|3.||Step 1: How Far Do You Wanna Go, Kid?|
|4.||Step 2: Picking Your Core Heroes|
|5.||Step 3: Training Heroes For Ranked Matches|
|6.||Step 4: In-Game Communication|
|7.||Step 5: In-Game Strategy and Tips|
|8.||Step 6: Stuff You Can Do Outside of DOTA|
|10.||BONUS: Tales From the Potato Bracket|
Hello everyone! This is a sort of pre-introduction where I'll mention the latest update to the guide (such as a new Good Read, or Tale of the Potato Bracket)
This is meant for people who have already read the main guide once, and want to immediately check the latest updates. You can find a detailed changelog at the end of the guide.
So, what's new this time?
-Edits to the final chapter.
700000 views? Bet you can't get 800000.
Hello everyone, I'm TEL9021, also known as The Dork Seer. When I'm not reviewing video games on YouTube, I like to write DOTA 2 hero guides!
The idea for this particular guide came to me when I was browsing a thread on the DOTA 2 subreddit. I remember a topic where someone was asking how to raise his MMR, and people suggested playing certain "OP hero" picks like Slark or Viper, claiming that playing only those heroes raised their rank by 1000 or more.
Of course, any DOTA player who knows this game can see the glaring faults here. First of all, there is no OP hero, only heroes that are difficult for noobs to counterpick. Once you raise your MMR to the point where your opponents know how to defeat your hero, you're stuck. And since you know how to play only that "OP hero" and nothing else, your rank will drop again.
This guide focuses on simple and legit ways to get out of low-ELO hell and raise your MMR without using any "easy" methods that give you a rank you don't deserve. It may be more work than spamming
Lifestealer and lvl 1 jungling to hope for a win through AFK farm, but you'll actually grow in skill as a DOTA player, and feel all the better for it!
Let's jump right in, shall we?
The first thing you want to do is determine how high you really want your MMR to be.
Of course, you'll be asking: "What do you mean? Don't we all want 5000+ MMR?"
Well, yeah, but do you believe you can actually get that high?
Are you willing to spend the time necessary for it?
Always remember that people like Wagamama and Arteezy may be at the top of the Ranked Leaderboards, but they play DOTA professionally, and don't spend time working or being in school. So don't try to be someone you're not, know yourself.
The key here is baby steps:
1)Set a small goal first, like +200 MMR from the level you are already.
If every win gives you around +25 MMR, that's approximately 8 wins.
2)Determine if this level of play is hard enough.
Now that you reached your first goal, are you finding your opponents way tougher than you, or do you think you could easily beat them with a little more practice?
3)When ready, set the next goal.
Be it staying in the MMR zone you are in now or raising it further, keep in mind that you'll need more practice to raise your rank and patience to keep it high.
Another important thing:
Backing down is an option.
Don't force yourself to raise your MMR into levels you can't handle. Remember that you play DOTA for fun, not to be the very best, like no one ever was.
From Valve's Free to Play movie.
Instead of picking a single hero to play Solo Ranked with, I suggest having a small pool of heroes that you feel comfortable with, and picking only from that pool when you're going ranked. A few tips regarding this:
Versatility wins wars.
While this isn't fool-proof, you should always prefer having a versatile hero pick in your Ranked Match hero pool. Why? Because you're not playing alone, and people can be huge idiots when it comes to calling lanes.
If I pick Puck, for instance, and call mid, there's always gonna be that one guy who picks Pudge or Invoker with no jungler in our team, forcing Puck to dual-lane, screwing up the lanes and the game before it even begins.
In this instance, if I had picked Mirana, the game would still be very winnable, as Mirana can also offlane AND work in a dual lane.
Prefer heroes that can also be played as supports.
You may think that it's better for your MMR when you play a hard carry hero and the outcome of a game depends more on you. While this is true, it leads to most Ranked Matchmaking teams being comprised of at least two hard carries and a Pudge. Is another melee carry or mid-only hero picked by you going to be a worthy addition to the team? I think not.
