Before reading this, as it's a long read, I will inform you that THIS GUIDE IS EASIER TO COMPREHEND with the colouring/sizing it initially had before porting it here from the joinDota Strategy-forum. If you wanna know if this long guide is worth reading or not, why don't you go read the feedback I got on the original forum =) Link bellow!
*LINK* You can find it in a styled format here! *LINK* (Msg to TLnet-Admins:If you don't like me linking to other forums, I will immediately remove this link, just let me know if that's the case =). I just thought it's useful for those who find it hard to read long guides, this one I put down some work on making it easy to comprehend.) That being said, the entire content should of course be available on Teamliquid aswell!
First off, I wanna introduce myself to those who might not know me. My name is Wagamama and I'm the teamcaptain for Infused Dota, a Swedish team that has had the same coreplayers for over 2 years. I played dota 1 for just about 8-8½ years, and Dota2 since short after TI. I only spent about 2½-3 years playing competetively, and really only with good success in the last 12months or so, but I believe I have enough experience to teach most of you a whole lot. That's also the reason why I try to do co-casting as often as possible, alongside purge/tobi and other great casters.
This will be a general guide for rookies or amatauer-level players who want to either improve their understanding of the game, or aim at one day being up there at the highest level of Dota.
In order to make this guide less confusing, I will use very clear chaptering and try to stay on topic in each section. Topics that will be discussed are to be listed underneath this line. 1 - The strategic art of good picks/bans. 1.1 Find the best style for your team and learn to identify keyheroes to ban/pick 1.2 Get a deeper understanding on how to get the most out of your bans 1.3 Conceal or bluff your intentions through the pickstage 1.4 Different components that any lineup preferably should include
2 - The tough challenge of predicting and winning lanes. 2.1 Startbuilds 2.2 Rock/Paper/Scissor of lanestage 2.3 Intentions with a lane 2.4 Laneswitching, when to do it and why 2.5 Pulls and wards 2.6 Passive aggression or roaming around, what to do
3 - Pushing, how to force your enemies to do what you want. 3.1 The effects of threatening a tower 3.2 The results of losing/benefits of destroying outter towers too early in the game 3.3 Different techniques and forms of pushing, creepskipping splittpushing and all-ins 3.4 Controlling your impulses and not overexerting
The strategic art of good picks/bans.
Here I will go through a few keypoints in becoming a better captain/picker for your team.
1.1 Find the best style for your team and learn to identify keyheroes to ban/pick This is ever-so crucial to do, for any team that aspires to reach the top in competetive dota. Finding your style is really only achieved by trying different things out. Most likely your team has alot of signature heroes, someone plays an awesome QoP, someone loves ES, and so on. You need to combine all of this in a good weave, trying to find which type of compositions will fit you the most. And trust me on this, EVERY team needs a supportplayer, if not a static one you will have to rotate the roles. Quite often this role is being frowned upon and people don't want to do it because it's not the one who gets the spotlight on them.
All-in earlygame strats. These are strats that always need a decent amount of push, but can also compensate lack of push by having superior ganking/teamfight heroes. If you like to play this style, you shouldn't even pick a carry, you will take the action to the enemy. You need to remember not to pick too many long-cd ultimates in this type of picking, because you want to force the issue at all times, and never stay passive. Carries win passive games! One team notorious for playing this kind of style frequently is M5.
4+1 Safeplay This is a pretty normal strategy, you want to play a farming carry and you want 4 heroes that have to compose everything that is needed for the first 25-30 minutes. This of course means that you need to have some sort of push, decent amount of disables, very good antipush and strong lanes ALL coming out from 4 heroes, as your carry is mostly just going to be farming and occasionally try and take a tower or two. The good part about this playstyle is that you are most likely to win if the game goes past 45minutes, and the timepressure is on your enemy, they need to make something happen. One team notorious for playing this kind of style frequently is my own team, Infused.
