Large guide divided into 4 smaller manuals. 1st one was replaced here (entitled How to have a Pro-like Mindset); 2nd part (entitled How to be a Great DotA Captain) published here
and 3rd (entitled How to Live a Balanced DotA-Life), here
This edition is still currently under construction.
How to be Smart and Skilled:
Taking your Game to Higher Level
Success begins with a successful mind.
Its your mind that makes you successful.
~ Felicia Adams
I started from being an ultra noob player and stayed the same for almost 2 years. It changed after I started watching Pro DotA players play. It was after watching pro DotA player's game when I, with my own team, started dominating in DotA scene. I know the only way to improve my skills dramatically is to change my understanding of Dota and have a Pro-like mindset. I studied every game I watched analyzing how they think. Here I am to make you skip that hard work I've done and unleash the mindset they have that I discovered.
So if you are sick of being just an ordinary player, you might want to read this guide that's based from years of analyzing what good players do and what works for us. I'm not saying that I'll transform you to a competitive player at once but I assure dramatic improvement after executing these guidelines to improve your DotA skills at high rate.
i. Pros and Newbies Differences
People would often rate a player based on how well they play. Players that play superb and are inspiring players would often be called 'Pro'. If a player is called professional, he should be earning from that game but we love to exaggerate things so we call them Pro. Most people tend to call uninspiring players as noobs but I prefer calling them newbies because noob, for me, is a very hurtful word. We all started from being ignorant of the game so calling a person noob or dumb is way too heart-piercing. Are you wondering what are the qualities of Pros have that are not present to Newbies? What are the things done by newbies that make them uninspiring and prone to criticism?
Here are some things that separates Pros from Newbies:
Newbies: I'll do what I feel like doing.
: I'll do what should be done.
Newbies: I will execute my plans no matter what.
: I will wait for the perfect timing to execute my plans.
Newbies: I will pick these heroes because they are strong.
: I will pick these heroes because they have perfect chemistry and they can counter the opponent's hero lineup.
Newbies: I died. It's time to blame my team mates!
Pros: I died. I'll be more careful and alert next time.
Newbies: The opponents are so strong; I'll quit and find weaker opponents.
: The opponents are stronger than me, I should learn from them and try to beat them as soon as possible.
Newbies: Damn, gankers are behind me. I'll click so fast towards the fountain, there might be miracles that I may live.
: Gankers are now behind me, I should try to make them chase me at the forest and increase my chances to survive. I'll try to buy items and not waste my gold from my death.
Newbies: The opponents are pushing! They appear so strong, I don't know what to do but, CHARGE!!!!! oops, I died.
: The opponents are pushing, I should find a good position to spam their creeps to death and wait for my team mates to set.
Newbies: That hero is one hit away from death, I'll chase him though I don't have mana. He might be a noob and press hold.
: I will not chase that dying hero for there is no possible way of killing him. I will just put myself in danger.
Newbies: The hero retreated when I was about to gank him; this is a pub game, grrrr!! Map hack!!!
: There might be wards here or he's just careful. I'll buy sentry wards to destroy his wards so I can gank him easier.
Newbies: My opponents need me but there are still a lot of creeps to give me more gold. I'll just tell them I don't have a TP scroll.
: My opponents are about to engage in a team fight, it's time to buy a TP scroll.
Newbies: I will not buy observer wards, it's a waste of 200 gold.
: It is better to spend 200 gold for observer wards than to waste more gold from dying.
Newbies: Grrr... I will not waste my time waiting here for nothing; I should gank him even though a tower is next to him.
: I'll wait for better chances because I can't afford to die from ganking impatiently.
Newbies: I was stunned, stunned and stunned to death darn! There's no way I'll survive this lane!
: I know what are the things that the heroes of my opponents can do. If they are going to execute their combo, I have plans on how to survive and counter their attacks.
Newbies: I will steal more kills so I'll be famous.
: I'm playing support role it's better to give the kills to our carry to give him more farm.
Newbies: It's clash time! Oh, a Bristleback! Attack!!!!!
: Their tank is baiting we should find a way to find their most dangerous hero before we kill this high hp but low attack damage hero.
Newbies: My opponents are all hitter but I'd still buy BKB because I saw vigoss bought BKB and own his opponents.
: I will buy items that will increase my armor to limit the opponents damaging potential. BKB is such a waste of 3800 gold, buying HP items would be a better choice.
1. Build Self-descipline
Have you spent time alone, watching replays, thinking of strategies, or doing last hitting drills? Did you want to sleep out of boredom while doing these things?