I know playing support is annoying, and it's true that you may very well lose a game eventually due to your carry being an idiot, but it's still better than picking yet another carry or solo mid hero and losing the game from the get go.
This is why you should prefer going support over going carry or mid, unless, of course, you are THAT damn good at playing solo mid, in which case, Hello Dendi! Yak pozhyvayete?
Never try a new hero (or crazy build) in a Ranked Match.
There's a time for experimenting, and it's called
college unranked matches.
It may sound harsh to say this, but if you try playing a hero that you're even in the least bit unfamiliar with in Ranked, you're already at a disadvantage compared to a guy following the elite "I only pick Viper cause he is OP" strategy. This is because you are basing your victory on luck, not skill.
You should also be wary of playing lesser-known (but still very effective) hero builds, such as mid Alchemist or carry Leshrac. Your allies may not know about them, leading to misunderstandings.
If you DO want to try a new hero so you can add him to your Ranked Match hero pool, you should train a lot beforehand, and I'll explain how to do so in the next chapter.
Fear The Roamer
(Thanks to commenter Xyrus for reminding me of this!)
A excellent way to change the tides of a DOTA 2 match in your favor is outnumbering your opponent in a fight. That's why there's the whole concept of ganking: You're in a 2v2 lane, but then the opposing mid ganks you, and suddenly you're fighting 2v3.
If the gank succeeds, the lane ganked will most likely be won, but if it fails, the core mid hero lost tons of farm, and possibly lost his lane against the opposing mid hero who was free-farming.
Now, what if there was a way for you to ensure winning lanes without having to force core heroes to stop farming? Well, there is, and it's playing the role of a Roaming Support.
What does a roaming support do? Instead of staying in a single lane, the roaming support constantly switches lanes, and provides lane control with fast and well-timed ganks, or simply harassing opponents out of their lanes.
If it works, all your core heroes will score kills against the opposition and win their lanes. If it doesn't, you will be severely underfarmed, but at least you're not a core hero.
In order to make the Roaming Support role work for you, you need the following:
- A hero that is entirely self-sustainable (i.e. never needs to go to the fountain to heal)
- Another hero on your team able to solo a lane when you're helping other lanes.
- Good team communication: Don't expect your allies to see you ganking, draw on the minimap, ping, or type "on my way bot/top/mid" to alert them.
A few notable examples of heroes that make really good roaming supports are:
Lion, Mirana, Earthshaker, Crystal Maiden, Bounty Hunter.
My winrate as a roaming support Mirana is pretty good!
Cheer up, it might never happen! (From WronchiAnimation's DOTA 2 Reporter series - RIP)
Here's the method I use to train heroes to add to my Ranked hero pool.
Stage A: Lab Time
If a hero you want to add to your Ranked hero pool is one you've never played before, you'll begin at this stage. Lab Time is basically just offline practice with a hero, either with or without bots.
You may scoff at this, thinking it is unnecessary, but it really helps you to learn the basics about a hero and how he plays, and you can disconnect anytime you want, instead of being stuck in a losing online match for 40+ minutes being called a noob because you are learning a new hero.
Lab Time isn't really necessary for easier-to-play support heroes, such as, say, Tidehunter or Lich, but helps a ton if you're learning heroes with really hard micromanagement (like Chen) or tricky lvl 1 junglers (best example here is Lycan).
For training with Blink Dagger users and initiators such as Enigma, Batrider, Invoker, and Earth Spirit, a really useful tool is -wtf mode training. To do this, start a local lobby with cheats enabled, then type -wtf in all-chat when the game begins. Your abilities will now cost no mana and have 0 cooldown, so you can freely learn your combos.
Stage B: Unranked Games
Now you've learned the basics about your hero, you're ready to test him in a online match. BUT NOT IN A RANKED MATCH YET. Even Unfair difficulty bots are deceptively easy opponents compared to human enemies, and when you switch to playing Ranked immediately after Lab Time, this will cause you to lose games and MMR.