Strong lanes with semicarrypotential The strongest lanes possible is either duallanes (SK/LESH, ES/WR, etc) or running a jungling chen/ench. Enigma is NOT a hero that strengthens your lanes that much, I will get into this later in the guide. What you want in a lineup like this is heroes that could potentially grow strong into the mid-late game, benefitting by a good earlygame and strong lanes. That means you won't pick a hardcarry, but you might have natures prophet+mirana for example to compensate when the time is nigh for carrying. One team notorious for playing this kind of style frequently is Copenhagen Wolves, atleast prior to their inactive period.
1.2 Get a deeper understanding on how to get the most out of your bans
Bans are there to allow you to steer your opponent into the kind of picks you want to play against. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you don't allow a professional team to get their favourite lineup. You can totally deviate from what is normal and reasonable just in order to shut down the prefered choices of your enemyteam. What I want to highlight the most is the first banphase, as the second one is very situational and mostly a luxuryphase.
You have firstpick in a game. Let's say your opponent loves to play Mirana. They pick her every single time they can, and they do it in the first phase. It seems obvious to both you and me to ban it then, so lets do that. The result of this is now that there are "more op heroes in the pool", typical firstpicks such as Natures Prophet / Invoker or even Darkseer.
Bans go down and we see the enemyteam banning out brood/ench/QoP, because you had an awesome QoP but they want to leave many imbaheroes in the pool. You now have the choice, or rather you had a choice throughout the phase, to either try to ban out some of the strong picks, or leave it all out there. The more info you have on your enemies, the better can you adjust your choice, but you just need to understand the reason for what you are doing. Do not panic by the fact that there is a Chen Invoker NaturesProphet aswell as sandking+lesh in the pool, instead try to decide which 5man lineup you intend to go with this game, BEFORE picking your firstpick. You need to plan ahead, as long as you do that, you can come out on top in any pickphase.
1.3 Conceal or bluff your intentions through the pickstage
This is something only highlevel pickers will do, but everyone should learn to use these techniques in a good way.
Concealing your ideas: You never want your opponent to get a good read on what your idea for the picks are. Sooner or later, they will understand what you want to do. Usually around the 3rd pick or the 2nd banstage, the strategy becomes very outlined and easier to predict.
Keythings in slowing down the read- In the early phase, pick heroes that you need, but don't give away too many lanes too early. Picking 2 solos + chen for example says A LOT about how you will play. Picking versatile heroes that could be played in more than one way (for example, NS/Potm/enigma, this is just a few ofc) will make you harder to predict.Lets say we picked Natures Prophet CM NS. How do you call that? It's very hard, most people would expect CM+NS to dual aggressively but there's no real insurance that's the case.
Bluffing intentions: You can also bluff what you want to do, by for example picking REALLY strong push in the first 3 picks, then transitioning into strong lanes with a carry. The natural reaction from your opponent would be to both ban out pushers, build safe lanes aswell as pick antipushers. That's not a very good composition against a carryhero, is it? Bluffing can be made to achieve any result, when and how to use it is something you will learn with experience. Again, the most important thing is that you know the consequences of doing it.
1.4 Different components that any lineup preferably should include
This might have been nice to mention earlier, I might also edit this part later on so don't hate on me for putting it here.
What components are there in a lineup?
Push Antipush Carry Gank Jungling
Your typical everyday lineup will not have all of these. And that's a good thing, it's extremely hard to have all your bases covered and still have a strong lineup, usually you will be "okay" at all things but never AWESOME. This means your enemies will play to their strengths and win.
Some Keythings to note If you run a carry, you wanna have some antipush. If you run gank, you wanna have some push. If you jungle, it has different effects depending what hero you jungle.
I'm not gonna go more into detail on this, this is just a little reminder for people so they don't pick full gank and never take any towers for example, you always want to get something out of your kills.
Enigma Contra Ench/Chen: Enigma is a very effective farmer in the jungle, and he sure is strong in teamfights, but he doesn't show up that often on lanes, and his push isn't as strong as that of chen or enchantress. This means that he does weaken your lanes quite a bit, and in case you pick this hero, you should have more indepedent heroes on your lanes. With chen or enchantress, you don't need to have the strongest lane always, because the enemy will be very scared of you getting backup from the jungle, typically by unforeseen smokegangs.
The tough challenge of predicting and winning lanes.
