Dota 2

General Lessons of how to properly play DotA2 from 8k player’s perspective

Copied from r/Dota2 advice by an 8k player. Thought everyone here could learn from like me..

  1. Based on the other 9 heroes in the game, judge whether the game is going to be played in a 5 man teamfight kind of way. If the game is going to be about getting pickoffs & skirmishes based on your heroes, then don't bother with pipe crimson vlads etc. Buy euls/manta/blinks/forcestaffs/bkbs etc.
  2. Your skill build / item build should be for the lane first, and the game second. If you are a useless pile of crap after laning, it doesn't matter how sick your max chains no flameguard build on ember is against thier heroes if you just have 2k networth at 10 min.
  3. If lane A pushes by X, lane B pushes by -X, then there can be no plays made. This can be fixed by clearing more waves in either team. More waves are cleared only by pushing waves more survivably or by buying waveclear items.
  4. Plan fights/smokes around big creep waves as cores are baited by 15 creeps hitting a T1
  5. The will of the core is the will of the team.
  6. Recognize waves you farm to push the lane vs waves you farm to actually get the last hits. The mid wave, in the river, for instance is a place where many greedy players can be found dead as they walk into the centre of the river to last hit the creeps at 15 min when the enemy team is missing. If you cannot nuke dangerous waves from range, have supports do it. If no one can do it reliably, then hopefully you have a hero who is survivable on waves to their heroes. Otherwise, the game is actually just impossible & your draft sucks as anyone who pushes that wave will get jumped and die.
  7. Your team is allowed to play 2 lanes; if you play the 3rd, your time there should always be limited otherwise you risk dying or getting your teammates killed.
  8. Always play according to how mechanically confident you are in executing. If you are an ember who *should* be able to sleight dodge a sven stun, but you do not feel confident doing so, then don't do it.
  9. Play according to what the game is, not what it could be.
  10. Imagine the enemy team to be one mind, and yours to be a hundred.
  11. Realize that there are things (and weaknesses) you will never learn about without playing the heroes. For example, when tinker gets soul ring, he is often jungling at low health.
  12. Realize what the current situation is, when it is going to inevitably change, which team is going to cause the team, and consider whether the change in gamestate can be avoided without comitting too many resources.
  13. If there is ever a rotation you can immediately make to improve the gamestate, you should make it as even though your own game is currently good, the gamestate could be horrible. They could, for example have a beastmaster that has taken your bot t1 and is now going to inevitably rotate mid with the catapult and roar. You are a monkey king mid, and even though you crushed the enemy ember, you still have only phase boots + ogre axe at 10 min and will be unable to fight the beastmaster off to defend. Thus the gamestate is horrible.
  14. Itemize to play, do not play to itemize.
  15. Past the early game (10-15 min), think more about team timings and less about your individual timing. At this point, no matter how strong you are as a core individually, you need to consider your strengths as teams at all times. Typically, the position 1 starts making calls around this point as they start hitting their timings (fury/manta AM, deso/fury PA, fury/aghs MK, radiance manta WK etc)
  16. Realize that when your team is playing 2 lanes, and you go to the 3rd, you are effectively resetting the map. This may be good if your team fought and now has no cooldowns as the enemy is also forced to reset the map.
  17. It is not necessary to have an idea of your entire teams optimal orientation of the map; all you need to know is what type of piece you are in the puzzle. If you are in a competitive team and are the captain, this is even more so true. If you are the captain, then you are not only a piece in the puzzle, but you are the hand that plays the puzzle itself.
  18. All strength will always be temporary, unless you make it permanent. Use your advantages the second you get them. Whether this means skipping boots to rush a fury and farm faster, or running at the enemy PA at level 6 only 5 minutes into the game as a midlaner, do your part.
  19. The reason casters are apparently so good at dota, and in practice generally not even top 500, is because they make what is already happening on the screen entertaining, which means they do not highlight the possibilities before and they do not understand why this particular path was chosen. Spectating dota will typically not make you better, as there will be a lack of you seeing things, rather than you seeing things which were done incorrectly. Play.
  20. In a bad lane matchup against a farming core, your choices are to either bring heroes to your lane and pressure them, or leave your lane to pressure elsewhere. This initially meant only mid, but I realize it applies to sidelanes equally. It is only when your hero cannot pressure other lanes AND you do not have heroes which can rotate mid that you accept the gamestate. And in this case, it is probably a drafting error. It is never 'okay' for both teams to farm while one has a farming mid and the other has a ganking mid.
  21. Plays made out of desperation are rarely worthwhile. Identify whether it is your actual hero in the game that is desperate, or it is your desire to forget your (and your teams) past gameplay errors.
  22. Dota is not a game which can always be played reactively; you will not improve by simply reacting to opportunities, such as a CM running into a hasted ember spirit, or having an opportunistic ward which scouts a low health tinker in the jungle. The biggest difference between good and bad players in the game is that good players create opportunities; bad players react to opportunities. Bad players will never just TP to a beastmasters lane at 5 min and help him take the tower if they do not already happen to be there. Good players will.
