|2.||What is a Support Hero?|
|3.||What’s the point of Support Heroes?|
|4.||Hard vs Semi Support|
|5.||The Golden Rules|
|6.||Why Support is a good place for Beginners to Start|
|8.||Helping your carry to farm|
|9.||Protecting your carry from ganks|
|10.||Helping them get kills|
|11.||Denying friendly creeps|
|12.||Harassing enemy heroes|
|14.||“Pull” Camps and Lane Control|
|18.||It’s ok to die as a support, right?|
|19.||I’m slow and squishy, how am I supposed to stay alive?|
|20.||This is all great in theory, but what about pubs?|
|22.||So what about the good things then?|
Welcome to the guide, we'll be looking at how to play a support role from beginner up to an intermediate level.
Support is not a popular role overall - as you're unlikely to get to a big stack of kills next to your name, or that feeling of empowerment of being a well farmed carry.
It's still a very fun and challenging role though - you get a lot of the big ultimates and interesting abilities to play with - and do a job that's vitally important to the team.
Everyone should know how to play support to at least a basic level, and this is what this guide is here to tell you about.
This is a long guide, but there's still not room for everything, so please feel to make comments, suggestions or requests in the comments section!
Like a lot of things in DOTA, it can be hard to pin down exactly what this term actually means - as different heroes can be played in so many ways.
The most accurate way to describe them all is that they do not rely on their normal attack (right click) to be effective. Usually they have casting abilities that are good in team fights, healing allies or other utility spells that help the team.
As support heroes do not rely on their right click to fight, they don't need all the expensive items that boost damage and attack speed. This allows them to spend less time farming, and buy team items like Observer Ward and Mekansm.
Support heroes are usually at their most powerful in the early to mid game, while carries will dominate later on.
All teams in DOTA require a balance of different heroes to be effective - a team with only support will suffer badly from lack of damage in the late game, while a team full of carries will struggle to get sufficient farm and survive the early game.
In most games of DOTA, there is only a certain amount of farm that is "available" to each team. This includes both the jungle and lanes that have been pushed far enough across to the map to be "safe" to farm.
This means that if you have too many carry heroes, some or all of them will not be able to get the farm they require, and hence the items they need to be effective.
Support heroes do not need items so much, so can afford to let the carries take what is available. This also allows them to buy team items, and instead of farming they'll be involved in ganks, pushes and team fights to buy their carries time and opportunities.
There is a fair bit of overlap between the various roles any particular hero can play - some are suitable from everything from hard support to carry (e.g. Necrolyte or Silencer).
Usually you'll hear heroes being described as either a Hard or Semi support - basically this is all to do with how many items they need in order to be effective. Obviously all heroes benefit from extra equipment, but some require more than others to be able to play their part.
Hard Supports can generally get by with very minimal personal equipment (just a bracer and boots in many cases), allowing them to use their gold to buy team items. Usually they have poor farming skills anyway so this is by design.
Semi Supports need more personal equipment (e.g. a Blink Dagger to land their ultimate), and will struggle to be involved in team fights without it. They can still help out on the support side however.
For example: Lich has the Sacrifice ability that allows him to recharge his mana by consuming a friendly creep. His spells are relatively cheap to cast, and therefore he does not really need mana regeneration items.
Lina on the other hand can burn through mana rapidly with her spell combo, and will be forced to either not use it, or take very frequent trips back to the fountain if she does not have several mana regeneration items.
A "standard" team will usually have 1 hard support (who buys the wards all game) and 1 semi support (who buys the courier and may chip in with other items).
If you take nothing else from this guide, remember these key points!
- Make sure your team has an Animal Courier
- Buy and place Observer Ward for your team if you already have an Animal Courier
- Deny friendly creeps where possible
- Buy team items as required
- Sacrifice yourself to save a more important team mate, if necessary
- Take last hits from your carry
- Take a definite kill from your carry
- Build damage items (usually)
- Spend too much time farming or away from your team
- Miss important events like Team Fights
DOTA has a steep learning curve, although it's a great game once you start to figure out how to play properly.