The solution? Play a few simple unranked pub games, so you can test your metal against humans, but not suffer an MMR loss for any mistakes or bad plays leading to a loss.
The number of unranked games you play before moving on to ranked matches is not set in stone and is entirely up to you. If you are managing to correctly use your items and abilities, and overall feel that you're actively helping your team win, then that hero is ready for Ranked.
Stage C: Ranked Games
Finally you made it to Ranked Matches! Now this hero is part of your Ranked hero pool and can be picked by you in any game. Nothing more to say here, go get 'em!
For extra CoolGuy PointsTM, take notes of the heroes you're learning!
(Note that my list has an extra "DRAFT IT" stage, for heroes I play for my team when we go Captain's Mode.)
Not pictured: Faceless Void saying "Guys I only need 2000 gold to farm Mjollnir, pls no fight"
Since you're playing Solo Ranked, you're alone with four other players. However, all five of you are going to be a team for the next forty-odd minutes, and you're going to have to cooperate if you want to win. That's why you need to be vocal and use the chat to communicate from the very beginning of the match (i.e. the pick phase).
Talking to your teammates is essential to winning the game, be it deciding a strategy, whether to fight Roshan, attacking, defending, or anything else. Teams that don't communicate well will lose the match even when they're completely outdrafting their enemies.
Possible Problem #1: "Entire team is Russian!"
You will often come across teams that will speak a foreign language and refuse to use English at all. This hinders communication somewhat, but not entirely. Pings, drawing on the minimap and chat wheel commands are still very capable of getting a message across.
( And if worse comes to worst, you can always spam "cyka" )
Possible Problem #2: "Entire team is noobs!"
You will also often come across players who will be playing badly. For whatever reason this happens, remember that a player you deem a "noob" has roughly the same MMR as you.
The answer to this problem is NOT CURSING THEM. If a player is repeatedly dying, it's much better to say:
"Crystal Maiden, you should stay back in teamfights"
"maiden stop feed omg"
Try to be as polite and clear as possible when chatting to teammates. It really helps your team maintain a winner's mentality.
You can also attempt giving advice to your teammates, if there is no language barrier to stop you. Stick with simple one-liners, such as:
(When against a Bristleback)
"Buy Magic Stick, it's very good vs BB"
You only need to say things like this once. If you overdo it, your teammates will find you annoying and stop paying attention to you. Avoid micromanaging the entire team.
Possible Problem #3: Dealing With Passive Aggressive Chat and Arguments
How many times have you been in a match where, after a bad play, the chat looks something like this?
This is obviously meant in irony, and it's something I'd like to talk about.
Passive aggressiveness in DOTA 2 chat has always been an issue, but in Ranked Matchmaking it seems to be present in nearly EVERY SINGLE MATCH. It starts with a casual "nice stun" when someone misses an Impale and can escalate to full-on chat war in the middle of the game.
Everyone in Ranked seems to be much more tense and likely to start a fight during matches. It's obvious why this happens: MMR is at stake. It only takes a simple misplaced "nice ss" or "gg 10 mins sf no gank", and there you have it, now everyone is spamming in the chat what a noob everyone else is.
These situations need to be avoided at all costs, because at best you'll feel angry but persevere and still win, and at worst you will enter a "tilt" state and actively lose all of your in-game skill. This is a thing that happens to players of all sports, especially when played at a competitive level.
How does one stop this? Here are a few pointers.
- Silence is an option. You don't HAVE to reply to a negative comment. Don't feed the trolls.
- Learn to say sorry. If you make a bad play, apologizing later makes others more likely to forgive you and less likely to flame you.
- Don't blame others for your mistakes. If you die alone behind the enemy's Tier 3 tower, DON'T spam >We need wards.
