Guide

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Welcome to Dota 2 Guide, you su... well actually you guys have gotten a lot better.

I've been happily forced to rewrite my guide because the problems of the new Dota 2 player are very different from the problems of the DotA 1 player when I originally wrote the guide in 2011. In short, the tools that Valve provided and the learning resources that the community has created are very different than they were in the past. I also think that I can write a better guide now than I could then.

Before we start, I just want to thank you for taking a chance on this game. It takes a long time to refine your skills and learn, but that's often the most rewarding part about playing Dota 2. If you're here because your friends want you to play with them, then the social aspect makes learning easier as friends fix your new player mistakes, or at least give you a foundation that will help you see and correct your errors. Lets see if we can keep those to a minimum.

Dota Basics

Dota 2 is a five versus five team game. You win the game by destroying your enemy's Ancient building also known as the Throne before the enemy team destroys yours.

Radiant ThroneRadiant Throne
Throne LocationsThrone Locations
Dire ThroneDire Throne

At the start of the game every hero is weak, with little experience and little gold. Experience gives you levels and access to stronger skills, and Gold buys you items that make you do a variety of things, like run faster, do more damage, and cast special spells.

Your goal is to spend your time gaining exp and gold as fast as possible, or assisting your team in doing so while limiting and reducing your opponents' exp and gold gain. If you gain a significant exp and gold advantage by the later stages of the game, it usually allows your team to destroy all heroes in your path, followed immediately by buildings, and ultimately finish killing the enemy Ancient, upon which you win the game. How you go about doing this is playing Dota.

Lets start off with some more basics.

Creeps

There are three lanes that spawn creeps every 30 seconds at the :00 and :30 mark for the entire game. These creeps run down each lane for both teams and attack each other until they die. You want to be close by for that because when your enemies' creeps die, they release experience for your team in the area.

Radiant creepsRadiant creeps
Dire creepsDire creeps

To move your hero to go to these lanes, you select your hero by left clicking on your hero and then right click the ground to move your hero to that position. If there is an enemy where you right click, you will issue an attack command, which means your hero will move to that target and attack when in range. All heroes have a basic attack that is often called a right click or right clicking. This is the main way that you do damage, especially in the early game. Most heroes do a low amount of right click damage in the early game because their levels are low and you have little gold to purchase expensive and strong items.

If you are the hero that does the final damaging blow to kill a creep (called the last hit), then you also get gold! If you do not get the last hit, you only get experience, assuming that you are close enough. This is the first thing that you will have to practice to become a better than average Dota player. Learn to get the last hit on a creep so that you get gold in addition to exp. In addition to last hitting, every player gets 5 gold every 3 seconds just by being in the game. However, last hitting is still extremely important because if you can last hit more often than your opponents, you will help your team get the gold advantage that allows you to buy the items that win you the fights that wins you the game.

This may make you think that this allows you and your opponent to stand in the same lane, but your opponent can attack their creeps when they get below half of their Health Points (HP) by pressing the 'A' key for attack and then left clicking their creeps. If they last hit one of their creeps instead of you, it's called a deny and an exclamation(!) point will appear over their head, showing that the creep was denied. When a creep is denied, it gives less experience than it would have, and there is no chance to receive the gold bounty. You don’t get the gold yourself from denying, but preventing them from getting full exp and any gold is worth the effort.

DeniedDenied
Last HitLast Hit

This creates a scenario where the player who is better at last hitting will get more gold and experience than their opponents, so do your best to focus and last hit for the first advantage in the game.

Being in one of the 3 lanes in the early game is important because of the gold and exp gain, but there are more places you can farm such as neutral camps, which are the many areas where neutral creeps spawn and sit. They can be farmed by either team, and the main locations of these neutral creeps are in the heavily forested regions on the map also known as the Jungle. There are very few heroes in Dota 2 that can gain gold and experience in the jungle at the start of the game because the creeps are stronger than regular creeps, but if your hero is one of those heroes, it's often worth it to put 1 hero in the jungle to start the game.

To sum up the very beginning of the game, heroes are distributed to each lane depending on their role and then do their best to get last hits and exp while limiting their opponents last hits by denying as well as some other advanced methods.

My favorite advanced method to deny your opponents of gold and exp gain while enhancing yours is to Kill Them.

You will get opportunities to attack enemy heroes (called harassing) while you are laning, but that mostly depends on the hero matchups. Matchups in reference to the laning stage (early game) means what heroes you are playing, and what heroes your opponents decided to put in a lane against you.

If your opponent is playing a melee hero (a hero whose right click is very short range) and you are playing a ranged hero (a hero whose right click is a long ranged projectile like an arrow) then you have many opportunities to harass your opponent when they go for last hits. If you harass your opponent enough and his HP becomes too low, it may give you an opportunity to use your skills to slow, damage, or stun (preventing any action) your opponent and Kill Them. If you are the one getting harassed, make sure that you use your consumable HP regeneration items that you purchased at the start of the game to keep your hp full after you take damage so that the damage required to kill you is increased. I’ll tell you which ones to buy later.

If you kill your opponent in lane or throughout the game, you accomplish a few things. First, your opponent isn't in lane anymore because all dead heroes are removed from the map for a set time depending on their level, and after they respawn, they have to walk back to the lane from base. Any exp and gold from creeps that die while they're gone is wasted. Second, you gain exp and gold for being present at their death, and that should make you a higher level, making your skills and right click stronger than your opponent.

With that advantage you just got, it becomes easier to kill them again, and again. This is called snowballing. You gain a small advantage, and you use that to take another advantage, and another advantage. One way to stop snowballs is by killing the player who is snowballing since you get extra gold from a wealthy hero, or a hero who is on a kill streak!

Keep in mind that snowballing might be because of you. If you repeatedly die (also known as 'Feeding' your opponent gold) then you are allowing your opponents to get an advantage and snowball. DO NOT FEED. You want to maximize kills on your opponents, get last hits and exp from creeps and in the meantime minimize your deaths. To avoid feeding, if your opponents are trying to kill you and you think you will lose the fight, it's generally best to throw your stun or slow (if you have one) and IMMEDIATELY run straight towards the nearest tower.

My second favorite advanced method to deny your opponents of gold and exp gain while enhancing yours is to Almost Kill Them.

By Almost Killing Them, you put their life at such a low point that they will be forced to run back to their fountain (which regenerates your health points (HP) and mana points (MP)). They will only go back if they are out of regen items, so it's much better if you kill them instead. If they do run back to their fountain they are wasting time, as creeps are dying without giving exp, creeps are not being last hit, and no one is around to deny you while you are last hitting, which gives you more gold and exp. This is not nearly as good as when you Kill Them, but it's better than nothing.

Look How Far They Have to Run Back When You Harass Them

Super Far

The best way to harass your opponents is to attack them if you have a ranged advantage, or use your spells to do damage while you get last hits. If you do disable them with a slow or stun, it’s important that you also right click them while they are disabled.

Another version of this is called zoning, or in a sentence, 'yo go zone that offlane hero'. What that means is you put yourself between your opponent and the creep wave to make sure that they stay out of exp range. This is a bit advanced for a new player because you'll more often than not just feed your life away, but that should better teach you your hero's limits, 40+ minutes of pain at a time. You should attempt this when there is only one hero in the lane and you are equal levels. This will often turn into your two heroes auto attacking one another, but as long as you both use regen like a TangoTango you are gaining advantage because you keep them from exp.

Here is an example video showing this. Spending mana is often worth it to zone as well:

Before I throw more words describing lanes at you, here are the generic descriptions of places on the map. Things that I didn't point out that are worth recognizing, are the super strong Roshan and his icon near the Dire offlane, who can be accessed through the river, the Radiant(green) jungle which is between their Safe Lane and their Mid, and the Dire(red) jungle, which is between their Safe Lane and Mid.

Map with Lane Descriptions

The option to zone your opponent is mostly dependent on the position of your creep wave. A creep wave is where the two spawning creeps on each side of the map meet to fight. Creeps do a very consistent amount of damage, so if no one does any outside damage, it often takes a very long time for the creep balance to get out of whack. If you do extra damage, your wave will have more creeps left over, which does more damage, which kills theirs faster, which results in your wave building up creeps and pushing closer to the enemy’s tower and safety net. Unless you are trying to take a tower, you do NOT want to push a wave, ESPECIALLY in the early game. You should NEVER auto attack, or attack constantly, the creep wave. You should only be attacking their creeps when you are last hitting, and occasionally denying yours (can only attack below 50% hp) if the balance is off. The best rule to follow to keep creep equilibrium (stationary creep wave) is keep the same amount of creeps on their side as on your side.

The reason creep equilibrium is so important is because in the Offlane, or dangerous lane, you want your opponents to be as far away from the safety of their tower as possible. If your creep wave is close to your tower (but not inside the tower's range) then it doesn't take long to run back to the safety of your tower. If they are VERY far away from their tower, it gives you more time and opportunity to chase your opponents and get a kill. It ALSO gives your hero a chance to zone the Offlaner, like we discussed above.

Sometimes Killing Them and Almost Killing Them comes unpredictably, like when one of your allies walks over to your lane from a different lane and helps to kill your opponent. That's called a gank.

Someone setting up a gank is ganking, or is described as a ganker. Ganking is integral to games because it allows you to throw imbalance to lanes, or to hurt your opponents' ability to predict where heroes are. If you show up mid briefly with two extra heroes to gank the enemy mid, this gives your mid hero an advantage that will allow him to lane better because his opponent dies, or almost dies. Ganking is one of the ways a player can control where the game is going. You want to ensure your lanes are collecting more gold and experience, and sometimes that's done by killing enemy heroes and creating pressure on the map.

If your ally on the mid lane plays terrible and has a bad laning stage, you can help him by ganking the enemy mid. Sort of like teaming up on him. If one of your opponents is snowballing, you can use a few heroes to gank them so that they don't get out of control. Always remember that two to three weak heroes is almost always stronger than one fed or snowballing hero because you can team up on him.

