 5.84c combo consisted of Treant Protector,Crystal Maiden plus 3 AoE compatible heros, all the way to 6.43b's typical 2-2-1 with Rogue Knight Slayer / Soloer / Tormented Soul Sand King or 6.69 era with Lone Druid right clicking towers while the hard carry Spectre / Morphlingfree farms.

Brief Synopsis: GOD, I love this game!
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