- Don't perform, or accuse others of, kill stealing . Sometimes it's just an accidental autoattack, sometimes it's a Lion using Finger of Death to finish off a 10hp Crystal Maiden. Either way though, it's obvious to everyone if it's on purpose or not, and you don't need to comment on it. (This doesn't apply to carries, you guys can steal all the kills)
- Play your role. If you are a support, just buy Observer Wards on cooldown. If you are a core, be sure to farm and get items. Don't give people any reason to flame you.
- Avoid overextending around teammates you don't trust. They will leave you to die and you know it.
- Be sure to give positive feedback. A simple >Well Played! when your team gets first blood instantly puts everyone in a good mood.
- Speak now. Is the enemy Pudge picking up an Invisibility rune and heading bot? Is Mirana's ultimate being used? Should someone check if Roshan is up? Don't keep it to yourself, speak up!
- If someone is doing a simple thing wrong again and again, like autoattacking creeps, don't hold it in, politely notify the person. It's better than exploding at him 10 minutes later when you're fed up.
- Muting is an option. If you catch yourself arguing with someone repeatedly, consider just muting them and ending it there. This is useful even if you aren't in a fight with someone: Chat spam is a huge distraction.
- If you do mute someone, don't say "muted". It's petty and pointless.
Sing the Game of Throws theme song with me: Doo-doo-doodoodoo-dooooo-doodoodooooo!
In-game there really is only one rule: Play To Win. No fooling around, no picking any heroes just because, no giving up at the first lost teamfight or bad play. Here's a few tips regarding this:
When and What to Pick
First of all, during the pick phase, you need to be paying attention to what gets picked, both by your team and your enemies. This will allow you to spot a weakness in the enemy lineup that you can exploit ( i.e. Opposing team picks Storm Spirit and Windranger, a great counterpick is Bloodseeker ) or pick a hero that combos well with existing picks. ( i.e. Your team saw your Bloodseeker pick and picked Invoker and Ancient Apparition, thus creating a powerful Global Meltdown strategy. )
Concerning the time during the countdown to actually pick a hero, you should follow these guidelines:
- If you want to play carry, jungle, solo hard or mid, please call it beforehand.
- Don't insta-pick a hard carry: Enemies will hard-counter you.
- Supports should not be picked late, to ensure your team has a carry hero.
What if someone ignores your call and picks another solo/carry/jungler hero? Well, as I said before, people can be huge idiots. Judge the versatility of the conflicting heroes and see if you can't make a deal.
Example: You call jungle and pick Ursa, then a teammate randoms Chen. While Ursa doesn't need to always lvl 1 jungle, Chen really struggles without jungle creeps since he is a Summoner-Type jungler.
Solution: Chen goes to jungle, Ursa goes to the safe lane.
You better ward, b*tch.
In Ranked, you will never win a game without someone buying support items. Animal Courier + Observer Wards at the very least need to be bought before your team leaves the fountain. I know I'm stating the bloody obvious here, but it's maddening how many Ranked matches I've played where even this basic rule isn't followed.
Furthermore, if the enemy team has invisible heroes, fill the map with Sentry Wards! It's everyone's duty, not only the supports', to buy vision items to counter these heroes before they ever get any farm.
If your supports are not buying wards and giving you lame excuses for not doing so like "I'm farming a Mekansm" or "It's 5:06 and I've already died 4 times" then man up and buy those items yourself. You'll lose farm, yes, but not the game.
Winning the early game is crucial.
Fun fact: People give up easily. I'm sure you've played a lot of games where once you lost the first teamfight of the game due to a bad play, someone on your team typed "gg ff pls" in All-Chat, and stopped trying to play well from then on.
This is something you can capitalize on in Solo Ranked matches: Since you'll probably be queued against other solo players, they'll be way more likely to believe that "their entire team is noobs" if they have a bad start.
