How can you defend against this trilane? The Axe creep skipped, Lich giving frost armor and they pretty much wrecked us. In a more general sense, what is the best way to counter Axe creep skipping ?
This question is hard to answer since you will never play the same DotA game twice, however I can give you some tips on how to react properly versus an agressive trilane that creeps skip (= cut the creep wave behind your tower, forceign you to be in a defensive position)
First thing first
This trilane is not that common but using Axe as creep skipper is a common thing that you can easily counter and even take advantage of. The 2 other supports doesn't matter as much. Here you were facing Lich for the armor (mostly, but also for the nuke and the easy mana regen) aswell as Visage who brings a lot of potential for early kills with Soul Assumption. Another common trilane with Axe is Shadow Demon + Dazzle : init with Disruption + Soul Catcher > Axe calls > Dazzle heals (including the illuion) > The victim dies (pretty much). The important thing to keep in mind is : none of those hero scale well in the lategame and losing your lane doesnt mean losing the game ! I've came back from lost lane versus agressive trilane in which i gave up more than 10 kills and this is because an agressive trilane has some weaknesses that can be exploited to your advantage. Let's see what you can do...
If your team already have picked
Well this is going to be hard, if you run 2 dual lanes, bring someone else and go trilane versus trilane, your potential for at least trading kills will increase by a lot. Axe does not have a great killing potential at low level, especially versus 3 heroes, he relies a lot on the 2 support so your main focus should be taking down those supports. If they dive you, kill the Lich or the Visage. Going for easy kill will make them think twice for the next dive and you are not completely losing your lane.
Don't request for a gank from your mid immediately. He is as low level as you are and if he's mid its because his hero require farm to be effective. Wait for him to hit his key level (might be 5/6/7) then let it come to your lane to mess up with their agressive trilane. By the time if they played well, even if you didn't die much, they should have a level advantage and killing the 3 of them will not only give you this XP advantage back, but you will also gain the gold from their bounty (if one was in killing spree or more). Suddenly their trilane just fed you a lot of level and gold and if they try to come back, you are prepared. If you request a gank too soon from your mid, he might just come and die aswell and at this point the game is pretty much lost. The only time where you should concider bring a 4th hero is if their trilane is very good at pushing and threaten your tower very early (With Pugna/Ezalor/Broodmother etc.). Last but not least : don't put yourself in danger. Don't try to fight the enemy creeps directly under your tower, instead use the forest behind your tower (on both side) to pull the creep wave away and farm them in that safe spot. Usually diving here is really hard because the enemy heroes are forced to come one bye one, you have the advantage of the fog of war and they are forced to go past your tower. If any of your allies react with a TP they are in a lot of trouble to get out.
If you did not already pick...
...and you foresee a creep skipping Axe, then it's time to prepare. You will want a carry for your safelane that can fight early, concider :
- Gyro : Rockets Barrage deals an absurd amount of damage even at low level
- Sven : Warcry gives a lot of armor and Storm Hammer (Aoe Stun) will help you a lot
- Necro : AoE heal + nuke (and he's ranged)
- If you are experienced enough, Pugna is another good choice : the ward will make them lose mana over time (which is crucially needed in an agressive trilane), plus Nether Blast is a wonderfull AoE nuke with a low cooldown (it will also help you clear the creeps under your tower faster)
Then you need 2 strong defensive supports, concider :
- Dazzle : Heal the creepwave that Axe is creep skipping, it will nuke him for a lot of physical damages and keep your creeps alive longer. Plus with dazzle you have a slow and the ability to keep any ally alive
- Ezalor : Supply mana, spam Illuminate (to defend tower or harass Axe and his support) plus you can use manaleak to waste the enemy team's mana
- Undying : Decay does wonder versus any trilane, Tombstone will make their dive almost impossible and one level in Soul Rip is enough heal to keep someone alive. Actually Dazzle + Undying is a ridiculously strong lane
- Of course if they are not picked, Lich and Visage are really strong aswell and should be concidered for the reason mentionned in the intro
what items should you bring ?
- Tangoes (a lot of them)
- One of you should have a ring of basilius (AoE armor + mana regen = win)
- Get magic wands as soon as possible : lot of spells are cast in trilane versus trilane, you can get 10 charge really quickly and having a burst of HP and mana can be the difference between dying or getting a kill.
- Wards : ward the jungle near your tower to see them coming from behind
- If you are a melee hero, a stout shield can be very usefull in early game because the support doesn't auto attack for that much damage
To finish, the same advices apply as when you already picked : don't put yourself in danger, wait for your mid to come and gank the hell out of them, focus the support first, then kill the Axe. This is not a foolproof method but at least you can be prepared to deal with this situation a lot better.
Any ranged good damager, spell damager or decent stunner would do, even if solo. The only thing you need to do is to stay chill and not die (stay as far behind your tower as you can). If you can't hold the tower, ask for help or let it fall; don't try to do any fancy things unless you are sure you can escape after; just stun / hit from distance etc. Is true that getting a tower will be an advantage for them, but farming you would be worse. After they take the first tower they will need to change lane, or risk going into the second where they can be ganked like hell. Knowing human nature, this will also make them cocky, resulting into bad plays. If you are solo you could go lion (hex + stun at low level, decent damage, mana drain - so axe won't disturb you with battle hunger), rashta (same as lion), lina (good damage, good range, stun), sniper (you can stay far far away, decent damage with ministun), cent (good stun, good damage), shaker, etc. There are many options. Of course, you can't go riky, slark, jugger, pa, pl, etc. and expect to get creeps or even survive (unless the other team is retarded).
If you are 2 on lane, you can beat the **** out of them. Axe going between your towers at a low level is not necessarily a good move for them with a decent counter from your part (their support will probably not come between towers, or if they do come with creeps they will not be able to right click you without tower attacking them). Also if axe comes between towers it means they won't pull creeps since they have to support him, or if they do they will not do it every time, so you can actually get some creeps. Also if lich goes frost armor it means he either didn't level his nova (so he has lol damage since he lack his basic damage spell), or he didn't level his yummy creep ability (so he will lack mana the first few levels). The only decent play for him is 1 level in armor, the rest in the other 2. So, if you are 2 just pick something with a stun or slow: you can go dazzle + venom, bristle + venge, etc.
Of course, everything depends on the ppl. you are playing with and against. Dota is a pretty balanced game, there is no op hero and no lame hero. There are only good and bad plays. My head hurts when I enter a game and see a team picking 4 hard carries with no disable whatsoever and expecting to win. Remember that the game is about towers and team, not about "who shines the most" and everything will go fine.