SlashStrike’s Guide to Shift-Queuing

Introduction

Hi guys, I’m SlashStrike (still not slahser), and I’m bringing you my guide Shift-Queuing. You may remember me from my guide to solo mid Earthshaker. Now, to some of you shift-queuing may seem like a pointless thing to write a guide about, because it is in fact fairly simple. However, I’m also sure that many of you are unaware of the mechanics behind shift-queuing, don’t entirely understand how it works, have no clue when to use it and therefore miss out on many little tricks that could improve your game.

There’s a video accompanying this written guide – throughout the text you will find links to certain times of the video, demonstrating what I am discussing. At the end of this guide you can see the full video embedded, in case you want to look through it again.

Lastly, if you want to see me make use of these techniques live at 6500+ MMR, you can check out my twitch channel.

Table of Contents

  1. What is shift-queuing exactly
  2. Common Uses
  3. Notable Hero Mentions
  4. Conclusion

What is shift-queuing exactly?

Shift-queuing refers to the ability to assign several actions that your hero or unit will complete one after another without needing any additional clicks.

Let’s clear up the most common misconceptions about shift queuing. Shift queuing spell combinations is almost always a horrible idea, and will lead to a slower execution when compared to manual casting.

Demonstrated with Puck from 0:10 till 0:41 (the “0:10” is a link!)

This is because most heroes’ casting animations have a frontswing (also known as cast point) and a backswing. If you cancel the frontswing, the spell does not go off and is cancelled without any mana or cooldown being used. Cancelling the backswing is something you should always aim to do, because completing it does not achieve anything – the spell has already gone off, yet your hero keeps flailing his arms around until you issue a new command.

Demonstrated with Ember from 0:50 till 1:30

While cancelling the backswing can be done by giving any new order (be it to move, attack or cast another spell / item), cancelling the frontswing can only be done by issuing a stop command (pressing ‘S’). The point is that if you shift queue spells, your hero will complete the full backswing of each one, resulting in slower execution. So don’t do that.

So, when should you shift-queue?

Common Uses

When eating a tango while chasing or being chased, it is an absolute must to shift-queue in order to not slow down. When using tangoes and/or a quelling blade to juke through the forest, the same thing applies – shift queuing makes it much faster.

Demonstrated with Puck from 0:42 till 0:50

When you want to use a spell right after teleporting, shift-queuing is once again your friend as it makes sure you do it as soon as possible, with no risk of cancelling the TP. You can also shift queue item-casts after teleporting, such as the common blink to safety, but also for example an Orchid silence, a Blademail or a BKB, if you are teleporting into the middle of a fight.

Picking up runes or items can also be done through shift-queuing, and once again it makes the process faster. If you are playing a hero with manaboots and would like to drop your forcestaff before using them, for example, you can shift queue the item-drop and the cast of manaboots right after. This also works with multiple items, i.e. dropping the manaboots and forcestaff at the same time in order to use bottle, for example.

Microing any kind of summons or illusions can also be done more effectively by shift queuing – for example, you could shift queue a path through the forest for Furion’s treants in order to have them scout, or you shift-queue several attack-move (a-click) commands for Invoker’s Forged Spirits or a dominated creep, to have them push a lane.

Lastly, if you would like to quickly buy an item from the sideshop and immediately run back to the lane in order to not miss any lasthits, the fastest way to do it is to shift queue a move command to and back from the shop, and then focus your mouse on the items you want to sell/buy.

Notable Hero Mentions

There are some heroes that benefit from shift-queuing as part of their combos, but they are only heroes that have channeling spells.

Sand King’s Epicenter into blink is probably the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about shift-queuing, and for a good reason. In order to blink/burrow right after you finish channeling, shift-queuing is imperative because an interrupted channel means a whiffed ultimate.

Windrunner’s Powershot is a channeling spell, and ever since the fix you need to let it go for the entire channel in order to get the full damage – to avoid cancelling it, you can shift-queue an attack/move/spellcast command after.

Shadow Shaman is an interesting case, because he has his Shackles as a channeling spell that can be followed up by Hex. Since the latter is an instant cast (hex spells have an instant cast time regardless of the hero), it allows you to chain the two disables perfectly.

Elder Titan’s Echo Stomp is channeled, so like with Windrunner it is a good idea to shift-queue your next commands to not risk cancelling it accidentally.

Pudge’s Dismember is channeling, so it’s a good idea to shift-queue a move command to chase afterwards, or perhaps a blink out if you’re low on HP. However, never shift-queue a hook because people expect it and it is very easy to sidestep from such a close range. Bane’s Fiend’s Grip, Kotl’s Illuminate and Oracle’s Fortune’s End all follow suit.

Enigma’s black hole can also be followed by a shift-queued malefice in order to further chain disable a single target.

Special mention goes out to Tinker, who’s Rearm is channeled meaning that he is the hero you should be shift-queuing the most with, constantly.

Note that Shadowfiend’s Requiem of Souls, Meepo’s Poof, Sniper’s Assassinate and Furion’s Teleport are not channeled – they simply have a long casting time, meaning that issuing any commands other than ‘Stop’ while they are being cast will not cancel them, essentially eliminating the need for shift-queuing as you could just spam click to move/attack as the spell is about to finish casting.

