Simple advice for playing pub games that will make you and whoever you’re playing with better. This guide covers some basic guidelines for drafting, general tactics that will help you coordinate your team and win games, and advice that will help you play your role better.
Communicating with your team and organizing them to give yourselves the best chance at victory begins at hero selection. There are three main things you should generally limit and avoid when drafting a team.
Avoid double melee lanes. This means limiting your team to two to three melee heroes. This allows you to have a basic 2-1-2 lane setup with a ranged hero in each side lane. Unless a double melee lane has exceptional stun and damage combos or can put up with constant harassment, they’ll get shut down by a competent enemy lane with a ranged hero. Having three is okay (melee mid or melee jungler), but four will most likely make laning very tough and won’t work if the players don’t have good teamwork and coordination. An all melee team is almost always a recipe for disaster.
No more than one jungler, if any at all. If a player insists on jungling, make sure someone picks up a good solo hero. Don’t expect the solo lane to get a lot of farm as it will probably be a lost lane. Your lineup’s success depends on not feeding and losing the game before the jungler decides to join the team and be active. Hopefully your jungler will be active and help out other lanes and get early kills whenever possible.
No more than one carry per lane. The hard carry is the only hero that should be expected to just farm. Your semi-carries should at least be useful early and mid game by ganking or pushing towers. With any more carries, there’s just not enough farm for all of them. One or more of them will be useless and would have been bettter replaced by a support not dependent on farm and items. Your team will be too weak in the early and mid game and you’ll lose all your towers before your carries can get any items. Having no outer towers makes it even more difficult for them to farm safely, and the other team will have a massive gold advantage. Filling your lineup with good support, teamfight, and disabling heroes is much more valuable. You’ll be able to win the laning phase and not have your carry compete with anyone for farm and you’ll be able to win teamfights.
By following the three main points above, you’ll eliminate most completely terrible team compositions and at least have a chance to do decently in the laning and early phases of the game. With a good team composition to get you through the laning phase, you’ll be able to practice the strategies and tactics presented in the rest of the guide to help your team win.
Note: This was only written with normal level pub games with a team of random people in mind. Drafting for competitive games requires a much deeper understanding of the game, current trends, and the enemy team.
Dota 2 is a team game. If you can manage to get your team to work together and communicate, you’ll greatly increase your chances of winning. The following is a list of 12 things you and your team should do throughout the game.
- Buy wards. Buy as many as you can. Place them around the river and at the ramps that lead into your jungle. Place them on the high ground around the area you’re trying to push. Having good vision will improve your team’s map awareness and prevent them from feeding.
- Ward and deward Roshan. If someone on your team wants to Rosh and there’s no vision, tell them to wait until some wards are up. Recognize situations when you can get an uncontested Roshan kill, such as when the entire enemy team is busy pushing the top lane.
Watch the Minimap
- Don’t just focus on the lane you’re in or you’ll miss most of what is happening in the game. By keeping a close eye on the minimap, you can see when a teammate is in trouble and you can try to help them.
- You’ll see enemies appear on the minimap faster than you’ll see them appear on your camera screen. If you watch the minimap, you’ll be able to spot incoming ganks and retreat to safety and avoid them. If you wait until they show up on your main screen, you’re probably already dead.
- If you’re jungling, don’t think that your team should have to play 4v5 for the first 20 minutes. Look at the nearby side lane and see if you can help gank and get some easy kills.
Watching the minimap and having wards can prevent an enemy from trying to gank. As soon as Lifestealer is revealed, Disruptor and Bounty Hunter retreat.
Carry a Town Portal Scroll
- If you see a teammate getting ganked in another lane and you can help them survive or even turn the fight around and countergank, teleport immediately. Coming to the aid of your teammates and having them aid you will keep your team from giving away free kills and giving the enemy an early lead.
- Don’t be the one person on your team caught not carrying a TP scroll and farming a lane while the rest of your team is getting wiped in a teamfight. Not letting your teammates completely lose teamfights and dig themselves into a 0-10 hole will help you carry even more.
- Carry a TP when you’re pushing. You need to be able to quickly port back to your base to stop enemy counterpushes or retreat safely when the enemy comes to defend.
A Bane teleporting from the bottom lane to the top lane to help Sniper who is getting ganked by Tiny and Enigma.
- One of the best ways to catch the enemy off guard and get quick surprise kills.
- Buy a smoke of deceit and gather your team up and use it. Use it in an area around your base where the enemy team won’t have wards. Once smoked, roam as a group into their jungle or ancients and look to get a quick gank on an enemy that’s trying to farm.
- If you’re losing, a successful smoke gank is an effective way to come back and gain some momentum. A successful gank will allow you to push and possibly take a set of barracks or set up for a teamfight where you have superior initiation and the numbers advantage.