If you never did, you really SHOULD spend atleast 1 hour actively considering startbuilds in general. In this section I will help you theorycraft around it, your ideas are as valuable as mine in the area, as long as you take the same things into account as I do.
I will divide this into a total of 4 sections. Topics listed bellow. WARNING: This will be a long subtopic, as I consider it imperative to get a good start and having the best presets possible.
Solobuilds Lanebuilds Carrybuilds Chicken/Wards/Sentries- Who gets what and why?
Reminder: I only provide information on what is relevant when deciding on your itembuilds. It's up to you what to go with.
When soloing, you have a great number of things to take into consideration with your itembuild. "What lane am I? What am I against? What's my itempath through the game, can I skip tangos for early bottle?" Etc etc. We will go through this quite briefly, scratching the surface of things.
Offlane Remember: This is the most dangerous lane in the game! People want to kill you. First chance they get, they will attempt to do so. What can we do to increase our chances here? One thing I like to do is buying abnormal startitems just to increase survivability. Such as an extra circlet or an extra gauntlet at start. If I play windrunner against an aggressive lane that has great firstblood potential (Lets say Ench CM AM) then I might go for IW x2 (106) Gauntlet x2 (406) Salve/Tango (596). This gives great survivability, and not dying is vital on longlane solo. You can also drop gaunts +IW to reg full from red with salve, so it's cost-effective in that sense. Longrangenukers such as rexxar/wr can also benefit from a single clarity, just being able to force their will by spamming spells aggressively. I find that this is not always necessary though.
Easylane Not much to say about easylane, most times you just want to make sure you can lasthit inside towerrange, more on that in Carrybuilds. The only thing worth mentioning is that tangos are better on easylane than offlane because you can do sneaky paths that might save your life.
Midlane (Take a breath, lot to say about this)
Now this... Is where the magic happens, in terms of itembuilds! The build of getting early bottle by saving 300~ gold (only bying tangos + 3X IW) was very popularized on SF around 2 years ago. In case you did not see Dendi's guide to solo mid SF I will put a link to it, it's a well made theorycrafting youtubesession where Dendi elaborates some of his thoughts on early bottle among other things. Dendi talks Dota/Solomid
Back to it- This, people of course realized long ago now, applies to practically all midheroes. Apart from early bottle, I would say that maximumstats is really important on midlane, aswell as early boots. As you can see, a lot of items are "important early". This means we don't want to waste gold, if you ever buy tango+salve and go mid, only to see your opponent completely ignoring you, then you´re caught wasting 190 gold. You have first run on the chicken as solomid, that's standard. And if you save gold for bottle, that means you have gold for salve in case you get heavily harassed. With this I mean to say, you can even start a midbuild with 0 HP reg as an investment. It allows you to get your keyitems quicker and you won't risk "wasting" gold. It definitely takes some getting used to, not having any single hpreg item before lasthitting atleast 5 creeps (along with natural income that should allow your bottle) before going down in the deep red.
If you DONT want a bottle, I recommend aiming at getting boots before your opponent, who most likely wants runecontrol. But if you have boots and he has bottle, he is forced to bottlecrow while you get nice opportunities to gank or be useful in other ways. Finding a haste/dd/invis on the right heroes could be the make-or-break of any earlygame, and I like getting runes for more than just filling an empty bottle.
Carries need to consider what lanepartner they have, what lane they have, and what opponents they are likely to be up against. You never want to miss a lasthit under towerrange. This feels weird to new players, they think this is where it's hardest to lasthit. Incorrect. The tower-area is the safest place on your lane, when your lane is pushed back to tower, you should atleast claim 90% of the lasthits as a carryplayer.
Meleecarries So what is needed in order to be able to do so? You need good maximumdamage, quellingblade is the best item if you expect pulls to happen on your lane (as they normally sets you back inside the tower). As you get better and better at lasthitting you will start getting ashamed every time you DON'T prepare a creep for towerhits. This means you won't have such a need for qb, and the better your opponents are, the higher is the chance that you will need stoutshield for survability.