The last advanced method is called pulling. To pull, you attack a group of neutral creeps and then run away so they follow you (this is called pulling aggro). While they are following you, they run into YOUR lane creeps, who have no brain, will see the enemy, and follow them back into the jungle to attack them. When you do this, the lane creeps are helping you kill the neutrals, and the neutrals are helping you kill the lane creeps. When the neutrals die, you and anyone nearby get experience. If your lane creeps end up dying to the neutral creeps, then the enemy doesn't get exp for them! If you get the last hit on the neutrals, you ALSO get gold!

I'm sure that was a little confusing, so watch this quick clip for a demonstration of pulling on each side of the map.

Radiant Single Pull:

To expand on pulling a bit, a regular pull camp will not be enough to clear your wave. In fact, it usually takes 2 neutral camps. You can get your creeps to fight more neutral camps , but first let me explain how neutral creeps come into the game.

At the :00 second mark of every minute (with the exception of the first minute of the game), the game checks to see if there are any neutrals in their spawns. If there are no neutrals in their spawns, a new set of neutrals is spawned. To trick the game, all you have to do is pull the neutrals at the perfect time and run away (:53) and by the time the clock hits :00 a new set of neutrals will spawn, and the previous set will walk home to realize they have neighbors. This is called stacking, and this is one of the ways you can get your creeps to fight extra creeps. Keep in mind that stacking camps also makes farming gold and exp much faster for heroes with strong Area of Effect (aoe), so if you're ever running by a camp on your side of the map, make sure to attack the camp at :53 and run away!

Back to pulling, if you stack your pull camp so that a second camp spawns, you now have two times as many creeps attacking your pull camp. This is by far the easiest way to pull safely, but it isn't the fastest way for your hero to gain levels. The reason is because two camps attacking your creeps at the same time is too much damage. If you use this method for pulling you'll deny your enemy's exp, but you won't get very much exp yourself because few neutrals will be dying each wave. You'll get more or less depending on which creeps spawn because they do different amounts of damage. When you stack pull, I recommend auto attacking so that you can clear more creeps, unlike I did in this clip.

Stack and Pull

The better way to pull, though more difficult, is to CONNECT the pull. To connect a pull, you're imitating how you originally got your lane creeps there in the first place. Once the neutral camp is almost finished, you need to have already pulled a different close-by neutral camp into the previous one. If you can accomplish this, then you can clear about two full neutral camps with every creep wave. The time to start the pull is at the :13 second mark or the :43 second mark for both sides of the map, but you may need to adjust the time slightly if you are early or late. Connecting the pull is much harder and will require some eyeballing and practice. Usually when 1 full hp creep and 1 half hp creep are alive is when you should start to pull the second camp down. Each neutral camp is slightly different, so practice on this will make perfect!

Here is a video of a connected pull on both sides of the map. You can practice this in an empty game, if you're afraid to try it in a real game.

Radiant Pull Through

Dire Pull Through

Make sure that you don't mess up your pull connect! If you do, your lane will push, which messes up the lane equilibrium. Messing up the lane equilibrium will give your opponents more exp, more chances at last hits, and it makes it harder for you to gank them. It's much harder to connect the pull on the dire side, so be extra careful on dire.

If you DO want to push, doing a single pull without stacking or pulling through is fine, but it's rare that you do this on purpose.

Pulling is a really good way to get levels in the early game, and an okay way to get gold. The most important part is that you have two people in 'one' lane getting levels, and it denies your opponent from levels because some of the creeps die in the jungle!

Keep in mind that all exp gained by killing enemies is gained by your team in an area, so one hero standing in lane gets all the exp from the creeps in lane, and one person pulling gets all the experience from the neutrals that die near them. If you both stand in lane, you split that same exp equally. One hero pulling and one in lane is much better for exp gain overall for your team.

Phases of the Game

At this point I've written a lot about 'the laning stage'. No game of Dota 2 is the same as another game of Dota 2, but each game can be referred to by how far into the game it is. There are three general Phases of the Game, and I'm going to outline how you should generally play during each stage. As you play more dota, you should and will think less about what phase you are in, and more about how each game feels. That's how you'll learn to make decisions in game.

Laning Stage

Somewhere between minute 0-15 is defined by the Laning Stage. As you may have guessed, laning means that you spend a lot of your time in one of the three lanes in close proximity to your enemies gaining gold and exp since you are still very weak in levels and items. Make sure that you stick to a variety of the advanced methods I outlined above. Remember that you are trying to maximize your and your team's exp and gold gain, while limiting your opponents'! That means pulling, getting exp and last hits from each of the three lanes, sometimes ganking, zoning your opponents when possible and sometimes pushing towers. And, you know, NOT FEEDING.

For new players, note that the Laning Stage often goes on a bit longer because the players don't move around the map as much to gank, they are less likely to group up and push towers efficiently, and they don't understand the strengths and abilities of their heroes as well. You will get better at doing this as you improve in skill level.

The laning stage is so integral to how you play the later stages of the game because it sets tempo and gold advantage. If one team has better hero picks, good lane setup (what heroes go where) or just plays better, they will 'win' the early game, which should 'reward' them with more map control, gold advantage, and exp advantage.

Map control is an important concept when we talk about the next phases of the game.

Mid Game

Mid game is defined as the part of the game where teams move around the map and begin to push and destroy towers. Most heroes will be between level 6 and level 11 and have access to their ultimates(at level 6). If we just reference pub games, there won't be a lot of coordination, but some of your players will start moving where the fights are, or moving where the best place to get last hits, or farm is. This stage of the game is going to be completely weird for new players because their sense of teamwork and game direction is terrible. Everyone on your team is going to do what they think is best, and usually best for their gold and exp intake, rather than the team's as a whole. To make things worse, organizing them for something different than their plan can be difficult as well. The mid game is the part in the game where playing with friends who are willing to work together makes the game a lot more fun.

Again, this stage is generally categorized by pushing. Pushing towers is important for two reasons. The first is that your team gets a lot of gold when a tower dies. When your team destroys an enemy tier 1 tower (the first ring of towers), everyone gains 160 gold. If the tower gets denied (towers can only be denied if they are below 10% hp), then your team only gets 80 gold. Higher tier towers are worth more gold, but that's still an 800 gold advantage for your team if you get the last hit! It's extremely important that your opponents don't deny your tower, since it's equivalent to 1-2 hero kills in terms of gold!

In addition, if you are the hero to get the last hit on the enemy tower, you get an EXTRA 150-250 gold on top of the 160 from the bounty, which means you can get a massive gold advantage (equivalent to 1-2 kills) from getting the last hit on the tower, rather than it being denied. Towers give your team a BIG gold advantage.

The second advantage that pushing towers gives you is map control. Map control is your ability to see your opponents' movement, move undetected where you want, and use that tactical information to influence the game in your favor. With the towers in the lanes, they not only provide resistance to pushing, they also provide true sight(to see invisible things) and vision of your opponents. When towers are up, there are simply less paths to walk without being seen. Most importantly, towers provide a team a place where they can use Teleport Scrolls(or TP scrolls) to teleport to.

A Teleport Scroll costs 100 gold to purchase, and 75 mana to use. You can use them to teleport to a building your team controls, which helps you adjust to your opponents' tactical maneuvers and set up some of your own. It's one of the most important items in the game and you should ALWAYS carry one once you reach about 8 minutes into the game, though sometimes earlier.

Great uses of TP ScrollsTP Scrolls:

  • If your mid hero gets ganked, you can teleport into the lane and back him up with a stun or a slow, and maybe turn the kill around.
  • If you respawn in your base and your team is pushing top lane, you can teleport to top lane so that you can get there faster and waste less time walking.
  • If you barely survive a teamfight, you can immediately teleport home to your fountain so that you can start healing faster.
  • If you find a strong enemy hero with good chase but no stun, you can simply teleport home to survive.

If you have few towers, half of those tactical options that TP scrolls provide for you aren't available anymore.

Another way that towers being dead helps you is it gives you more space to place aggressive observer wards, and makes it harder for your opponents to place observer wards since there are more paths you can travel now.

An Observer WardObserver Ward (or obs ward) is an item that has limited availability that you can place on the ground or cliffs that gives you vision for 7 minutes. It's invisible to enemies(unless they have truesight/invis detection), and helps you track your opponent's movements and make decisions based on that.

Placing observer wards is an essential part of the game that gives you big advantages. Your team should be placing them throughout the game in locations that you expect your opponents to move through, areas that give you a tactical advantage to have vision of such as outside towers, up high ground since you can't see up hill, and by the roshan pit. Sometimes you even want to place wards deep in enemy territory so that when you move into their territory to gank, your ganks become easier.

In the Laning Stage you should be placing obs wards in lane to see enemy heroes ganking by walking through the lane or at the river rune spots to see rune spawns and help your mid get them.

In the mid and late game, you should be warding based on how the game is going, like where you expect the enemy to be, or where the fights will be. If you are behind, the enemy will be close to your towers. If there is no clear advantage, perhaps wards across the middle of the map is safe. If you are ahead, you should be warding closer to their towers where you plan to start fights. Here are some examples.

Example of Even Game Warding

Just don't let them rosh for free I guess

Example of Losing Game Warding

Do your best, but you're gonna lose

Example of Winning Game Warding

Hog all of the icecream because you deserve it

Another early use of wards is to block the enemy jungle camps. Warding the pull camp operates on the same principle as stacking. If there is something in the camp, the camp will not respawn at the :00 mark, and wards count as something in the camp. If you then ward the pull camp, creeps will not spawn there, and that prevents your opponents from pulling! You will often block the enemy pull camps to prevent supports from pulling against you.

A radiant pull camp blocked by a ward in the most obvious spot possible

The last aspect that defines the mid game is that there will be a lot of ganks. At low levels ganking will be very prone to mistakes, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't practice it. The best ganks often involve 1-3 heroes depending on how many stuns and how much damage you need to get a kill.

Dota is about efficiency so it's important that you move as groups of 2 or 3 to get ganks off while your other 2 players are farming elsewhere on the map. It makes it harder to predict the ganks in addition to allowing your team to profit heavily instead of just a moderate amount.

