These 10 tips will improve your Dota 2 gameplay

Make your in-game experience smoother and give yourself a slight competitive advantage.

Image via Valve

Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games like Dota 2 tend to be self-explanatory to a certain point. While it may feel like you’ll never understand what’s going on in a complex team fight, every player develops a basic game knowledge.

Once the foundation is set, improving further requires a bit of studying, however. If you’ve started feeling stuck in a bracket and don’t know what you can do better, it means you’re ready to take the next few steps.

There are some relatively straightforward tricks that higher level players use to gain an advantage over the less knowledgeable, but also to optimize the flow of their gameplay in each game. From the simplest mechanical tasks to the most complex of moves, some things separate players who play for fun and those who play to win.

While small efficiency tricks will increase your game knowledge, they’ll mean less if you keep making the same fundamental mistakes. Before implementing advanced tricks to your gameplay, you should perfect your understanding of the game and fully grasp the essence of Dota 2.

Here are the best tricks you can apply to take both you and your team’s Dota 2 experience to the next level.

Fundamental tips

Understand the game and your role

While it’ll be easy to perform in a game where your team’s winning all the lanes, it may get confusing to identify what you should do when the game starts going south. Most newcomers to Dota 2 usually prefer following their team even if it means losing fight after fight.

To make the most of every game, you should first study the game and become able to identify bad situations from the good ones. Once you can start telling where the game is going, you should play to your role’s strengths.

If you’re a support, you should focus on providing safe vision and enable your team to farm safely while having a teleportation scroll (TP) ready to help your team whenever they need you. A carry should focus on getting farm and completing essential items until achieving a certain confidence level. If you’re on a playmaker offlaner or a mid laner hero, it’ll be hard to play from behind but you should try your best not to take any bad fights.

Knowing how much farm you should take is also another vital aspect to consider. While the position five player’s prime objective is to allow their other teammates to farm safely, position four supports need to play in a way that allows them to farm at least a bit, which will help them be online when it comes to hero interactions and teamfights. Position one and two players will need the most farm to potentially carry the game, while position three players will settle for a certain amount of farm that gets them going most of the time.

All of these are aspects that each player will grasp over time as they play more. Still, you can speed up this process gradually by tuning into educational streams of high-level players and watching professional games. 

Study the metagame and find your place in it

Metagame, also referred to as ‘the meta’ by some, refers to the most popular heroes in a given patch and the most viable strategies. Though you should be able to figure out what works and what doesn’t from professional games and personal experience, studying your skill bracket is critical to reducing your sample size.

Statistical websites like Dotabuff and OpenDota gather data from all skill brackets to help players understand the metagame around different skill tiers. A hero can have a high win rate in lower brackets while it may struggle in Divine and above. It’ll always be hard to master all heroes, so if you aim to climb up in ranks, we recommend picking a role and a couple of heroes that have positive win rates to master.

Mastering a handful of meta heroes and a role will give you the best chances of winning in a specific meta and your skill bracket. Watch guides for your heroes and roles to understand our effect on the game. Try not to die without casting spells at least once in fights and master the art of positioning to get the most out of your hero.

Understand objectives and resources

Dota 2 is a game of objectives. You can be 30 kills behind, but it won’t matter the slightest if you manage to take down the ancient. There will be times defending a tower will mean everything, while sometimes you’ll need to sacrifice resources to gain more substantial advantages like the Aegis of the Immortal from Roshan.

From a support’s point of view, even taking down an enemy ward is an objective and you should consider helping out your supports while they’re trying to provide vision. Placing wards around the enemy will also enable your team to cash in on the enemy team’s resources, such as their jungle camps. This will increase the total amount of farm your team receives, which can transition into a stable lead over time.

Grasping these two concepts will help your position one and two carry players to farm safely since your more durable heroes can surely utilize the resources close to the enemy territory. You’ll be keeping the enemy busy as well which will cause them to fall behind in terms of farm. You should understand that going as five people may not always be the best strategy all the time and playing the game of resources can secure a solid win.

Play around timings

Just like objectives, timings, and the element of surprise are some of the most powerful tricks in Dota 2. If you’re against a magic damage heavy line-up, consider using a Smoke of Deceit right after your carry players purchase a Black King Bar. Taking the fight to the enemy, before they know your carries’ item situation, will catch them off guard and give you an upper hand to take down a more significant objective. Gimmicks like these can be essential to take down Roshan or take down a lane of barracks.

The same applies to the mentioned enemy team as well. If you understand the gold income rates and the timing within the game, you can prompt your team to take action before a certain hero completes an item. In the same case, the enemy team could be the ones using the Smoke of Deceit and gank the enemy carries before they finish their items, which would delay their timing even further.

Image via Daniel2009

You should also be aware of the timings throughout the map, like the Roshan, which spawns between eight and 11 minutes. Bounty Runes spawn every five minutes starting from the beginning of the game and reward your team with an increasing amount of gold with each spawn. Power-up runes spawn every two minutes, starting from the two-minute mark. Power-up runes include Double Damage, Haste, Illusion, Invisibility, Regeneration, and the Arcane Rune.

