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Knight's Out of the Trench - Ez Guide for Low MMR

March 2, 2018 by knight96-1994
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Introduction - What's the Trench?

Every day, a Dota player has to choose the right hero for the game, and he knows that he'll need the right build to win; the player on the other team knows that if he wants to win, he'll have to counterpick to gain significant advantage.
The moral of the story: it doesn't matter if you're the first pick, or the counterpicker... If you're in the Trench, you're gonna lose anyway.

You better believe in the Trench, you're in it

The Trench MMR is the nickname for the low MMR, which is considered the MMR value that ranges from 1k(and less) to 2.5/3k (although someone could say that the Trench goes up to 4k).
Players that fall into this dark pit are named "1k scum", "noobs" and so on.
Usually, these nicknames are absolutely correct: for many high tier players, the Trench is just an illusion; to be honest, it's somewhat true: if you win 5 games and then lose the following 5 for weeks IT CANNOT BE ALWAYS your team mates fault, it's yours as well: maybe the pick was bad, maybe you didn't help your team when necessary or maybe you had a greedy attitude. So no, just because you went 13/2 it doesn't mean you have made no mistakes.
For this reason, 4k/5k players assume the Trench doesn't exist, and indeed several high tier player showed how they took a profile and boosted it from 1k to 3k in few weeks.
But that's the point: those are highly skilled players playing against a bunch of noobs: the exceptions, the "good players" in the Trench have never had the chance to improve their skills playing with equally good players and therefore can't possibly be able to carry the game 1v5.

These exceptions are those players that, regardless of their low rank, are actually pretty good, or at least good enough to belong to a higher tier, but still struggle to improve a bit more.
Those guys are out there and struggle every day in the Trench, probably thinking they should simply get a new account.

But I say NO to smurfing.
Today you can change your faith with Knight's Out of the Trench - Ez Guide for Low MMR

Before reading

This guide contains material which is NOT intended to be used on a normal match (high rank matches, 5 men-party vs 5 men-party and so on).
I came up with these strategies and builds after spending lots and lots of time in the low tier and I would never use them again right now.
So before throwing thumbs down, keep in mind that these "tips and tricks" actually managed to skyrocket me from 1.5k mmr to 3k (and just to be super honest with you, this is my dotabuff profile).
Oh by the way, if you think 3k means you become a pro, boy I have some bad news for ya...

This guide is intended for the solo MMR.

The Entry Questions

This is the most crucial part for you, cadet.
It's the part where you have to be honest, answering the following questions

Do you know abilities, standard builds and game style of every single hero?

Can you play on a decent degree every single hero (except maybe 2 or 3)?

When you play a core role, do you usually end up with a positive score -when winning- or a slightly negative one - when losing-?

When you play support, do you prioritize buying wards and other supportive items over getting your build items?

Are you versatile? (play lots of different heroes)

Can you adapt your build according to the current match? (like going for situational items to counter a specific enemy hero)

Do you ALWAYS carry a freaking town teleport scroll?

If you answered YES to all of these questions, congratulations! Maybe you don't suck so much and you actually deserve to get a decent MMR!
You can jump in and read the rest of this guide.
If you answered NO to one of them, it's time to go back learning Dota, you 1k scum.

Getting ready for the task

So, before getting into it you may have to think at what you're dealing with.
Getting out of the Trench means reaching (at least) level 3k.


1) An average gain of 25 points per match
2) You're starting from level 1.500
3) An average 40 minutes length per match

You have to win 60 matches for a total of 40 hours(!) without counting lost matches.
So yeah, you have to be pretty sure you're up for it and most important, don't overestimate yourself.

Yes, maybe you're good, no one's trying to say anything different but no, you're not THAT great.
Let's be straightforward here: getting a 30/1 score with Morphling in a low tier match DOESN'T make you a good Morph.
Fragging noobs doesn't make you a Dota expert so be ready because the higher you'll get, the sooner you'll realize how wrong you were at judging your skill playing a specific hero.
You're not a pro, you're not a master Io player, you can't possibly be because if all you've been playing are trench games, you've never seen the real deal.

This is what getting out of the Trench really is about: learning how much you still have to learn!

If you have the right attitude you will succeed, otherwise you have to accept the truth: your MMR reflects your actual skills.
Stop whining about your bad team mates: sure, it's true that if your Wraith King starts feeding 18 kills in 20 minutes you will lose, but you can't possibly be unlucky 10 times in a row, sometimes it's gonna be your fault too (and I have had a 12 losses streak).

Choosing the server

Choosing which server to play in is important, if your connection allows this kind of choice.
Excluding the asian servers (I can't give an opinion since my ping there is over 500), the choices you have are: US, Europe, Russia, South America.

Now the best servers I've played in are definetely the US ones: first of all, there's a higher percentage of english speaking players, and that allows for some decent communication; second of all (and sorry for this, american players) it's easier to win. Seriously, if only my connection allowed me to, I would play in US servers night and day to boost my MMR since the average skill is way higher in european servers.

Second choice is the Russian Server: if you can speak the language, you'll find yourself in the hard mode of the american server since communication is still decent with the flaw of having to deal with somewhat more skilled, although much more toxic, players (as much as a trench player can be defined skilled)

Third goes to the European Servers: avoid the Eu East since it's filled with enraged kids while the West one is a much safer place. The real problem here is that communication is endangered by the complete lack of decent english understanding (which is supposed to be the common language) so most of the games you're going to deal with 5 different tongues in one single match.

Fourth and final place is for the South American servers: DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. I tried to play there for a couple of weeks and I've never seen such a terrible and huge gathering of feeders, rage quitters and haters. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure things change once you get to a higher MMR but you really don't wanna try playing with those 1k players.

Game modes

All Pick

All Pick is the most common choice when trying to rank up: you get to choose from the entire hero pool and this allows you to repair any damage done by your team mates (ie: 4 carries picked, you get the one support to save the day).
The problem is that the same goes for your team mates: they could pick any hero, including those that have been countered already or that have 0 synergy with the rest of your squad.

