These are some basic things to consider when trying to out-CS your opponent mid. Many of them will apply to other laning scenarios as well. These will be second nature to many of you, but hopefully this will help some of the less experienced players, and maybe those of you that are already very experienced will learn a trick or two. I hope that if I’ve missed any you can share them with me, as well! Also, if any of this information is incorrect please feel free to correct me.
Starting with the most basic: Moving in closer so your projectile can hit first: Example
By walking up closer to the creep wave right before you go for the CS, you can ensure that your projectile beats the opponent’s to the CS. In this video I secure a deny and a last hit simply because I got closer to the creeps than my enemy.
Make sure to consider whether this will put your opponent in a position to harass you, and if this last hit is worth the harass you might take. You can kind of flow in and then back out again as you last hit/deny (notice how I move forward, then back). This minimizes the amount of harass you will take. In many matchups (eg. vs. QOP, Viper, Sniper) this type of movement usually won’t be worth it, as they’ll just punish you too hard for it. If you are heavily advantaged in the matchup you can really bully your enemy by staying close to the creep wave and harassing them back if they try to move forward too close.
Double auto attack deny (or last hit): Example
If you see that your opponent is positioned far away from a deniable creep, and this creep will take 2 hits to kill, you can abuse your positioning to hit it twice before your enemy can get to it. If you look closely you can see the Windranger react to me hitting it the first time, but my superior positioning still allows me to get the deny. Sometimes you can sort of break people’s ankles—if you notice they start running away from the creep wave, you can hit the creep twice, abusing their turn speed and also their reaction time. With this trick it can be important to cancel your animation efficiently to ensure they can’t get to the last hit. If you want to learn more about this there’s a video that goes into more detail here.
In relation to the last one: waiting to deny when a creep has 2 hits: Example
Sometimes people get tempted to go for the deny/CS when the creep still has 2 hits left. If you are in a position to contest this, don’t get greedy and hit it first. Simply by waiting for them to hit it you can always get the last hit/deny before they can hit it twice.
Pump faking the auto attack/deny: Example
There are tons of different times when you can trick your opponent into attacking a creep too early by pump faking your auto attack—starting the animation and then canceling it (pressing S or whatever key you have bound to stop) before you actually attack. In the video he’s waiting for me to hit it so that he can deny it and I pump fake him into feeding me the CS. You can play a lot of mind games with your opponent using this. For example, if I’ve done the trick where I double auto a creep to my opponent a few times and I can see that he is positioning better to punish me when I go for it, I’ll move in close to a deniable creep and pump fake the deny. If you do it right you can get lucky and they go for the last hit, and you can simply deny the creep.
Disadvantage ranged creep deny: Example
When you have a damage disadvantage to your opponent, or they have a positioning advantage over you (for example, a hero that can bully you away from the creep wave), sometimes instead of going for the straight up deny, it can be good to simply ruin their last hit. You do this by hitting the creep before the ranged creep shot hits it, which makes the ranged creep hit kill the creep. The reasoning is that if you wait for the ranged creep shot to hit the creep, they’ll most likely beat you to the last hit anyway. This method does not deny experience, but it’s a lot better than nothing. In the video I think I might have actually been able to get the deny if I waited, but I’m not positive (the TA does have more damage than me with her refraction charge but I’m not sure if it would matter). It still shows you the basic mechanic of what this trick is trying to accomplish.
Pull creep aggro so that you are closer to the creep you want to last hit than your enemy: Example
This one is a bit trickier to achieve. Basically, in a case where the creeps are closer to your enemy than to you (for example, if his block is better, or you pushed the last wave, and they are on his side of the river), you can A-click the enemy hero when you are within the creeps’ aggro range, which will pull them closer to you. One of the most effective times to do this is when a creep’s HP is getting close to last hit range. By pulling it closer to yourself you can ensure that your auto attack hits it first. So the basic method of doing this would be: Move in to creeps’ aggro range, A-click enemy hero, move back with temporary creep aggro, last hit the creep. In the video, I get the last hit with the Storm Spirit remnant, but I think it still shows the general idea. There’s a lot of different things you can do with creep aggro to win the lane, and so I recommend practicing and experimenting a lot on this one.
I hope this helps someone! My goal was to just cover some of the very basics to help people get started. I’m looking forward to seeing what additional tricks you guys know of.