Support is by no means an easy or unimportant role in the team, and it is difficult to master. But it is one where you can learn the basics and still be helpful to your team.
If you can't last hit consistently you're going to struggle to be a good carry, and mid players have to be able to last hit, deny, roam and work the runes. Carry also requires that you to know lots of different items so you can buy right ones for the situation, and make critical decisions in the late game.
As a support, providing some basic warding, pulling and utility items allow you make a contribution to the team. You also have a little more room to make occasional mistakes and opportunity to watch how others play successfully. Follow the guidelines below and you'll soon start finding yourself getting compliments from your team instead of criticism!
The "classic" support role is to babysit a carry in the "safe" lane. You have several jobs to do here:
- Help your carry to farm
- Protect them from enemy ganks
- Help them gets kills
- Deny friendly creeps
- Harass enemy heroes
- Stack the "pull" camps and use them to draw your lane back
If you end up in the long lane instead, your role is essentially the same, but you can't stack and pull as easily.
We'll cover all of these areas in more detail below...
Generally your carry will have more damage than you, and it's not like you can last hit for them - so really this is about ensuring your carry can get those hits as safely and under as little pressure as possible.
The best way of doing this is to "win" the lane - i.e. you and your carry end up out-levelling and out-farming their player(s). There are generally two ways to do this, and which one you use very much depends on the situation:
Play Aggressively. Harass, nuke and kill the enemy hero(es). Against solo heroes especially you should be actively trying to drive them as far away as possible, to deny them gold and experience. This is risky, and relies on having the right heroes and co-ordination.
Play Passively. Concentrate on accruing an advantage by getting more last hits and denies than the opposition. Obviously your carry will be getting the last hits, and you should be trying to deny in exactly the same way. Some harassment is fine, but concentrate more on denies.
Your presence alone makes it more difficult for the enemy to kill your partner - as they have to take into account your attacks and abilities too.
This does vary depending on which hero you take - healers like Omniknight or Dazzle can keep their partner topped up with health, and keep them alive when they would otherwise die.
Disablers like Shadow Shaman can make a timely intervention to save them, or nukers like Lina maintain a threat of counter-attack.
Good ward placement and team communication allows your carry to feel confident they're not about to be attacked unexpectedly.
Good harassment and creep pulling also helps, we'll cover this in a moment.
Whether you are aggressive or passive on the lane depends very much on your partner and the opposition. Sometimes attack is the best form of defence - effective harassment and ganking can get your side an advantage and make it easier for you to dominate the lane.
Whenever possible, try to let your carry get the last hit on an enemy hero and therefore the extra gold for the kill. Only do this if you are certain they will die however - it's better to get your carry an assist than nothing at all!
Doing this requires a certain amount of discipline and experience on your part. Keep attacking until the enemy is very low on health and then make a judgement call on whether your carry can finish them or not. Slow heroes with no escape can generally be left, while a blinker like Queen of Pain or Anti-Mage should be put down with extreme prejudice!
Just because you might not be attacking, remember that you can still body block, slow or stun (provided these abilities don't do damage) to ensure the kill for your carry.
This is a very simple, yet very important element of support play. In some ways, it is actually more important than last hitting, as it denies the enemy not just gold, but experience.
As this is a beginner's guide, to deny, simply hold down A (by default) and click on a friendly creep that has low health. This has multiple other uses - for example you can weaken your own creeps to help keep the lane near your tower, and also use is to get rid of enemy creep/tower aggro (they'll stop attacking you).
When you successfully last hit/deny a friendly creep, you'll see a little ! exclamation mark pop up. This means you've successfully deprived the enemy team of a last hit, and also some experience.
How experience works:
When an enemy creep is killed, a hero within xp range (roughly 1000 units) receives experience:
- Each Melee Creep is worth 62 experience.
- Each Ranged Creep is worth 41 experience.