Captain's Mode

Captain's mode is actually the best place to find players who want to improve and fight as a team: cap's mode players' mindset is much more team oriented and you can find yourself able to pull out some decent team fights.
The huge drawback is that if you get someone who doesn't understand your language or wants to pick on his own as Captain, you're probably gonna fail hard.

Random Draft

This is the mode you must avoid: it's basically All Pick with the obscene limitation of not being able to pick from the entire pool, which means your chances to solve your team's pick issues are terribly lowered.

Picking - Versatility vs Specialization

Feeling old yet?

The most common tip I read online is always: "Find 3-4 heroes you're very good at and be sure you can master them, then proceed using them every time".
Although it's good practice to have some main heroes you can use at their best, specialization is not the right way to rank up for a very simple reason: there are over a hundred damn heroes in Dota, each one usually able to heavily counter other 3-4 heroes.
How can you expect to be able to win if you only use the same 4 dudes over and over again?
High versatility is always necessary, although it requires a good knowledge of every hero's skillset (but you answered yes to the key questions earlier right?).

Picking - Low MMR approach

Typically the picking phase is a very crucial moment where every player has to consider synergy, counters and best lineup in order to win the game.
Fine, this is not what happens in low MMR. Trench players will just try to pick their favourite hero, no matter what the enemy team has picked and no matter if his own team is in need of a support, tank or whatever.
Basically, that "solo" in "solo ranked" stands for "if you're below 3k, you really are alone". Reasoning is usually useless (but hey, you can get lucky from time to time) so you have to focus on your own survival and ALWAYS EXPECT YOUR TEAM MATES TO KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE GAME.

This also mean that you have to take roads that would typically be considered counter-productive if not toxic for the team but you have to stay focused and remember: your team mates will not be helpful.

So first thing first, don't ever be the first or second pick: you have to take the last or fourth pick even if it means having a penalty gold. This is extremely important because, no matter which role you're gonna take, you'll have to put some sense into your team lineup. Picking a support like Ancient Apparition early on would not be a bad idea, but if none of your teammates is gonna get some good AoE initiator or even worse, they're not gonna get a hard carry (yeah it's rare, but it can happen), you're gonna lose for sure. In other words, the number one rule is: Don't expect your team mates to pick smart

The second rule is: Pick high impact heroes.
Yes, you may be a great Io player but no, your team mates won't be able to sync with you when you try to relocate them somewhere else.
Pick only those heroes who can have a great impact on the game without relying on team mates: Tidehunter, Tiny, Warlock are good examples.
Avoid those who can only start being useful in the late game, ( Spectre for example), or that are heavily dependant on team sync (I've lost count of the times I've picked Oracle and then seen my hard carry chickening out of a crucial battle during False Promise).
In the next section I'll give a detailed list of the NOT recommended heroes for the trench mmr.

Third rule: Don't overthink.
If you spend too much time thinking which hero works better for your lineup while also countering the enemy team, you may end up picking a hero that would actually work great for the current match, but requires specific combos. For example, you may want to get Dark Seer to set up your ally Magnus, but most of the times you'll notice that he will just ignore you and cast Reverse Polarity without saying a thing.
In other words: if, when picking a specific hero, you think something like "well, IF that other hero does a specific action, then I can jump in and do this other thing", dude, don't do it. If your pick has IFs, it's a no go.
I found myself comfortable in taking a pre-game ritual that would make me spend 50 seconds without watching the pick, like going out taking a quick smoke (yes, my lungs hate Dota for this).

Fourth and final rule: The more you can work solo, the better.
Midlaners are the best pick for low MMR because you don't need help during the laning phase unless you're heavily ganked (which is not common in the trench).
As long as you can do your job on your own, you're rolling.

Picking - Heroes to avoid

As stated earlier, there are some heroes who should be avoided when picking.
There are 3 factors to consider when dealing with heroes:

Support dependence
High team sync
Game impact

Each factor comes in 3 "levels": low, average, extreme.

Support dependence is mostly linked to carries. The idea is: if a hero relies on being heavily babysitted, then he's not much suitable for a pick.

High team sync is a characteristic of those heroes whose spells must be or are recommended to be used in sync with your team mates. Since communication is not mandatory in low mmr, your high hopes and expectations of having one well timed combo will crush against the solid truth in no time.

Lack of Game impact indicates heroes who don't have one or more spells that can change the course of a teamfight without relying on expensive items. Initiators are a typical example of heroes with good game impact, but even a hard carry like Luna can change the tide of the battle with her Eclipse. Avoid heroes whose presence can't be tangible at any given time.

Now that we've made clear what each factor indicates, let's go to the list of the worst Low MMR heroes.

Note: the following heroes are not necessarly bad, in some cases you'll have to pick them according to the situation. In most matches though, the "no-pick rule" is applied. In no way this list is related to the actual skills required to play each hero. You're supposed to be able to play on a decent degree almost every single one


Support dependence: Low
High team sync: Extreme
Lack of Game Impact: Extreme

Io is a complete disaster in solo low ranked games: people will treat you like **** just for having picked Wisp and the chances of making a good Relocate gank are next to 0.


Support dependence: Low
High team sync: Average
Lack of Game Impact: Average

Although Bane can be a powerful ally in many occasions, it takes few mistakes made by your team mates to leave you behind gold-wise: early game you want to get the most out of your spells in order to secure a kill for your team, but it takes one distraction from your lane buddy to miss the opportunity. Chances are you'll get to the mid game with no items, being constantly targeted by the enemy team while your allies will probably ignore you when you ping for the 400th time the foe you trapped with Nightmare


Support dependence: Low
High team sync: Extreme
Lack of Game Impact: Extreme

The old jungle master or, as friends call him, "Dota 2 Jehovah's Witness", is a very good hero and seriously fun to play once you get to master him.
However, not only his game impact decreases more and more as you get into the late game (a flaw partially compensated by the recent addition of controlling Ancient Creeps), but it has a huge negative impact on the team psyche: you pick Chen? Well forget receiving any help from your mates since they'll just call you "noob" unless you get a triple kill (which is not supposed to happen using Chen), leaving you behind in the process.