If yes, you're not alone. Most people want to play rather than practice. The main reason for this is lack of discipline.
Why do we need to practice like we're the worst player?
One of the factors that is important in having discipline is humility. Pride keeps on telling us: "Why bother practicing when, in fact, this is just a simple game?" After we lost a game, we can't accept it because we're too proud. We need to practice whatever field we're into.
why suddenly we need to perform like we're the best?
When we practice but we think we're already the best, we won't be more curious to discover better tactics. We will be limited to our old play style and I bet these play styles we have now still got a lot of rooms for improvement.
Practicing like you're the worst player ever, makes you feel that you need to learn every little lessons you can learn from a replay or from your drills. This won't make you sleepy because you are interested in what you're doing.
After this kind of practice, I am certain that you learned a lot rather than having a prideful practice.
In actual games, you should be confident. You cannot afford having fear and negative thoughts on your mind. From your previous practices, you have learned a lot and now you're confident that you have tons of secret weapons.
Kobe Bryant, though he's considered to be a superstar, trains a lot. People even call it 'torturing himself'. Then, when he plays, you can see how confident he is and now people are considering him cocky.
While practicing, be very keen. Observe and analyze everything. Try to acquire as many strategies and skills as you can. When playing, be confident because you are now equipped with new things from your humble practice making you have advantages over your opponents.
2. Develop your Physical and Mental Alertness
Have you ever wondered what the edges of top players are over you? It's not experience and hard work alone. You can play for 10 years and not be as good as them if you're not focusing on the right skills to develop. In this lesson, you're going to learn what are the things you should be considering to play like Pros.
This skill is very important in 3 things:
Estimating damage output
Estimating cool downs
Being quick in calculations give you a lot of advantage and safety. Knowing if your mana pool will be enough to execute your combo won't get you in trouble and shout "F*ck! I ran out of Mana!" *, and then die. Be sure to be quick in calculations because one split unguarded moment can cause you to lose the battle. Damage output should also be considered to know how quick you can kill a hero or if it possible to kill certain heroes with your number. You shouldn't just go into battle without having the clash play in your mind. Cool downs are also important specially if your opponents have deadly ultimate skills. Use the long cool down of opponent's skills to your advantage. You can either initiate a clash or push if their skills aren't available. Doing more calculations than your opponents will give you huge advantages.
This skill is important in 3 things:
Doing Combos and Micros
Clicking heroes that are hard to click
Animation cancelling is important in playing DotA. There are a lot of heroes that have spells that have prolonged animations. You should cancel them to not waste time. Animation cancelling is also important in harassing heroes. You can move either forward or backward instead of waiting for the attack animation to stop. In this way you can harass more or be evading more damage. Combos require timing and shouldn't be interrupted by just having slow hands. Micro-ing is the term used to describe controlling more units which also requires quick hands. Heroes that are hard to click, like Venomancer, is also countered by having quick hands. You can search for the small icon of the hero in shorter period to be able to hit him thus not letting him escape just because he cannot be clicked.
Planning is essential in DotA as it is in war fares. As soon as the drafting starts until the game ends, several plans should be made. The team who came out to have great plans quicker would surely win.
Plan 4 steps ahead:
1st step: What you're going to do
2nd step: How your opponents will react
3rd step: What will be your response to their actions
4th step: Know who will have the advantage after
This skill is very important in 5 things:
Distance from team mates
Number of opponents
Map awareness is very important. You shouldn't be prone to gank; you should know if your team mates need you, you should know where opponents are to kill or to be avoided, etc. Finding target in a clash is important. You shouldn't just cast all your spells on a hero you see. Pro players expect the back up. Reserve your spells for better uses. Distance from team mates should be considered.
This skill is important in 5 things:
Knowing escape Routes
Knowing when to fight and when not to fight
DotA is a read and react game. You see the situation, and then you give your reaction. Winning or losing depends greatly on how many good or bad calls you've made and these are called your reactions. Knowing at once what are the best decisions in almost every situation and executing them perfectly will surely make you is skilled and fearsome player. You just have to watch carefully, analyze critically and practice seriously.
3. Develop your Confidence and Optimism
Watch professional replays and imagine that you are one of the players
This is a trick that will make you improve quickly. Rather than having a "Wow, he's so good!" mindset, think of it this way "I am this Shadow Fiend I am watching. This is my replay. I am currently farming and harassing at the same time. There might be gankers nearby, I should hide first." etc.