The Dire team grouped and smoked up with pipe of insight already used as they’re about to initiate a team fight in the middle on Phantom Lancer and Meepo who are caught slightly ahead of the rest of their team on the other side of the river.
- In the middle to late stages of the game, unless a hero is particularly good at ganking solo or split pushing, playing 5 man dota is an effective way to close the deal on a game and secure a win.
- Not playing as a team at this point is the easiest way to blow a lead and go on to lose the game. Your team can have all the farm in the world, but if they’re constantly getting ganked by themselves, you’ll throw away your chances of winning.
- Communicate this to your team and tell them not to go off on their own.
Pick Fights Carefully
- Don’t fight in unadvantageous positions like if your team is on low elevation and the enemy team has good AoE and teamfight abilities. Look to gank an enemy hero first, or wait until you can get an Aegis.
- Initiate a teamfight on your terms and talk to your team about which enemy heroes to prioritize. Knowing the important enemy targets and having your team focus on killing the same hero can mean the difference between completely wiping the enemy team or getting your team completely wiped while the enemy team all survives with low health.
- If you’re behind in the game and the enemy team is making a push to take your barracks, stay on the high ground in your base. Don’t try to leave your base and force a fight when you don’t have to. Maintain your high ground advantage.
- It’s much easier to win a series of 5v1, 5v2, or 5v3 fights in a row than it is to win a single 5v5 fight. Try to have your entire team initiate a fight on a few heroes that are out of position, quickly kill them, and then fight the rest of the enemy team. Take advantage of their slow reactions and lack of coordination by hitting them hard and fast as a team.
- Chain your stuns. If you see a teammate stun an enemy, save your own stun until the initial stun is about to wear off.
- Tell your team what you’re going to do with your abilities, so they know what to expect. This is especially important for abilities like Bane’s Nightmare or Shadow Demon’s Disruption. For example, if you don’t tell your team you’re going to start a gank by using nightmare on the target, they might follow up with autoattacks, which will end up transfering the nightmare effect from the enemy to your teammate, thus ruining the gank.
A good fight by the Dire team in terms of location and abilities used. Three Radiant heroes are caught by Jakiro’s Ice Path and Macropyre and Kunkka’s Ghost Ship is about to hit.
General Tactics (Continued)
Counter Invisibility Heroes
- Don’t let heroes like Clinkz, Bounty Hunter, Riki, or any hero with a Shadow Blade freely stalk your team and gank or scout out your position before a teamfight happens.
- Don’t wait until they’ve killed your team several times before buying detection. Buy detection early and shut them down before they can snowball.
- Carry sentry and dust with you when you try to push, and place them around you and in front of the building you’re trying to kill.
- Instead of letting an invis enemy surprise your team, turn the tables on them and pick them off when they get too cocky and don’t think you have detection with you.
Bounty Hunter countering an enemy sentry ward with his own sentry ward.
- If you win a teamfight and have the opportunity to kill some towers and barracks, do it. Don’t play passively and drag the game on for 60 minutes and make it a game centered around carries. This just gives the enemy more time to farm and make a comeback.
- The longer you drag on a game, the more likely your team is to slip up by getting killed alone or making other mistakes. A single mistake in the late phases of the game can be much costlier than a mistake earlier in the game, because teams are able to push buildings faster and respawn times get longer.
- Don’t get cocky. A 20 kill lead means nothing later into the game if the enemy team has the right farm on their carries and they’re playing as a team and you’re not. All it takes is a gank on one or more of your team’s heroes for you to lose a set of barracks or even the throne late into the game.
- If the enemy team has good teamfight abilities such as Faceless Void’s Chronosphere or Enigma’s Blackhole, don’t bunch up and allow your entire team to get caught. Keep your supports in the back and at a safe distance. The longer they’re alive to support your carry, the more spells and attacks they can contribute, and the more likely you are to win a fight.
- If your team is going to initiate, make sure you’re all on the same page and are ready to follow up and fight. Don’t let someone charge in alone and then die before the rest of your team can react.
A bad team fight by the Radiant team. The entire team is clumped together and is caught in a Faceless Void Chronosphere inside the Dire’s base.
- The mid lane, side lane supports, and jungler should try to scout out the runes, guard them, and take them. Runes can give you the advantage you need to gank or turn a teamfight in your favor.
- Letting the enemy team get every rune could end up in your team getting constantly ganked early and losing your lanes and the game.
Pudge with a haste rune ganking a Tiny and Bane from behind.
- Leave your ego at the door. If you care about having your team be successful, you can’t have your way every game. This may mean giving up mid lane even if you called it, or playing a support role rather than a carry depending on your team’s picks.
- Work with your team rather than fight with them. It’s better to have all players on the same page and doing the same thing, even if you may not think it’s the best decision. For example, even if you think your idea to push rather than take Roshan is better in a certain situation, if the rest of your team wants to take Roshan, put them in the best position to do so. It’s better than having everyone doing their own thing and getting ganked alone, because of the lack of coordination.
