Getting better in Dota 2 can be a gruelling and oftentimes painful process.
Dota 2 is one of the most complicated multiplayer games out there, and due to the many changing factors in each game, it can be challenging to improve.
That's what this article is here for.
As a player who peaked at 6,500 MMR and currently plays at 6,000 in the Southeast Asia region, these are some tips I believe each player should know and try to implement in order to get better in Dota 2 and climb the MMR ladder.
Disclaimer: This guide is meant for players looking to get started or have a better experience in playing Dota 2’s ranked matchmaking. While these tips alone won’t make you a pro player, they can be a good place to start building the necessary habits to become one.
1. Know yourself
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
Roles in Dota 2 are very different from each other. Playing a carry is an entirely different experience from roaming support and playing mid.
The difference between each role also means that the skills helpful in one role can be detrimental in another. A support that focuses on farming is a detriment to his team, just like a carry who tries to make space instead of preparing for the late game.
However, while everyone knows roles are different, it's not as apparent that every role can be played in several ways.
Oracle, Dazzle, and Omniknight are different supports from Lion, Shadow Shaman, and Bane. One type focuses on saves and has to play conservatively while the other three supports provide disables for the team and have to be a little more active.
This applies to every role, we see farming mid-lane heroes such as Templar Assassin and Alchemist contrast sharply with space-making midlaners like the Spirit brothers and Puck.
And the truth is that there is no wrong way of playing a role. If a player likes to heal allies then that's a viable way to play support. If a player likes to pick carry and fight early then there are several heroes who can do that.
It is crucial for players who want to grind MMR to figure out what style they like to play and pick heroes who suit that playstyle. Once that happens, Dota 2 matches become more enjoyable and easier to win.
2. Practice a handful of heroes
"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." - Bruce Lee
It takes time and effort to master a skill. In fact, it takes a lot of time to master any craft. Scientists believe it takes 10,000 hours to fully master something.
A person who spends 10 hours a week honing their craft will take 19 years to master it.
10,000 Hours in Dota 2 are rookie numbers, we all have that under our belt (right? right? or am I the only one with an addiction?).
However, when we look at our hero history, we find that our time in Dota 2 isn't focused on one particular role and playstyle but instead divided among all roles and too many heroes.
While it's fine to play all roles and do the all-hero challenge for fun, it's not optimal for climbing the MMR ladder.
In general, it is best to spam four or five heroes that suit your playstyle in every ranked game.
With so many variables in every game, it's best to focus on yourself each game and the easiest way to do that is by playing the same heroes.
Each Dota 2 game has different enemies, allies, rune spawns, and neutral items. A lot changes between games and adding another variable by picking a new hero is a recipe for disaster.
If you're unsure which heroes you should be spamming, there are two things you can look at to help. First is to look at your hero stats and see which heroes you have a high win rate with.
3. Play in vision
"Where there is no vision, there is no hope." - George Washington Carver
Dota 2 patch 7.31 introduced a massive rework to the neutral creeps, providing them with new abilities as well as scaling with the game's duration. The biggest neutral creep change was to the Harpy Scout and its new ability Take Off.
Take Off allowed the creep to provide the team with 1800 flying vision during both the day and night time. The mana cost of Take Off was equivalent to the mana regeneration provided by Helm of the Dominator, which meant that the Harpy Scout could be permanently... uhh... taking off.
It didn't take long for pro teams to start abusing the vision provided by Harpy Scouts, as teams made sure that their draft would include at least one hero who could build Helm of the Dominator in order to have access to Take Off.
By the end of the patch, even support heroes that had no real use for Helm would buy it just to provide their team with a huge vision advantage.
The advantage of vision in Dota 2 can never be overstated, the team with more vision has a much better chance to win the game.
The team with more vision is more likely to win team fights, has an easier time hunting the enemy carry, and secures the farm of their own cores.
Playing in vision means establishing vision in the places you intend to spend a significant amount of time. For carries, it means placing wards near their own triangle, while supports should aim to ward the enemy jungle in order to ambush the enemy lineup and to find out if they intend to group up and use a Smoke of Deceit.
Pro players spend a lot of time and effort trying to figure out how the enemy team is planting observer wards. Check out this example between Karl "Karl" Matthew Baldovino and Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang from The International 10 as the midlaner of PSG.LGD uses a couple of faints to figure out that Karl has a ward nearby and removes it 30 seconds later.
These are some tips to help you improve in Dota 2. Feel free to share your best pieces of advice in the comment section and we will be sure to include them in our next issue.
Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.