Make it a hobby to watch your own replays
The point is you have to feel that you are the one who played that hero you're watching because this is the quickest way you could be playing like the real player. He may be Yaphets, Yamateh, 2009, or other great Shadow Fiend players but you should be the player in your imagination while watching the replay.
I've done this so many times and from my experience, after watching replays of good supports or gankers like 820, NS, and my favorite Vigoss, my decision making in that aspect of game (supporting) improved a lot. What happens is their experiences became my own experience. When they fail, I also failed so I know what to do next time. When they succeed, I also succeed so I knew what works. I don't have to play against popular teams to experience playing against them because I already did with this technique.
Don't just say "Yeah! I won time to go!" or "Damn it! I lost". Youre won or lost games should all be watched. If you're aiming for perfection in your game you shouldn't be lazy to check out what are the errors you've done that needs to be corrected. May it be a simple last hitting problem or a huge turning point problem that caused your whole team to lose, you should be aware of the things you're not doing right for you to be able to correct them.
Have enough time to play desired hero to be mastered
In team games, is very critical it is very critical to watch your replays. Almost every game there are failed executed combo. Sometimes you just won because the opposing team isn't that experienced yet but you still have someone dying. Yes it's not that easy to have a complete 5-0 sweep clash if you're facing good teams but there might be ways to make it happen. There might be a need to tweak your strategy or lineup.
I was lazy to watch my replays before but when I did, I discovered 1000 gallons of mistakes I was making. It was only then I changed it. After having a hobby of watching most of my replays after playing, I was amazed with my own improvement. If I only opened my mind earlier and have already done own replay watching session, I could have improved 2 years earlier but I'm not regretting any of my experiences. I learned from all of them.
Have you ever wondered why your game is not as good as your other games playing different hero? Improving your game also comes from improving on how to use a hero. That's the reason why there are DotA-hero-guides spreading in the internet.
Close your eyes and do this
Playing a hero for 2 to 3 days will make you comfortable with the hero you want to master, you'll experience different things that may happen in real games making you prepared for them, and you'll know different strategies that will assure success in using that hero.
I played chen not only for 3 days but for 3 months. It's because I was still a newbie that time (my 1st year of playing DotA) who was used to playing carry. I discovered that Chen is the most used hero by professional teams that time. I don't want to demand this boring practice to any of my team mate so I switched my role to support and practiced Chen for months. Whenever they see Chen, he is like my twin already for I'm the first person to be in their minds. Good Chen players were always behind me laughing at how I micro my creeps. After 3 months of practice our team evolves from a noob team to a feared team in tournaments. Chen gave me a lot of Championship awards. You don't need 3 months because I assume you already have more experience in competitive games than I had before.
Always play against better players
You'll lose. So, what? If you're not too big to handle criticisms, you're to small to be praised. Playing against better players will make you realize your flaws and the things needed to be adjusted on your game. You'll also be inspired to surpass his skills, if you are optimistic enough (which you need to be).
We always lost before. I even offer free games for good teams to play with us. I lost my money and I still lost the game but I'd still invite them to play with us again. The feeling is not so good when losing but what happened was we leveled up. We watched our replay against them. We discovered their strategies and we formulated our own better than them. The time came when nobody can beat us anymore here in our place even the team we paying for. It's like a business. Investment and hard work first, then success will follow.
Close your eyes. Think of what you want to achieve (may it be DotA or not *this is effective*)... Then if you have already thought of what you want to be, imagine that you are that person right now. Make your imagination realistic with all the specific elements included in your background. Relax and imagine you are that successful person you want to be. Believe it's happening now. After imagining your goals, open your eyes and believe that it really happened. It's a part of your experiences because you are already that successful person you want to be right now.
This exercise I made you to do is important because I want you to develop your confidence and optimism. You'll have more success if you're going to believe in it because your mind will develop a positive aura that makes you do everything to achieve your goal.
4. Be Able to Think Properly
There are times when we can't understand why we go on a horrific losing streak. What we don't know is our brain is too focused on having a win rather than thinking of ways how to win.
Don't you wonder why when you're sick or sleepy; your performance is not as good as how you really play? Not being able to think properly is the main reason for this.
Get enough rest
When you're sleepy, sleep (if you have nothing important to do). Then just play when you wake up. Forcing yourself to play when tired will result not having focus. You would also be emotional destroying your game totally.
Plan, plan and plan
Never stop planning. From early to late game you should be having plans. You should plan how you'd be stable on your lane, you should plan how to attack in ganking, you should plan how to fight in team clash, and more. That makes you have directions on your game.
