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How to Solo Lane (Guide)
Many Arena of Valor players say that the solo lane is the easiest to play. After all, if you’re in a “standard” composition and occupying the Dark Slayer lane, you’re mostly isolated from the rest of the heroes on the battlefield. So, all you have to do is out-duel the opposing solo laner and you’ve done your job, right? Well, kind of. Reducing the role to simply pushing the lane ignores both the complexities involved in playing it optimally and the importance of having a strong solo laner on your team. Just go watch a few GCS games involving AHQ’s Sun to see how one player can completely warp the battlefield, giving your team favorable match ups across the board.
What are a Solo Laner’s Priorities?
As a wise brown bag once said: “Waves Before Plays.” One melee minion provides just 2-5 less gold than a basic monster (depending on the patch), and a full minion wave provides 2/3 as much gold as a kill, so it’s almost never a good idea to forego the minion wave unless you have a guaranteed kill. Therefore, last-hitting minions and denying them to your opponent is your biggest priority, assuming your counterpart is reasonably competent. Damaging your opponent, then, is a means to an end – forcing them to recall back to base can ensure you stay ahead in gold and experience.
Of course, winning the game means destroying towers. That said, depending on which hero you’ve chosen, you may be better served helping your team instead of constantly pushing down the lane (more on that later). But no matter what the situation, it’s not a good idea to give up towers to the opponent unless you traded for something even greater (read: net +2 kills at least if your team didn’t secure a tower in response).
In the end, what matters are results: though it may be tempting to constantly fight your counterpart, if they’re last hitting minions and rotating while you’re stuck cleaning up afterward because you tried to fight at first, you’re going to eventually fall behind.
Who Are The Optimal Solo Laners?
First of all, let’s distinguish a little bit between the Dark Slayer lane and the Abyssal Dragon lane, assuming you have a roaming support on your team and your team decides to man each lane solo.
(Side note/rant: if you’re a marksman who’s used to being babied by a support in the Abyssal lane, stop clamoring for the roaming support to come help you. They’re doing you a favor by scouting the enemy team and letting you soak the lane by yourself. If you’re 1v2, that just means your team is getting more farm, assuming the support bought a wind item. Just sit under the tower and don’t die: even if your tower takes some damage, it won’t fall because it takes reduced damage before the 3-minute mark. Meanwhile, the Abyssal Dragon spawns at 2 minutes and your jungler should be done with their first rotation before that.)
Optimal Dark Slayer Lane Heroes
The Dark Slayer solo laner will be much more physically removed from both teams, meaning help will seldom come, if ever. Therefore, the hero that mans it needs to be able to hold their own and at least clear minion waves without needing to return to base very often. The ability to bully opposing DS lane heroes while not dying to a gank from the opposing jungler is also preferable. One last consideration is the ability to quickly rotate over to a team fight, often turning a 4v4 into a 5v4 if you’re faster than the opposing solo laner.
The following heroes are good duelers, and are thus anywhere from decent to excellent DS Laners:
- Lu Bu
- Wonder Woman
These heroes can duel reasonably well, but are more valuable for their ability to quickly aid a team fight across the map:
Optimal Abyssal Dragon Lane Heroes
Marksmen are the typical heroes manning the Abyssal lane*, especially when the team’s composition includes an assassin jungler. However, when a team opts for a marksman jungler, oftentimes a team will select two traditional DS solo laners, sticking one in the Abyssal lane. In this situation, having a solo laner that doubles as a good team fighter when the Abyssal Dragon spawns is very important. Therefore, the following “traditional” solo laners work best in the Abyssal lane when your team is running two:
*Note: we won’t cover marksmen in this guide other than a few lines on Valhein.
Now, even though some heroes make more sense in one lane or another map-wise, switching your lanes can be a good idea if you want to gain a favorable match up against the opposing solo laners. For instance, Valhein is often selected specifically for his ability to competently solo lane, and while you’d rather have him in the Abyssal Lane, there are a multitude of heroes he counters with his kiting (basically anyone without a dash ability) that makes sticking him the DS lane a viable proposition under the right circumstances.