Picking - Noobs' favourite choices

Now this is kind of a tricky chapter because it's highly connected to the current meta: which heroes do Low MMR players pick?
Although of course there are changes every year, there are some heroes that you're gonna see in 80% of your games.
You should also consider the fact that heroes whose role has changed (such as Void from hard carry to offlaner) will probably still be played as if we were still on Dota 2 v6.00.

What truly matters is that you keep in mind these heroes, since you can basically anticipate the enemy team, who's probably gonna pick whatever they want even if they've already been countered (for example, expect people to pick Slark even if the enemy team has Bloodseeker and Ancient Apparition).
So here's a quick top 10 most common heroes in the Trench and guess what? They're almost all carries.
I'll also indicate which role they're usually picked for and what items are typically built on them by trench players.

Number 1: Phantom Assassin
Common Role: Midlaner
Typical core items: Desolator, Skull Basher, Vladmir's Offering

Phantom Assassin is the most played hard carry in Dota and the most played hero after Pudge and Invoker; PA is the noobs' favourite choice for the safelane because "DEM CRITS".
With the recent shift in the meta though, she's now mainly played in the midlane, regardless which hero she's gonna face ("Pa you can't win the midlane against Puck" "STFU noob I'm pro").

Number 2: Legion Commander
Common Role: Jungler
Typical core items: Blink Dagger, Shadow Blade, Blade Mail

Tresdin is usually picked first or last and almost always for the jungle. In the Trench, LC's players usually have this mindset: early game duel with the party, from midgame to late game duel solo 1v1 because "I have so much freaking damage".
If LC is in your team, you better chase that guy from minute 20 since 90% of the times he's gonna duel every living thing including creeps.

Number 3: Axe
Common Role: Jungler, Offlaner
Typical core items: Blink Dagger, Blade Mail, Heart of Tarrasque

In the Trench, Axe players are either terrible feeders or they're constantly gonna use Culling Blade, no matter how much their hard carries beg for a last hit. Axe is basically played as a carry (it even hurts me saying it) and you can't possibly expect low mmr players to try getting team oriented items like Shiva's Guard. No matter what happens, they will always try to get a Heart of Tarrasque ASAP.

Number 4: Pudge
Common Role: Midlaner, Roamer
Typical core items: Aether Lens, Blink Dagger, Aghanim's Scepter

This hero is the reason why I partially hate pro players: since the famous Dendi game in the International, every Dota player started using Pudge on a daily basis... without, you know, having Dendi's skills. He's THE most played hero in the whole game and it takes just a little to completely fail using him. Recently he's become one hell of a roamer and you'll notice that players who uses him in that role are pretty good while those who play him mid end up feeding since minute 5. I don't know if there's a link between these 2 factors, but that's the truth.

Number 5: Spectre
Common Role: Safelane Carry
Typical core items: Vanguard, Radiance, Manta Style

Whenever someone in the team asks for a hard carry, Spectre is almost always the first choice trench players take. The problem is that they will NEVER try to build their items accordingly: whether they're farming or not, they'll always rush for a Radiance, even if it means they're gonna get that damn shiny sword at minute 40.

Number 6: Tinker
Common Role: Midlaner
Typical core items: Blink Dagger, Boots of Travel, dagon

Tinker is probably the most hated hero in the Trench since most players just don't know how to handle him and cry like babies. Truth is, having Tinker against you is a good thing, since they don't expect you to know how to counter him.

Number 7: Invoker
Common Role: Midlaner
Typical core items: Hand of Midas, Aghanim's Scepter, Boots of Travel

Karl is one of the hardest hero to master in Dota, which makes him one of the most played by noobs who've seen one too many pro-videos on Youtube. Just like Pudge, Trench players either suck or excel when using Invoker.

Number 8: Crystal Maiden
Common Role: Lane Support
Typical core items: Blink Dagger, Glimmer Cape/ Shadow Blade

Finally a support in this list: CM is the supportive version of Spectre, meaning that whenever someone says "guys we need a support" most of the times she's gonna be picked.
This doesn't mean that she's gonna be used properly though: expect everything, from CM in the jungle for 12 minutes to CM with shadow blade instead of glimmer cape or blink dagger.

Number 9: Bristleback
Common Role: Offlaner
Typical core items: Vanguard, Heart of Tarrasque

Again, same thinking applied before with Spectre and Crystal Maiden: "guys, we need a tank" and Bristle usually ends up being the first choice.
The good thing is that he's actually hardly countered in the Trench so if you have him in team, you just have to hope he can play decently.

Number 10: Zeus
Common Role: Midlaner
Typical core items: Aether Lens, Aghanim's Scepter

Although he's getting less picked than months ago, Zeus still mantains his reputation of God Of the Trench Midlane.
What makes him so powerful though, is the lack of Black King Bar in low mmr games.

Bonus hero: Every new damn hero
Common Role: "Lulz, what does this hero do? Wait, Phoenix isn't a carry?"
Typical core items: Divine Rapier

This is a no brainer but it's important to keep it in mind: when a new hero is released, DON'T play in ranked: he's gonna be insta picked all the time and no one is gonna actually understand how to play him (the recent Arc Warden release was one of the most painful things to experience)

Picking - Going for the least picked

You wanna mess with the enemy? Get least picked heroes: Trench players don't know how to deal with an Arc Warden or a skilled Beastmaster. Even better, get situational roles, which means using particular heroes in roles Trench players would not expect.
Here's a quick list

Arc Warden

Preferred role: Midlaner
How it messes with Trench players: I'm gonna talk more in detail about Zet later but the basic idea is that low mmr players don't really know his potential and harassing the midlane enemy hero is extremely easy with your Spark Wraith.


Preferred role: Midlaner
How it messes with Trench players: I already placed Wisp as one of the heroes to avoid in the Trench, but that was referred to the support role. Wisp is EXTREMELY situational to play in the midlane and it's usually something only experienced players try so I should put a giant label here saying "Don't try this at home". Still though, no one - literally NO ONE - expects a Carry Io and you can take advantage of that. Assuming your team is gonna let you go mid.