Predict and counter
Predict the deadliest thing the opponents can do and have the best counter for it. Your opponents may not think of it but you're ready whenever he does that. Moreover, you can easily counter them when they do weaker attacks on you, expecting them to be deadlier.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
Keep in mind where you, your team and your heroes are good and bad at. It is always important to know yourself and your team totally. You would know which strategies can fit or not. You can have better plays if you maximize your strengths and you can do something to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
Know your opponent's strengths and weaknesses
Aside from yourself, you should also know your opponents totally. You would be able to have a plan on countering their strengths like picking heroes or farming items to counter them. Most importantly, you can play by their weaknesses. Nothing is much easier than taking advantage of the opponents weaknesses. It's like playing other RPG games where the master usually has weak spots, most of the time it's their belly, foot, and mouth. You know that to beat that Master you should find a way to hit their weak spots that are often hidden.
You have several things to think about when playing and laziness to think is not an option in this game. I regret playing when I cannot think properly because I know I can do better. Losing is not bad. You learn from your mistakes and from your opponents. The bad kind of losing is not doing everything you can to win. And the worst part is, not doing your very best because you were lazy to think.
5. How Pro Players Think
Before the Game
Which team are we going to fight with?
This is a very basic question but I realized that pro players take advantage of knowing their opponents. They analyze opponent's previous strategies and predict what would their heroes be in their encounter. Lately, Kuroky said in his interview: "Well, Puppey and I try to create new strategies to surprise our opponents for a match. Mostly we think about different styles, patches and heroes etc. For example, against LGD, I watched their last 20 replays to predict their picks and style, and I actually had a 100% accurate prediction on their bans, and 80% on their picks, and I guessed their lanes again 100% right."
What strategy are we going to use?
Pro players can either rely on a strong strategy they have or counter pick their opponents. In most cases, it is a combination of having their own strategy and countering opponent's pick but they are mostly different. They don't want to be predictable.
Do we have enough strategies?
In tournaments, pro players are always prepared with at least 3 strategies. The first one should be enough to pawn everyone, the second would be an alternative in cases the first strategy is countered or the opponents simply ban the key heroes of that line up. The 3rd one would be for finals. It would often be best of 3 or something making you needs another strategy. Having more teams in a tournament requires you to be equipped with more strategies.
What are my Advantages/Disadvantages?
This is the first question pro players ask themselves in games. This is why they buy items like more branches if they are low hp, they buy more clarity for mana dependent hero, buy more flask if his hero is prone to harassment. This is also why they change play styles in different types of hero. If they are using early painful heroes, they tend to play aggressive and ensure that opponents wont be farming more gold. When they are using heroes like spectre, their focus would be on how to get more creeps but they still mind supports when they initiate.
What are my opponent's strengths and weaknesses?
The best DotA players in the world detect opponents strengths and weaknesses quickly that they control most of their games they play. May it be individual hero, team combo or player's gaming nature, pro players are aware of them.
These pro players have great desire to win their lanes that's why they would usually counter opponent's hero from the hero picking phase. Once they're on their lanes, they wont allow opponents to have a free lane. They would usually disturb opponents with their goals which for now is also to win their lanes and to farm.
Should I stay or should I roam?
Choosing when to gank and when to stick to lane is very crucial for serious games. From my observations experienced players tend to dominate their own lanes first before roaming to dominate other lanes. Sometimes, when it is impossible to dominate a lane because of poor pick, they tend to roam early to make sure they win other lanes. Sometimes, players focus on one lane, making it impossible for the opponent's hardcore carry to farm. Other questions that come up after this are these: Do other lanes need help? Do they have wards? Do we have the potential to destroy opponent's trilane combo? Who should initiate? Who goes next? These are questions you should consider too to take your game to higher level.
Pro players ask this question to be able to know where they should go. If they think that the opponents might be hiding nearby for ganks, they would either play passively or ask for assistance to take advantage of the opponents wanting to gank by killing them instead. They also want to know where are their opponents to be able to gank them at this stage. Pro players never want to give any gold to their opponents. They try to limit their free farm place as few as possible. They also ask this question to answer the following question: to push or not to push?
Pro teams want to destroy opponent's tower as fast as possible to gain gold and map advantage but they still ask this question to make sure they wont get in trouble. If their opponents have early advantage, more likely they wont push and fight 5v6. Yup: 5 enemy heroes + 1 enemy tower. If they happen to take down a key hero for the opponent, they would often decide to push.