Finally, keep in mind that these aren’t exhaustive lists: anyone who can reasonably hold their own in a lane can be a viable solo laner. Even mages like Mganga or Tulen can be decent choices, particularly if they can bully the opposing hero away. That said, it’s a good idea to be particularly knowledgeable about the abilities of the heroes named above, as they will be the heroes you will most likely face in any given game.
Moreso than any other position, the solo laner must be able to competently fight mano a mano. Winning the battle against the opposing solo laner can result in missed minion waves for them, a rotation from another opposing hero to your lane to cover, or even a death that benefits your entire team.
Dueling most often comes down to knowing and taking advantage of your opponent’s ability cooldowns (I’ll assume that you know your own hero’s abilities well enough to utilize them competently). Let’s take a look at the heroes above once more, and see what to play around:
- Omen: watch out for his Thirst passive in the early game – once the bar underneath him turns red, he deals a lot more damage AND reduces the cooldowns of his first two abilities. Under almost no circumstances should you stand and fight him when it’s active. Once Omen reaches level four, you’ll either have to stay away from him when Death’s Embrace is off cooldown or have a way to stay alive (Taara’s ult, Kil’groth’s ult, etc.)
- Kil’groth: other than Gore Lord, Enraged Spear is the ability you’ll most want to avoid and/or bait out before you want to engage in battle
- Roxie: Make sure to check for Flicker to see if she can use the Agnie’s Grasp + Flicker combo to pull you under her tower. Other than that, just don’t stand in her flames (easier said than done: be very careful with positioning)
- Arum: You’ll either need to have ranged attacks and/or abilities (Valhein, Ryoma) or have massive burst (Zuka, Skud) to finish her off. Otherwise, you’re better off just clearing the waves as quickly as possible and moving on
- Ryoma: There are actually four relatively long-range abilities you’ll have to look out for, as his Naginatajutsu deals increased damage every 5 seconds. Make sure to move laterally to avoid his onslaught and take advantage when his abilities are off cooldown.
- Skud: It’s probably not a good idea to deal with Skud if Wild Beast Fury is off cooldown. Otherwise, make sure to dodge Furious Charge and keep an eye out for how long Power Glove has been activated. Though Anabolic Rage makes Skud reasonable at standing and attacking, most DS Laners are better at doing so, so you’ll generally want to look out for his abilities the most.
- Lu Bu: It’s a lot easier to deal with Lu Bu before he gets Conqueror. After that, though, you should almost never fight him if it’s off cooldown.
- Astrid: If your hero specializes in using abilities and not auto-attacks, then just poke when you get the opportunity and stay away. Astrid’s life blood is the shield from Bladed Guardian (which refreshes very quickly if you let her hit you), so standing and fighting is only recommended when you have a premier auto-attacker like Omen or Kil’groth.
- Maloch: His abilities and attacks are deceptively long, aided by the fact that he can move while using Cleave. Though it’s on a short cooldown, try to wait until he’s used Cleave before jumping in to attack. If you’ve been hit by one Cleave, it’s best to stay away until his weapon is no longer enchanted, as the second Cleave will really chunk through your health.
- Amily: Find a balance between fighting in the minion wave (so as to not give her extra damage due to Duel) and not giving her an easy time landing Combo and Kickblade. Never fight her while Enrage is active – luckily, it doesn’t last very long
- Zuka: Though playing around Zuka’s abilities is important, the biggest thing to look out for (and one that most people miss) is whether his Chi passive is active. It’s like a whitish steam rising from his body, similar to a Dragonball Z character powering up. Zuka can and will kill you at level 1 if you’re not careful.
- Taara: She does more damage when she’s low on health, so don’t get baited into thinking you’re narrowly winning the fight only to suddenly get bursted down. Once she picks up Steeled Focus, try to bait it out before a big team fight or even before a minion wave appears so you get a free clear.
- Y’bneth: Try not to trade damage unless your hero has great sustain as well. Once it backs off, search Y’bneth out in whatever bush it’s run to to deny its healing. Try to mentally count the stacks on Redwood Rush so you can avoid its charge.