- Siege Creeps are worth 88 experience.
This experience is divided between all the heroes present from that team - so with 2 heroes, they each receive 50%, 3 heroes 33% etc.
When a creep is denied, heroes only share 36 experience between them.
For example, a Brewmaster and a Windrunner are sharing a lane.
An enemy melee creep is killed. Brewmaster receives (62 / 2) experience = 31. Windrunner also gets 62 / 2 = 31 experience. Total 62 experience.
An enemy melee creep is denied. Brewmaster receives 36 / 2 experience = 18. Windrunner gets only 36 / 2 = 18 experience. Total 36 experience.
As you can see, frequent denies can really begin to add up.
Whether you're playing aggressively or passively, harassing enemy heroes is a useful way of helping your carry - although it's much, much easier as a ranged support.
Against solo heroes, you should be very aggressive about harassing enemy heroes - don't get yourself killed or beaten up by their creeps, but you should be looking to keep them as far away from the lane as possible.
In a standard 2v2 lane, you need to find the right balance between harassing and denying, depending on your strategy.
Nobody likes getting hit, and you can make it more difficult for the enemy to farm, deny and take aggressive positions. Over time you can wear down their health, forcing them to use consumables, and eventually retreat from the lane altogether.
Harassment also helps you set up for ganks - it's much easier to get the kill if they're already low on health.
Attacking, or even clicking on an enemy when out of attack range will cause nearby enemy creeps to try to attack you. Be careful with this, and be ready to duck behind a friendly creep. You can also use it to draw enemy creeps closer to your carry.
"Pulling" lanes has multiple advantages - but what is it? When you're playing in the "safe" lane (bottom as radiant, top as dire) you have the "jungle" nearby which is full of neutral creeps.
Both jungles have a neutral camp near to the tower, and you can use this to hold the lane closer to your tower.
Why do I want to hold the lane close to the tower? Surely we should be pushing forward?
Eventually you do want to push the lane forward and destroy the enemy tower, but only when your heroes are strong enough to do this. In the meantime, being closer to the enemy tower makes it easier for them to farm safely (they can stand near it for protection), and easier for the enemy mid player to get behind you to gank.
If you can keep the lane near to your tower, you have these advantages instead.
So how do I pull then?
Easy - stand near the camp, and watch the game clock carefully. On approximately 00:15 or 00:45 seconds (in the minute) attack one of the neutral creeps, and then quickly retreat back to the lane. Your creeps will fight the neutrals briefly, and then follow them into the jungle.
Follow your creeps in, and attempt to last hit the neutral creeps. This is one of the few times you get to farm early on as a support, so make the most of it!
When should I pull?
Once your lane begins to push forward further than half way between the two towers, you should think about pulling. Let your carry know by typing "pull" (they can then be more cautious) and move out of the lane towards the pull camp so you arrive at the right time.
DON'T pull the neutrals when the lane is already close to your tower - this means your carry will have to take too many hits and is vulnerable.
Any advanced pulling techniques?
There are several extra ways of pulling that you can learn over time. If you attack neutral creeps on 00:50 - 00:53 and move away, you can "stack" the camp so that it has several sets of neutral creeps in there. They can now completely destroy your creep wave, and offer up more farm.
You can "double pull" creeps by using a Tango or Quelling Blade to cut through the trees to let you draw another set of neutral creeps into the fight.
There are many more tricks and techniques covered in other articles.
Anything I need to be wary of?
Neutrals won't spawn if there are units or objects within a box around the camp. Some players will intentionally ward enemy pull camps to make it easier for them to control the lane.
You can get rid of these using sentry wards, but it can be tricky to find the gold at this point. Also be aware that the enemy may try to gank you or steal the farm when you pull.
Also be careful about pulling the lane when you have a siege wave coming - the enemy will too, and their catapult can inflict quite a lot of damage to your tower in the meantime.