  23. Skill build and itemize according to how you will play, and play according to how you skill build and itemize. If you have max jingu on monkey king, you either made a mistake or you are supposed to run at people; that is a sign the game is giving you telling you to run at people. Use it.
  24. Assume the best, expect the worst. For example, if there is a highground you absolutely must walk up, then do it, but make sure you switch your treads to str and use any defensive abilities on you or wait for your team to come closer.
  25. Visualize certain 'forcing' facts in the game; by forcing facts, i mean certain key ideas in the game which allow you to 'solve' the mid game orientation puzzle. For example, pushing against tinker with travels with a wk monkey king underlord cores? Not happening. Then where should you play on radiant? Well, if you are not strong, you need to worry about losing your objectives. This is typically bottom tier 1 for radiant. What about mid? Well, mid is sort of a 'useless' lane, so we can have a weak but survivable hero like wraith king farm the lane. Underlord cannot jungle, and he needs to be at the fight before it happens, so he should be bot. Monkey king wants to be around trees and wants to farm as well, so he should be top, ready to tp bot. The supports? Well, when defending a tower like this (in a greedy way with 2 farming cores), the 4 support can look for either pressure with the pressuring core (monkey king) or stay behind the underlord for counterinitiation.The 5 typically sits behind the underlord as a save or a bait to make the enemy dive deeper. If the 4 is a greedy hero as well like rubick/lina, then you need to REALLY hope you crush your lanes as this hero needs to farm a lane to function, and so one of your 2 farming cores is not going to get a full lane. However, by realizing the presence of the enemys strong depush with Tinker, we have constructed a 'necessary' orientation for our team.
  26. Assume the enemy is in this 'optimal' orientation, unless they give you reason to believe otherwise. For example, smoking for an AM with battlefury, the enemy radiants bottom lane is likely not going to work as AM farms ancients and top side, not bottom.
  27. Every individual player's idea in the game has a certain 'margin' it is sullied by due to the 'execution gap', which is the gap between what a player expects to happen and what actually happens. Ideas are not necessarily bad because they do not work; team secret compared to some tier 4 NA team would make the same strategy look completely different because they just 'know' what that strategy looks like so much cleaner. For example, for splitpushing, they know who is supposed to push which lane. What conditions are required for a certain hero on their team to show? Where should wards be placed around? Who should place these wards? Who sits behind who? What heroes actually do the split pushing? What items/levels are required to begin split-pushing?
  28. Truth is, past a certain skill bracket, no one truly knows what plays are good or bad anymore. At the highest brackets (and nowhere else), execution matters far more than the play itself. If miracle pulls some sick aegis steal where 99% of players would've failed miserably, died without buyback, and lost the game, is that a good play? I think so. Because it worked.
  29. Play like there is no other person in the game. Play as if it is a singleplayer game to avoid tilt. Think of the all chat and stuff as things being said by an AI, DotA 2. Would you become upset by something an AI said? No, because an AI cannot really 'feel' your dissatisfaction, so you should not be dissatisfied.
  30. Be dissatisfied when your hero is dissatisfied. As with marriages, do not stay in a toxic environment; if the lane is rough , start considering alternatives. At some point in the game, the lanes break down, and yours will too. Consider how you can accelerate this process, or make it happen in the first place
  31. Think of the 'hard to think about' factors in a game. For example, to take your game to the next level, try and anticipate blink reveals. When there are 2 cores in a lane, consider whose job it is to push the wave and whose job it is to stand around the other guy to protect him / threaten people near him. Another one would be that if you are smoking at XX:40, a good place to go would be the enemy triangle if they have an ancient farmer. The carry, if he is any good, will be waiting close to the ancient camp for it to respawn, and you will be able to get a clean pick as (on radiant) he will be on the left side of the hill, so you can smoke up the hill from the right without worrying about it breaking for the most part.
  32. While split pushing, decide between applying pressure on 1 lane, or relieving pressure from 2 lanes by cutting. This depends on mainly how urgent it is to relieve pressure. If they are about to go highground, that wave needs to get cut, unless you push almost as fast as all 5 of them combined against the heroes your team currently has alive. The answer is generally no to this, so if they're about to push objectives, the correct play is typically to cut waves instead of apply tower pressure of your own. In some games, cutting waves will be far more dangerous, and in these buying your own wards/sentries can be super helpful.
  33. In every mid lane, there is typically 1 mid laner that walks to the rune before it spawns. For example, as puck vs ember, ember would need to walk to the rune before because if they both wait until spawn, puck can just orb to it and take it as puck orb > ember MS. Same with ember vs lesh; lesh is faster than ember, and if ember tries to 'not 50-50' the rune, then lesh will just press edict and chase him down. Realize which one this is, and itemize accordingly; boots as lesh or ember would help, as well as a point in chains on ember.
