MOBAs can be quite the game to get your head around, and Dota 2 is certainly not one you can jump into. Having signed up for an account in 2014, I had one Sniper game and gave up. The atmosphere was salty, the Russians were strong and I quite simply got obliterated. An immature way to approach a game I know, but the prodigal daughter returned. As of April 2016 this year, I have not stopped playing the popular MOBA game. I fit it in around my life like a science, and at times I can spend a good 8 – 10 hours playing matches, practically a shift at work.
These tips are pretty much the basics that any new Dota 2 player should be aware of.
10. Bot matches
This is the beginning of your Dota 2 experience. Do not jump in to live matches immediately, practice with different levels of bots that’s provided within the game. You can learn many, many things from these simple games and leave any time you want. The game will give you thorough tutorial if needed, but when it comes to the actual heroes and items they require early on, that’s all on you. Players have created guides and tips for what equipment to use or what ability to level first. There are so many variables in this game which is why I advocate bot matches before entering the online arena. Even when you are accustomed to the game use bot matches to improve your last hitting, farming or trying out a new hero. The experience is invaluable.
9. Salt is bad for your health
Ok, so I am not referring to the table variety here. Dota 2 is pretty brutal in terms of players attacking newer players, every other sentence is “noob”, “idiot” and “cyka blyat”. The latter of which refers to you being a “whore bitch”. These people often think they are better than everyone else when they are playing at your level, often giving wrong advice to new players and attacking them when the team loses. When I first started these insults and the attacks really got to me and I almost came to a point where I didn’t want to play anymore because of it. But persevere, develop a thick skin and you will come across some lovely, logical players who want to work as a team. These people are rare, but I have met some great people so far. I think what’s more important is don’t be salty back, it’s a pointless endeavour against people who either don’t understand the concept of teamwork, are greedy players or are just plain horrid. If someone is unreasonably horrid to you are able to report them at the end of the match. You’ll hear the word ‘report’ a lot, trust me.
I am not advising to go out there and hire a professional eSports coach, but find someone who has been playing the game for a while and learn from them. I have been lucky with Dota 2 as my younger brother has been playing it since 2013 and has accrued an impressive 3,000 + hours (he’ll mention this if you ever meet him). Dota 2 has the facility whereby said experienced player can become a coach in the background and advise of what to do, what’s going well and what needs improving. I have also played many of games with my brother and his friends, but this means I am then thrown into extremely difficult games as he has a significantly higher MMR (Match Making Rating). Nevertheless the lessons I have learned have been invaluable.
So, instead of asking your coach/experienced friend or player every two seconds what item to get, what ability to level first, Dota 2 provides in-game guides that pretty much tell you what to do. There are different guides for different aspects of the game for each hero such as; Jungling, Hard Carry, Offlane and Support. There are much more, but these guides will also provide you with a recommendation of items which appear when you click on the shop. It’s surprising how quickly you can pick up tips and what items go together, or don’t go (stack) together.
6. Play Alone
Even though I have recommended for you to play with an experienced player, I would also advise you to play some games on your own once you’re used to the basics. This in itself can take several hours to get to, but you’ll be surprised of the experience you will have. You won’t be in the thick of a high MMR game, but more with players at your level. Albeit, they are salty cretins but ignore trolls and focus on honing your techniques and you will be surprised how quickly you will develop as a solo player.
5. Play most heroes
Early on pick a hero that you can get comfortable with, my personal recommendations would be; Sven (melee), Drow Ranger (ranged) and Witch Doctor (Support). Once you have nailed down the basics with these heroes or similar, you’re pretty much good to go. Heroes I currently avoid playing are: Invoker, Keeper of the Light, Shadow Demon only because the skills required to cast their abilities are quite demanding, plus bad positioning can really throw the game for your team. There is a common feature I found being a new Dota 2 player is that most players recommend you start playing as a Support. This is fine as you can learn the map and get used to awareness, however, poor warding and positioning can also be fatal.
4. Stay frosty!
You will notice when starting up a new match that the map is pretty much covered in darkness, unless a player is in the area (which lights it slightly) or if you are a near a tower. It’s important to take towers and defend your towers as they give you space against the enemy team. This is where excellent warding comes into play. No wards equals no vision and you’d be surprised how many people forget this when they become greedy players. One bad catch out and it can cost your team the match. So if you don’t have any wards available, be frosty. Don’t go blindly into the night, watch your team’s back and more importantly, watch yours.
3. Watch the pros
No matter how long you play this game, some if not most will never get to a professional level. Dota 2 has a prominent professional scene, holding various tournaments throughout the year. The biggest event is The International, which is held on an annual basis and to put it into perspective it’s like the equivalent to the Football World Cup, it’s that big. The professional players play with absolute precision, watching the clock for timely creep waves, farming with surgeon like qualities, knowing how to farm when you’re pushed back and there are so many other techniques they use it can warrant another article. What is interesting about the professional games is the beginning before the actual game, the draft. The draft itself is like a game, watching what heroes are picked and banned, it’s like a game of chess. I regularly watch various tournaments, or even live games within the Dota 2 client, Dota will tell you if a professional is playing a public game.
2. Map awareness
You cannot learn this with guides, or coaches but you learn map awareness by ploughing a lot of hours into the game. Map awareness is key if an enemy hero disappears you must be aware that they have. Are they preparing for a gank? Farming? I reiterate again that no vision equates to many deaths if you are not careful. Wards cannot save you indefinitely, you have to keep your eye on the mini-map in the left-hand corner. This can be difficult when you’re trying to concentrate on pressing the right skills, farming, pushing etc but it will come with time and when it does it’s like a whole new world of play.
1. Lose A LOT
Not a great way to end a guide, but it’s a very important point. You must be prepared to lose A LOT. Don’t let a loss discourage you from this fantastic MOBA. Dota 2 is known for harsh punishments when it comes to rage quitting, abandoning or ranked losses. So only play ranked matches when you’re thoroughly prepared, have a few good friends to play with you otherwise your MMR may take an unnecessary beating.
I hope you enjoyed reading the above tips from a beginner. I am in now way an all-knowing player when it comes to Dota 2 but simply passing on what I have had to learn the hard way and from experienced players. They are the very basics you must keep in your mind at all times, while you’re on the road to “GIT GUD”.
Are you an experienced Dota 2 player? I would love to hear your tips and thought in the comments section below.