As heroes start pushing and roaming more the laning phase is over and we're on to the midgame. At this point your carry shouldn't need you to babysit them anymore, and you're free to get involved more in the rest of the game.
What you do next will very much depend on the game situation and your hero - you should be involved in ganks, pushes, defences and team fights as they develop. Only farm if things are very quiet and/or you need some to complete an important item. Even then, you should be at any major fight - you are not a carry! Always have a Town Portal Scroll!
If you're responsible for warding, continue to do so - ensure that you have Roshan's pit under observation at all times as the enemy team might decide to go for it.
As the game progresses, the carries on both teams will become more and more powerful compared to the other heroes in the game (assuming they get farm). Your relative power and health drops unless you somehow got plenty of farm along the way.
This doesn't mean that you're useless however. Many games that go late are won off the back of a single successful gank, Roshan attempt or push - due to the long respawn times for heroes at higher levels.
This makes good warding (both aggressive and defensive) especially important. In the team fights your spells and utility items can still be the difference between victory and defeat. You should almost never be alone during this part of game.
DOTA has a variety of utility items that suit different heroes and situations. We'll cover the most common ones below. Be sure to talk to your team about who is buying what for support/utility items. Many items do not stack properly if the team has more than 1 of them, so you want to avoid duplication.
As a support player you don't usually have a lot of gold to spend, and have to prioritise the most important items to buy next. You also have to carefully consider whether to buy items for yourself, or team utility items.
As a general rule, always ensure your team has wards and items like dust when they need them - they're relatively cheap and too important to delay. If you really can't afford to buy them, let your team know and they should help you out.
After this whether to buy items for yourself (e.g. Bracer, Boots of Speed, Blink Dagger etc) or the team (e.g. Mekansm, Pipe of Insight, etc) is a situational decision, and very much depends on whether you're playing a hard or semi-support. You have to weigh up the overall good to the team - obviously a Mekansm is much more useful to the team than a bracer...BUT if you're frequently being taken out too quickly in team fights to get your spells off, the bracer can be a "team" choice too. Use your judgement.
Animal Courier / Flying Courier:
The most important team item - without one it's difficult and time consuming for heroes to get the equipment they need, especially the mid player. As a support player, ensure your team always has one from the start of the game.
One critical skill of all support players is warding. Good ward placement gives your team vital knowledge of enemy movements, allowing you to dodge or inflict ganks. It's hard to put a price on how valuable this can be; but it's certainly far more than 75 gold per ward!
As a support player, you should try to ensure your team has at least one (preferably two) wards up at all times. Sometimes this is difficult early game, if so, ask for help from the rest of the team.
For most of the game, the two most vital warding areas are the two places on the river where the runes spawn. These also happen to be where aggressive moves can occur away from the vision of the lanes.
If nothing else, try to keep the area around the Roshan pit under observation so the enemy team cannot attempt him without being spotted. Remember to keep varying your warding positions to make them more difficult to find.
There's an excellent article on warding that explains in much more detail (Click Here).
As valuable as the extra vision is for your team, denying it to the enemy is also very useful. Observer Wards are invisible, but can be spotted by Sentry Wards and Gems.
Finding the extra gold for Sentry Wards and dewarding can be difficult as a support, but don't underestimate it's value, especially if you have a very gank orientated team.
Dust of Appearance / Sentry Wards:
As a support it's your job to ensure your team has these items when they need them. Most commonly this is when the other team has stealth heroes such as Riki or Bounty Hunter, but it also applies if enemy heroes start carrying Shadow Blades.
Dust is most useful for ganks and team fights, as it sticks to heroes for a period of time, even if they leave the area.
Sentry Wards are more useful defensively, but can be good for ganks as the enemy won't necessarily know that you've placed them, unlike dust which is very obvious.
Smoke of Deceit:
Smoke is commonly used in pro and competitive games, and also has its uses in other games. It allows you and nearby heroes to go invisible and move faster for a short period of time. It will instantly be removed if you go too close to an enemy hero or tower.