In a fight, great players would often predict opponent's next move and act according to their judgments. You saw how pro players dodge skills perfectly in their DotA videos. Their goal is not to make a DotA video. Their goal is to evade most of the opponent's skills as much as possible to make them harder to be killed.
They think of situations right before it happens. They judge the heroes combo. What if they are caught, what would be their means of survival? What would they do if a team mate is disabled and focused fire at? What would they do if a shadow fiend with haste suddenly appears behind them? What would they do if they are silenced? Preparation is always better than impromptu.
They would always think whether to attack a lone hero or not. They know that they can be wiped out in no time if that hero happened to be bait. Sometimes, I saw them attack bait if they have a follow up plan to attack the entire team, like when they are having a hungry Earthshaker waiting for them to pile up.
Which hero should we take down first?
Plans before clash always have this question present. Who to kill first? They would normally go for the key heroes that are easy to take down. They never plan on taking down a Bristleback first. They may attack a high hp hero if he is offering a free hit or to deceive the opponents making them think that they are going for that hero but when they finally showed up, change targets will happen.
I believe that success in DotA is all about positioning. Pro players would always want to be in places they should be. It's like a chess game. Your key hero is your Queen. You shouldn't trade that for any lower rank army. Your tanks are your pawns. They should serve the defense and they should make it easy for the team to attack. Supports are your bishops and horse. They should be able to attack as well as to trap opponents. Other carries are your rooks. They should be in perfect place to aid the key hero in getting kills or have the kill by themselves.
Do we have the upper hand?
Late game is decided by early game. If your early game is not that good most probably you are in a level and item gap against your opponents. They ask this question to know if they can play offensive or should they play defensive game.
There are heroes that have escape mechanisms that can pressure lanes making it harder for opponents to push but they still consider if they can survive if opponents start to attack. What if opponents have Kunkka? It would be one X-mark away to win the game, especially if that hero cannot buy back.
Ending the game is easy if you defeat your opponents badly in items and level. You can just go directly to their frozen throne after stepping on them. But, if the game is a close match, it's not that easy. Sometimes pro players tend to push all lanes to avoid AOE nukes and to pressure the opponent. Sometimes, they hunt first. There are tons of different endings in a DotA game and mostly it is dramatic that's why DotA is such a fun game.
6. What Pro Players Do
Successful DotA players have one thing in common; it is having good DotA habits.
I have played with several types of Dota Players, I have watched several professional Dota Players, and I have observed how and why these players win or lose most of the time. Some players will say that they have done everything they could but they still fail. Some players don't practice that much but they are much useful than those who play almost everyday. Some players boast that he plays 20 games/day and he has level 50 Garena account, but after playing with him, you would think that he may just be playing 20 games of snakes and ladders per day. The amount of games you play per day can contribute to your improvement but it is not an assurance, specially if you quit after being the first blood and count it as 1 game. So, how can players be so effective?
How many times have you said, "Sorry, i thought he was alone."? You got killed by 5 enemies because you tried to kill a worm but it happened to be bait. Unless you can kill him in a second and you can escape safely, it would be fine. But, in reality, you are not playing in 'whosyourdaddy' mode. You have to conceptualize or you have to visualize things happening in your mind before it actually happen. Conceptualizing wont make players die often because of bait. They would look at the map and after realizing that there is only one opponent displaying himself, they would make an assumption that the other heroes might be hiding through the fog. This assumption makes him don't want to touch that bait. If you want to play aggressively have wards so you'll know when it's bait and when it's not.
Have you ever made a blind arrow on a hero trying to run? To be able to do this, you have to visualize the movement of the enemy and the movement of your arrow. You also have to consider POTM's animation first before releasing her arrow. A good conceptualization makes you successful with your arrows. Not only playing POTM needs this, there are a lot of heroes that can hit invisible enemies like lina, sf, beastmaster, qop, krob, etc. You don't want a hero escaping from you with only 5hp, do you? So have a built in map hack inside your brain which is a good conceptualization.
In playing the captain's role, you need this trait a lot. A captain should imagine the how the game would end. He/she must be end-oriented in every game. Several questions are to be considered by him. Can the game be ended having the heroes you picked in 30mins? What if the opponents got fat? Can it be ended using multiple pushes? What are their counters? How would the team fights be? How would the ganking/ganging be? Good vision of the game is very important in being a highly effective player.