Preferred role: Support
How it messes with Trench players: Kunkka is considered a "mid only hero" below 2k mmr. Playing him as a support gives your team a huge game impact in the early game and, once again, it's something NO ONE expects in the Trench.


Preferred role: Offlaner
How it messes with Trench players: Pugna is considered the squishiest and most fragile hero after Io, but that's a huge mistake: Decrepify allows him to sustain a sololane against rightclickers and his pushing potential is unbearable by most of Trench players. They won't even realize how quickly you took down 2 of their towers.

Vengeful Spirit

Preferred role: Midlaner/Roamer
How it messes with Trench players: Vengeful is one hell of a roamer: decent stun, huge armor decrease and a nice aura. Sending her in the midlane is a good choice sometimes: her skills are extremely underestimated and you can easily outfarm many rightclick heroes. The downside is that new need to level fast in order to actually be a serious core (mostly to her Atk Speed and Dmg Talents).


Preferred role: Offlaner
How it messes with Trench players: just like Pugna, Omniknight is seen as a support only hero, although everyone recognize his extreme durability. But few can really imagine what a tank Omniknight can achieve. Show 'em hell.

Bounty Hunter

Preferred role: Roaming carry
How it messes with Trench players: back in the days (and I mean VERY back) Gondar was a more than decent semi carry. Currently, he's played as a support, and that's the way he's intended to be used. However, if you find yourself in a team with no hard carry, you need to boost your team's damage output by going for damage items. The bad thing is that your ability to build items in the early game is entirely dependant on your team managing to kill Tracked enemies but if everything goes right, the following item build actually makes Bounty Hunter an extremely powerful foe to fight against, especially with the new talents: Vladmir's Offering, Desolator, sange & yasha, Monkey King Bar.

Picking - Personal Favourites

Since I like making lists, here are some heroes that I personally consider top tier in the current meta for each lane in the trench.


Broodmother, Shadow Fiend, Puck, Tinker, Storm Spirit, Death Prophet, Outworld Devourer, Queen of Pain

Lane Support

Crystal Maiden, Lion, Warlock, Dazzle, Omniknight, Disruptor


Earth Spirit, Treant Protector, Spirit Breaker, Pudge, Sand King, Bounty Hunter


Undying, Tidehunter, Dark Seer, Broodmother, Clockwerk, Omniknight

Hard Carry

Terrorblade, Chaos Knight, Luna, Weaver, Faceless Void


Enigma, Doom, Nature's Prophet aaaaand no one else. Also, don't jungle. Thanks

The Holy Trinity

Although versatility is important, there are 3 heroes that you pretty much must master (much must master, sounds awful I know).
These guys have such an high game impact or powerful abilities rarely countered in low MMR that you can win a good 60% of the matches using them.

Introducing to you: Spirit Breaker, Omniknight and Enigma

In the next three chapters I'll give a quick insight into these well known heroes, mostly indicating my personal favourite builds for the Trench.
Note that these builds are NOT necessarly recommended for higher MMR games. In some cases they aim at exploiting (or solving) low mmr players' flaws OR focus on getting a more selfish/self sustaining approach

The Holy Trinity - Spirit Breaker

I've broken many things, including the enemy carry's score

Best Position: Roamer
MMR level with best Win Rate: 2.4k to 3k

Barathrum is a godly roamer in the Trench: it doesn't matter how bad your team mates are cause you will always have a secure stun with a minimum cooldown, a powerful ultimate and a nice aura with you.
Getting kills in the first 4 minutes is very easy, especially if your safe lane has at least one disable to follow up your Charge of Darkness.
The one scenario where Spirit actually fails is when your team mates start pushing lanes too hard, forcing you to tower dive in order to get an enemy hero. Good thing you're quite tanky, but that's not going to be enough.
Another good thing is how versatile his build can be

Standard Build

Starting Items
Tango - Smoke of Deceit - Clarity - Orb of Venom
Early game
power threads - Urn of Shadows
Core items 1
Shadow Blade - Solar Crest
Core items 2
Echo Sabre - Shiva's Guard
Core items 3
Blade Mail - Vanguard

Depending on situations you can decide to become a midgame carry (1), an even more powerful initiator if your team lacks of other tools to start a fight(2) or finally getting tankier and be the frontline (3).
What really matters is always one thing: securing as many kills or at least succesfully harass in the laning stage.

The Holy Trinity - Omniknight

The only thing bigger than my hammer, is my win ratio

Best Position: Lane Support
MMR level with best Win Rate: 1k to 2.3k

Omniknight is one of the heroes with the highest win ratio for a very simple reason: you pick him, the enemies' heart shatters.
For some reason, no one seems to really understand how to counter Omniknight in low mmr and even more important, lots and lots of matches feature an entire team made up of rightclickers or physical damage dealers of some sort.
They're practically asking for it.
I rarely managed to complete my item build in a low mmr match but I even more rarely lost when playing Omni.
Picking rules always apply, but if you think Omniknight can suit your team's lineup, don't hesitate getting him.
He's basically Jesus, Buddah and Morgan Freeman combined in one blonde and powerful nordic dude whose power is making people say "omg gg" whenever he wants.

Standard Build

Starting Items
Tango - Clarity - Clarity - Observer Ward - Observer Ward - courier
Early game
Soul Ring... and nothing else. Seriously, you're probably going to solo support, do you really think you can afford something?
Core items
Aghanim's Scepter - Mekansm

I'll go deeper into talking about the support role in one of the next chapters, but in few words the main concept is: you're gonna be poorer than Eddie Murphy in Trading Places.
90% of the times you'll be solo supporting, and if you're lucky enough to fall into that 10%, the other support may buy like 2 wards every 10 minutes.
You won't be able to get your Arcane Boots in time unless your lane really goes well and you start snowballing.
After that, you'll have to choose whether to get an expensive Aghanim's Scepter or a standard Mekanism.
In low mmr Agha is a must: you're rarely gonna see your team mates group up for a team fight and you won't be as fast as they are in order to reach them and cast a 5 man Guardian Angel.
But, as I just said, you won't have a penny unless you partecipate in lots of kills.
Judge the flow of the match and plan accordingly.