Smoke is excellent for ganking, attempting Roshan discreetly or manoeuvring for team fights.
Mekansm is one of the best known and most versatile support items. It combines a healing aura with an active area heal (250hp) that also boosts armour temporarily.
Although it does lose some of its potency as the game progresses and 250hp becomes a smaller % of overall health, it is still excellent value for money, and provides a set of useful stats for the carrier.
At just over 2300 gold, and with multiple pieces, it's an achievable target even if you're buying wards.
Pipe of Insight:
Pipe is another good team utility item, although it's somewhat more specialised than the Mekansm. Once activated, Pipe gives all nearby friendly units a shield that blocks up to 400 magic damage for 10 seconds. This is very effective against big area of effect spells.
However, it is not an easy item to buy for a hard support, and as it provides magic resistance and a lot of HP regeneration, it's not really suitable for low HP caster type supports. It's excellent on strength support heroes though.
A common item choice anyway for many heroes; arcane boots allows you to restore some mana to nearby allies. Many carries have relatively small mana pools, but need it for their best abilities. This allows you to keep them topped up, while still allowing them to get footwear which suits their needs better.
Drum of Endurance:
Another good team item, is offers a 5% movement bonus, and 5 extra attack speed to nearby allies. The active ability boosts this to 10 for each. Although the effective is not massively noticeable, it can give your team that vital edge a team fight or a chase.
It also offers nice stats for the carrier, and as an upgrade for the bracer does not use up an extra slot if you already have one.
Although it offers some nice stats and an escape for the hero that carries it, force staff can be considered a team item. It has multiple uses, from helping allies to chase or escape, to trapping enemy heroes or pushing them out of position.
Eul's Scepter of Divinity:
Like the Force Staff, Eul's is a utility item, allowing you to help allies and hinder opponents with a timely cyclone.
Ring of Basilius / Ring of Aquila:
A common item on casters, when toggled on it provides a small amount of extra mana regeneration and bonus armour for nearby allies.
The ring of Aquila doesn't offer any further bonuses to team mates, but does allow you to stack on some more cheap stats without using any more of your inventory space up.
Another improvement on the basic Basilius, Vlad's offers bonus damage and 15% lifesteal to allied melee fighters. It also boosts the mana regeneration aura slightly for all heroes.
You should only really buy Vlad's if you are playing a melee hero, and have at least 1 melee carry on the team. Occasionally you might buy one as a ranged hero if your team has several melee fighters on.
Urn of Shadows:
A relatively cheap item that provides some extra strength and mana regeneration. This item collects charges by nearby enemy heroes dying, and only 1 nearby urn can collect them - so ensure you don't have another one on your team.
It's most commonly used by gankers, but it is a worthwhile support item as you can get a lot of charges during a team fight, and then dish them out to needy team mates afterwards.
Veil of Discord:
The veil is not a commonly used support item, but it can still be very beneficial to the team, in addition to providing some nice stats for the carrier. Consider getting a veil when your team packs a lot of magical damage.
Well...as a support player you are more vulnerable and less valuable than others on your team, but you should still avoid dying unnecessarily.
Sometimes it's necessary for you to sacrifice yourself for the greater good of the team. Ideally after you buy whatever u can from the quickbuy bar. A few examples:
- Crystal Maiden body blocking an enemy and taking the fall to keep her carry alive in the early game.
- Vengeful Spirit swapping out a chain stunned Morphling in the lategame, saving him a massive respawn time that would have cost barracks.
- Warlock staying behind to channel his slow, so his injured team mates can retreat successfully from a team fight.
Positioning, positioning, positioning. Being in the right place at the right time is vital for support players - try to develop your awareness of the map and the situation so you can be moving to the right place ahead of time. You don't need to spend much time farming, so you don't have to go to risky places to do it, and you have time to move across the map to where you will be needed. This takes time and experience, but keep learning from your mistakes and figure out "why did I die there?" and "what could I have done differently?"