This is actually the most important trait of an effective DotA Player. Having great predictions would make you have successful team fights and lesser deaths. Predicting opponent's next move is very important in most competitions. May it be chess, basketball, or boxing, prediction wins games. Why? Because you know how you would counter a move before it is done. You have to think 2 steps ahead. "If he does that, Ill do this". The following are some instances that consider anticipation. "If the enemy pushes, we're going to stab them from behind and kill their earthshaker without giving him a chance to move." "If they respond using their disables, I'm going to turn my BKB on." "I would attack him first because he will use his dagger of escape to dodge my magic missile." "I will reserve my coil in this gank because he has teleport scroll and may just tp out from my face." These simple predictions make you have corresponding plans to counter it. Having plans is way more effective than not. You may have seen Hexor placed a torrent where a fighting-for-her-life mirana will surely leap after getting stunned. It is fun to watch players like him who understands the game and evades most damages/disables if possible. He who enters the fight when he knows he wont enter then dies in one second - every skill that can stop him like stuns are programmed in his head. Once those skills are done by the opponents and it's in cool down time, he acts and does his role. Prediction is easy if you're not day dreaming. You should be alert. Know what might be the dangers in doing your next move. There might be a ganker on the uphill waiting for you to show up. Dying is very crucial. Enemies will have extra gold from your death and from your absence on the lane.
Benjamin Franklin said, "He that can have patience, can have what he will." What does patience really mean? Patience is not waiting passively, it is laziness. Patience is the ability to keep going even the going is hard and slow. A patient man doesn't give up. In the game of DotA, there are just several ways to win fights. I notice players ran out of morale after losing a clash. Losing your confidence is like removing your guard and waiting for the killer blow to be thrown on you. If you lost a clash, think why you did and try another one emitting that error. An example would be you lost a clash because your main carry, a Nevermore, was stunned to death in 3 secs. Next clash, try baiting the enemy with other heroes who have greater tanking ability and make your Shadow Fiend enter the battle after the enemy throw some of their skills. If you don't have tanks, you may try to place observer wards on blind spots and initiate the fight first so you can make a hero or two die without having any use. Patience is so important in this game. Rush the fights without planning; you'll be most likely to have your hero inside the tavern.
Never Lose Calmness
Ganking needs a lot of patience. Players tend to say "Ok, I won't gank there are observer wards." Then after 25mins, your team is losing because of an over-farmed enemy Tinker. Ganking wins early game, thus giving you more advantage at mid and late game. So gold spent for sentry wards wouldn't be wasted if you end up winning. After all, supports are picked to have map control and give advantage to your team's carry heroes. Expensive items are not required for support heroes for they already have useful skills for ganks and team fights.
Farming needs a lot of patience too. It doesn't mean that you die often, you won't get fat. Take a look at the legendary player ZSMJ, whose sacred relic was destroyed by the opposing team but didn't get affected. Instead he farmed another one. And it was a quick one. People known him for being a farming machine and one of the things that makes him one is his patience. If opposing heroes are missing, he would play passively and wait for a safe environment before he gets back to farming. He doesn't die often because of "I want to prove that I can farm fast!".
"The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom." -James Allen
This game is a battle of minds. Concentration is very important in this game because in your mind should be predictions of enemies' plans, your plans of attacks, your plans of escape, and your next move after one move. If you start to panic, the main focus of your mind would be to run when being chased; to throw skills all at once without plans when in a battle; to attack when being pushed. Your mind being one sided is very easy for opponents to predict. Thus your move becomes close to useless. I have watched players who are being chased and run straight through the fountain making him easier for the opponents to chase. Most calm players know that they can use fogs, trees, or they can run to their nearest team mate, or disable the stunner that can catch him, or even kill the one chasing him. Survival needs tranquility. Panicking makes you do what a 5 year old kid would do if a ganker is chasing you. Being calm thus makes you think and predict that opponents may be approaching to gank you. Prevention, really, is better than cure. Prevent being ganked is better than surviving a gank. It is alright to display on the map if back ups are ready to kill your gankers or you have reliable skills/items that will make you survive.
Professional teams entering tournaments always have a surprise hero picks or strategies to beat their strongest opponents. Other teams will watch your games before you even face them thus they are prepared for whatever they've seen. If you're going to do the same thing, they have their counter picks or strategies that focus on your game plan's weaknesses. Almost all things in DotA have counters and good players will utilize these counters to beat their opponents. I watched a local team played very good games. They end the games they played in 30 minutes or less. Their main hero was Axe. Then the finals had come. The game started. -cm was typed. Tic tac tic tac. Turn of their opponent to ban... First ban... Axe... After the game, the team I watched and admired a lot lost. I happened to be that this team didn't have a surprise plan. They were predictable. They really do plan to use Axe until finals.
