How to win more Dota games

Great article on how to improve MMR:


Report Tide!

So the other day I played this game. It was my first ever public Captains mode game. It did not go well.

I was playing with my friend Brother Kane, who is a much better player than me (I think 3.7k MMR). Accordingly we had a really mismatched group and I was the most inexperienced player by quite a long way – certainly if you look at the games played of the other team you can see I have played less.

Our Ember Spirit was the captain, and I asked for a strength support in the hard lane, such as Tide, which I got. He then, having said we were going to dual lane, picked a line up that (he said) required an aggressive tri lane in the hard lane, with him soloing the long lane as Ember Spirit (I think he simply forgot and picked two mid heroes.

So Void, Dazzle and Tide played an aggressive tri lane against Skywrath, Omni and Mirana, with Viper coming to gank us every 2 minutes from the mid lane – basically we were teamfighting for the whole game. I should say that this was my first ever experience of an aggressive tri lane, and so it went about as well as expected. We started the game off by getting a few kills, but after a while Viper started to come and gank us and it went bad very quickly.

After a couple of minutes of that I got a “Report Tide” in all chat from the Void.

I was really upset by that – I have never understood the idea of reporting players for playing badly but it was the first time it had happened to me.

Yes someone in your game might be playing badly, but that’s probably for a reason – such as that the matchmaker put him in a game above his skill level, or he’s picked an unfamiliar hero, or he’s just had a bad start and is struggling to get back into the game. None of those things are worth a report, and all could be addressed by being more positive and talking over chat.

Looking at the stats for the game, I didn’t do too badly – I did better than Dazzle, and not much worse than Ember Spirit. Void only got so many kills because of my Ravages and because I don’t kill steal when fighting with a carry – I always let them get the last hit if I can.

Reporting a team mate for playing badly, or asking someone else to, is about as bad as it gets in Dota. I actually think that it almost represents communication abuse in itself. As for me, it gets you an instant mute. If you are an arse about it I’ll turn off map pinging too via console commands. Courtesy of RPS poster “Ishy”:

dota_minimap_ping_duration 0″ (Pings are not shown on the minimap, so you only see them if they’re where you’re looking

“bind “KP_1″ bindtoggle snd_setmixer ping vol “0.0 0.3″” (binds keypad 1 to toggle the ping sound on or off)

I prefer to leave it off all the time (snd_setmixer ping vol 0.0). I also immediately mute all players at the start of a match and have voice chat permanently disabled (voice_enable 0), not just muted. I do just fine, and the game is far more pleasant.

So I went about my business and we lost, and I picked myself up and played again.

I was Nightstalker in an All Random game.

– my first All Random game

– my first “High Skill” game

– my first game as Nightstalker

– we won and I wrecked face.

Much better!


The Art of Support

I watch a lot of Dota at the moment, whether that is from people like Purge or professional games, partly because I find it interesting, and partly because I want to improve my support play.

What I’m finding however is that there is a significant difference between support play at low levels and at high level, which is that supports at high level very rarely play the role of solo lane support. High level games almost always feature a 1-1-3 split, with two solo lanes and a tri-lane. Alternatively there will be three solo lanes and a pair of supports roaming for kills.

Clearly there’s still a lot to learn from these videos, whether that be item builds, behaviour in team fights, and mid to late game strategy, but in terms of the critical early game it’s quite hard to draw too much from it.

In a conventional low-MMR 2-1-2 format there will be two opposing heroes in the offlane. When not playing hard support I like to choose a “bully” strength hero such as Tidehunter, Centaur or Abaddon. I have also seen Axe played offlane to great effect. Against a hero like that, plus a support or nuker, it’s simply not possible to leave your carry to farm while you go off creep pulling and stacking – to do so is just asking for a gank. As say Jakiro or Maiden I need to be there to offer something against the opposing players – at least the threat of a spell or disable to make them think twice about diving the carry. 

So reading posts like The Art of Support on the Team Liquid forums, while fascinating of itself, is not really something that’s going to help my decision making all that much, because the decisions I need to make, in selecting heroes and in the early game at least, are different to in a high level game.  

Things that annoy me in low MMR solo queue

OK so firstly it seems a bit negative to start with a rant, but there we are. Also, what I mean here is things other than being bad at the game. Anyone can be bad at the game – it’s easy to criticise people for silly item builds, or feeding, or selfish play. But what really really bugs me is the following (warning, dear reader, I may lapse into the second person here).

1) Everyone else picks a hard carry, then complains when we lose

If you pick a stupid hero with no regard to the balance of the team then how can you whine when we get smashed in the laning phase?

The absolute most important period in any game of Dota is the laning phase. If you win the lanes, you almost always win the game – particularly at low MMR when we don’t have the experience to put together a comeback. The bottom line is that if you are 5-0 down after 10 minutes, the game is horribly difficult to win, and so your proposed Medusa-Antimage offlane might not be for the best.

2) People pick at the last second

You don’t communicate in chat to co-ordinate hero picks, and you pick your hero at the last second before the game starts. We then have a stupid team.  The only reasons I can think of that you might hide your hero choice until the last second are that (i) you genuinely are dithering between sniper and drow, or (ii) because you want to counter-pick the opposition. I have news for you – at 1600 MMR counter picking doesn’t matter. That is why we end up with no natural mid, no coherent pushing strategy, 4 melee guys or no disables at all.

If you know who you are going to pick, and you are going to pick that hero whatever anyone else picks, then for God’s sake please do so with 20 seconds left. Particularly if you are solo – there is a chance that your team mates are on voice chat and can pick heroes that dovetail well with you.

3) Playing random heroes in ranked

 Yes, when Purge does it it’s fine. He can play all the heroes really really well. You can’t. Last night’s 1-16 Tusk is a case in point  Pick a hero that you are familiar with, or at least have looked up on the Wiki beforehand and maybe watched a video.

If you absolutely must random, and you get Io, for God’s sake repick and save us all the hassle.

4) “We need wards”

I’m the only support because you fuckers all picked hard carries. All of you did. I am desperately trying to get together enough regen to stay in lane and protect this idiotic faceless void. Once I have that regen, you’ll get your damn wards. Until then piss off.

5) Invoker

Stop it. Seriously. Yes Sunstrike is a good spell. No, you can’t land it for shit. He’s a “high skill ceiling hero”. Your skill level is more ankle level. Pick Viper instead.

Hello world!

Welcome to my new Dota 2 blog. I’m very much a new player – about 150 games so far – and this is my first ever MOBA.

The idea behind the blog is to create a place where I can write about Dota, and in which I can analyse my games, vent about Things That Annoy Me, and generally muse about heroes, builds and strategies.

Some background about me? I’m 36, so pretty old for a gamer, and grew up with my trusty Spectrum 48k. I played mainly console games until after university (I was amazing at Goldeneye. True fact.) My PC gaming career included six years in thrall to World of Warcraft, which included raiding in vanilla, plus the first three expansions. I ran quite a large guild for about a year, and led hardmode raiding teams in Icecrown Citadel. I then spent a year playing mainly StarCraft 2 (platinum ranked mech terran, from which you can infer that I play the way I like, even if that’s not optimal!), and recently I’ve been playing a lot of Blood Bowl.

If you are particularly interested my old Warcraft blog can be found here.

The reason for the name of the blog is that I almost always play a pure support role – my most played heroes at present are Crystal Maiden, Jakiro and Silencer, and I’ve been expanding recently into Lich. Lots of what I’ll have to say therefore is focussed on the support side of the game.

You can find my match record here. Current solo MMR is about 1750. Group MMR is 2050.