Be very careful about your placement in lanes and team fights - unless you're a tanky initiator like Tidehunter, generally you want to be hanging back more as you will be reduced to pulp rapidly if focused.
Generally you should be hanging around with your team mates, be very careful about going out on your own as you are an easy target. Don't get any delusions about ganking enemy heroes without backup unless they're massively vulnerable.
So you've read the rest of the article; you've seen the Pro games - the way they work slickly together as a team. Looks easy, right? Welcome to the rollercoaster world of pubs!
Let's have a look at some of the most common mistakes and problems you might encounter:
Auto-attackers, moaners, whingers, etc
Communication is the key for any team to work effectively, and DOTA is no exception. Sometimes you have to contend with language barriers, immaturity and anger issues.
First up, keep your cool. Keep trying - a ping and a line can go a long way.
Second, ask nicely. If your lane partner is an auto-attacking n00b there's two ways you can deal with this:
1) "OMG you're SUCH a ****** *Playername*, stop AA!"
2) "*Playername*, pls could you stop auto-attacking the creeps"
Which one do you think is more likely to get them to stop? Which one would you prefer someone said to you?
It's amazing - manners often get people to listen to you. You sometimes also need to explain WHY and WHAT they're doing wrong. Somebody who auto-attacks doesn't know how to play the game properly, so won't understand what "AA" means, or why they shouldn't do it.
If you start insulting people, it might make you feel better, but they're likely to do the opposite of what you want, and generally create a bad atmosphere on the team.
Carries who can't last hit, and Supports who think they're carries:
We need to be careful here, as sometimes these two problems are just flip sides of the same coin.
First up, one of the worst crimes in the game of DOTA is to take farm from your carry. They need that gold to be able to afford the items to farm faster, and be effective. Carries without gold are useless, and it will likely cost your team the game.
On the other side - sometimes you're laning as a support - and your carry just keeps missing hit after hit. All that gold is going to waste. They're going to be useless and have no gold whether you take it or not.
This leads us to some difficult decisions. Generally you should do everything you possibly can to help your carry to start getting that gold. Taking it yourself should be absolute last resort. Sometimes you can actually help out by hitting the enemy creep just before your carry is about to misjudge his last hit - making them get it. This is tricky to do, and distracts you from denying and harassing.
You might also end up "backing up" their hits, attacking so your hit lands just after theirs, in case they miss it. Sometimes you have to do this to make sure the lane isn't a total write-off, but it's a long way from ideal. The other problem with this is that it can lead to "competitive farming" - two players both trying to get the last hit, and most likely making it very difficult for each other.
My carry keeps getting one or both of us killed stupidly, am I supposed to keep dying for him?
Difficult one. A carry who keeps getting killed is going to struggle to get the farm they need to be effective; but they might just be an aggressive player and need the right backup. Communication can be key.
Sometimes they are just stupid though. Do everything you can to (politely) tell them what's going wrong, and get them out of trouble if you possibly can. However, there will be situations where you can't save your carry no matter what you do, and there is no point dying and feeding the enemy team at that point.
You've done some awesome support play, and your team is getting owned
This is one of the downsides of playing support - you can be doing all the right things, but they are only a foundation that the rest of the team has to build on.
For example, you could put a perfect anti-gank ward in the jungle, but if your ally doesn't have the map awareness to notice the incoming enemy heroes - that's not your fault, and your efforts are somewhat wasted.
Don't get too downhearted though - you can only perform your own role as best you can, and any team is reliant on the other members. Even as a carry you're dependent on the rest of your team helping you.
What are you doing n00b? You've hardly got any farm at all!
Especially when things are going badly, some people will turn on their team mates looking for someone to blame (they're far too awesome for it to be their fault). Oi you, why have you got no items? Why didn't we have 15 wards on the map at all times?
These people don't really understand how DOTA works, and it's best just to rise above it.
