What Does it Mean to be a Hard Carry in Dota 2?

Have you been curious about what being a Carry in Dota 2 really is? Find out the characteristics and meaning behind the role in this article!

Updated on Sep 12, 2023
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What Does it Mean to be a Hard Carry in Dota 2?

What is a Hard Carry?

The Hard Carry, also known as the Position 1, is one of the five roles in Dota 2. The Hard Carry is known to be rather weak in the early phase, but with the proper items and levels, will carry their team in the mid to late game. Hard Carry players should focus on finding farm in the laning phase, farming efficiently in the mid game, and making good item decisions to build into the Late Game. If you’re interested in the Hard Carry role, check out an in-depth explanation of what the role actually means!

Characteristics of a Hard Carry

Let’s check out the common characteristics that Hard Carry heroes share:

Weak in the Early Game

Hard Carries are usually very weak in the early portions of the ame, as most of their spells either buttist them with farming, or are damage abilities that require items to scale. This means that their abilities are not very useful at very low levels in the early on.

Though some Carries have useful laning abilities, most carries focus on getting as much farm as possible out of the Laning Phase.

Focuses on Farming in the Early to the Mid Game

Hard Carry Heroes tend to build farming items such as Maelstrom, Radiance, or Battle Fury. These items will help Carry Heroes farm at faster paces, as these Heroes will need items to strengthen themselves for the later portion of the game.

However, some Carries have built-in farming abilities, so they can purchase fighting-oriented items. Examples such as Naga Siren and Terrorblade will focus on building items that will help them increase their stats as their illusions help them farm already.


Chooses fights wisely in the Mid Game

Since Carry Heroes usually buy items to help them farm instead of fight, they will still be relatively weak in the middle portion of the games. The Mid Laners and Offlaners are usually still stronger than Carries at this stage of the game.

So, Carries must choose their fights carefully in the Mid Game as they do not have the ability to completely 1v5 the enemy heroes yet.

Eventually Carries the Late Game

After farming for a long time, Hard Carries will finally be ready to show up to fights as the strongest Hero on their respective teams. The Carry will usually have the most items and gold amongst their team members in the late portion of the game. The rest of the team should focus on buffing and protecting their Carry.

For a more in-depth explanation on what it means to be a Hard Carry in the three different stages of the game, check out the following parts of the article!

The Early Game for a Hard Carry

As explained earlier, the Early Phase is arguably the hardest stage for a Hard Carry. Let’s check out what the Hard Carry does in the early portions of the game.

Plays on the Safe Lane in the Laning Phase

In the Early Game, the Hard Carry is the weakest hero in the team. So, the Hard Carry will farm in the safest lane, which is the Safe Lane.

The Safe Lane is considered as the safest lane because the Tower is pushed all the way up and provides protection. The Safe Lane is at the Bottom Lane for Radiant, and the Top Lane for Dire.

Supported by the Hard Support

The Hard Carry will need help in the early on, so the Hard Support will be paired up with the Carry on the Safe Lane. The Hard Support is usually a Hero with a great set of level one spells, making them strong Early Game.

The Hard Support could either have defensive spells to heal up and protect the Carry, or have offensive spells that can help the Carry kill the enemy heroes.

Tends to build into a Farming item to scale

In the Early Game, the Carry will focus on building into a Farming item, instead of offensive early items. Carries play for the Late Game, so buying smaller items that can help them fight earlier is not preferred over a Farming item that will help the Carry scale.

Carries tend to focus on building components of items such as Maelstrom, Battle Fury, or Radiance, to get the earliest possible timing for their Farming items.


The Mid Game for a Hard Carry

Now that we’ve understood what the Carry likes to do in the Early Game, let’s check out the next stage of the game: The Mid Game.

Spends most of the Mid Game Farming

The Carry will focus most of their time in the Mid Game to focus on collecting Gold. The Carry will usually depend on their Farming items to amplify their Farming speed. They will then focus on building scaling items such as Damage items that will help them in preparation for the later game.

Hard Carries should focus on finding safe, yet efficient farm during the Mid Game, away from an enemy hero. They should spend most of their time in the Triangle or pushing up Creep Waves at appropriate times. The Carry should be farming up until the 25 to 30 minute mark on average.

Joins good Team Fights only

The Carry should have a few items coming into the Mid Game, but it usually is not enough for the Carry to become the strongest Hero in the team or game. The Carry won’t have enough levels or items to make them a serious threat.

So, as a Carry player, you should choose your fights very carefully and make sure that you don’t die during the fight. Dying can really slow down the progress of the Carry’s Farm, so in the case that the Carry dies, they will have to get enough out of the fight to make it worth dying for.

Can start Carrying if the Hero is less item dependent

In some cases, some Heroes such as Lifestealer, Wraith King, and Ursa have decent abilities to help them participate in fights. Due to these abilities, these Carry Heroes will be able to join fights earlier on, as they will need less items.


However, farm-oriented heroes such as Medusa, Anti-Mage, and Luna will need more items compared to the three heroes mentioned previously. To be a good Carry player, one will have to understand the different item timings required on the different Carry Heroes.

The Late Game for a Hard Carry

We’ve come to every Carry player’s favorite phase of the game, the Late Game. Let’s learn what it means to be a Carry Hero in the late portions of the game.

Should have 4 or more items to become strong

Once the Carry has successfully farmed four or more premium items, they’re usually ready to go. The Carry hero will tend to mix in items that help with mobility, damage, and survivability.

Here are a few suggestions for great item choices to build into the Late Game.




Silver’s Edge


Black King Bar

Blink Dagger

Monkey King Bar


Boots of Travel


Assault Cuirbutt

A mix of these three components will help Carry heroes become a real threat in the Late Game.

Becomes the strongest Hero in the team

Since the Carry spends a lot of time farming, then they should be the Hero with the highest Net Worth in the team when it comes to the Late Game. With all of this Gold and Experience, the Hard Carry should become the strongest Hero in the team fight.

Since the Hard Carry becomes the strongest, the team will shift their focus to protecting and enabling the Carry, by buffing and saving the Carry in Team Fights in order to allow the Carry to kill the enemy team.

Responsible for dealing damage to Heroes and Towers

With the Hard Carry being the strongest Hero in the team, the Carry will be responsible for dealing heavy amounts of damage to the enemy team, their Heroes and their Towers, with all of the items they have Farmed for throughout the game.

The Hard Carry should be able to quickly kill enemy heroes. With the highest percentage of Net Worth in the team, if the Carry fails in killing enemy Heroes in a team fight, then the chances of winning becomes very slim.

Since the team has worked to make as much space as possible for the Carry to farm, the Carry will have to repay that by being the strongest hero in the game in order to win the team fight. Exceptions can be made if the enemies have a significant gold advantage, as it’s quite hard to Carry if the team is heavily behind.


We hope that you’ve learned what it means to be a Hard Carry in Dota 2! Make sure to practice the Hard Carry role to climb up the ranks and reach Immortal! But make sure that you’ve had enough understanding of the role and the ranked requirements before you can try out your Carry skills in ranked! And if you want to improve, it never hurts to watch your friends play the game.

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