Late Game

The last stage of a Dota game has by far the most teamwork, the most organization and the most team fighting, which means fighting 5 heroes versus 5 heroes. Where these fights happen changes due to a few factors, but generally the last fight involves destroying the enemy throne.

The easiest way to throne an enemy (though not required) is to first 'Rax' them, or kill at least 1 set of barracks. Each lane has a melee and ranged barracks. When you destroy an enemy barracks it actually makes YOUR creeps in that lane stronger. If you destroyed the melee Rax, your melee creeps are stronger. If you destroy the ranged, your ranged creeps in that lane get stronger. The upgraded creeps get more damage, more hp, and they give less gold and exp, which over the course of the game disadvantages your opponents' income. It also constantly pushes in that lane towards the enemy base since the lane equilibrium is messed up.

Radiant Rax SetRadiant Rax Set
Dire Rax SetDire Rax Set

Before we talked how lane equilibrium was something you wanted to keep neutral, but in the late game pushing is the better strategy. That's because it leads to a conflict of interest for the enemy team. If you have been Raxed, and you want to leave the base, you have to first make sure that the creep wave is pushed far out of your base because otherwise the strong enemy creeps will enter your base and do more damage to your structures, eventually leading to getting throned.

All of this pressure that Raxing your opponents creates makes it easier to Rax a second time on a different lane, and once you have 2-Raxed your opponents, the victory is almost completely assured because it becomes far too hard for your opponents to defend due to the lanes always pushing in. Once you get all 3 Raxes, you have a 99% assured victory, as your creeps get a final huge upgrade and become almost unbeatable. I have played Dota close to 10,000 games, and I've only won against a triple rax less than 20 times. It is possible to come back from that kind of a disadvantage, but it has to be late game, and you have to have the right heroes for it, so do your best to Rax your opponents, and don't get Raxed yourself.

It's clear that Raxing is the best way to win the game, but the important part is that you do it safely. To approach up the hill into the enemy's tier-3 towers and barracks requires you to go uphill where you can't see, and you'll be standing in a clumped up group which makes your opponents' aoe spells much more effective, as they'll hit more of your heroes.

When attempting to rax there is often a team fight there, which leads to chasing their heroes back to fountain, which can mean overextending, or getting too far into dangerous territory. If you overextend deep into their base and then feed your lives away, the push is usually stopped. If you push high ground and FEED your lives without taking the barracks, you are throwing the game away.

'Throwing' means that you had an advantage and you should have taken an objective, but you did something stupid and lost your chance to do it then. You threw ownership of the win to your opponents. Don't be stupid. Take the barracks and get out of their base immediately afterward. If you don't have a lot of time, just take 1 barracks, preferably the melee barracks, since it makes your creeps much stronger than the ranged barracks.

Everything I just told you about Raxing left out one important part and that's that Raxing is easiest when your opponents are dead, which means you have to kill them.

To kill the enemy heroes, you need to have to be stronger than them. Strength in Dota can be outlined in 4 generic ways, some of which I've talked about already. Gold advantage which leads to item advantages, Exp advantage which leads to more stats and more skill points (so more damage and utility), tactical advantage like fighting by your barracks where your towers are, and finally the advantage of outplaying your opponents.

The possibility to outplay your opponents is what swings games in many different ways and ALWAYS allows you to win fights even if you have less gold and exp. One of your allies might completely screw up his ultimate which makes your team fight weaker than it should have been. Perhaps one of your important heroes might get bursted down at the start of the fight, without even using his spells. Maybe your enemies got a little too lucky with their crits and killed you faster than planned.

There are a lot of ways that your opponents can outplay you, or you can make mistakes allowing your opponents to outplay you, so the safest way to take a barracks, or attempt to take a barracks is to do a Gank and Push.

Gank and Push Strategy

When you do a gank and push, you generally grab an item called a Smoke of DeceitSmoke of Deceit which makes your team invisible to enemy wards and creeps (but nearby enemy heroes and towers will reveal you). You push your lanes away from your base, smoke your team, jump on whatever hero you see on the map, and all of the sudden you have their death timer in time to force a team fight where it's 5v4.

When you have a hero advantage like that there's a really good chance that you also have a gold+exp advantage in that team fight as well, since some of the enemy team's gold is now sitting around waiting to respawn.

A gank and push is a very standard method to give you an advantage when pushing that gives you a better chance to take an enemy barracks even if you're behind in gold and exp. If you are in any way worried about winning the teamfight, attempt to gank and push.

Another basic version of this is to kill Roshan, which drops an Aegis of the ImmortalAegis of the Immortal item which your carry should usually pick up. If you die with Aegis, you are only dead for 5 seconds, upon which you respawn at full HP where you died. When you push with Aegis, you essentially have 6 heroes instead of 5, which in a way also gives you a gold and exp advantage. These are the 2 safest ways to push! Use one of them when you're preparing to take an enemy barracks to increase your chance of winning.

5 Manning Strategy

5 Manning is the counter to the gank and push. When your team 5 mans, you are moving around the map in a group of 5 in case a teamfight starts. It counters gank and push because you wait for you opponents to start a 5v1 fight, but in reality it's a 5v5. If your team has better teamfight heroes, or you think you have the gold advantage, then you will usually 5 man to protect your heroes from getting ganked, and the enemy team performing a gank and push.

5 man strategies can be very frustrating to deal with especially if you're playing a ganking hero like Bounty Hunter or Riki. Those heroes strive on killing heroes that are by themselves, so if your opponents are 5 manning it's difficult to kill someone without being punished.

The counter to 5 manning is to split farm and split push.

To explain this lets talk about farming efficiency.

The fastest way to farm the map is to have 5 heroes in different places on the map killing jungle camps. 1 can be farming each lane, 2 heroes can farm each jungle, or a variation like that. This isn't very safe because it gives your opponents many choices for ganks, but it gets your team a LOT of gold.

If a team is 5 manning, they can't farm very rapidly because they are moving in a very small clump which has the farming efficiency of about 2 heroes.

To counter this, as boring as it is, you need to spread across the map(with good ward vision), and farm random places on the map where the enemy 5 heroes aren't farming. If you do this without getting killed(due to seeing where their clump is moving because of your wards), you will be gaining more gold and exp than your opponents.

They want to force a fight because they have gold advantage and good teamfight heroes (hence why they 5 man), and you want to outfarm them by split farming until your team is strong enough to fight them.

Their counter to your split farming is to push with their gold advantage. If they push all of your towers while you split farm, they easily get more gold advantage if they do it fast since towers give a lot of gold advantage. If they push your high ground and take a Rax, it also doesn't matter if you've been split farming. Raxes are far too important to let fall, so they force you to teamfight, which gives them an advantage.

To counter their push, you either need to endlessly counterpush by spamming ranged skills that kill their creeps, and prevent their push, or you need to Split-push, which is often called Rat Dota.

Split Pushing Strategy

Split pushing is best explained by using a vermin or rat analogy. Lets say you are 1 person in a large room and there are rats around the room that you're trying to kill because they are eating your cheese spread across the floor of the room. When you go to chase 1 rat away in one corner, that rat escapes into a hole and the other rats in the room are in the mean time eating cheese. You then run to the other side of the room to stop those rats, but the rat that you first chased away has reappeared.

To defeat 5 man, you have to channel your inner rat, and to do this you have to push all of the lanes that your opponents aren't pushing. For example, there are a couple heroes that are good at split pushing, and they usually have units they can summon to tank damage, and they have high physical or tower damage.

While your opponents 5 man and attempt to push towers, you are threatening to take a tower by yourself, just 1 hero. It usually takes a little longer than when 5 heroes do it, but if their towers are constantly threatened with split push, it becomes very dangerous to push because they are likely to gain no more than your opponents, and while using less hero resources. To prevent an even trade, they will teleport 1 hero back to defend, and then the push usually can't continue because they no longer have 5 heroes to properly teamfight. By split pushing and split farming, you are delaying their way to take advantage (pushing due to 5 man) until your team is farmed enough to win a fight.

That may be a bit over your head if you are brand new to Dota, but I figured that some groundwork of what to do in the late game would be useful.

Just remember, the late game of Dota involves people farming items across the map, trying to avoid ganks which lead to pushes, controlling Roshan and his Aegis so that they can't push with that, and sometimes strategies of split push and 5 manning.

At lower levels you will mainly see 5 people farming the entire game until team fights happen and a gank and push becomes easy, but don't be afraid to start thinking about how to counter those kinds of strategies.

Hero Selection

Now that you've read about general strategy for many pages lets talk about something easier to absorb, like what heroes are good for new players.

All heroes in Dota take a lot of finesse to play them well, but some have very straight forward abilities and play styles that will help a new player play them well.

Carry heroes

This first group of heroes are loosely defined as carries. They are strong in the mid and late game due to high damage output from items and skill synergy, but they are somewhat weak in the early game.

Solo heroes

This next group of heroes are pretty easy to play, and most of them are played in a solo role since they become strong once they get their ultimate's at level 6. It's fine to dual lane these too if you have to.

Support heroes

This last batch of heroes are the easiest to play support heroes in the game. They have very straight forward abilities that won't take you long to understand when playing them for your first time.

There are also a couple heroes in Dota 2 that I think are too complicated for a brand new player to attempt, unless obscurity suits the way that you like to express yourself in video games. Most of these heroes take a LOT of practice to play because of they don't have the typical skill layout.

Invoker, for example, uses a combination of three buttons called orbs to prepare a spell to be cast, so to cast Tornado, you have to first press Q, then W, then W, and then R, which prepares you to use Tornado. He has 8 other spells with button combinations, and it's easy to forget them in battle.

Another example is Meepo, and Chen. These heroes control more than 3 units on average, and each one can move by themselves which is very overwhelming for all players if you don't practice it.

And finally, some of these heroes just require a large amount of game knowledge to play properly. If you don't have that game knowledge yet, the heroes are going to feel underpowered, so I'd recommend steering clear until you feel a little comfortable with the game.

