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Dota Essentials: Supporting

February 15, 2013 by GhostSpawner
Comments: 5    |    Views: 5667    |   

What is a support?

Basic Overview

There are 3 main roles in Dota that have numerous sub categories or branches off of them. They are the carry (the hero who is supposed to scale late game and "carry" the team), the support (the babysitter, "courier buying heroes"), and the team fighter (the heroes with huge aoe spells and ults that can turn the tide of a team fight). All three are essential to any game played, but supporting more specifically is targeted as the "boring" and "newbie" role. It is often left out in team picking, which can lead to an easy loss not because of being less skilled, but because of the neglect of those heroes that fall into the supporting category ( Dazzle, Keeper of the Light, Chen, etc.)

Normal Matchmaking

"Hey, we have 3 carries already pick a support"

"You pick a support, I'm going Drow"

"I ALWAYS have to support!"


Common Pub Misconceptions

A support has no damage

A support cannot build "carry" items such as Desolator or Sange and Yasha

A support has no reason to do anything but save the carry

A support shouldn't gank

Every one of these above misconceptions has some truth somehow embedded into them; however, most of them are just misguided Dota players repeating things they hear. Although a support cannot (in most cases) scale to the level of a hard carry, they have just as much importance.

So before you continue further into learning the art of Supporting, you must erase the incorrect beliefs stated above.

Carry vs. Support

A support has more jobs than any other role in the game. Think about it, a carries job is to farm as well as possible for around 30 minutes and then right click the **** out of anything the other team can spit at you. This makes many heroes such as Drow Ranger and Luna relatively easy to do well with late game as long as you can last hit better than a drunk monkey.

Although being the "beast" who comes out of the jungle with 5000 gpm and 6 Divine Rapier can be fun, not a single carry can survive a game without correct support. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the role of support is not only the most important role in a teams' composition, but in most cases, the most enjoyable.

The main difference between a carry and a support is that a support relies largely on early game kills using their good abilities; whereas, a carry just wants farm and the occasional kill until they think they can take on the enemy line up with powerful items.

As a support, you should always want as much farm and as many kills as you can get (just like in any other position), but you should never take away farm or guaranteed kills from your carry. You do not need the gold as much as they do in most cases. One of the huge differences between carries and supports is that a carry mostly relies on gold; whereas a support relies on levels (XP). That is why a support in most cases can excel at early game killing.

Game Periods


Heroes have sub-categories that place them by their ability to effectively lane, kill, and farm in early, mid, and late game. The three periods are roughly the time periods as follows:

Early Game: start-20 min

Mid Game:20 min-35/40 min

Late game:35/40 min- end of game

Early Game:
Early game can also be called the "Laning Phase" of the game where each hero assumes a lane (or jungle) and farms the creeps in lane against enemy heroes. The early game requires the most "skill" because in most cases as you and your enemies are at the same level and it is left to the player's ability to use his/her hero's skills to kill or push the enemy out of lane. Why would there be a category specifically for this? Because how you play early game has the most effect on how you and your team will perform mid and late game.

For example: If your mid hero is Windrunner, and he is laning against Pudge, he will have a hard time in the early game period where Pudge so much excels in. If your Windrunner begins to feed him, then your whole team will feel the consequences in mid game where Pudge will use his great farm to gank the **** out of you.

Most support heroes are early game heroes. They require less farm (items) to effectively kill enemy heroes in the early part of the game. They rely on the use of their abilities to stun, nuke, and slow an enemy in order to kill and get an advantage in lane. Most carry heroes; however, have a much harder time in the early game because they need specific items that allow them to kill and escape with ease. So choosing a support will not only help your team composition, but could lead to extra early game kills.

most supports
Dark Seer
Witch Doctor
and others

Mid Game
This is the most difficult game period to set a specific time on because it can start at many different times. The easiest way to tell if the game has switched from early game to mid game is to see if every hero is still in their lanes. If they are not, then the "laning phase" is over and the mid game has begun. This time period is where most snowball heroes are in heaven ( Pudge, Night Stalker, etc.). This is because they are not full carries and do not need quite as much farm as a hard carry such as Faceless Void or Spectre needs. Because those heroes do not have the farm they want to kill with ease, mid game heroes come out to gank the heck out of anyone over-extending themselves (going too far away from your tower).

some supports..
Vengeful Spirit
Keeper of the Light
and others

"mid game" heroes..
Bounty Hunter
Night Stalker
Storm Spirit
and others

Late Game:
This refers to the period where all laning has ceased except for the occasional farming of creeps, pushing towers, and jungling. The heroes who thrive in this time are the hard carries. They have finally recieved the gold they have dreamed about and are ready and waiting. If a team full of carries survive the early and mid game (rare that a 5-man carry team can survive even the early game), they will have little problem ripping apart their enemies.

all those "fun" guys..
Drow Ranger
Faceless Void
Outworld Devourer
and others

Jobs of a Support

Denying (Making sure XP and gold goes to your side of the river)
Buying and Upgrading Courier


The action of a support laning with a carry to help them survive and get them the last hits they need so dearly. This does not mean they are your master.. on the contrary, you are the one who is an early game hero and without you, they would die in a matter of minutes (many times). The best way to keep your carry and yourself safe from harm, is to harass like heck. The less health the enemy has, the better because they will not have the balls to attempt a kill (unless you or your carry is standing on their side of the creep wave like a dunce).