There are several things you can do to ensure winning the early game, including these:
- Pick heroes that have a high impact on the game at level 6 or below
- Ensure that your mid player has rune control and/or gank mid lane
- Call miss for all lanes, not only yours, and ping if you detect incoming ganks
- Use a Town Portal Scroll to save an ally who is getting ganked
- Use Smoke of Deceit to gank the enemy jungler before minute 6
Stow It, Don't Throw It
This guide was first written in the times of the fourth International, when it was nigh impossible for a team with a huge early game advantage to lose, and 5-man unstoppable deathball push was the way to win a match.
Τhis does not apply any more. Teams that are ahead in gold and XP can lose their advantage very quickly. Comebacks are the norm, and matches usually last at least 40 minutes. What does this mean for you?
First and foremost, you and your team can turn even the toughest situations around much easier than before. The exact opposite can happen as well: It is remarkably easy to lose a game you're winning (i.e. throw it) if you're not careful.
How can you ensure a victory? Simply put, you can't. What you can do, though, is use strategy and a bit of in-game knowledge to help yourself out of a difficult situation (or stop you from throwing a game). Here's a few tips concerning this:
- Play the objective. Destroy towers and barracks as soon as possible, because you won't always be in the lead, but the enemy buildings will remain down.
- Check your team's late game potential. If you're stomping with a Slark carry, you should end the match ASAP before the enemy Spectre farms up.
- Continue to place Observer Wards, and do so aggresively. (i.e. ward the enemy jungle)
- If facing invisible heroes, buy multiple Gem of True Sights and leave them in base.
- If playing support, don't forget to finish your support items first.
- Don't stand outside the enemy base forever! Consider killing Roshan or farming the enemy jungle.
- First of all, detect this early! It's too late when you're losing 0 - 20 in kills!
- If you are winning your lane, gank lanes in trouble.
- If you are losing your lane, request a gank. Not being able to farm still counts as losing your lane!
- Place Observer Wards inside your jungle so you can farm slightly safer.
- If no lanes were won, consider going as four to create space for your carry to farm.
- If the problem is one specific hero (like Slark), counter him (in this case, with any Silence spell and/or burst damage). In teamfights, try to single him out and 5v1 him.
- If you have no late-game potential, go 5v5 doto and hope for a clutch teamfight win.
- 5-man Smoke of Deceit ganks inside the enemy jungle can be very useful for your team.
Here's some other things you can do (that aren't actively playing DOTA) that help increase your MMR.
Is Your Body Ready For Ranked?
Being in an unfit condition when going Ranked will cause you to lose matches like it's going out of style. Notable examples include:
- Feeling tired or sleepy, or being drunk (this has a massively negative impact on reflexes)
- Being angry or stressed (especially if the anger is because you lost a previous game)
You should always check before going for a game that you feel ready to spend 40 or more minutes of your time in front of the PC. Don't just blindly select "Find Match" before consciously deciding that you are ready to play, and more importantly, ready to win.
Watch replays of your losses
The first step to facing your mistakes is actually figuring out what the hell went wrong. In most games I've played, there's usually a certain turning point (that can be found by using the gold and XP graphs as well) that decided the game.
Rewatching a teamfight that went wrong for your team multiple times will show you exactly what went wrong and how, and if you're to blame, congratulations! Now you'll never make that mistake again!
Watching your replays will also help you spot enemy hero builds and teamfight positioning, and you can steal their moves to use them against your enemies in the next game.
Watching replays of victories is also useful. If you spotted one of your allies doing really well with a certain hero, you may want to try that hero yourself! After all, you already have play-by-play footage to teach you how to build that hero.
Watch replays of top players
After you realize where you make mistakes and get around to fixing them, your MMR will improve, but very slightly. To truly rise in rank, you must play consistently better than your opponents. But since they are at the same skill level as you, how can you improve?
The answer to this is watching replays of high MMR players. If you're trying to learn a specific hero, watching someone else play him can give you unique insight into that hero's capabilities. Also, you can straight up learn all kinds of new tricks, and use them on your opponents in your next games. High MMR games are also a good indicator of where the metagame will be heading towards.