For that reason, I don't recommend starting Dota on any of these heroes, but once you have the basics of the game, poke your head through and see if they sound fun.

Avoid if you suck at Dota, micro or pressing buttons rapidly

If you want to read about any of these heroes and their skills or stats, go to Heroes

Hero Roles

Now that you know what heroes to pick, let me tell you what their roles are, and how you should play them.

The most basic way to describe the roles that each of the 5 heroes in the game play in the professional scene is by numbering them 1-5. What this denotes is the farm priority, or what hero gets the most farm on the team. The 1-3 positions are referred to as 'Cores', or the 'Core farming roles'.

  1. Carry
  2. Mid
  3. Offlane
  4. Jungle/Support
  5. Support

The roles here are a vague fit since all Dota games are different, especially at low levels. The best guideline to follow for a new player is that 3 heroes on your team should be the ones getting the last hits in the lane, and 2 heroes are supports. This usually results in 2-1-2 lanes, or 2 heroes (1 farming and 1 support) in your offlane, 1 hero soloing the mid lane, and 2 heroes in your safe lane (1 farming and 1 support).

2-1-2 lanes

Another typical laning strategy is to do a 2-1-1-1 lane, or 2 in your safe lane (1 farming and 1 support) 1 mid hero, 1 offlane hero, and 1 hero (your 4) in the jungle farming. There are very few heroes in Dota 2 that can jungle, so this setup is a bit rare, but it can happen. Just make sure you have at least 1 hero in every lane! Once in a while you might even encounter an aggressive trilane which is good at shutting down enemy carries, but I don't recommend that if you're new.

Safe TrilaneSafe Trilane
1 Jungler1 Jungler

The most typical setup at high levels to have is the Safe Trilane, or to have 3 heroes in your safe lane. The ideal distribution of roles is to have the carry farming, one support zoning the offlane hero, and 1 support pulling continuously. Later the 2 supports can group together to gank other lanes. This strategy is a bit harder to execute at many skill levels because it's difficult to recognize what you should be doing at all times and adjusting to it correctly. If you perform a Safe Trilane incorrectly it'll often result in you losing more farm and experience than you would have if you did a 2-1-2 lane, but can profit much more if you execute it correctly.

The main benefits are that a 3-1-1 lane can counter a 2-1-2 lane. If your Carry gets pressured a lot by an aggressive dual lane, do a safe trilane and kill them multiple times with your hero advantage!

To break roles down simply for new players, the generic roles are Carries, Supports, Junglers, Offlaners and Mids. Lets talk about what each of these heroes usually do in the laning stage, mid game, and late game.

Carries

A carry is a hero that requires a lot of farm and levels to be strong because of the ways his skills synergize with his items, usually benefiting them or allowing you to farm them quicker. Once he collects the farm and levels, he can very often kill 2-3 enemy heroes by himself. To collect the farm and levels, he usually needs to be protected by all of the other heroes on his team, and generally they need to create distractions on the map and gank enemy heroes so that the carry can farm at maximum efficiency so that he can earlier win the game for his team.

In low level games, you will sometimes see multiple carries in the same lane. THIS IS A MISTAKE. You should generally have a maximum of 2 carries per team in a game. Like I mentioned before, at lower levels you will see a 2-1-2 laning setup. In these setups, it's fine to put 1 carry in each of your 2 man lanes with a support to protect them.

In the early game, a carry should focus almost entirely on getting every last hit in his lane. You should stop last hitting if you see an opportunity to save your support ally from death, or kill your opponent, since kills give you a lot of gold and experience! In the mid game, you should teleport to lanes for fights and some pushes, but otherwise continue to farm. In the late game, you should continue to farm, and group up with your team to teamfight and push.

Mid

Mid heroes can be very diverse. When you solo a lane, you get much more experience than other lanes because you are the only hero in the lane to receive it. Any dual or tri lane splits their exp equally to whoever is there, so the strength in soloing mid is that you get level 6 very fast. This means that mid heroes who are good at teamfighting or ganking are often picked. To help stay in your lane longer, many mid heroes purchase a BottleBottle, which is a refillable consumable regen item. It comes with 3 bottle charges, and each bottle charge refils 135 hp and 70 mana. Once it's empty, you can return to your fountain to refill it, or to save time, you can travel to a rune spot to pick up the rune which refills your bottle while storing the rune for later use.

Runes are buffs that spawn every 2 minutes in the game starting at 00:00. The best runes that can spawn are:

Double Damage Rune
Double Damage Rune

Doubles your base damage, or right click attacks for 45 seconds while active.

Invisibility Rune
Invisibility Rune

You become invisible until you cast a spell, use an item, or 45 seconds runs out

Illusion Rune
Illusion Rune

Spawns 2 illusions that look like you, take 200%/300% more damage than you (depending on if you are Melee/Ranged), do 35% of your hero's base damage, and last for 75 seconds

Haste Rune
Haste Rune

Makes your hero run 522 Movement Speed(MS) and become immune to slows for 30 secs. Most heroes run ~300 MS so this is a huge speed boost

Regeneration Rune
Regeneration Rune

Refills your hp up to 3000 and your mana to 2000. Stops if you become full or you take damage.

One of those special runes above will spawn every 2 minutes at either the top or bottom rune spot. Whichever spot doesn't have a special rune will spawn a Bounty Rune.

Bounty Rune
Bounty Rune

Give you 50 + (5 * minute) experience and 50 + (2 * minute) gold.

The only time that a special rune doesn't spawn is at the 00:00 mark. At that point, 2 super bounty runes spawn, each giving 2x effectiveness, or 100 gold at the 0 minute mark, and 100 experience.

The reason runes are so important for mid heroes is because you can store a rune in your bottle which also refills your bottle. Since the distance to a rune is MUCH closer than going back to base, you can increase your efficiency by destroying the enemy creep wave, running to a rune to refill your bottle, and then continuing to lane your hero. Since 2 runes are spawned, you have a very good chance of refilling your bottle every 2 minutes.

If you get a strong rune like Double Damage, Haste, or Invisibility, it's sometimes smart to gank a lane with these runes, since it's easier to execute the gank being fast, invisible, or having double the damage with your right click.

As a whole, your mid heroes will perform more ganks than any of your other heroes. If one of your lanes isn't doing so well, showing up bottom for a moment will give your carry space to farm if you help him kill the enemy dual lane.

The last mid tip I'll give is that you should block your first creep wave as well as you can to give you a better position in the mid lane. Blocking your creeps means to impede their full movement by standing in front of them. This is a topic similar to creep equilibrium because one of the benefits is that your creep wave will be closer to your tower, making it harder for you to get ganked. The main benefit, however, is that your opponent will be on the lower ground, which means if he attacks up to last hit and deny, he'll have to deal with the 25% miss chance that happens with auto attacks when you attack from the low ground to the high ground. This mostly comes into play in the mid lane, so do your best to keep the creep wave close to your tower until it's time to nuke the creep wave and go secure the rune.

Blocking a Creep Wave

Offlaners

Having a solo offlane is going to be rare with a group of new players, but if you find yourself able to solo the offlane against a dual or trilane, your strategy should be to sap experience. Most heroes that play offlane become effective with just levels to unlock their ultimate, and usually don't need a lot of gold to be effective. Many offlane heroes like Centaur or Tidehunter want to purchase Blink DaggerBlink Daggers because it makes their skills much easier to use, so getting that item immediately after boots makes your hero relevant for the rest of the game.

If the supports that are laning against you pull the creeps, it's important to disrupt them from pulling through since that will deny your gold and experience, but make sure that you watch and predict the position of the enemy heroes so that you don't get collapsed on. Your goal is essentially to be annoying by preventing them from farming at full efficiency all while gaining experience at a rapid rate and occasionally getting last hits when it is safe.

In the mid-late game you will continue farming, but mainly you should be looking to set up ganks, teamfights, and kills with your exp advantage.

Supports

Playing support is one of the most complicated roles in Dota because it requires a lot of self sacrifice, good decision making, prediction, and time management.

The supports are the players that control the early game the best because they move around the map to set up ganks, they help protect the carries from offlane heroes, they pull and push lanes and they help the mid players get runes. They do all of this without getting much in terms of exp and gold, and spend a chunk of their money on items that help protect their teammates, and help them perform better.

The first sacrifice you make is that every team needs to purchase an Animal CourierAnimal Courier at the start of the game for 120 gold, and every team should purchase their first set of Observer WardObserver Ward, which when placed, become invisible, and give vision to your team in a large area. It's the supports job to purchase these items at the start of the game. At the very least, purchase the animal courier!

In the early game, a support splits their time between trying to zone offlane heroes out of exp range, setting up ganks around the map, controlling runes to help their mid player BottleBottle them, and most importantly, pulling.

I already talked about the importance of pulling, and it's the supports job to pull creep camps. This is because the biggest gold/exp gain is in the lane, and you want your carry to have that while you get scraps from the jungle. Lets go over the proper times to pull.

The worst time to pull is when your enemy offlane is pressuring your carry. Your role as a support in the first 4 minutes of the game is to let your carry get uncontested last hits. You do not want to allow your enemy offlane hero to contest last hits, so what you need to do is to keep the offlane hero out of exp range, and thus also keeping them from last hitting. It's okay to sacrifice your time, gold and exp gain to hurt their time, gold, and exp gain, so don't be afraid to spend a minute or two chasing them from exp range!

Example of Zoning the Offlane as a Support

As you may have noticed in the video, I made sure that I wasn't standing extremely close to the enemy creep wave while I harassed my opponent. That's because if I get within 500 range of them while right clicking my opponent, the creeps will attack me instead, which is also called drawing aggro. Therefore, if you do zone the offlane hero, make sure that you put space between the creeps and your hero when you fight them, and then run away to the side when the next new wave comes in. If you draw aggro, the creeps will do damage to you that they don't do to your creep wave, and it messes up the creep equilibrium which results in their Offlane hero will getting more exp than they should.