After getting above 2.3k MMR, you should consider using Omni as a Core Offlaner.

The Holy Trinity - Enigma

Your hopes are just like light: dissolved into my Black Hole

Best Position: Offlane
MMR level with best Win Rate: 1k to 3k

And now for the good stuff: Enigma, aka "party destroyer", aka "blue condom of death".
Black Hole is definetely one of the most broken spells in the game and its power is so immense I have a Monkey King Bar every time I see it.

Once you master Enigma from the A to the Z of (z)eidolons, there's literally nothing a low mmr team can do against you.
Seriously, the one and only hero who can really lockdown Enigma in low MMR is Silencer
All the others can be worked around ( Black King Bar or Linken's Sphere, it's up to you how to deal with it).
Sure, you are going to avoid getting Enigma against a team full of stuns, but don't be too picky.

Teamfights come in 2 flavours in low MMR: "flash team wiping" and "long eternal chases until a team starts losing heroes 1 by 1".
This why Enigma is so gamechanging, considering that black holes can have almost only 2 outcomes: you fail, everyone in the team dies, you get it right, teamfight is won.
Rush your items and be sure to cast Midnight Pulse in conjunction with Black Hole.
Secure the first kill at min 10 and then proceed snowballing.

Standard Build

Starting Items
Clarity - recipe for Soul Ring - Sage's Mask
Early game
Soul Ring - Hand of Midas (if you can) - Blink Dagger - Arcane Boots
Core items
Black King Bar - Octarine Core

As i said, Blink Dagger should be rushed.
Once you get it, you can either go for the BKB or the Octarine Core (unless your team desperately needs a mekanism).
The Octarine Core may seem a strange choice: why reducing the cooldown when I can get a Refresher Orb?
In a nutshell: the cooldown reduction talent and the Octarine Core togheter make the Black Hole's cd last about a minute, which means you can hardly end up without your ultimate ready before a teamfight.
And since the previous statement still applies (teamfights last a nanosecond in low MMR) you won't be able to get a real advantage from the two blackholes.
Finally, the Spell lifesteal is the one thing between you and dying for a Blade Mail and being selfish is a must in low mmr: sacrifice comes only to save your hard carry's life.

The Holy Trinity - Other Heroes

Other heroes have a great impact in game and don't get properly countered in Trench MMR so here's a quick list

Faceless Void

Faceless Void was actually my first choice for the Holy Trinity before seeing the true power of the roaming Spirit Breaker.
Void is a wonderful offlaner and is still widely used as Hard Carry in the Trench. Dominate the teamfights and get that glorious gg

Why he's not in the Trinity: Void didn't manage to keep his place in the Trinity for 2 reasons: if he's used as hard carry, he needs a huge amount of gold to actually outcarry other common heroes like Troll; if he's used as offlaner, you can be sure that 70% of the times the team won't be able to take good use of your initiation and will just blindly walk towards the chrono.


Also known as "Prince of Nerfs", Batrider is still one of the best initiators. Go mid with him and laugh at your enemies who will understand why you're constantly using Sticky Napalm when it's too late (seriously, they don't know it increases the damage they receive, it's the easiest first blood ever).
Finally, INSTA PICK him whenever the enemy team gets Templar Assassin and focus all your attention on her. She's one of the most valuable heroes in low MMR and usually the one who gets fed the most. Teach her a lesson.

Why he's not in the Trinity: Batrider can deal tons of damage early game but that's not gonna last through the late game where you can just hope your hard carry is good enough to take advantage of your initiation.

Templar Assassin

Can't stop loving Lanaya: huge early game damage, wonderful armor reduction, powerful slow, lane dominance and durability. She has everything you need to blast down everyone who doesn't properly team up to tear you down, meaning that teams with no communication will let you free farm like no tomorrow, kill after kill.

Why she's not in the Trinity: can't be spammed, insta counter when facing DoT damage (especially if said hero gets farmed enough to face you) and you can always be unfortunate enough to find players who will immediately pick Batrider as soon as you pick TA, meaning you should always be the last pick. Also, her power spikes falls off quickly.


The one hero I felt truly confident spamming and first picking for like 40 matches straight. Unfortunately he got recently nerfed, but that doesn't stop him from being one of the most powerful heroes you can pick in the trench: insta pick him, IGNORE EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS during the game, get the tier 3 towers by 18 minutes. Easy peasy.

Why she's not in the Trinity: I mean, no one likes a Lycan spammer. If I put him in the Holy Trinity people would think less of me...

Phantom Lancer

The Cancer Lancer in low MMR is countered by only 2 heroes: Axe and Earthshaker. The enemy team will rarely get any other counter so you can be pretty sure you're gonna snowball if you manage to get some farm

Why he's not in the Trinity: first of all, you can always end up against one of the few trench players who knows how to counter PL with other heroes and second, you're a late game hero with low early game impact.


If you can actually play Meepo you won't regret picking him in low mmr. To be honest, learning how to use Meepo should be your first goal when trying to rank up. Just like Phantom Lancer, they will try to counter you only using Axe or Earthshaker and the damage you'll receive will mitigate if you manage to reach the late game with your full build.

Why he's not in the Trinity: Meepo is not as a widely viable pick as Spirit Breaker, Enigma or Omniknight.

Arc Warden

I couldn't avoid adding one of my favourite heroes, but there's a good reason here: Zet is rarely played in the Trench and it's extremely underestimated despite his huge carry potential. The greatest thing about him is his versatility: the huge gold income from the double Midas allows him to go for an Utility, Hard Carry, Pusher or even Support role. Most important of all: trench players hardly know how to counter him.