- Marja: The length on Dark Pulse is greater than the cast animation, so it’s best to avoid it laterally if possible. Other than that, either commit or skirt around the edges of her abilities, being aware that she can pop Ghostwalk at any time. Once Ghostwalk is down, she’s a lot easier to deal with.
- Wonder Woman: Sword and Shield deals the most damage, while Amazon Shield is her source of healing, so avoid those (mostly by staying out of the minion wave). If you can bait out Bracelets of Submission without dying, you’ll do your team a solid in the next team fight.
- Xeniel: Avoid him when he appears ready to Malleus in and pop his shield (he’ll almost always pop it on the minion wave, or else he’ll have to wait another 10 seconds to clear – assuming he hasn’t finished Leviathan). If he activates his shield near you, you can probably destroy it before he can pop it, especially in the early game. If Xeniel teleports to the team fight and you’re still in the lane, the most annoying thing you can do is stay there and finish the tower rather than trying to run over and help a fight that’s probably already over.
- Max: Max usually wants to walk up, use Bionic Blender, attack once, and then let Static Shock tick away a bit of damage. If you’re an auto-attacker, the worst thing you can do is get scared by the initial damage he deals and not continue to attack. A couple other tricks: 1) Smooth Moves is on a pretty long cooldown, so try to bait it out before attacking if possible, and 2) Don’t fight near the minion wave, as Max usually just wants to clear and move on. As with Xeniel, if Max uses Liftoff and flies away, just kill the tower.
- Superman: Stay away from the minion wave if he’s flying toward you, forcing him to either attack you or clear the wave with his laser. If you have a way to slow or stun him out of flight mode, do so as often as possible to get under his skin.
- Arthur: The cooldowns for Righteous Fervor and Holy Guard are pretty long in the early game, so just avoid them and you should be fine.
- Airi: In the early game, just avoid Spin and prevent her from auto-attacking (which re-activates Spin) to win the lane. Once she gets Ryuu, her kill potential greatly increases, so don’t fight under dangerous circumstances
- Valhein: Don’t take any unnecessary damage from a distance, and either poke him (Ryoma, Marja) or wait for the right opportunity to jump them and kill him (Zuka, Airi, any other bursty heroes with dashes). This strategy applies for all marksmen.
Finally, when it comes to dueling, it’s important to know whether or not you have the advantage versus your opponent and your opponent’s hero. If you’re an Arthur going up against a Conqueror-level Omen, it’s probably best to stay away and suffer as few deaths and as little tower damage as possible. That said, sometimes it’s worth testing how good your opponent is – even if they’re on a hero that is a supposedly superior dueler – as long as you don’t put yourself in any immediate danger of dying. By deftly playing around their abilities and using yours at the right time, you can often come out ahead in match ups that are usually unfavorable.
Eking Out Advantages in the Early Game
Whether you’re ahead or behind in your never-ending duel, there are always tricks you can employ to help secure you and your team a lead. The most obvious is to take jungle camps surrounding the lane, timing out your abilities and baiting out your opponent’s to secure the last hit. Here are a few more, however, that you may have not thought about:
- If you’ve traded damage relatively evenly and your opponent has returned to base, check the map for the jungler and stay in lane to clear the next wave as quickly as possible – then go back to base straight afterward. Your wave will crash against the tower, making it harder to last-hit and potentially forcing them to miss a couple minions’ worth of experience
- If you’re a particularly durable or mobile hero, you can “cut” the wave, clearing it between the opponent’s 1st and 2nd tower. Double check the mini-map before trying this.
- If you’re losing the match-up and your opponent has rotated elsewhere, clear the next wave as quickly as possible and then rotate before your counterpart returns so that you don’t have to wait for the minions to crash onto your tower.
- If your mage has rotated to the Abyssal lane to help with a fight, and it seems unlikely that they’ll make it back to mid in time for the wave, rotate over and clear it yourself. It’s usually not worth it to walk all the way over to the team fight in the early game, as you’ll gain multiple heroes’ deaths worth of experience and gold if you just double soak the waves.
