Everyone knows that Dota 2 is an unfriendly game for new players to dive into. As a result, the majority of the player base has been invested in the game for quite a long time. Over time we develop habits of how to play the game. The truth is, most Dota players are actually Dota Boomers who can wax poetic about how great things used to be back in the day. Any HOHO-HAHA fans out there?
Habitual knowledge can be a good thing but in a game that changes as often as Dota does, there are a lot of outdated concepts still being followed. Let’s talk about a few of these old habits that might help us avoid becoming one of those old guys in a rocking chair shouting, “Get out of my lane, ya young whippersnapper!”
It’s human nature to resist change but it’s also human nature to grow from it. I think feeling stuck is also partly to blame for the frustration that many players have with the game. After a while, even our favorite heroes get stale. The problem is the initial investment of learning a new hero well is fairly painful. This is especially true if it is one that plays in a much different style than your comfort picks.
It can be very hard to go from being competent at something to feeling totally inept, and this is often enough resistance to keep players from straying outside the box. I know I have been guilty many times of avoiding heroes for a variety of reasons only to eventually try them and really fall in love with their uniqueness. Of course, this only ever happens after losing several hundred MMR in terribly confusing, unfun games to learn.
This is a concept that is still only really prevalent in the pro scene. We have been conditioned for a very long time to believe that Dota is a game where two heroes lane top, two heroes lane bottom, and one hero lanes mid. While there have been patches where the distribution of heroes was different, the 2-1-2 laning style has been popular for much of the game’s history. This structure has only been further supported by the role queue system and created a great deal of rigidity to the way many players look at the game.
At the highest level you will see players exiting swapping lanes, dragging creeps behind the tower, or just giving the lane to a support and rotating elsewhere if the current matchup is not a useful one. Dota is a game about adapting to the current situation and the fluidity of pro teams rarely translates to a pub environment. Instead of constantly looking for new plays to gain an advantage, most pub rotations break down to something like, “oh, I’ve been standing in trees for 30 seconds and can’t get a kill here so I’m going to go to another lane at random and do the same thing there.”
Mid lane is, without a doubt, the worst lane to push high ground in. It’s also the shortest lane to go down, and this means that it is often the place players will look to pressure after winning a fight. The mid lane is for those incredible against-all-odds moments that go down in Dota history. These moments are actually quite rare. In most cases, a more deliberate approach of controlling the right parts of the map and slowly sieging a side lane will yield better results. It’s not quite as exciting though, so the mistake is understandable.
The shortness of the mid lane is one of the main issues. Pushing in the lane is so easy and that means it’s also easy to push it back for the defending team. Pushing mid creates a lot less map pressure than any of the other lanes because it builds up less of a creep wave advantage. The lane is also more vulnerable to rotate into from either of the side lanes. This means not only is it more dangerous to siege from but it simply wastes less of the opposing team’s time to deal with.
Finally, mid lane is the only lane of Barracks where there are two tier 4 towers directly behind the tier 3. Winning a high ground fight often means diving into the base and in the mid lane this means you end up getting hit by potentially three towers at once. Why fight into a disadvantage when other options exist?
By now many of us have probably played a couple thousand games of Dota at least. We have also likely watched a few professional tournaments and some high skilled streamers as well. As a result, we often expect a bit too much out of the games that we play in the uncoordinated chaos of pubs. There are many reasons why your teammates might disappoint you. Personality clashes, people playing unfamiliar heroes or roles, or someone just having an off day are all part of the regular experience in pub Dota.
Sometimes we have to carry as a support and other times we have to ward as a carry. Expecting your Master Tier Invoker player to dominate the game might be logical but if he just got fired from a job today, there is a good chance he plays like Exort, Exhort, Wex makes a meat pie instead of a meteor. In pub Dota, you always have to be ready to do a little bit extra to win.
This one might seem a little weird to list right after number four but it is also an important realization to make. There are very few new players entering Dota these days and that means the majority of the player base has significant experience under their belt. A few years ago hardly anyone knew what pulling was. These days, the average laning stage is a pretty serious contest for last hits and denies.
Dota has become a lot more about the nuances and the macro game and how consistently you can maintain a good mindset to make good decisions. Most players have pretty decent mechanics and at least passable knowledge of their favorite role. Not to sound like a Boomer or anything but back in my day, it was possible to find just one or two very basic things to exploit against most players. These days, if you’re not trying hard you’re probably losing.