500 Range, or the Aggro Range of Creeps

Creep Aggro Range0.jpg

The best time to pull is when your creep wave is pushed so close to the offlane tower that it's impossible to keep them out of range of exp. To pull back the wave, you pull the creep wave (and importantly pull through) to deny your creep wave while farming the jungle for gold and experience, and then the creep equilibrium will be much closer to your tower.

If you think it's impossible to zone the offlane hero regardless of where the creep wave is, it's great to simply pull to deny your opponents of exp while getting yourself some gold/exp. Make sure that your carry won't get solo killed while you are off in the jungle, and that you don't get killed while pulling if their offlane heroes rotate over!

Throughout the entire game, supports should be buying and placing Observer WardObserver Wards at important locations around the map. The locations change depending on many factors, but the general idea you should have is to keep wards on the perimeter of your towers and keep them in areas of the map where you expect your opponents to pass through.

If you see your enemy hero movements, you can better predict what they are doing, and take action to counter that.

For example, if you see 2 heroes run through the river towards your carry farming in the safe lane, you can teleport to that lane to anticipate the gank. If you come from the fog and initiate on the enemy heroes as they go on your carry, you can turn their 3v1 gank into a 3v2 gank, which can sometimes turn things around resulting in your kill, or AT LEAST keep your carry alive.

The best time to place observer wards is when there is downtime (no ganks, or pushes), immediately after you win teamfights, or while you are preparing to gank. Vision is extremely valuable in Dota because it provides information, so make sure that you ensure that wards continue to be placed on the map.

Try to place wards in places where you expect their function on the map to do what you need it to do, such as giving you vision for ganks, or behind towers that you want to push, which should help you initiate. If you are behind, you can protect the common entrances to your jungle that your carry will be farming in, or protecting Roshan so that you can see when the enemy starts it, and hopefully interrupt. You should be thinking about these things when you are placing your wards once you get a better grasp of Dota and predicting how the game will develop.

The metagame surrounding warding is often changing as well, at least at higher levels. If you stick to the same predictable spots, which are often the ones that do the most, your opponents will be able to predict your wards and counter them, so try to be slightly unpredictable when you place observer wards.

The other 'vision' type item that you will often purchase as a support is truesight or invis detection. You can use Sentry WardSentry Wards to place on the ground and give your team vision against invisible things like enemy Wards, or invisible heroes. Use this to deward your opponents observer wards to give you a vision advantage on the map, or use it to gank invisible heroes, or to protect against ganking invisible heroes. The other detection item you can purchase is a Dust of AppearanceDust of Appearance, which you activate when you are close to enemy heroes. It applies a buff to enemies that keeps them visible to opponents for 12 seconds. As a support, you should be carrying detection most of the game if the enemy team has invisible heroes. If you don't purchase detection, it becomes VERY easy for any player to get kills and stay alive by abusing invisibility, so if you are having trouble playing against invisible heroes, start buying Sentry Wards or dust to secure kills against those heroes.

The last support item that you should be purchasing is a Smoke of DeceitSmoke of Deceit. When you use a Smoke, it makes you and nearby allies invisible to enemy wards and enemy creeps. If you get close to an enemy hero or tower, you become visible again, so Smokes are best used to move across the map stealthily through wards for ganks, or to initiate teamfights since your opponents won't see you coming. These have a very long respawn time and cost 100 gold, so make sure that you get value out of them when you use them!

In the late game, supports operate with very few items, and have to continue operating under the mantra, Contribute without Feeding. To Contribute without Feeding, you need to be able to cast your spells, such as nuke enemy heroes, disable enemy heroes, or heal/save your allies without being killed by your opponents. Most of your teamfight will be casting your spells and then trying to stay alive until your spells are off cooldown again.

There are some occasions where dying in exchange for your carries and higher farm priority heroes is important, but when you're new to the game you should focus on not feeding your life away despite low farm.

To help prevent your feeding, most supports will purchase Force StaffForce Staffs, which allow you to push yourself away from danger (or into danger if you want to start a fight), and Ghost ScepterGhost Scepters which makes it so no one can attack you with right clicks (but you do take extra magic damage). Check your item build on whatever heroes you're playing, but most of the time pick up one of these items to keep your survivability up in teamfights.

The best protection against feeding, however, is your positioning. Positioning is the most important resource after gold/exp because it changes so many small factors. For example, if a super fed carry is out of position far away from their team, it means your team can fight him 5v1 for 5 seconds until his allies join the fight, which means you should be able to do a massive amount of damage to the enemy carry.

If you as a squishy support are in a safe position behind your team, then an enemy carry has to put himself in a dangerous position (in the middle of your team) to attempt to kill you. It's for this reason that most supports, especially ones with defensive skill sets, want to stay behind their cores.

However, if your positioning is TOO safe, then you will be too far away to defend your allies when the enemy initiates. Finding the perfect balance between this means you should be very often adjusting your positioning. That's why Force staff is such a strong item. It allows you to rapidly move your hero, either to a safer position, or to a more aggressive one if you see an opportunity. A similar item is the Blink DaggerBlink Dagger, which allows you to do a short range teleport, but its weakness is you can't use it if you take player based damage, so it's better as an offensive item.

The last positioning aspect to keep in mind is that you don't group too much. There are many AOE (area of effect) disables in the game, and if your team becomes too clumped, it allows your opponents to multiply the effectiveness of their aoe nukes and disables by 5, which if executed properly gives them a massive advantage in the fight. Clumping can be done more or less depending on the heroes that your opponents are using, so familiarity with all heroes in Dota 2 will help you know what is safe positioning.

Junglers

Jungle heroes are usually a hybrid between Support and a core role (meaning a farming role). It really depends which Jungle hero you are playing, but most Jungle heroes play more of a support role in that they help with purchasing Observer Wards, Sentry Wards, and upgrading and purchasing couriers.

The reason that Jungling exists is that it gives you 4 places to get farm. Instead of just 3 lanes, you have 3 lanes and a jungle, which can give you a gold advantage.

If junglers are playing properly, they spend about 70% of their time farming, 20% of their time ganking, and 10% of their time helping to secure runes for their mid player. If your support and carry lane are having trouble, and ESPECIALLY if they are against a dual lane, it's extremely important that you rotate from the jungle and attempt to kill the dual lane. DO NOT just sit in jungle and endlessly attack creeps for 10 minutes. If you do this, you are ensuring your marginal gold gain, while hurting your carry and support's gold gain. It is important that you move around the map and occasionally gank. It's for this reason that it's important that you pick jungling heroes that have skill sets that allow them to contribute to the game before the 8 minute mark. Always remember that just because a hero can jungle, doesn't mean that you should jungle him. If you spend the first 10 minutes of the game farming jungle camps and don't contribute to your team, then you are forcing your team to play 5v4*, which hurts your chances of winning the game.

One strategy that you should do as a jungling hero that also applies to supports is stacking the jungle. I explained stacking jungle camps in an earlier part of the guide in regards to pulling, but you can stack all of the jungle camps by attacking or aggroing the camp at the :53 second mark of every minute, and running away to allow a camp to respawn. Even if your hero is too weak to clear the stacked camps, it will help your team to farm more efficiently later, which helps them carry harder. If you are playing a support or jungle hero and it's approaching :53 seconds, make sure that you stack a nearby camp!

In the mid-late game Junglers will operate similar to Cores in that they do seek farm out, but you should also be directing ganks, participating in pushes, and planting observer wards like a support. Give farm preference to the 1-3 roles as a jungler, unless you're close to a major item.

Mechanics

Now that you know the general guidelines about how to play Dota effectively, lets fill in the blanks about mechanics, items, and some nuances in those.

Stats

There are 3 basic stat types in Dota 2, Strength (Str), Agility (Agi), and Intelligence (Int). Every hero has a primary stat type.

Your hero gains more of these stats by leveling up, or by purchasing items that give them stats.

1 point of Strength gives you:

  • +19 health points
  • +Increase your health regen by 0.03/sec
  • +1 Damage if you are a Strength Hero

1 point of Agility gives you:

  • +1 Attack Speed
  • +1/7th's armor
  • +1 Damage if you are an Agility Hero

1 point of Intelligence gives you:

  • +13 Mana
  • +0.04 Mana/sec
  • +1 Damage if you are an Intelligence Hero

A couple things about stats to note:

  • Most heroes gain their primary stat faster than their other stats, but not always.
  • Strength heroes are often the hardest to kill due to gaining more Strength on average, but keep an eye on armor levels, since some heroes have more base armor and agility gain than others.
  • Agility heroes often do the most DPS (damage per second) with their right clicks. This is because 1 point of agility gives them 1 damage while ALSO increasing their attack speed. Attacking faster while hitting harder makes their points more valuable for damage, and means that Agility heroes are often able to be Carries. There are carries in all stat types due to their skills, but many carries are Agility Heroes.
  • Intelligence heroes are often the easiest to kill because of low hp and armor, but have high damage through spells since their mana pool is larger. Most Intelligence heroes are supports, but not all.

Damage Types

There are 3 damage types in Dota 2.

Physical

Physical Damage is the most common type of damage because every hero has a right click attack that does physical damage, in addition to a few spells that do physical damage.

Physical damage can be reduced a few different ways in Dota 2, and the most common way is armor. Assuming your hero takes only physical damage from full life until death, 1 extra point of armor will provide you ~6% more health points. This extrapolates out at about the same rate, with 10 armor, or a PlatemailPlatemail, providing you ~60% more health against physical damage. Remember that you can also increase armor by purchasing an Agility item, but the main purpose of Agility, when purchased, is to increase damage and attack speed on an Agility Hero, since it takes 7 Agility to give 1 armor.

The second way to reduce damage is damage block. Damage block can be obtained a few different ways such as a Stout ShieldStout Shield, VanguardVanguard, or Crimson GuardCrimson Guard, and the way that it works is it shaves the amount of damage your opponents do from the top before armor reduction.

That means that if your opponent tries to do 50 damage to you and your stout shield blocks 20 damage, then the 30 damage is then applied and further reduced by your armor. If we take this principle into the late game, such as reducing 100 by 20, it means that damage block blocks a larger percentage of damage in the early game compared to the late game.