It's super easy to do this: Just head over to Dotabuff, look up your favorite hero in the search bar, then check the the Hero Rankings on the right side. Look up recent replays of top players, get the the Match IDs, and start watching! I recommend using the Player Perspective camera.
Watch Pro Games*
Watching a couple professional games on twitch.tv will massively help you become a better player. When I began watching games (a little before TI3 is when I really started to do so), I noticed the casters were mentioning things that I had never heard of before (namely, certain hero combos, and the intricate jungle camp warding metagame.) This is also where I learned appropriate times for purchasing core items.
(*)ATTENTION: Just because you saw a pro player successfully win with a weird build or high-skill hero, it doesn't mean you can do so instantly!
Remember the stages leading up to Ranked: Lab Time -> Unranked Games -> Ranked Games.
Read tons of guides
"I know my enemy as I know myself!" - Dark Seer
Yes, reading Dotafire (and other) guides about any hero, not just your picks, improves your skill in DOTA. Simply having a general idea about every hero's abilities, possible core builds and gameplay will give you the ways to counter those heroes when you're against them.
(It's also a must if you ever want to learn Rubick.)
Also, if your English is up to speed, try writing a guide here yourself! Didn't think about this one, did you? Well, reader, grab your
pen and paper keyboard and mouse and get started! It has been proven that the best way to learn something is to try to teach it to someone else.
You can also find plenty of useful stuff in general DOTA guides, which don't specify on building a single hero, but focus on the more general mechanics of the game. In fact, you are reading one of those guides right now! Well done!
This chapter includes "tales from the potato bracket", i.e. stories from some of my own Solo Ranked games.
Feel free to share your own story in the comments, or send me a direct message on Twitter
[follow (@The_Dork_Seer)] with your tale and maybe I'll submit it here too!
That's it! I consider this guide to be complete, but I intend to keep adding more stuff such as tips, photos, hidden links, and more good reads.
Wanna quickly contact me? Then follow me on Twitter (@The_Dork_Seer) and send me a direct message.
I'm also looking forward to your
rants constructive criticism! Please tell me where you think I might have missed something so I can fix it! Probably!
To the reader who managed to survive reading this wall of text, may you get out of whatever MMR-zone is your personal ELO-hell and top the Ranked Leaderbords!
9/5/2014: Guide published!
30/5/2014: Finally got around to adding a Roaming Support section. Added a sick intro pic.
4/6/2014: Added another pic, fixed some typos.
8/6/2014: More fixed typos, GoT picture, added chapter for the Compendium Hero Challenge.
11/6/2014: More pic, more white text. My eyes hurt from this white glare!
29/6/2014: Pic of my own core hero list, a new Good Read, and two hidden links!
7/7/2014: New pic, new hidden link!
22/7/2014: The Anti-Update! Removed bonus chapter, will add something cool to replace it soon! Also, pic and hidden links.
29/7/2014: The Potato Update: Added new bonus chapter and 2 Tales From the Potato Bracket.
13/8/2014: New tale from the bracket of Potatoes!
28/8/2014: report venge ff pls cyka blyat
8/10/2014: Something something Potato Bracket.
blog post Tale From the Potato Bracket and a new Good Read!
7/1/2015: An update to the main guide, focusing on changes in the metagame since the last few patches.
11/4/2015: The Communication Update! Updates to the main guide, changed heroes and items to match current trends, more hidden links.
25/6/2015: A new Tale, updated "meta" heroes.
29/11/2015: New Good Read, typo fixed.
22/3/2016: Altered Ursa-Ench example to Ursa-Chen, since Ench is a great solo offlane pick now.
20/6/2016: New hidden link, fixed broken image link, updated meta heroes. RIP Bloodcyka.
25/6/2016: TEL9021 Sells Out update! Please don't hate me too much for this.
22/10/2016: Fixed some typos. How can this thing still have typos?
26/6/2017: I'm back, *****es. Various updates and new summary section at the start.
1/7/2017: Typo fixes and other improvements.
24/7/2018: Fixed bug where TEL9021 was a sellout.