Rangecarries These guys are quite out of fashion, but that doesn't mean we don't practice them, does it? As a pro player you should be able to play anything at any given time, within your role. I'm mainly a carryplayer, so if I can't play lets say, drow ranger at all then that's a weakness. It's as if a supportplayer can't play WD/Lion/AA/Dazzle, he can only play the standardheroes.
Moving on. For ranged carries, most are agi so I won't go specifically into INT (Harb/Silen mainly) but the concept is the same. Rangecarries have one great advantage. Earlygame. They are typically a lot more effective on lane, and they don't need to sustain that much damage at any part in the game if their positioning is correct. Your startbuild, as such, should be very statoriented. Basilius is often a good pickup due to Acquila, saving inventoryslots is a great advantage as you can have lots of cheap items that provide good bonuses. For a potm/morphling I would recommend the following build: Slippers (150) Tango (240) 3X IW (399) as default. Then you mix in depending on your plan for midgame. If you want to rune a bottle you don't need to buy more! 200 gold in the bank means you have bottle after the first 2 waves with good lasthitting. If you want acquila, it's your choice to either go ring of protection first for convenient basilius on lane (sideshop), or going for the more cost-effective circlet. Circlet gives much better stats than a ring of protection, so if you expect any trouble on lane, it's much wiser.
Chicken/Wards/Sentries- Who gets what and why? This is to some of you completely obvious, but you should know the consequences and reasons for everything we do, so I'll go over it quickly.
One support buying chicken+wards while the other gets sentries+smoke is THE most typical choice right now. 1 year ago it was highly uncommon that you started with sentries, but they have trended a lot ,and for good reasons.
Smoke and Courier are obviously the cheap ones, so splitting them between your two most supporting heroes seems fair. Putting smoke aswell as wards on recharge asap is good for the future, specially smoke which has a really long rechargecounter.
There are exceptions of course , even here! If you run a Chen, he can easily buy wards+chicken+smoke all at once in the beginning, or wards sentries chicken even, it would still leave him with 1 clarity and he really doesnt need to regenerate much while jungling. The reason he can do this is that chen really peaks at lvl 5-9, and will in most cases only run a single gankattempt prior to lvl 5, as he only has one creep till that point. Only one gank means he doesn't need items until then. This makes him a good companion for egoistic supporters such as ES or even Tide who wants his manaboots+blink as soon as possible.
(Storytime) Way back we used to run a funky strat where I would play the maincarry and buy chicken (which was 200g) and wards, then pick dualroamers who start off with boots. This was actually ridiculously good in some versions, but roaming has become much more limited competetive dota lately so I definitely don't recommend it. Just to show, there is always room for creativity!
2.2 Rock/Paper/Scissor of lanestage
Title could also be, 'The dilemma of how to lane'.. -"Put carry on safelane, he will get farm!" -"No, put carry mid with one supporter, we win one extra lane!" -"Noo, go offlane and go to war!!
This is about getting the matchups on lanes in the way that YOU want them to be, aswell as understanding that they won't always be.
Let's really clinch to facts in this one and I'll leave room for speculations and deeper deductions to be further explored in your own minds. We also can't be too specific here, because if we are, our logic will only apply in specific cases. Let's use widely common & general presets. There is also a million things to be said here so I will try to keep this easy to comprehend and not go off track too much. Shall we begin?
First thing you wanna note is, who has the stronger pushingpower. The reason this is interesting is because, the one with the strongest push typically wants to face a sololane with a dual+jungler or a trilane. If they do, they can take down towers very quickly and then rotate to do the same thing on the next lane, then with goldadvantage in their favour.
So if you got the strongest push, you want to find their solo, if not, then you want to minimize losses in mapcontroll by not losing all outter towers. If neither team really has an upperhand, and it all comes down to who controls the lanes the hardest, then it's more complicated to decide what to do. One way of proceeding is to just follow the same pattern but instead of push, its about fight. Who has the strongest lanes, if their strong (tri/dual+jungle) face ours? Ah ok it's us, then go fight! It's them? Then you should avoid the situation. If the enemy runs double duallanes and you have trilane or dual+jungle, go punish them! In most cases you DONT want to stalemate a 1-1-3 lineup against 1-2-2, they will win two lanes and you 1. No matter if you have a hardcarry, it can still get ugly! So don't let them get away with it, run your hardcarry +2 against a dual and do battle.