  34. Recognize that when a certain gamestate is bad, you do not always need to change it. It could be that any play you make is going to fail and just make the gamestate worse, so your goal should be to do the 'small things' better rather than making a big fancy play. For example, some tinker wards to scout the enemy tinker with a hex, having oracle sit behind people who push lane rather than pushing it alone, positioning better while pushing waves, putting a highground ward and camping it etc. Just because the enemy tinker is very strong and outfarming you does not mean you instantly smoke up and try to make something happen in desperation; any play you make will likely result in a 5 man feed since the enemy will have vision and all lanes will be pushed into you. Instead, wait for a mistake or a better timing to make this desperate play off. A cores bkb, or lvl 25 for example. Or an opportunistic ward that the enemy supports forgot to deward.
  35. While split pushing, make a list of the 'necessary' heroes a team needs to catch you. These are typically only 1 or 2 in each team. For e.g if the enemy team has undying, death prophet, bristleback, crystal maiden, earthshaker, and you are ember spirit with a euls, then the only hero that threatens you at all in shaker. For everyone else, you do not even need to look at them. But shaker should concern you. Look at him whenever you get a chance to see if he has a blink or smoke or some wards or shadowblade; even just checking his mana level can give you an idea of whether he can actually threaten you or not.
  36. As a support with catch, make a similar list, but now from the enemy splitpushers perspectives. If you have catch for them, and no one else in your team does, do not show on waves. Do not show on any waves. Every wave you push is at least 2 that the enemy splitpusher does because they do it faster than you, but if you push no waves, the enemy cannot push any waves either. However, your team can push waves for you, and they cannot for the enemy splitpusher because that is the whole point of splitpushing; he is playing away from his team, so they cannot help him push waves.
  37. With every rotation, there is a cost. If you leave lane as mid, the enemy gets to push the wave freely. After this, they can choose to either countergank you directly, indirectly, or pressure the tower (anything else is a mistake by the enemy mid unless the mid hero is some hardcore farmer like naga siren). If the enemy has lots of tower push mid (death prophet / leshrac) and they are unable to push while you are there, and able to push while you are not, then you simply cannot rotate without killing the enemy mid or forcing them to use enough resources that they may be dead already, or until your supports become strong enough to hold the lane on their own.
  38. Early deaths (especially solo deaths) as a midlaner are gamechanging. When one midlaner dies and the other pushes the wave, he will likely be forced to tp back in to a now bad matchup, 99% of midlaners will tp if you just push the wave, and the remaining 1% will tp if you have any tower pressure (DP/DK/Lesh/wind with focus fire). You can then walk to a sidelane and apply a ton of pressure. Note this only works if the enemy mid doesn't just kill your tower; if he does, then the play is to actually punish his tp directly by ganking him with supports.
  39. A good rule of thumb for judging when your rotations are good is by asking yourselfi) What happens if the guy that is likely to rotate (typically mid or 4) rotates to counterii) What if they see you coming on a wardiii) The lane that was against you is left alone (or vs your support if you're in a sidelane). Do they threaten to kill your support instantly and take your tower, or will they use a lot of resources to kill your support and then not be able to take it?iv) Are you going to threaten an objective of your own with the rotation? Such as towers/bounty runes/ taking enemy stacks/ taking control of the enemy jungle/ rosh/ outpost.
  40. Watch the minimap. There are SO many fights which would never begin if one team watched their minimap at the time & walked into the enemies. A cool minigame you can play is watching a replay of a pro player playing a hero & then coming up with possible reasons as to why they make the movements they do based on only the minimap (without looking at the gameplay itself).
  41. The 2 reliable ways to force fights are by forcing objectives, or having initiation. Thing about forcing objectives is that if both teams have 5 heroes alive, unless one is way stronger, the weaker team will still be able to defend. Because it is based around an enemy objective (besides Rosh) so they have a natural advantage. In every single game, initiation means something different. Against AM, pre-manta, it may mean silences or roots, but post-manta, you need hard stuns. Against Puck, instant disables. After linkens, AOE instant disables. This is why deathball lineups are hard to win with; they can typically force objectives early on, but if the enemy doesn't feed too much, they can split the map and cut waves indefinitely since deathball lineups are very slow and lack disables.
  42. Dota is a 5 man game; do not panic if you are having a bad game. Ask the ones who are having good games to communicate their timings and play according to their gameplan. If it is AM, chill till manta abyssal. If you have a super farmed venomancer, force teamfights. If your mid ember spirit is popping off, run around with him and skirmish a bunch. If it is natures prophet, play away from him and set up disables for him so he can TP in and get pickoffs. If it is alchemist or some greedy battlefury hero and it is still early in the game, put wards in your triangle, have a hero camp the highground to break any smokes, and focus on protecting your towers while they get massive.
Read more:  I wrote some DOTA riddles. Some are easy, some are hard. Can you guess them all?


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