Why he's not in the Trinity: despite the fact he's hardly counterpicked, Arc Warden is extremely squishy early game and it takes very few mistakes to get overwhelmed. Finally, a good amount of the most picked heroes can potentially destroy you, giving that the enemy team pays enough attention at your position.

Laning in the Trench

The moment where every Trench player should realize he's gonna die a horrible death

Let's review for the sake of completation the possible ways one can decide to lane in Dota.

The Dual Lanes | 2-1-2

This used to be the typical laning in the Trench: 2 hard carries in 2 separate lanes, each one with his own support. The problem arised when trench players started thinking that one support was more than enough which still leads to hard carries going solo in the hardlane waiting to getting killed 5 times in a row.

The Roamer | 1-1-1-2

This is the best thing you can hope for in the Trench: having a lane support for your hard carry and another one roaming around to gank (but no, they won't do things like stacking or anything, just gank in the most inappropriate moments). The real problem here is that a good 80% of low mmr players DON'T know how to roam, or they think only Riki, Bounty Hunter and Treant Protector can assume this role.

The Jungler | 1-1-1b-2

The most typical laning in the Trench: everyone in the trench wants to play solo, which means that as soon as the midlane and offlane are taken, you'll see someone going in the jungle, even if that means having a weaker safe lane with a hard carry unable to farm properly. The common heroes used in the jungle by trench players are Legion Commander, Troll Warlord, Venomancer, Wraith King, Ursa, Lifestealer.

Roles - Priority

No matter the lane, someone's gonna feed

The priority queue when trying to get a role should be the following:

* Midlane
* Roamer
* Offlane
* Lane Support
* Jungler
* Hard Carry

Did you memorize it? Perfect.

First of all, EVERYONE will try to claim the midlane and fighting for it is a lost cause: try claiming it first and hope no one else wants to get the same role, otherwise leave it to that noob who's totally gonna feed.

Now the other option is the offlane, which is basically the "second midlane" in low MMR: those who can't convince their team mates to let them mid usually try to take over the hard lane.

This brings us to the next role: the Lane Support.
One may ask: "but if I am supposed to focus on getting a role that does not rely on being helped in lane, why should I get the support?". Simply put, getting a jungler makes your safe lane weaker and you can't expect the support (if there is one) to properly babysit your carry. Also wards and stuff like that are crucial.

In the rare case someone has already picked a lane support, you can get another one with a good roaming potential and secure the early stages of the match. If you can't come up with a good roamer and you think jungling is safe, consider the option but keep always in mind that jungling is usually an awful option.

Only at the very end we get to the Hard Carry.
If you wanna carry you must be ABSOLUTELY SURE you have your back covered by someone else, otherwise be ready for "gg report *insert carry name here*".

So yeah, this pretty much sums up why I said "be versatile".

Finally, DON'T go for a specific role at all costs: you secured the midlane for yourself? Great, but maybe you don't have a support. Switch lanes! It's more important to have a support rather than a good midlaner and 4 carries.

Another priority queue is linked to the spells your hero can use.
Spells usually fall into the following categories:

* Nukes
* Lockdown/Disable
* Stuns
* Healing
* Misc (like Psionic Trap or Ion Shell)

And they come in 2 flavours: AoE and single target.

Give the highest priority to AoE spells (typical characteristic of initiators): the lower is your MMR, the more important is having lots of initiation tools and usually a team with 3 powerful AoE spells is gonna stomp the enemy team.
Prioritize lockdowns and stuns over nukes and misc since keeping down key enemies is necessary considering that your team may decide to focus that Bristleback instead of avoid an incoming Ravage ("Batrider to the rescue, lassoing Tidehunter out of the battle, gg commend me thanks").

Roles - Midlaner

As I said, this is the role YOU WANT.
I don't have to teach you about middlelaning but you have to keep an eye out for ganks every time.
First of all, get yourself a ward if you're using a hero who doesn't have an escape mechanism and ward the enemy riverside. "Missing calls" won't come often and the map will probably be not warded so you're risking your life every single second you're playing too aggressively.
If the enemy team has a good early ganker (like Spirit Breaker) consider picking an escape hero for this reason.
In particular, you want to follow 2 rules when picking a midlaner: he has to be a carry or a carry-ish hero and he should have a decent escape mechanism.
The reasons are simple: it's pretty common to see your hard carry afk farming for 20 minutes even after getting his core items (and therefore your team needs someone able to kill the enemies) and you want to be able to avoid incoming ganks, especially because, should the enemy team decide to actively gank you, you'll rarely get some form of help from your mates.

Check out your lanes since 1 game out of 3 suffers of a "feeding lane" (your team mates are 0/6 in 5 minutes).
Most of the times YOU CAN'T do anything: if the enemy lane has been fed and you don't have an aggressive early hero like Outworld Devourer you won't be able to save your team mates because that would require a 5 man fight but the guys in the other lane will not tp to help so you're gonna face a 3v3 fight where the enemies have the lead gold and experience wise: focus on your farm.
If and only if you can save the feeding lane before the critical 0/6 score, go for it.


* You get to be the most valuable player for the team until your hard carry is farmed
* You avoid newbies from feeding that Invoker
* You're supposed to be a powerful ganker once you've farmed enough


* You'll hardly receive any help, meaning that if you get counterpicked or heavily ganked you're gonna lose the lane
* You're the first player to be blamed if the team is losing the game
* 90% of the times you'll have to get wards on your own to secure the lane

Roles - Roamer

The roamer is actually the real game changer, especially below 2k.
Everyone thinks to be safe for the first minutes of the match while you have a chance to actually secure the victory in less than 20 minutes.

Wards are an optional in the Trench, which means you can actively gank every single lane without being seen. It's not hard to pull out 5 or 6 succesful ganks in a row and the important part is that the enemy team will hardly try to stop you: if their antimage has been ganked 3 times no one will try to help him meaning that he will be forced to spend the rest of the mid game jungling and at that point, your job will be placing sentries all over his camps.

In the Trench, roamers can shut down carries for 25 minutes if not more: do it, win the game.
Once you get closer to the 3k, the job gets a bit trickier but you're probably gonna secure many more kills but you'll rarely find junglers who just feed you for 8 minutes.