Each rune, including the bounties, can be a recipe to make a play. You should consider strategizing around these timings to catch the enemy team off guard. 

Don’t hesitate to change your gameplan and item build

Though you may have expectations of how a game should go before it starts, Dota 2 can always surprise you. 

Swapping lanes, teleporting to help, or ganking a lane in need can help you secure an early advantage. Don’t be afraid about moving from your lane if you see an opportunity to help out a teammate. Enabling a teammate can lead to them helping you once they solidify their lead.

The same goes for your item build, too. Your guide might be telling you to finish off that Sange and Yasha before everything, but sometimes you may need to consider an early Black King Bar to stand your ground in team fights. 

While you’ll fully grasp these situations with time, mastering a handful of heroes while watching professionals will undoubtedly help your progress. This is because you’ll know your heroes’ strengths and witnesses through both experience and study.

Mechanical tips

Practice canceling your attack animations and orb walking

Attack animations of heroes in Dota 2 take a bit longer than the actual attack itself since a backswing also occurs after each successful blow. Though it may look like the usual way of attacking, you can cancel your attack animation half-way through and start a new one to save you time.

For melee heroes, you’ll need to issue a move command right after your hero’s blade touches the enemy. Doing so will immediately cancel the backswing animation and help you chase down your enemy faster.

For ranged heroes, the backswing animation starts as soon as the projectile leaves your hero’s body. Don’t wait for it to hit the enemy hero. Start moving as soon as you see the projectile going toward the enemy.

Learning how to cancel your attack animation will also allow you to perform orb walking with heroes that have unique attack modifiers, such as Drow Ranger and Outworld Devourer. Since these heroes have usable spells that modify their auto-attack, you’ll avoid drawing creep aggro, alongside taking full advantage of canceling attack animations.

Master laning mechanics like stacking, pulling, and drawing creep aggro to your advantage

Performing well in team fights may mean less if you can’t hold your own in the lane. Last hitting more than your enemies while denying as many creeps as you can isn’t the only thing to secure a lane, however.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a support hero or not, you can always stack a camp close to the lane and pull it as your allied creeps approach. This will both deny your enemies’ experience gain and will also shift the equilibrium of the lane toward your side. 

Having the lane equilibrium can allow your opponents’ to take free swings at you, however, so you should get used to using the creep aggro to your advantage. When creeps clash in the lane, they usually form a line, and most of the time you’ll have your allied creeps on your side of the lane. You can issue an attack command on the enemy hero you’re facing which will make the enemy creeps target you.

Instead of going for the attack, quickly cancel it and move towards your tower. This will make the enemy creeps follow you and once they stop, enemy creeps will be close to your side of the map.

Drop or put your stat items into your backpack before using regeneration items

While it may not sound practical, if you turn dropping your stats items into a habit, it starts adding up. When your hero’s maximum HP and mana values (the denominator in the ratio) increase, the current value (the numerator) also keeps up in terms of its proportion relative to the maximum amount. In other games, the present value would instead stay at the same number rather than matching the ratio as it was before.

This mechanic is highly abusable when it comes to consumable restorative items. For example, imagine that you have an Enchanted Mango, which instantly restores 110 mana when consumed. Your hero has 300 mana out of a maximum of 500. If you pop the Mango as is, you would end up with 410 mana.

But if you drop your stat items before eating the Mango, you would end up with a fully-topped up gauge. The best part? You would still end up with a full gauge after picking the item back up again. Cool stuff, isn’t it?

Of course, you shouldn’t do this in the face of enemy heroes who could otherwise destroy your item while it’s on the ground, so either back off for a bit before dropping your item or just place it in the backpack for a while.

The same methodology applies to your health as well, which you can manipulate by dropping and picking up strength items.

Know when to save for a buyback and use the quickbuy option

Try as we may, escaping death doesn’t always work out in our favor. Sometimes you just get completely caught off-guard, and in others, you make a critical mistake that would have otherwise saved your life had it been the right call.

Whenever you die in Dota 2, you lose a certain amount of gold based on your level and how much gold you have, unlike League of Legends.

While saving for a buyback is one of the most potent game-changing factors in Dota 2, sometimes you may need a buyback and not spending your gold in time can delay your timings. Keep your next purchase on the quickbuy tab and always be ready to use your button to buy the pieces you can before dying, if you aren’t saving for a buyback.

Honorable mention: Communication

You’ll indeed master all the skills above with time as you play more and more Dota 2. It can only take you so far without good communication, though.

Never forget that each player can only see a limited portion of the map actively on their screen. While everyone should have a certain level of map awareness, you can always be their eye on the other side of the map and keep them updated.

Calling when an enemy hero is missing or letting your team know what kind of rune they picked up can make it easier for your team to adjust their gameplay. Dota 2’s voice chat comes in clutch in situations like this and you can keep up the communication without lifting a finger.

We recommend actively watching guides, professional matches, and spectating high-level matches in Dota 2 to continually improve yourself. Focus on a player’s perspective and think about why they’re doing what they do.

Analyzing their moves will expand your knowledge of the game and you’ll start identifying specific scenarios in your games as well, which you’ll be ready for.