Pulling is where you bring your creep wave out of the lane by drawing their aggro to a neutral camp next to the lane. This can only be done on the top lane on the Dire side or the bottom lane on the Radiant side. You should wait until the creep wave is only a medium distance away, and then attack the neutral camp. You then run into the lane with the camp following you where they will meet your creep wave. This will allow your carry to farm under your tower (SAFE ZONE! yay), and allow you to farm a bit.


Denying is where you kill your own creeps or towers when their health is low. This not only denies gold to the enemy, but drastically decreases the XP that they receive for the kill. Because of my inability to use numbers adequately, i have pasted a XP guide from another source:

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 18 experience between them, although this is doubled for melee heroes.

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 (18 / 2) * 2 experience = 18. Windrunner gets only 18 / 2 = 9 experience. Total 27 experience.


Being one of the early game heroes on your team, your ability to gank effectively early on is exceptional. Do not waste this gift by sitting and watching your carry farm the creeps. Move around the map as you place wards and always be on the lookout for an easy TP kill. The gold you would get from the kill more than makes up for the 135 gold for a Teleport Scroll.


Warding is one of the most essential parts to Dota. Without vision, nothing works. End of story. I place wards constantly in various places. The most necessary ones are ones that give vision of the runes, then the enemy jungle to tell if the enemy is ganking your "suicide lane" (shorter lane), and then your jungle/ anywhere in the map that would give you an edge on team fights. You can also place Sentry Ward not only to scout out invisible heroes, but to counter-ward, or find the enemy's wards and kill them (taking away their vision).

Buying and Upgrading Courier

Although this is the most common job put on the support, it has some reason behind it. Because you do not need the farm a carry or mid game hero might, you can afford to use 150 gold at the start of the game. That does not make you any worse of a player or hero, but it makes you the go-to guy who is actually helping the whole team with little effort.

Supports As Carries

There are a few supports that are considered "semi-carries". These heroes are mainly made to support as I have talked about previously, but can, with the right items and farm, scale up later on in the game and kill very effectively. These heroes could be Vengeful Spirit, Windrunner, Silencer, and others.

In order to semi-carry with these heroes, you must be wary of farm stealing. Do not think "Oh, I'm the carry in this lane not Spectre. I'll get the last hits."

Although you are going to get kills and partially carry the team, your hard carries take full precedence over you. The best way for a normal support to semi-carry is to lane with another support. Do not sacrifice your carry in top lane though. Here is an example of what to do:

You have a team like this on the Radiant side:
Faceless Void
Windrunner (You)
The hard carry should 99% of the time get the easy lane (or long lane, for Dire it is top, and for Radiant it is bottom). So Faceless Void take bottom with Warlock (try to give your carry a support of the opposite attack, ranged + melee, or melee + ranged). Pudge takes middle, while you and Tidehunter take top (the short lane or suicide lane). That way you do not have to compete with a carry for your farm, your carry has the safe and more gold/XP productive lane, and you have good lane combos (support/semi-carry, mid hero, support/carry).

Although these heroes can be semi-carries, you do not want to go into every game expecting to carry with them. For one thing, being a semi-carry with a support hero requires a lot of early game killing, so each game is different in how well your lane plays against the enemy laners. With that being said, if your team is lacking in the carry department, and you are a support who can semi-carry, by all means do as much as you can to fill that role. That does not mean say you are the carry over a Sniper.

A lot of the time, a semi-carry is born out of pure incompetence of the other team, and some good skill/playing early game by that hero. If they continuously kill enemies for the first 20 minutes of the game, there is no reason not to build the expensive items that could make you more powerful late game.


Although this guide did not address many of the topics you might have thought of during the reading of it, it addressed the many topics i feel are not given enough thought. Supporting is my favorite role in the game because there is absolutely nothing better than to carry with a Vengeful Spirit, Dark Seer, or your other favorite supports. Their insane ability to kill so fast in the game just makes them the ideal heroes for skill-based players who hate losing to a stupidly farmed Drow Ranger. Try not to seek out the carrying spot on the team by picking Vengeful Spirit or another semi-carry support and yelling "Safe Lane, carry Vengeful" before the game even starts. See how well the early game goes for you and adapt your in-game strategy to fill the role you believe will help your team win the easiest. Supports help the team throughout the game with all their jobs and the items you build on them (Mekanism, Pipe of Insight, etc.). Without supports, your team will never work.

I hope this made you like supporting more than you did before reading. Also i hope you learned things about Dota and its mechanics that you did not know about before reading.

Please comment and like this guide. I hope to make more soon :)
Thank you, GhostSpawner

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