- It’s usually not a good idea to attack the tower pre-3 minutes, as you’ll do reduced damage. Only if there’s nothing else to do on the map is it a good idea to chip away at the tower at that point of the game.
The last and most important advice I’ll give is to check the opposing jungler’s rotation, making sure you don’t die to a gank somewhere between 1:30 and 1:50. Conversely, if your jungler is rotating over, try to either hide in a bush or use another bait tactic to get the opposing hero to overextend.
To Push or Not to Push
There are certain heroes for whom continuing to push throughout the game will give your team a greater advantage than trying to join the team fight across the map. Omen and Kil’groth, for instance, should almost always be in lane, applying pressure and forcing the opponent to come to you. If your counterpart tries to rotate, you’re better off continuing to push the lane, killing towers and/or forcing a rotation back to you. Even without a minion wave available, it behooves you to wait around the area – perhaps stealing monsters while you wait – and catch the next minion wave ASAP. If successful, multiple heroes will eventually arrive to try and kill you, so be vigilant looking at the minimap and plan your retreat in advance. Also, if you’re in a lower-level game, perhaps customize your emotes/pings so that your team knows what you’re trying to do.
“Don’t Push” Heroes
Heroes like Marja and Arum, on the other hand, have very little pushing power, so you’re better off clearing the wave as quickly as possible (perhaps damaging your counterpart in the process) and quickly rotating over for a team fight. Though you might be able to take a tower down with your normal attacks, it takes so long that you’re usually better served trying to help your team in some way – even if it’s just scouting. Once siege minions begin to spawn, they should be enough to take down a tower by themselves given no opposing rotation, so sticking around makes little sense (unless you can pressure the hero away from the minion wave).
Clear Quickly and Rotate Heroes
Finally, heroes like Max, Xeniel, Superman, and Arthur often get to have their cake and eat it, too. Just clear the wave as quickly as possible so that your counterpart can’t push in your absence, and get to the team fight immediately to gain the advantage. In some cases (eg a team fight is very imminent), it’s worth it to take a little bit of extra damage from the opponent if it means clearing the wave significantly faster in order to rotate.
For everyone else in the middle, the decision is up to you. The most important thing to remember is to commit to a particular strategy – rotating halfway across the map and then changing your mind will just make you miss the fight and the minion wave. On the other hand, clearing the wave then arriving late to the team fight (instead of continuing to push) is similarly the worst of both worlds. Though you’ll get flamed in many a game, there are numerous players out there who will understand if you make the decision to split push.
The Late Game
Depending on the hero, you can have a vastly different range of influence on the later stages of the game.
Maloch, Wonder Woman, and Arum are capable of being the first in a team fight, using their respective ultimate abilities to open up a battle for their team. These ultimates are the most useful around objectives, be they towers or epic monsters.
Heroes like Arthur and Y’bneth can become devastating secondary front-line heroes, significantly aiding team fights by diving in after the main tanks. Because they typically employ hybrid builds, it’s not in their best interest to take all of the initial fire, but go in second and the opponent will have a tough time.
Max and Xeniel can consistently give your team a 5v4 advantage (or even 5v3 if you can bait more than one hero into chasing you without dying), as long as you split push away from the available objective on the map. Both are adept at diving the backline and creating havoc. Omen and Kil’groth are very similar in that it usually takes two to take them down, meaning your team might be able to enjoy a 4v3, lest the opponents give their towers away (Kil’groth is actually a special case in that he can solo both the Dark Slayer and Abyssal Dragon if you have Punish, so that’s another way you can split up the opposing team). Though Omen is adept at locking down a singular hero, he is less competent in a full 5v5 team fight – if forced to join, it’s best to use Death’s Embrace on a squishy back line hero and make the team to pay attention to you.
Finally, there are the times when you will have to become the de facto assassin, diving the backline and taking out the squishies even if it means giving your life. Zuka, Skud, Airi, and Ryoma fall into this category, so make sure you make the proper transition in play style in order to best serve your team.
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