If you want to increase the physical damage that you're doing, your options are:

  • Purchase a +damage item such as a BroadswordBroadsword or a stat items for the hero type that you are (like Gauntlet of StrengthGauntlet of Strength for a strength hero).
  • Increase your AS (attack speed) with an item like Gloves of HasteGloves of Haste, or an Agility Item to increase your attack speed.
  • Reduce your opponents armor with an item like Medallion of CourageMedallion of Courage.
  • Do a hybrid of these things like Purchasing a DesolatorDesolator to give you increased damage AND lower their armor, or purchase an Assault CuirassAssault Cuirass to lower their armor AND increase your attack speed
  • Use an allied skill like Amplify Damage to reduce your opponents armor.

Magic

The second damage type in Dota 2 is Magic damage. Magic damage is also extremely common because most spells in the game do magic damage.

To reduce magic damage, you need Magic Resistance.

Almost all heroes have a built in Magic Resistance of 25%, which means that a 100 damage magic nuke will do 75 damage to an enemy. Creeps have a magic resistance of 0% (with catapults being unaffected by most magic damage).

To use this to our advantage, if your Finger of Death does 600 damage at level 1, and your target has 25% magic resistance, that means it does 450 damage after reduction, so make sure your opponent is below 450 hp when you use Finger of Death!

To reduce magic damage done to you, you can purchase items that increase your magic resistance, such as a CloakCloak, or a Hood of DefianceHood of Defiance.

To block magic damage done to you, you can build your Hood of DefianceHood of Defiance into a Pipe of InsightPipe of Insight, which allows you to shield your team from up to 400 magic damage for a brief time.

The most common way to reduce magic damage done to you is by purchasing a Black King BarBlack King Bar (BkB) which grants you Spell Immunity. Spell Immunity protects you from almost all spells in the game from affecting you either in disable or damage. Some heroes have ultimates that are so powerful that some of their effects go through Spell Immunity like Black King Bar, but they are quite rare.

Increasing the magic damage that you do is a bit trickier than it is for Physical damage because there are very few ways to increase the initial damage number once the skill has maximum points in it. There are some hero abilities and a few items that can increase your magic damage, but for the most part skills that do magic damage do NOT scale into the late game once you have maximum skill points in them.

For this reason, most heroes that rely on casting spells for damage do not turn into carries in the late game.

The ways to increase the magic damage you do is:

  • When possible purchase an Aghanim's ScepterAghanim's Scepter (Aghs) that increases your damage(not all heroes can purchase Aghs, and many times it just affects utility of your ult, not the damage). To know if your hero has an ultimate that is affected by Aghs, or what the upgrade does, hover the mouse over the ultimate to check.
  • Purchase a Veil of DiscordVeil of Discord or Ethereal BladeEthereal Blade to reduce your opponent's magic resistance.
  • Use a hero ability that lowers your opponent's magic resistance, such as Skywrath's Ancient Seal.
  • Purchase a Refresher OrbRefresher Orb to refresh the cooldown of your skills so that you can use a strong spell 2 times in 1 teamfight.
  • Purchase an item that does magic damage when used like DagonDagon.

Pure

The last damage type is Pure damage. Pure damage is neither reduced by Armor or Magic resistance, so it's difficult to decrease or increase. It's the rarest of the damage types, but it's the best against heroes that have very high armor or magic resistance, since it cuts right through those defenses.

The best way to block pure damage is usually by using a Black King BarBlack King Bar, since most spells and attacks that have pure damage components require that your opponents aren't magic immune. There are a few pure damage spells that do damage through magic immunity and they are Doom, Sonic Wave, Rupture, Midnight Pulse and Laguna Blade (only with Aghs).

How to Reduce Damage Done to Your Hero

I just explained how to reduce damage to all 3 sources, but in virtually every engagement in Dota you will take a mix of damage, so it's very important that you spend your gold on efficient items. If you are more efficient than your opponents, you will have an advantage that can easily lead to a kill or not dying. That small edge in a teamfight or gank will change the game drastically.

Lets use an example, and lets try not to use too much math, since it's a bit confusing here. JUST KIDDING WE HAVE TO MATH TO GET REFINED DOTA SKILLS.

Here is the damage calculation for Magic Resistance:

   Actual damage = magical damage × (1 + magic amplification) × (1 + second source of magic amplification ) × (1 − natural resistance) × (1 − magic resistance of item) × (1 − magic resistance of first ability) × (1 − magic resistance of second ability)

If we simplify this to ignore magic resistance reduction and 2 sources of magic resistance(which is rare anyways), we have something easy:

   Actual damage = magical damage × (1 − natural resistance) × (1 − magic resistance of item)

We're simply multiplying the damage of the nuke by the base resistance of the hero, and then again if they have a hood or other form of magic resistance.

So lets say we have a 1000 damage nuke. Natural Resistance is 25% for most heroes, and the magic resistance of a hood is 30%.

   Actual Damage = 1000 x (1 - .25) x (1 - .3)
   Actual Damage = 1000 x .75 x .7
   Actual Damage = 525

This shows that a hood reduces the damage your opponents do to you by a further 30% in magic, since a 1000 damage nuke would normally do 750 damage (1000 x .75). In this case it's a further 225 damage, which works out to an extra 225 hp for every 1000 hp you have.

Now that we know exactly how much survivability all of our purchases can give us, we can make smarter item decisions about survivability.

For example:

If we have 3000 hp in the late game and we're taking 2000 points magic damage, is it better to spend 1100 gold on a vitality booster, which increases our hp by 250 and protects against magic AND physical, or is it better to purchase a cloak for 550 gold, which gives you 15% magic resistance?

If we run the calculation again, our equation will be:

   Actual Damage = 2000 x (1 - .25) x (1 - .15)
   Actual Damage = 2000 x (.75) x (.85)
   Actual Damage = 1275

Since a normal 25% resistance leaves us with 1500 hp (2000 x .75), that means that a cloak is giving us an Estimated Health Points (EHP) increase of 225 hp!

That means that a Vitality BoosterVitality Booster actually gives us more hp, but it costs 2 times as much, so you can just purchase a CloakCloak for half the money and get almost entirely the same value.

Keep in mind that all of these damage calculations are entirely reliant on the type of damage being done to you. In the example above, if we take 1000 points physical and 1000 points magic, then the cloak ends up only blocking half of the damage that it did in the calculation, and the cost efficiency between vitality booster and cloak gives an advantage to the booster instead.

The important thing to remember is that for your magic resistance and your armor to mean a lot, you have to have a high hp pool in the first place. For this reason, you should almost always focus on purchasing items that increase your HP in the early game, and when in the late game, purchasing magic resistance and armor items, depending on the heroes you are playing against.

It is extremely rare that any hero will purchase the same items every game. You will almost always have slight variation because of the heroes on your team, but most importantly, because of the heroes that you are playing against. They all have small strength and weakness differences but the main thing you should be worried about is their strengths. Do they have more physical damage that might require you to purchase armor hybrid damage items like Armlet of MordiggianArmlet of Mordiggian, or Assault CuirassAssault Cuirass? Do they have a lot of magic nukes and stuns that will require you purchase a Black King BarBlack King Bar so that you can fight them unimpeded in the teamfight? This are the questions that you should be asking yourself every Dota game that you play, and making the correct item choices will give you an edge over your opponents.

How to do Max Damage to Their Heroes

The best way to do damage to your opponents is for them to be away from their computer while you are attacking them, but that isn't very honorable so the next best thing is to chain stun them for so long that they may as well be getting their mail instead of watching their hero die.

Chain Stunning

Chain stunning is one of the most important things to learn when you first play Dota.

A really strong laning setup is one where all of the heroes in your lane can contribute to killing the enemy heroes either through a slow or a stun. For this example, lets keep it simple by using stuns.

Lets say you have a Sven and a Lina as your dual lane. Sven has Storm Hammer which provides a 2 second stun, and Lina has a 1.6 second stun at level 1. Both of these stuns do damage, and if we add the two numbers together, we have a total of 3.6 seconds of stun.

When you are attempting to kill a hero, ESPECIALLY in the early game, it's extremely important that you both begin attacking the hero, sven will stun for 2 seconds, then as that 2 seconds is ending, the Lina will then stun the enemy, all while both of your heroes are attacking the entire time.

It's important that you communicate with your ally who will be stunning first or there is a chance that you will accidentally stun stack as you both disable at the same time.

If you overlap your stuns, that stun duration will be wasted, and that might the difference of attacking 1 less time during your kill attempt, which might result in that hero living. It's very important that you do not stack your stuns.

In some situations, it's also important that there is never a point when your opponent isn't stunned. Heroes like Anti Mage can use Blink to do a short range teleport out of combat, but ONLY when they aren't stunned. Against mobile heroes like Anti Mage, it's extra important that you chain stun them continuously.

Attack Moving and Animation Canceling

The second component of doing maximum damage in a short duration is attack moving. Virtually half of all Dota players ignore this principle but it's extremely important. To explain how to attack move, it's first to explain why it's possible.

Almost all heroes in the game have built in animations for their attacks and for their spells. An animation is the amount of time that it takes your character to cast a spell, or throw an attack.

Lets say that it takes Crystal Maiden .7 seconds to wind her staff up, swing her staff toward her opponent, and then follow through with the swing, just to attack.

The important parts are how much time it takes to wind up her staff, and the time that her projectile releases from her staff. We don't care at all about the follow through because we can cancel that part of the animation and do other important things like moving or casting a spell.

So if it takes Crystal Maiden .7 seconds to throw an entire attack, but we can cancel her animation AFTER we threw the attack at .5 seconds, then we have an entire .2 seconds earlier that we can move.

To cancel an attack, you just need to give your hero an overriding command like a new move command, a new attack command on a different target, casting a spell, or pressing the ‘S’ key to tell your hero to stop(assuming your hotkey for Stop is on ‘S’).

In combination with canceling your attack, most heroes don't attack at the same rate as their animation. Most heroes in the early game can only attack about once every 1.3 seconds. That means even if you cancel your attack at .5 s, you actually have 0.8 seconds to chase after your opponent before you can begin to throw another attack.