Have Power Over Your Emotions
Team fights and ganks are often studied by good players right after they are picked. So, doing same old ganking and battle styles gives you low chance of winning because these players already experienced them and know how to counter them. Example, you are playing scourge. You have a tri-lane at the bottom and so as the sentinel. The sentinel predicted those scourges will gank mid, so they placed an observer ward where you are going to pass. Then here you come "let's gang mid". You pass through their ward. Now, the sentinel's supports move through the fog behind you. The mid hero bluffs you that he will farm the neutral creeps but before you can make a move, they cornered and killed you both. This is a basic counter for ganking. Some uses TP save. The main point is don't think that the enemies are not learning, especially those good players. You should have several alternatives and choose the best move in given situations.
Michael Jordan, a great basketball player as well as a trash talker, once said "I know the game so well that I can psych out people making it easier to beat them." Once your emotions take over, your focus will be greatly affected. Getting angry at an enemy would lead you to be aggressive in a wrong way. You may tend to gank that enemy without considering that he has backups. You may tend to focus him on a clash first even if his hero is Bristleback with 100K hp. Getting upset with a team mate may have you not save him on some circumstances. When you're having a hard lane and your upset with yourself because you cannot farm, you may tend to rush farming and end up 0-10 in 5mins. This is a mind game not a heart game. You should use your mind to try to win not your heart to whine when losing. Yes, it may not be your fault when you lose but this is a multiple player game. Losing is bitter for those who swallow it. You can choose your response in any situation. There are several people who can't control their emotions. When they lose, it's like an automatic switch for their anger. They have the program --if lose turn anger.exe on-- in their system. Anger comes from selfishness. Not getting what one wants is it's root. You can choose not to be angry or upset in any situation. It's called being proactive.
Learn From Errors
Learn from your or other player's errors. Simply playing 100 games per day wont get you better if you are not critical with your errors and you don't work to avoid doing those again. In losing games there are errors you need to find out. Some errors are obvious, some needs more analysis but generally, these errors are present. After you find out what are the errors that cause a game, a gank, or a team fight to end up a 'lose'. You need to learn how to avoid it and do the right things. "Gems cannot be polished without friction." It is natural to make a lot of errors if you want to be a better player. After several errors made and corrected, a Gosu will be born. Experience is your teacher, not your worst nightmare. Like a teacher, you should know exactly what it is trying to convey to you. Not a nightmare that you don't want to go through it again. Losing is like going to class. Some doesn't want to come but those who sacrificed and come to class every day, learned a lot. After several classes, here comes graduation. Graduation, in this case, is your award of being a Highly Effective DotA Player.
7. Do not Bottle Crow
Dota in the Philippines is widely known for Bottle-Crow Strategy. It is having your crow go back and forth at the fountain with your Bottle for refill. It seems clever if you want to stay on your lane more and have more mana for harassing your opponent. But, why this strategy never succeed against Chinese?
Mr. Crow is busy
Crow is needed by the whole team. Other lanes may need a flask or a clarity or they may have farmed their basic items giving them more advantage in lane fights, and crow needs time to deliver these items. Against professional players, if they see slight advantage over you they are going to plan and execute an attack to destroy you totally. Not having important items like magic stick, urn, bracers, etc, while the opponents on your lane already have means your in a big disadvantage.
Waste of Gold
You may say that if the crow is busy, why not buy another crow for mid hero? The reason why I won't do that is because another crow would cost you 400 gold. 2 Crows is not important in mid and late game, where team fights and ganks/gangs are constantly happening. You cannot use bottle crow in clash, it's either you kill them or you die. After winning team fights, it is a good idea to push near towers because of advantage and not to farm and use bottle crow.
Lane disadvantage for supports
You may say that supports can buy crow for you since they don't need to farm luxury items. Then, you will have your supports buy 2 chicks 1 observer wards early game. One support wont have any stat or regen items, but, wisely you'll buy regen items instead of stats. So, he will only have around 400hp. Supports won't be advised to last hit creeps a lot, they have to wait for 200 seconds to buy one crow and another 200 seconds to buy another crow. If the supports farm, the carry on the lane will be delayed, thus, making the opponent's carry have advantage over them. After 400 seconds and the supports successfully boght the 2 crows, the opponents who happened to only have one crow, will have their core items and ready to finish you off at your lane in no time.