- Stay positive. No one likes a teammate that gives up after 10 minutes because of a bad start. Even if you think a game is lost, with good coordination, you can always make a come back.
Put your team in the best position to make the right decisions. Push, gank, and fight as a coordinated team and you’ll have a good chance of winning. Communicate these things with your team and it will hopefully get them to work together and prevent them from making dumb mistakes. You’ll lose less games you should have won, and you’ll win more games you didn’t think you could win.
The following is some basic advice and the mindset for playing specific roles.
- Farming should be your highest priority until you’re ready to fight and push.
- Always carry a TP, but use it wisely.
- Teleporting to your team when they aren’t going to fight is just a waste of farming time. Only come to the aid of your team if you’re committed to fighting. Sometimes it’s better to just split push and take a tower while your team is diverting the enemy’s attention.
- Don’t miss out on opportunities to join your team in a fight where all you need to do is clean up and get easy kills because you didn’t have a TP.
- Don’t get cocky and rush into the enemy, even if you think you’re really farmed. If you have someone on your team that can initiate, let them. Your team’s chances of winning a fight are greatly reduced if you’re the first one to die. On the other hand, you can’t win a game 1v5, so help your team before they all die in a teamfight.
- Your job is to provide and secure a safe place for your carry to farm. Harass the enemy in lane. Zone the enemy away from the creep line to deny them experience. Don’t take your carry’s last hits. Don’t let them get free hits on your carry, always harass them back.
- When the lane is pushing out, stack and pull or double pull neutral camps.
- If your carry overextends and is getting ganked, do everything you can to help. If your carry is getting chased down and you’re at full life, try blocking them with your hero.
- Ward around the jungle, runes, and other key areas. This will give your carry vision and help prevent enemy ganks.
- If the hero you’re supporting in lane is doing fine on their own, you can roam around and help another lane. Check for runes and try to gank the enemy mid if you can.
- Positioning. You’ll most likely be a very squishy hero without items and relatively low on experience and levels. You want to be active in fights, but stay back where you won’t get instantly focused down. The longer you can stay alive, the more abilities you can use to keep supporting your team. Staying alive is especially important if you have items that greatly help your team such as a mekansm. At least try to stay alive long enough so you can use all your active abilities and items.
- Be supportive. You’re a support, so you shouldn’t be farming the entire game. Try to be around your teammates and help them push, gank, or teamfight. There’s no reason to be completely separated from your team unless you’re trying to put up a quick ward or can take a tower by yourself.
- Use your abilities to their full potential. Since you’re supporting, you won’t be getting much farm and won’t be relying on items or autoattacks to do damage. Your best asset is your abilities, so use them to their full potential.
- Don’t forget to attack. Staying alive is most important, but if you’re not being focused and are in a safe position use your autoattack to help contribute damage. A support that gets a few attacks in may be the difference between killing the enemy and the enemy just barely escaping with their life.
- Don’t be afraid to sacrifice yourself for your team. If there’s a situation where either you or a carry is going to die, save your carry and sacrifice yourself. This doesn’t justify dying unnecessarily though. A support that keeps their deaths to a minimum is invaluable.
- Communicate and lead. Since carries should be focused on last hitting and farming, supports are generally the ones with the most freedom to look around the map and be aware of what’s going on while they move around warding. Be proactive in organizing your team and telling them what they should be doing.
- Using smoke will make your ganks more successful.
- Ward the enemy jungle so you know where the enemy is and if they’re alone.
- Organize a gank with your team, or if you’re going to gank a side lane, warn them and make sure they’re ready.
- Be aware of counter-ganks. Know where the rest of the enemy team is on the map. If you’re a ganker that relies on invisibility, always be on the look out for detection on the enemy team by checking their inventories for dust, sentries, and gem.
- Carry a TP. It’s especially important for gankers to carry teleport scrolls, because ganks are often deep on the enemy side of the map and may result in you surviving with low life. You might be picked off by the enemy team coming to the aid of a hero you just ganked while you’re trying to escape.
- Always be on the look out for openings when the other team is out of position.
- Warn your team ahead of time that you’re going to try to initiate so they will follow up. Don’t charge in alone unless you’re sure your team is ready to back you up immediately or you’re just going to throw your life away.
- Know exactly what abilities you’re going to use before you initiate. Be fast or use shift-queuing. If you’re too slow you might get instantly locked down by the enemy team’s counter-initiation. Don’t be the Sand King with blink dagger that tries to channel his ultimate after blinking in only to get it interrupted and thus costing your team the fight.
Your team will be much more successful if you all communicate and play together and play according to your role. You can win many games by simply having everyone do their job and cooperating for the good of the team.