To properly attack move in the early game as you are chasing someone, you should spend 0.5 second to throw an attack, then cancel your animation by issuing a run command in your opponent's escape direction for the other 0.8 seconds. If you time this correctly, you will end up attacking your opponent many more times, which can result in a kill.

This is especially important for ranged heroes, because they don’t automatically run after opponents, unless your opponents leave your range, so you want to stay within range as long as possible. Attack moving is important for melee heroes, but their low range means your hero will often automatically chase your opponent. If your opponent leaves your range, your hero will automatically follow them.

Here is a video depicting the amount of extra attacks you can get by attack moving:

If you want to practice how to attack move properly, you're in luck, as you should be attacking a LOT of creeps, heroes and towers in every single game of Dota. Practice canceling your animations against towers, creeps, and neutrals, but be a little more careful against heroes. While canceling your animations will increase the amount of attacks that you get in, if you cancel your animation before your attack comes out, you'll limit the amount of damage that you could have been doing, so be careful.

Animation Canceling

The other important piece of the puzzle is Animation Canceling. Almost all heroes have cast animations in addition to their attack animations. It's important to cancel the leftover time on those animations as well, or you'd waste time standing still.

Here is a video comparing the time to cycle through both of Crystal Maiden's Skills if you don't cancel the animations, and then if you do cancel them.

And finally, to put both Stun Stacking, Animation Canceling, and Attack Moving together, we can compare doing none of those things with all 3 of those efficiency increases:

Illusion Damage

Illusion heroes are extremely common in Dota and they are very often carries so it's important to know how to increase their damage.

Illusions base their strengths on the hero they come from, but only for some aspects. Their movement speed and hp are a reflection of the hero they came from, but the only way to increase illusion damage is by purchasing stat items. +Damage items do NOTHING to increase the strength of your illusions. Your Battle FuryBattle Fury does nothing to make your illusions stronger, and your Divine RapierDivine Rapier does nothing to make your illusions stronger.

This is why Manta StyleManta Style, which creates illusions of your hero, provides +10 Strength, +26 Agility, and +10 Intelligence, among other stats. If Manta instead gave your hero +40 Damage, the +40 Damage wouldn't benefit the illusions that it also creates.

The only +Damage item that does make your illusions significantly stronger is DaedalusDaedalus, which gives +81 damage and a 25% chance to crit for 240%. While your illusions don't get the +81 damage, they do give your illusions the 25% chance to crit for 240%.

Another way to make your illusions strong is to purchase a Diffusal BladeDiffusal Blade. Diffusal Blade applies an effect to your attacks called Feedback that mana drains them in addition to your regular attack with that mana drain resulting in physical damage. Feedback applies to your illusions only if you're a melee hero, so if you're playing an illusion hero who has a lot of illusion spawns like Phantom Lancer, it’s recommended that you get a Diffusal Blade.

The trap that most heroes fall into is purchasing a Manta style when they have a large amount of +Damage items. Manta Style is really useful to remove silences and some debuffs from your hero, and it's nice to have the illusions to confuse your opponents and give them indecision on who to cast spells on, but if you're purchasing it for a damage item it rarely pays off unless you have many stat items purchased.

What to Buy with Starting Gold

At the start of the game you start with 625 gold, and 825 if you random. What you spend this money on is entirely dependent on the hero you are playing, the role you are playing him, the lane you are playing them in, and against the heroes you expect to be against.

Predicting the enemies that will end up in your lane is very difficult at low levels because your opponents likely won't know what the ideal is due to inexperience, so you should just probably focus on generic items.

Every team should have an Animal CourierAnimal Courier and a set of Observer WardObserver Wards at the start of every game purchased by the supports. 1 Observer ward should be given to the offlane hero(or offlane heroes) to ward the pull camp of the enemy safe lane so they can't pull, or to give vision to prevent wrap around, and the other observer ward should be placed with vision of the rune so that your mid player has help knowing where the good rune is.

After that, items should be purchased from a mix of these items:

  • Iron BranchIron Branch — Ironwood branches are the best way to give your hero more mana and hp in the early game for a low cost. Most heroes will purchase Ironwood at the start of the game.
  • TangoTango (Comes with 4 per pack) — Every player in the game (with the exception of mid heroes sometimes) should purchase a tango set at the start of the game to ensure that their hp stays full enough until the buy a bigger regen item. You can give some your tangos to other people (called pooling Tangos) which lets them use it at a much reduced rate, so it's always fine to have extra tangos in a lane.
  • Healing SalveHealing Salve — Healing Salves will usually be purchased by offlane heroes and carries. Supports rarely buy them.
  • ClarityClarity — Clarity Potions are largely purchased by supports and some offlane heroes. Supports are often valued more for their ability to cast spells to harass, so I purchase at least 1 as a support.
  • Stout ShieldStout Shield — Stout Shield should be purchased by almost every melee carry, and often as a melee offlane hero. You will almost never need one as a ranged hero since it blocks less if you are a ranged hero.
  • Ring of ProtectionRing of Protection — Ring of Protection is a nice alternative to a Stout shield as a carry because it gives physical survivability and easily builds into a few different early game items like Ring of Basilius. Supports, if they have extra money, can purchase a Ring of Protection early to help them build Tranquil Boots.
  • Quelling BladeQuelling Blade — Quelling Blade can be purchased by melee carries if they have trouble last hitting creeps, as the gold you gain from the last hits will pay for the item, and you'll jungle more rapidly later. Usually I don't purchase Quelling because stout is more important immediately, so buy it a few minutes later, especially if you are melee and plan to jungle a lot!
  • Smoke of DeceitSmoke of Deceit — If I am playing support and I have extra money I'll purchase 1 smoke of deceit in case I want to gank. It makes you invisible to creeps and wards so it helps guarantee that you aren't spotted moving around the map to gank, at least by creeps or observer wards.
  • Sentry WardSentry Wards — I will rarely purchase sentry wards, but they are useful to help me deward enemy observer wards and spot invisible heroes. I will definitely purchase them if I'm against a Brood, Riki, or Bounty Hunter in my lane. There are 2 Sentries in every pack that you purchase.

If you are playing in the mid lane, you will often purchase one of these items:

  • Null TalismanNull Talisman — Null is useful on Int heroes soloing mid because it provides you +9 damage which helps in last hitting versus your opponent, in addition to some other stats.
  • Wraith BandWraith Band — Wraith Band is useful on Agi Heroes soloing mid because it provides you +9 damage which helps in last hitting versus your opponent, in addition to some other stats.

DO NOT GET BRACER IF YOU ARE A STR HERO. You cannot afford TangoTango + BracerBracer.

If you are playing in the Offlane, you will sometimes purchase:

  • Boots of SpeedBoots of Speed — Boots are sometimes okay for an offlane hero because it gives you a tactical escape advantage over your opponents, who often have more damage and disable than you do, which requires you to be able to escape bad situations with multiple heroes. You will sometimes see supports purchase a boots so that they can bully offlane heroes or roam around the map, but I don't recommend that for new players.

If we summarize all of our early item purchases, we are purchasing stat items that give us slightly more HP, Mana, armor, and damage at the start of the game. We're purchasing regen items that help us stay in the lane longer, and we're buying some items that will help us build into items later in lane (Ring of ProtectionRing of Protection).

Here are some example starting item builds for each role in the game:

Carry:

Stout, Salve, Tango, 2 Ironwood12.png

Mid:

Wraith Band, 1 Tango13.png

Offlane:

Stout, Tango, Salve, Ironwood, Clarity14.png

Support 1:

Courier, Obs Ward, 2 Tango Sets, Clarity15.png

Support 2(if reg support):

Image16.png

Support 2(if melee jungler):

Image17.png OR Image18.png

What To Buy After Starting Gold

The items we purchase with our first gold once we start farming is a bit more diversified so I'll break it down by the role.

Carry

Carries will usually spend their first bit of gold on boots, finishing their Ring of BasiliusRing of Basilius, which gives them and their allies an armor and mana aura, purchasing Phase BootsPhase Boots or Power TreadsPower Treads after their initial boots, or Magic StickMagic Sticks to help them get burst health and mana against offlane heroes. They can also purchase a regen item from the side shop like a Ring of HealthRing of Health, Helm of Iron WillHelm of Iron Will, or Morbid MaskMorbid Mask if it builds into an item that they need later.

Mid

Mid heroes very often will spend their first 700 gold on a BottleBottle since it gives them a huge amount of sustain in the mid lane due to runes. Afterward they will purchase a Boots of SpeedBoots of Speed and a Town Portal ScrollTown Portal Scroll so that they can gank to other lanes if needed, or teleport back to base in a dangerous situation.

Offlane

Offlane heroes purchase differently depending on how their lane is going. The first most important item is either boots or regen, depending on which one you need first.

For example, if you go to the offlane with a Stout ShieldStout Shield and 2 sets of regen (TangoTango AND Healing SalveHealing Salve), then you should be able to farm 450 gold for boots before you run out of regen. If you go to lane with Boots and 1 set of Tango, then you will probably need to purchase Tranquil BootsTranquil Boots asap, which requires 550 gold[Ring of ProtectionRing of Protection (200), and Ring of RegenRing of Regen (350)]. You can also purchase a bottle as an offlane hero (700 gold), which is refillable at runes or base, if you have no desire to purchase Tranquil Boots on that hero.

Support

Support heroes will spend their first bit of money on a Flying CourierFlying Courier at 3:00 (when it's first available), getting TP scrolls to teleport to other lanes if needed, the next set of Observer wards at 4:50, and Boots when they get the farm. Other items they can purchase if they are doing extremely well are Arcane BootsArcane Boots, Tranquil BootsTranquil Boots, Medallion of CourageMedallion of Courage, or pieces of an Urn of ShadowsUrn of Shadows. All of those items have very inexpensive components that are useful early.

Ring of Basilius and Aura items

The last thing I want to mention within the sphere of items is the Ring of BasiliusRing of Basilius.