Always play to your benefits, and stay openminded to changes.
How do we best predict where the enemy will put their lanes though? Because this quickly goes into a double-mindgame, where they think you think that they think..... Etc.. What you have to do, if you don't have knowledge about this specific team's tendencies, is to just say "ok, what is BEST for them, where do they wanna run their lanes?" and go from there. If you turn out to be wrong more than right, you need to spend even more time understanding why they make these choices. But never get stuck in the "they think we thin..." pattern, because that will just leave you clueless to what's really best for anyone.
There are of course cheatheroes for this, furion can scout lanes with treants, lycan with wolves, rexxar with Lvl1 Bird of Feed etc, but you can't always rely on this. You need to get comfortable with your predictions and stick to them, it will benefit you a lot in the long run.
2.3 Intentions with a lane
When you setup a lane, you need to be clear on what you look to accomplish with it, preferably even before you pick the heroes for it. If your goal is only to leech experience and hold onto your tower on offlane, you should voice this and make it clear to your team that the most important thing is to not die on this lane. If you look to surprise with some aggressive play and betting on that you come out on top, same thing, let your players know this so they don't play your cards the wrong way.
2.4 Laneswitching, when to do it and why
This category is very closely related to the previous one. Sometimes lanes are not as you predicted, you wanted to leech exp offlane and have an easy time farming safelane but it turns out your opponents for example went for aggressive trilane against your carry. Whenever you feel that you have atleast 2 lanes where the opponent has the advantage, you should consider swapping lanes. If you run a jungler however, then it might still seem reasonable to stay at it and let the Chen/Ench/Whatever come later on and solve the problem.
What you don't want is to get stuck in a pattern for 10~ minutes in earlygame where the opponent has the opportunity to take advantage of lanes and you don't. Sometimes just rotating a supporter to another lane can be enough, and done with correct timing you will even have a 50% chance to come with a nice rune and perhaps setup an early kill.
*MORE CONTENT TO BE ADDED*
2.5 Pulls and wards 2.6 Passive aggression or roaming around, what to do
Thats as far as I´ve gone for now guys, if you like it and want more, let me know and it will help motivate me to continue this rather long guide =)
Last edit: 2012-09-15 01:26:23
There's always room for creativity!
KimboO~ United States. September 11 2012 04:25. Posts 51
You posted this on joindota or something before right? I'm pretty sure I've read this before but it's very good! So well explained that it all seems trivial to me after i read it, you make it seem like something a child should have been able to figure out on his own but i doubt most people (like me) thinks these things though. edit: also this reminds me, wagamama runs the only stream that i know off not filled with the generic dota flaming. Not sure how he does it but whenever i listened he's cool as a cucumber.
Last edit: 2012-09-11 04:31:33
cool_slowbro Sweden. September 11 2012 04:48. Posts 46
Glad to see you guys like it, and indeed nttea I do stream regularly nowadays, have applied to get my stream up here on TLnet aswell! Anyone is welcome to check it out at Wagamama's Stream, I do like to commentate my own play a lot and walk viewers through what I'm doing. Sometimes on a high level, sometimes more basic for the viewers who want a better understanding
But that'll be a different thread & topic, this one is only about learning and understanding dota, not my stream
I like this guide. It is general enough to not get bogged down in details. I suggest showing a standard games lanes and why both teams did as they did with what results. Just as a way to round off the lane/hero pick phase with an example.
Most of the stuff in this guide is things I learned the hard way, by playing. The amount of guides now a days is nice.
Clearout Norway. September 11 2012 05:49. Posts 1013
Awesome guide! Thank you for cross-posting this, I hadn't seen it before. I've been playing DotA for a while, and have a basic understanding in competitive DotA...or so I thought, before I read your guide. Really interesting the part about lane picking and pick/bans (since I'm horrible at it). Keep up the good work, hope to see more info added soon!
<3 SC2 <3<3 Dota 2. Steam ID: HellS
SaleSarma Croatia. September 12 2012 08:55. Posts 5