It's quite normal to see players making certain mistakes playing as support, especially in pub games where there's minimal organisation. This section is more for the intermediates, and here are some of the most common ones:
Making big utility items at all costs:
This is sometimes a problem for new support players who are used to playing other roles. A "carry" mindset can lead you to try to rush items at the cost of missing the 'big picture'.
You don't want to start taking farm off your carry, or leaving the team without wards, particularly against gank heavy line ups. Sure, you managed to get that Mekansm a few minutes faster, but if we lost 3-4 deaths and a tower, was it worth it?
Maybe you didn't buy Dust of Appearance so you could get your bracer faster...that one assist on Bounty Hunter you missed would have easily paid for itself, helped the team and set back the opposition.
Don't scrimp on essential items like wards and dust!
Poor Role Communication:
Quite often you see people either choose or random common support heroes, and assume that they will play them as such. For example, you see a Dazzle or a Venomancer chosen, and they go straight to the safe lane. You pick a carry and go with them, assuming they are going to support you. They proceed to take as much farm as possible, mess up your early game and cause chaos in the team.
Picking a hero like Venomancer (who can be a semi-carry) is not necessarily a bad thing to do, but you need to inform your team if you intend to play a hero in a way that isn't "standard" - and ideally lane in a more appropriate place.
In the same way, if you intend to play a particular hero in a support role (where they are not usually played) is something you need to let your team know about so they can lay out the lanes appropriately.
Semi-support turned semi-carry:
You're playing a semi-support, and you've had a great start. Maybe you and your partner dominated the long lane, got some kills and are now ahead of the curve. It's the early part of the game...you're at your most dangerous and want to get stuck in. Screw this warding business, screw utility items....someone else can sort that out.
When you get this kind of unexpected bonanza...just step back a moment and think. Ask yourself two questions:
1) Will spending the money on my hero instead of team items make me immediately more capable of pushing and ganking?
2) Is there another hero on the team who is capable and willing to fill in the support role?
If the answer to either question is no, just rush your utility items faster, stock up on wards or sentries. Enjoy the feeling of being a rich support, and ensure your team has 5* luxury.
And whatever you do...don't get too carried away...sure, Semi-Carries can win the game if it ends early enough, but they should get the majority of their funds from ganking and pushing...not taking farm off the real carry.
Your Sand King isn't going to beat up a Spectre late game if the farming levels are anywhere near level...
It doesn't matter if supports die:
Not true. It just doesn't matter as much as dying as a carry. You're not missing out on tons of farm and experience that you will need to be competitive later in the game.
However, you are still missing out on some gold and experience, you're not there to help your team out while you're dead, and you're boosting up the enemy team.
If you're going to die, try to avoid it wherever possible, or at least die for a reason. Save a team mate, or die as part of a successful team fight or gank on the enemy carry.
Playing support isn't a licence to play stupidly or suicidally.
You're probably feeling a bit down after reading all of that...so here's a few things to cheer you up:
Support play can be very satisfying when you get it right. The last second saves, the big ultimate placed in just the right spot, or being a portable fountain (mek and arcanes) that keeps your team pressing forward to take barracks after a tough team fight.
You get to be involved in all the big events - pushes, team fights, ganks, defences. You won't be spending most of the game watching health bars slowly move down.
You don't have the same pressure on you as a Carry either - you don't need to make every last hit, survive every gank attempt or make as many crucial late game decisions.
Getting a good team who appreciate your work and build on it is very satisfying. One day you'll get the satisfaction of watching your uber-carry rip through an entire enemy team, and can think back nostalgically to when he was just a little baby level 1, with barely an item to his name.
You helped him through those difficult times. You bought and upgraded the courier that let him stay in the lane. You placed the wards that let him avoid those ganks. You let him take the good farming opportunities. You passed up definite kills so he could get the gold instead. You even took the fall for that ill-fated Roshan attempt so he could get away.
And now your team is smashing down the enemy base, and he's got 20 kills next to his name. It's a good time to remember that DOTA is a team game...and team games require team players...
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