Ring of Basilius (RoB or Basi) is an aura based item that is often purchased in the early game, and it's important to realize a few nuances.

The item itself gives you +1 armor and +6 damage, but all of the other benefits are aura based. For the aura you get +0.65 mana per second for you and your allies and +2 armor. If 2 heroes in your lane both have a RoB, then the aura components are partially wasted since auras do not stack in Dota 2.

The final point to make about Ring of Basilius is that it's important to turn off the aura in the early game. If you leave the aura on, it provides a 2 armor aura to your creeps. If you turn off the aura, the armor and mana aura only affects your allied heroes! To turn off the aura, just left click the item in your inventory, or press the hotkey associated with it.

If you give your creeps 2 extra armor, it becomes very difficult to keep your creep equilibrium static, so make sure that the aura is turned off until you want to push your wave.

A couple examples of other items you should not duplicate are MekansmMekansm, an aoe heal that cannot be used by 2 different heroes in 1 teamfight, Pipe of InsightPipe of Insight, a magic damage shield, and Vladmir's OfferingVladmir's Offering, which is an upgraded Ring of Basilius.

Try not to have multiples of these items in a lane, and in the late game make sure that multiple heroes don't build the same aura item.

Where Do I Buy This Item?

One unfortunate consequence of playing Dota 2 is that you have to learn where to purchase items. The first barrier to this is finding the items in the shop interface.

The shop in Dota 2 is organized by category such as damage items, defensive items, or support items. These categories are all on a different tab. My first recommendation is to change the shop to the grid view instead of the line view. In the upper right corner of the shop (click on the shop button to open the shop) you can switch between each view. This will help you see all of the items at the same time.

In Dota 2, there are two kinds of items. There are basic components, which are the items that can be bought directly from the shop. From these basic items you can make upgraded items, which take a predefined mix of basic items to create an item that has more power than its components combined. You can view these completed items in the Upgrades tab of the shop.

Basics Tab0.png

The Basics tab has 4 columns as follows:

  • Consumable items such as regen, Tp scrolls, Couriers, and Observer Wards/Sentry Wards.
  • All of the basic and medium level stat items. That includes all of the +3 stat, +6 stat, +10 stat, and the +1 to all, +2 to all, and +10 to all stat stat items.
  • Armor and +Damage items.
  • Miscellaneous items that don't fit anywhere else, such as regen items, Boots, and Blink Dagger.

All of the items that you can see in the shop here in the Basics section can be purchased in the team's base shop. However, there are a few items not located there.

The other shop is called the Secret Shop. There are two secret shops on the map, one for each team.

Secret Shop Locations1.png

The secret shop sells the most powerful of every item type such as +25 to stat items, +60 damage Sacred Relic, and the Hyperstone, which gives +55 AS.

Secret Shop Items2.png

(Note: image out of date, some items have been moved to/from the secret shop)

The last shop in the game is called the Side Shop. The purpose of the side shop is to provide most of the items that heroes will purchase in the early game. These shops are there so that your hero spends less time running back and forth to base or using the team's courier.

Side Shop Locations3.png

You will see a mixture of regular shop items, and a few secret shop items that are common in the early game.

Side Shop Items0.jpg

(Note: image out of date, some items have been moved to/from the side shop)

The most important item in the side shop that isn't here is the Ring of Protection, and as such is the only item you have to really plan ahead for in the early game. The Ring of protection is required for you to build a Ring of Basilius or Tranquil Boots, so you will have to ferry it out in the early game.

Some common items that you can make and buy entirely at the Side shop are:

Now that you've seen where and what you can buy in the game, let's talk about upgrading your component items into even better items.

Every Upgraded item has a combination of items that creates a better item. If all of those items are together in your inventory, they automatically become a new item. To check what the requirements are, click the upgrades tab of the shop and left click on the item you want to build. It will show what items build into it.

Shivas Guard16.png

In the case of the Shivas above, we have 2 components that go into it. The first item is the Platemail, and the second is the Mystic Staff. The piece of paper that shows with the item is called a recipe. A recipe is unique to each item that requires it, and it serves the purpose of balancing the item's price. In the case of Shivas, I need a Shivas recipe to complete the item.

Keep in mind that recipes do nothing for you until the item is built, unlike components, so this should almost always be the last item that you purchase when building an upgraded item.

However, not all items need recipes. To make an Oblivion Staff, you need a Quarterstaff, a Robe of the Magi, and a Sage's Mask.

Oblivion Staff17.png

Now that you know how to make Upgraded items, click over to the Upgrade tab and we can see the categories.

Upgrades shop.png

  • All of the boot upgrades, basic stat upgrades, and a few items that don't fit other places.
  • All of the support themed items. This means items that can apply auras, heals, or buffs to allies.
  • Offensive/utility Int based items. They all have very different uses, so make sure that they are synergistic with your hero and what you need for the game.
  • Major damage items. These items are largely used to increase your killing potential through basic attacks. Some also have utility with their damage, such as a chance to stun your opponents on attack.
  • Defensive or tanky items that help you stay alive.
  • Mostly damage items that also have a Unique Attack Modifier(UAM) which adds an effect to your attack. Many of these items also provide substantial utility like slows, lifesteal, or the ability to shoot lightning upon attack. You can usually only have 1 UAM item or skill in the game, so read carefully when you plan out your item builds and make sure they don't interact negatively with your hero's skills, or you will waste some of your gold.

The Biggest Hurdle In Dota 2

The hardest part about getting better at Dota 2 is learning to focus on yourself more than on your teammates. When Match Making Rating (MMR) went public, players became very focused on raising a number linked to their profile. When things go bad and you lose games, all players look for the reason they lost--and it's human nature to look at your allies' mistakes first before you look at yourself.

The biggest misconception in communities of all matchmaking video games is the fake principle of 'MMR Hell'. The idea is that you are unlucky and get worse than average teammates which result in you not advancing in MMR. This simply doesn’t exist.

The reality is that being good at Dota is extremely multidimensional, as you've probably figured out from this guide.

For example, it’s easy to look at your Kill/Death/Assist ratio and notice that yours is better than your teammates. This leads you to think that your teammates obviously died too many times and that you played better, but perhaps you didn’t back them up enough. Maybe you didn’t do a good enough job zoning the offlaner, pulling, ganking, or last hitting.

There are MANY reasons that games are lost, but the chances of you getting unlucky with allies is the least likely one.

To raise your MMR, you need to get better at Dota, and you are the player that you have the most impact on. Focus on fixing your mistakes from game to game, or you will quickly grow more frustrated, continue to stagnate in skill, and stop having fun, if getting better at Dota is your goal.

Maybe getting really good at Dota isn’t your goal. Maybe you just came here to learn a few things so that playing Dota casually is a bit easier.

Regardless of your intentions, you are going to run into players that are angry and mean. They might believe in MMR Hell, they might be taking their frustrations out on you when they make mistakes, or they might just genuinely be assholes and taunt you whenever they win a teamfight or score a kill on you. If you encounter anyone in Dota 2 that is mean to you, I recommend that you immediately mute them.

Muting People0.jpg

To mute a player in Dota 2, open the scoreboard in the upper left, find the person that you don’t want to hear from in text or voice for the rest of the game, and press the little microphone button and you’re free. The safest way to protect your enjoyment of the game is to mute them immediately.

If they were being extra mean to you or someone else, you get bonus points from me if you defend the other players in chat and use the report function to report them for communication abuse, which is the proper way of saying, "This guy is using his words to hurt people for some reason."

I believe that games like Dota 2 can take normal competitive people and turn them angry and mean because of under performing allies, disappointment in themselves, and the general frustration that comes from losing, but that doesn’t make it okay to spread that anger to other people.

Not only is hurtful to other people, but it significantly impacts how well your team plays.

Morale is not the easiest thing for the average player to improve on since a lot of a person's morale comes from outside of the game, but it is the biggest non game-world effect on your performance.

Do not flame or criticize your allies when they make mistakes. Don’t call them idiots, and don’t talk down to your allies as if you’re superior (your MMR is likely similar). Say good job when they get a solo kill, or win a teamfight. Even if you think they are playing terribly, some false encouragement will make your allies play with less stress, they will feel less pressure, and their increased morale will help them play better than usual. Even saying negative things with a positive tone (aka, constructive criticism) can vastly change the responses you get--even if most people don't respond to any kind of criticism well.

By definition, MMR is a measurement of how much impact you have on a Dota 2 game.

That includes how well you last hit, how efficient your farming patterns are, how good you are at attack moving, calculating chain stunning, how good your map awareness is, how well you place wards, how well you teamfight, how well you itemize. Can you pull without missing the connect? Is your late game decision making correct? Does your negative attitude affect the rest of your team, lowering their ability to perform at their MMR?

All of these things matter in every single Dota game. Don’t assume that you are superior to one of your teammates just because they did a few extremely stupid things that you never would. There was probably an error that you made that they wouldn’t have.

It’s also important to remember that you can raise your MMR with any position in Dota. For a safe estimate, until you reach the 5,000 MMR range, it’s very possible to even play support and to support so well that you consistently increase your MMR.

Don’t look to your allies as the excuse of why you aren’t winning--you are the only player you always play with. Don’t look to the role you are playing as to why you aren’t winning (unless you are better at other roles, then blame yourself), and make sure that your attitude doesn’t prove toxic to your allies, since them playing worse can easily affect your team’s chance of winning.

Focus on your mistakes. If you have trouble seeing your mistakes, ask a friend who is better, watch your own replays, watch a pro player stream a game, or watch a pro game to see top level performance and emulate what they do.

Or, you know, I make a lot of instructional content on my YouTube and Stream to help you guys get better. You can pick me to watch too. You can follow me here to receive email notifications of new content and when I am streaming.

If you guys have any questions about Dota, you can also tweet at me anytime (@PurgeGamers) . I often reply to questions there.

And remember, MMR Hell isn't out in the ladder — it's in your head.

Thanks for reading the substantially longer and revised Welcome to Dota, You Suck guide. Good luck on your grind to collect MMR.

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