Rune > Refill
Good Players know when to use skills to push a mid lane for the opponent to have a busy life defending the lane while you go for runes. Having runes gives you more advantage at mid. If you have a regen, you can harass him until he make a trip to the fountain. If you have illusions you can bait him with one illusion and gank other lanes or simply use these illusions to have advantage at farming. If you have double damage rune, you can harass him or outfarmed him. Haste can help you kill him or gank other lanes for another team advantage. Instead of refilling, battle for the runes.
Farm over you, Leave you or Gank you
There is no need to fear laning with bottle-crow players. There are 3 choices in dealing with these type of players.
- First counter is to farm over him. Farm... Don't harass.. Farm.. He will feel like a jackass having bottle crow but he can't use it because he has full hp. He will resort to spamming skills, which gives you a great advantage. You will be harder to get ganged up because you're tower hugging because of his bad move.
- Second counter to Bottle-Crow is Leave him. Gank other lanes after getting some levels and dominate other lanes. You can get even richer than him after successfully killing other heroes and getting towers. Spending 400 gold from crow is now a mega fail move for that team.
- Third option is to gank him. One reason of chinese players why they don't get ganged up easily at mid is because they love to move a lot. Having bottle crow makes you predictable. Gankers will know that you are somewhere beside your tower. Good gankers will make your bottle-crow strategy cry.
8. Improve more by Watching Anime
You may say it's crazy but it's true. Watching Anime stories with fight scenes can also inspire you a lot to be a better DotA Player. When I was on my early years in the game, I simply do the things that must be done. If I need to win, I farm heavy items to be able to kill them all and push. If I need to survive, I simply run back to the fountain. If I need to gank, go to other lanes then I use my skills at once to kill them. In short, there was no art, no prediction, no precision in my game back then. Most people today improved their games through experience and by watching how the pros do it. In my case, my first improvement in this game is after getting inspired by how Anime characters think during battles. These are some anime character's traits that will inspire you in playing better in DotA.
Anime characters taught me how to be precise in every move I'll make in DotA. They would often have a plan on how to attack the weak points of the opponents. Though faced in difficult situations, they have the ability to have a clear mind to think of the best next move. They wait if they should wait. They attack if the time is right. They prepare more if they can't go through. Watching Anime inspired me to do what I call 'Ninja moves' in DotA. It is the ability to fool your opponents because you already predicted what he's going to do next. Anime characters would always study their opponents carefully and will not ever be baited by the opponent's made moves.
Doing impossible things
Weak anime protagonists often beat stronger opponents. This is my inspiration why I have this much confidence. I'd face anyone in tournaments. I know I can beat anyone though they may have more experience than me. Having confidence in you is the key to beat anyone. If you think you will not win, then you will not. Focus on beating them, not on your differences. Focus on your strengths and how to maximize them.
Quick improvement ability
The longer the series continues, the stronger they become. Protagonists would often start without any knowledge that they have powers to beat opponents who are already strong from the day the series started. But, in the end the protagonists would be incredibly strong to face the main opponent to beat them. I didn't stop practicing until I reached my goal. Like in anime stories, we managed to defeat the teams we worshiped before.
Presence of Mind
The characters fight with a lot of concentration. I find it funny when they would shout the name of their skill before they actually do it. But, going deeper, they are showing how to be conscious of your actions. Most of the times, we die because we don't know that we are farming too far. Most of the time we lose a clash because we don't know that we are not yet capable of beating the opponent's early heroes in clash. Presence of mind is so important to be able to know what you are doing and be conscious of advantage and disadvantages.
No matter what happens. The protagonists will not die, they would just be injured if they faced strong opponents but they will not actually die. At the end of the series they will be the one to succeed. This is obvious in Anime stories but this had a large effect on me. It inspired me not to give up. For no matter how many times I've been down, it's a fact that I'll be the one on top if I would work hard for it.
Characters which will not have any magical skills yet, would defeat opponents with powerful skills when they are together. They would use team work to do this. In DotA, you can still win the game though even how the opponent's are individually. The only thing you can fear in this game is perfect team work, for it requires a better-than-perfect team work to beat them.
Anime characters know how to respect opponents no matter how evil they were in the series. This leads to not doing trash talks against my opponents after defeating them. I've learned to treat this game professionally. I trash talk some times but it's for the sake of psyching my opponents out. Making them grow arrogant and have a negative effect on their game. But, after winning the game, I would approach them like nothing happened.
There are several DotA guides and tips on controlling your hero but what is more important is your attitude toward the game. I hope that you have now understand its importance through this guide.
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