* You can secure at least 2 lanes during the early game
* You're gonna be the one who really wins the midlane
* You can make the enemy jungler's life a living hell
* You can make sure that your team's lane support isn't forced to get every single damn ward, allowing him to get some items to improve his chances at surviving


* If your team mates ignore you, all your ganks will be a failure and you'll barely get to level 6 before your ancient is getting destroyed (ok, it's a joke but you get the idea)
* You're still a support, which makes you entirely dependant to your cores' performances

Roles - Lane Support

70% of the times, you're gonna play support.

Anyone who has spent a good amount of time in the Trench knows way too well how supports usually suck or are not existent below 3k MMR.
This is where you get into play.

Forget about your build: in the early game you may be lucky if you get boots and low cost items like Soul Ring because you're gonna be the only one getting Dust of Appearance (if needed), Observer Ward and Sentry Ward.
NO ONE ELSE WILL DO IT, the sooner you accept it, the better.
On rare occasions someone in your team will get detection for that pesky Clinkz, but you're pushing your luck if you count on that.

Stay in lane constantly since harassing is more important than camps' stacking in the trench and you'll never play in a trilane.
Seriously, babysit the sh*t out of your carry, don't leave him alone for a second even if he tells you to do it (which will probably happen when he starts getting some kills and feels cocky) until you feel confident he's farmed enough.

Hand of Midas is probably gonna be a must for you: getting wards AND items AND dust AND sentries is impossible unless you start getting kills (which is not exactly your job) and Midas is fairly easy to buy assisting your team mates in fights.

The rest of the game is up to you, do your best and keep constant vision on the map for your team.
Sacrifice yourself every needed time for your carry.

* You're the only thing between getting a farmed carry or a worthless feeding hero roaming around the jungle for 40 minutes
* Usually you have great early game impact
* It's extremely rare to see supports stacking camps, which means you can secure some good farm for your carry, while the enemy team won't.

* You're "just" a support, you won't be able to do anything if your team starts feeding
* You're usually gonna be the solosupport, therefore you will barely get any item if you're forced to fully do the job, from warding to detecting invisible enemies

Roles - Others

Playing as hard carry, offlaner or jungler doesn't require much of an explanation besides playing well.
The good thing about the Trench is that in lower levels the game is very static, differently from what happens in higher MMR.
People will hardly move from their lanes until you reach minute 15/20 so you know that you only have to care about incoming ganks from the enemy midlaner (and in many games, midlaners don't even gank at all).

Hard Carry

* You're the one who's gonna take care of blasting off the enemy team
* You're the only player who's not gonna get blamed for farming
* A good 80% of the hard carries get online late and needs a full babysitting support. That hardly happens


* You're in charge of the lane that is usually lost harder than the others
* Usually, the offlaner is an initiator, and initiators win the game on their own in the lowest tiers of the Trench
* You're the one who will receive help the least, even if your Ravage is ready and the enemies are tower diving as 4 to your tower.
* This also means that picking carelessly will allow the enemy carry to free farm, so be very wise when picking.


* Ahem... I don't know, really. Because, below 2.3k you're gonna free farm for sure, but besides that... I don't know, are you sure you wanna jungle?
* With few exceptions (shown previously), you're putting your team mates in a 4v5 situation and once you come out you'll just be another carry, fighting over farm with the team's real hard carry.

Hand Of Midas

Rich is my second name. The first being "turbo noob"

Hand of Midas deserve a chapter on its own, mostly because I felt the need to insert a random Nature's Prophet image 'cause it's so cool.

Anyway, Midas are honestly a necessary evil in the Trench: you're gonna buy them because you're solo supporting, you're gonna buy them because you're mid and the rest of the team is feeding, you're gonna buy them because you're the hard carry and the support has left you alone after 3 minutes.

As soon as you see that the game isn't going well for you, do your best to grab those shiny Midas (during the early game).
Unless you're the one who's making the team lose, in that case I recommend uninstalling Dota and "insert trench players' insults here".

Dealing with the noobs

The real strategy is knowing how to deal with other players

We all know how toxic MOBAs' communities are so the first thing you should do as soon as someone starts flaming is just muting him: seriously, don't spend more than a minute talking with him, just mute the guy because he's not gonna say anything useful for the rest of the game.

One thing you have to do instead is trolling the enemy team, especially if you're a midlaner: you get a kill? Start texting "ez" and **** like that: I can assure you that 80% of the times the enemy team will start losing lots and lots of time telling that guy you've just killed that he is a noob and he should kill himself.
The more they text, the less they farm.
Also, if you're lucky, one of them may decide to go afk or proceed feeding your team.
There's no fair play in low MMR: do every miserable thing you can possibly imagine.

Another useful trick to use is claiming you are an MMR booster: during the pick just say something like "guys let me mid I'm a booster/smurf/whatever" and you may be able to secure the lane for yourself.

Finally, don't try to teach anything: I tried to politely invite carries to go in lane with the support instead of going hard lane solo but this attitude is typically met with insults. They think Tranquil Boots are good on Slark? Hell yeah dude, fine by me.
Suggesting trench players how to act is met with disregard ("we are the same mmr noob stfu gg") so don't even try that, or your ally Chaos Knight may decide to go afk-farming in the jungle on purpose (yep, that happened).

(Un)Glorious Sacrifice

This is kind of my thing, ain't it?

One of the biggest problems in the trench is the lack of coordination, paired with the already fully noted lack of communication.
This is the leading cause of bad team fights because not rarely you're gonna see your initiator(s) standing back, afraid of going.
On the other hand, when a player gets targeted/ganked, every member of his team feels compelled to join the fight, which is gonna end up with a typical "1 by 1" serie of deaths.

Here's where you pop in: unless you've taken position 1 you'll be not so rarely forced to commit what I call the Unglorious Sacrifice, meaning that you will end up initiating a fight, getting killed in the process, but forcing your allies to actively partecipate and potentially win.

