I just unlocked ranked—my experience as a new player and thoughts on the game.
Even though my first match was in 2016, I only really started to appreciate what Dota can offer in this last month. As such, 90% of my playtime has been in patch 7.29.
I’ll never forget my first match. I was playing Witch Doctor supporting my friend who is Archon. I got Pudge hooked 5 times in a row and abandoned the game. I was overwhelmed by all the stupid buttons I had to press and felt frustrated by how much jargon I was bombarded with (honestly, anyone who expects a new player to know wtf it means to “pull the neutral camp” isn’t interacting with reality).
I played a few times over the years but only because a few of my friends swore by the game. I tried but honestly I ran against the wall that so many new players hit and don’t see a reason to get past—the first 50 hours of this game make for the most unenjoyable and frustrating trial by fire in any game I’ve played. Constantly dying and feeling stupid isn’t fun. It almost feels like there is a language barrier to break through just to be able to play the game and stop feeding, let alone feel like you are actually mattering during a team fight.
That was probably the roughest part for me—feeling like I was too slow and clumsy to help my team. I almost felt bad for taking up the vital support slot and failing at it.
For whatever reason, I gave it another try about three weeks ago. This time, I decided to give myself realistic expectations. Yes, I will feed, but that’s what it takes to know that you cannot walk into the enemy triangle to farm their ancients as a level 4 Dazzle.
With the help of my friend and the added pleasure from the fact that my girlfriend got a gaming PC and was now learning with me, I sunk my teeth in. This time, after about 10 matches and making a conscious effort to learn the things I was supposed to be doing as a support, things started to click.
No wards in our triangle? That means Spectre cannot safely farm that since she won’t see enemies coming.
I cannot see any enemies on the minimap? Now isn’t the time to push the deadlane by myself while my carries are farming jungle with no vision.
Things like this started to make sense bit by bit. Of course, I have had the immeasurable help of my veteran friend but it started feeling good to actually realize what is happening.
70 hours into pubs and I started genuinely having fun. We are winning team fights, I can use my glimmer cape by pure instinct and juke the enemy by waiting for the fade animation to end and then turning around, causing them to run past me as I hide in nearby trees. Wait a second, this game is actually fun? It’s not so hard if you can just stomach the pain of learning things the hard way. You have to die in confusion as the enemy carry with BKB makes you think your spell buttons are broken to understand what’s happening.
Anyway, now, I really have started to enjoy the game. It feels great to know that my ability combos with keeper of the light were responsible for shutting down the level 25 enigma as he struggled to escape will o wisp and sun bombs knocking him back in! This is especially true with my favorite hero, Lich. It feels good once you finally get to the level where you can use a hero’s spells competently and instinctively. In particular, I really love tossing out an ice spire during team fights and then pulling a helpless enemy into the clutches of death with sinister gaze just to finish them off with an infinitely bouncing chain frost.
In the midst of all the patch notes discussions, advanced mechanics, and 2k mmr player debates about how broken Dawnbreaker is, I thought it would be nice to share the simple tale of how I came to finally enjoy Dota. I promise, to all the super new people who felt like I did, once you get used to the weirdness of the game, it’s really something awesome.
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