MOBAs are competitive. Ranked MOBAs are even more competitive. You wouldn’t be playing them if you didn’t want to constantly improve and rank up. People say you can’t carry in this game, and that’s true to some extent, but not entirely.
I want to go through some of the credos and mantras that I keep in the back of my mind when I play, to help some of you out who are struggling to climb the ladder up to Rank 1. It is doable, this information will help you get there.
Here we go:
1. “Know when to retreat.” Before I knew what DotA was, a friend of mine wanted to introduce me to a cool new mod in WC3 (DotA, obviously). His advice to me was this. “The only way to be good at this game is to know when to retreat. That is what this game is all about.” Well, there is definitely more to DotA than that, but his advice has stuck with me since then. If any part of your brain ever tells you, “maybe we should retreat”, just do it. It is, 9 times out of 10, the right call.
2. Your Minimap is your friend. Not just one of your acquaintances, or school yard buddies, but I’m talking like your best, most over-the-top, probably in love with you but you just don’t know it yet friend. If you don’t look at that minimap every other 2 seconds (and honestly that might not be enough) you are letting it down – wounding it. Don’t do this. If you ever get ganked and think, “wow, where did they come from?”, you probably have a very angry minimap wondering why you never call anymore.
3. Stutter-stepping. Attack-moving, or even Orb Walking as some call it. You should never, and I repeat, never be standing still. Whether you are clearing minion waves, in a teamfight, in a duel, in anything, you need to be moving. For every single attack command you issue, you need to issue a movement command to support it. This applies to more than just ranged heroes as well. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen an Illidan attack an enemy after a Q or W and stop moving. He then follows his target like a duckling following its mother until he can hit another Q because his W is now on CD for 7 seconds because he can’t AA. You need to attack, move with your target, attack, move with your target, so on and so forth. Same thing for ranged attackers. You stand still, you are a sitting duck (what’s with the ducks? I don’t know).
4. Communication – this is a big one. Pings are not enough. I can’t even fathom the use of an all mute button, but that is neither here nor there. I repeat, pings are not enough. Whether you have determined you are good enough to be your team’s shot-caller, or you’ve decided to take a backseat role, you need to be telling your team what you are doing. All. The. Time. People say “man, you’re annoying.” I don’t care. I win games by being annoying. If your team knows exactly what you’re thinking, they can respond better to you and your actions. You ping a shrine 3 times, what does that mean? Am I going there? Should someone else go there? Is the enemy going there? We all know “Zeratul is dangerous”, thanks for that (although danger pings are really good when you have nearly blind teammates who can’t see the shimmer).
5. Be forgiving. People usually understand when they’ve messed up. You run the risk of alienating them by calling them out on it. Once is more than enough to make sure everyone is on the same page moving forward. Say it twice, or even rudely once, and you may have just lost the game for your team. Your teammate might decide he wants to troll now, or maybe you just got into his head and now he thinks everyone is watching him so he won’t play well. Be nice. It’s good.
6. If you lose two games in a row, take a break. There is nothing more demoralizing than losing multiple times in a row. You play worse, you start wondering if the losses are your fault, you question your faith, so on and so forth. 20 minutes is more than enough to get your head back in the game before you hit that next queue. If any of you listen to Pandora, make a channel seed for Zen Garden. Close your eyes and just listen to the music. Sounds crazy but you’ll be winning again in no time when you come back with a clear head. Zen Garden. It’s amazing.
7. Respect good players. Do NOT try to outplay them. In theory, you are going to be matched with players that are just better than you are. They might be your teammates, they might be your opponents. If you recognize serious skill on the other team, you better respect it. Assume that if they can land a skillshot that will ruin your day, they will. Assume they are in your head and they know which way you are running and which way you will juke. They will land that stun at the crucial moment before you hit Metamorphosis. Play around their skill, if you can, and if not, well they deserve to beat you. Next game you might be that person to someone on the other team.
8. Get good. Watch streams. Learn builds. Understand why they work. Look at the choices that professionals are using and even if you don’t agree, try to figure out what makes those choices strong. Why do they not like to take Seasoned Marksman on Zeratul? What is the theory? If you can’t find an answer on your own, ask someone here (you can ask me if you want) or even in game. You need to do your homework or your opponents are going to work you.
9. Deal with the ragers. Hero League is going to have them. If you ignore them, you are going to lose. Work with them. What made them angry? What will placate them? Maybe you have to demean yourself to make them work with you. Who cares? Just do it. Let your ego go. It will make your Rank go up (or down, since we want to get to 1). Ask yourself what is better. Fighting the troll to keep your pride in tact or being able to log out knowing that you’re Rank 6 now instead of Rank 7?
10. Have fun. I can’t stress this enough. My girlfriend was watching me play the other night and I just was not having a good time. It just seemed like game after game, my team couldn’t pull it together and come up with the win. I was cursing under my breath and finally my girlfriend says to me “it doesn’t even look like you’re having fun.” I went to bed that night feeling all burnt out. Played the next day with a fresh mindset that I was going to enjoy the game rather than beat myself up about little mistakes and guess what happened. Wins. Lots and lots of wins.
So, there you have it. Animus’s top 10 tips to be a better HotS player. I was in kind of a playful mood while writing this so, in spite of the flippant tone, I do actually stand by everything I’ve said here. I hope some of this helps you all trying to make your way to Rank 1. It can be a trying journey, but it is quite rewarding when you look back and say, “look how far I’ve come.”