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Another article, another pub game ruined. This time, your core is the one who will ruin your game. Next up in this series are traditional support heroes who could make an impact by playing as cores.
Offlane Chen has been around for some time and isn’t a totally new concept but recently, Chen in the offlane has been winning games at an absurd rate. In this article, we’ll look at the idea around offlane Chen, and if it’s a viable pick.
In the pro scene, 33 has been the one leading the charge for this hero as a position 3. 33 is known for his play on micro intensive heroes and there aren’t many heroes that require more micro than Chen. 33 is also an offlane player so putting 33 on Chen in the offlane seems like a combination that just makes sense.
In recent memory, Alliance played offlane Chen at MDL Chengdu Major. In Alliance’s opening game of the group stage, they picked Chen for 33 and they won in this game. The next time they picked Chen was in game one of the first round in the playoffs in this game. Alliance won that game and then TNC Predator first phase banned Chen the rest of the series which they then won.
Chen was first phase banned against Alliance for the rest of their tournament run before they got eliminated in round three of the lower bracket.
Chen is a common hero picked often in pro games though mostly as a support. What Alliance and 33 have shown though is that Chen is also viable as an offlaner in the hands of the right player.
In the Dotabuff hero meta page when sorting by offlane roles, Chen is ranked #1 in win rate percentage in Divine/Immortal games with an absurd 59.04% and a 1.57% pick rate.
In Ancient games, Chen has a 54.28% win rate with a 0.61% pick rate, good for 6th best.
Of course, these numbers could mean that Chen is being played as a position 4 rather than a 3 but if Chen is being played as a support then it’s more likely that he’s being played as a 5.
When else have we seen a 59.04% win rate on any hero in any lane? This is an absurdly high number and it’s being seen on Chen in the offlane. So obviously there’s something going right when considering this hero and role.
Position 3 Chen shines in the early game and rides that advantage into the late game.
At level one, you can control an enemy range creep or jungle creeps to get an advantage in the last hit battle. You also have an ability that provides bonus health regeneration which is always helpful in lane.
Offlane Chen also gets levels faster than support so you’ll be able to control neutral creeps like Centaur Conquerors before 10 minutes. If you can get a few of these creeps, they’re very difficult to deal with in the early game. A few two second AoE stuns is huge at all stages of the game but in the early game they’re especially difficult to deal with.
Offlane Chen can also farm ancient creep stacks better than most carry heroes. If you have several high level neutral creeps under your control and have a Vladmir's Offering for lifesteal, then you should be able to take multiple ancient stacks easily.
When it comes to offlane heroes, most players expect a hero that can tank and initiate. Chen provides that but in a different way. His Centaur creeps can initiate and tank while Chen stays in the backlines and summons allies or prepares heals and slows. In this sense, Chen fulfills the traditional role of an offlane hero just not with his body.
This works well until the mid to late game. Centaurs and Satyrs won’t be able to equip items so they don’t scale like heroes do. You’ll have to get an Aghanim’s Scepter and control Ancients for your creeps to scale well into the late game but even then, heroes will of course scale better.
So the strong points of offlane Chen are his abilities and normal gameplay coming online faster than the enemy expects. In the mid to late game, seeing a few Centaurs coming your way can easily be dodged with a blink dagger or force staff but before 15 minutes, not many heroes will have high mobility items.
Some weak points of Chen offlane seem obvious but are important to point out.
One is the tilt factor. When you pick offlane Chen, your position 4 might dismiss you and try to take the last hits, thinking that the farm would be better suited on their Pudge rather than a position 3 Chen. You might end up in a last hit battle with your enemy and ally, leaving your lane supportless.
Chen also can take a while to “come online.” You need to find creeps in the jungle that fit your needs and that forces you to rely on random chance. If you die or your creeps die, a large part of what you offer to your team disappears and that provides an opening for your enemy.
In the right hands and with the right team, offlane Chen brings a lot to the table that can be overwhelming to deal with. If you are being charged at by four centaur creeps with five enemies behind it, you probably want to turn around and run for your life.
Chen is one of the most micro intensive heroes in the game so that eliminates a large portion of the player base from playing him. But if you’re open to the challenge or already good at him, it can be something new that the enemy isn’t used to dealing with and that in itself can be a significant advantage.
Has anyone seen an offlane Chen in their game? If you’re a position 4 and your offlaner picked position 3 Chen, would you steal their farm?