Of course this pseudo-strategy has a thousand cons, especially if you're a core in your team.
But how do you judge whether or not to commit the sacrifice?

* If you're a core (only Pos2 or Pos3), is your farm adequate? Did you get your core items already?
* If you are an initiator, does your team have another one? (ex: you're Tiny but your team has a Magnus)
* Is your hard carry farmed enough to get into the fight?
* Are there at least 3 allies near you?
* Can you sustain the damage long enough for your team mates to come in and start the brawl?

If you answered YES to all questions, you can sacrifice yourself for the team.
Still, keep in mind how exagerately risky this strategy is: your team mates may still decide to get back or may lose the fight because of the disadvantage.

The Major Effect

This is not you, and you probably never will. But dreaming costs nothing right?

The situation in Trench games is typically static: nothing changes, people follow a meta 3 years old, the laning always has one of the 2 possible patterns for low mmr gamers(2-1-2 or 1-1-1-2) and that's all.
But there's something that you ALWAYS have to keep in mind, and I call this little thing "The Major Effect".

The Major Effect is what happens when a big tournament takes place (Boston, Shanghai, Seattle etc).
The Major Effect is basically a drastic change in players' mindset and it brings some positive notes and some terrible consequences.
Whenever a tournament starts, keep these factors in mind.


* Increased number of games with a trilane or a roaming hero
* Smoke ganks are more common
* Players acknowledge that some heroes have changed role in the meta (Riki stops being used as hard carry and so on)
* Increased number of games where players actually focus on team play instead of going around alone in the map at minute 50.
* Players are MUCH more mobile, and it's pretty shocking to suddenly see 4 people teleporting togheter to another lane in order to gank in this mmr. Be careful about it.


* Situational picks become a standard: "That pro player used Io mid? Yeah let's do the same. Oh wait I've never played Io"
* Trench players struggle playing in the trilane: they may forget to gank, stack camps or to let the carry actually get some exp with the direct consequence of getting stomped when the enemy team lane has reached level 7 while they're still stuck at 4.
* Rarely picked heroes become widely used if a pro player made some crazy stunts using them so you may see a Beastmaster who can't micro at all or first time Earth Spirit players.
* People who have stopped playing Dota for a long while come back with tons of inexperience.

Particular attention must be given to The International since it's the event that draws the most attention of all, meaning that hundreds of old time players come back without having seen the recent changes, including the critical ones like new items, heroes and so on.
The International is actually THE WORST TIME to play in the Trench unless you've reached 2.4-5k.
Below that, expect to lose A LOT unless you're lucky enough to be playing against those players.
Still though, it's a roll of the dice.

On the other hand though, the last 2 International(s) allowed people to re-calibrate their MMR buying a Battle Pass. This is a chance one can't just ignore but keep in mind that it won't allow you to skyrocket to 4k since your current rank counts towards the calibration.
For the record, my last calibration placed me at 2.089MMR despite getting great results in 7 games out of ten.


This is something that MUST NOT BE UNDERESTIMATED: keep learning.
I currently have around 8000 hours of Dota and I still learn new things: don't think you're done with that just because you've played for years; Dota changes constantly at each update.

Not only that: there may be heroes you don't play often or items you rarely get but that doesn't justify you not knowing how they work with 100% accuracy.

You should always know every common combo, Aghanim's Upgrade effect, item synergy etc.
I highly recommend to watch pro games (or high MMR games), read every "new update
summary" (on Youtube or whatever you prefer), keep yourself informed using this website and the Dota wiki

In other words, don't be that guy that asks if Diffusal Blade can purge repel: learn doto or leave doto.

Finally, your replays are very important, especially if you've lost the laning phase: download the match replay, look closely at what the enemy team did and try to understand whether it was your fault or the team's if things went south.
Moreover, when facing an extremely and unusually skilled player (probably a booster or a smurf account) you MUST download that damn match: follow his actions throughout the 40 mins he spent bursting you down and learn something out of it.

The Trench Steps

Let's see again the magic rules I described so far

1) Never expect your team mates to know game mechanics
2) Don't expect smart picks
3) Pick only high impact heroes
4) Don't overthink
5) The more you work solo, the better
6) People hardly gank during the early game

Now, although these rules are golden, the more you get near that 3/3.5k mmr,the less they actually matter.

If you're below the 2k, then these 5 rules will always apply, but in an attempt of making a discrete evaluation, I'm going to try and identify several steps from the lowest pits of the trench to the "normal skill" mmr.
This is important because the closer you get to the 3k, the less you can apply some of these rules otherwise incurring in a possible backfire: thinking your enemy team won't counter pick your Slark could result in awful consequences.

Step 1: 1k to 1.7k

* Every single rule is applied
* The hell version of Dota

Step 2: 1.7 to 2k

* Players MAY pick kind of smart, expect some basic counterpicks from time to time
* Communication could sometime be avaiable (usually with just one team mate)

Step 3: 2 to 2.5k

* Most of the players actively counterpick
* Games are no longer static: some people actively roam and gank even during the early game
* Heroes with lower early game impact can be picked more frequently (i.e. Medusa)

Step 4: 2.5 to 3k

* Expect more experienced players (you can easily end up playing against a 3k or more)
* Working solo is no longer avaiable
* People may not fight over the midlane (claim it first and you'll probably won't have to deal with any issue)

Good Luck, No Fun

No matter how skilled you are, you're gonna lose, a lot.
Players may abandon the game after one single death, others may start feeding just because you forgot to get dust once while chasing a Bounty Hunter and so on.
The key to overcome this is only one: stop playing for the rest of the day.
Seriously, if you start losing 2 or 3 games in a row, exit Dota, do something else.
I've lost count of the times I reached 2.5k and then gradually went back to 1.6k.

Unless you can stay calm, the more you play and lose, the more frustrated you're going to be and that's very counter productive.
Take some breaks, especially when you reach one of the steps shown before because going back is only gonna crush your hopes to finally escape the trench.

Good luck and have a nice "gg ez report skywrath noob feeder".

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