Conclusion

NEVER shift queue long spell-combinations, only do it to follow up a channeling spell or item, or to walk a certain path through the map.

I hope you enjoyed the guide, and if you wish to support me you can do so by following me on the social media linked in the sidebar on the right!

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SlashStrike’s Guide to Solo Mid Earthshaker

Raigor Stonehoof, the Earthshaker

Introduction

Hi, I’m SlashStrike (not slahser, a common mistake), and I’m bringing you my guide to solo mid Earthshaker. Normally when writing a guide to a hero I would not pigeonhole them into a certain role, but in the case of ES, playing him mid rather than support changes the hero’s optimal playstyle and impact on the game drastically. The basic playstyle is not very difficult, but has a high skill ceiling. If you enjoy forcing the enemies to react rather than reacting to them while you’re farming, then this guide is for you.

There’s a video accompanying this written guide – throughout the text you will find links to certain times of the video, demonstrating what I am discussing. At the end of this guide you can see the full video embedded with a transcript of everything I say in it, in case you want to look through it again.

Lastly, if you want to see me play Earthshaker or other heroes live at 6500+ MMR, you can check out my twitch channel as well as see my game history with him.

Characteristics & Statistics

Pros

  • Good at solo kills, skirmishes and teamfights
  • Decent farmer
  • Strong at all stages of the game
  • Deceptively hard to kill

Cons

  • Melee
  • Weak laning stage versus some heroes
Level 1 16 25
Hit Points 568 1423 2259
Mana 208 585 1027
Damage 46‒56 91-101 135‒145
Armor 2.68 5.9 10.18
Attacks / Second 0.65 0.79 0.97
Movement Speed 310
Turn Rate 0.9
Sight Range 1800/800
Attack Range Melee
Missile Speed Instant
Attack Duration 0.467+0.863
Cast Duration 0.69+0.5
Base Attack Time 1.7
Strength 22 + 2.9
Agility 12 + 1.4
Intelligence 16 + 1.8
(thanks to Dota2Wiki for the table)

While his starting stats aren’t too great, his strength gain is tied for 8th highest out of all heroes. His movement speed is a great above average 310, and his base armor is right about average at 2.7. His turnrate is an amazing 0.9, only bested by 6 heroes that have a full turnrate of 1. His cast point, however, is abysmal at 0.69 seconds, the second slowest in the game after Leshrac. Fortunately, Echoslam has no castpoint and is therefore instant. His attack damage and attack point are both quite average, but being melee he is very easy to last-hit with once you get used to him.

Skill Build

The optimal skillbuild is quite interesting, because while it follows a certain structure there are several moments where you can alternate depending on the game.
At level one, you don’t skill anything. If your supports gank the enemy mid or you get ganked, you want to have Fissure. If not, however, you leave the skillpoint open. At level two, you take one in Totem and one in Aftershock – this is your main lane-control tool, and having it at level two as opposed to level three makes a huge difference.

1. Fissure / Nothing
2. Aftershock (& Enchant Totem)
3. FissureEnchant Totem

  • At level 3, you always want to be at 1-1-1-0.

4. Aftershock
5. Enchant Totem
6. Echoslam

  • At level 6, you will be at 1-2-2-1.

7. Aftershock
8. Enchant Totem
9. Enchant Totem
10. Aftershock

Here you have some room for variation from levels 7 to 9. You rarely need more than 3 levels of Aftershock before maxing Totem, and sometimes even two could be enough, depending on the enemy heroes. If they have many escape mechanisms and/or fast casting animations, higher levels in Aftershock makes it easier to keep them chainstunned. If they are slow but tanky, higher levels in Totem will help you burst through their HP.

11. Echoslam
12. Stats / Fissure
13. Stats / Fissure
14. Stats / Fissure
15. Stats / Fissure
16. Echoslam
17. Stats / Fissure
18. Stats / Fissure

Etc.

At this point in the game you will normally have 400-450 max mana (without Treads on int), and taking level two Echoslam increases the manacost. If you start levelling Fissure right after, you will run into mana problems. Taking a few levels of stats not only increases your manapool, but keeps the manacost on Fissure low. How many levels of stats you take before maxing Fissure depends on the game a lot, but keep in mind that just 1 level in stats gives you +10 damage on a Totem hit. Generally I take at least two points in stats before coming back to maxing Fissure – the choice is essentially: Fissure for all-out teamfights, stats for solo kills and frequent skirmishes.

Another thing to keep in mind, however, is what kind of enemy heroes you are facing. Against slippery heroes with escape mechanisms like Storm, Puck, Mirana, etc., an earlier maxed Fissure can be very useful to catch them off guard from the fog and set up for other disables. If you’re up against the likes of Doom, DK and Rooftrellen then you might need stats more than you need extra disable time.

Item Build

Early game

Ask a support to pool you 2 tangos, buy a salve, 2 branches and a stout shield. If no one pools you just buy the tangos, it’s not fatal. You can swap the stout shield for a magic stick against some spell spammers like Zeus and Batrider. If the enemies have a Nature’s Prophet, you should consider getting a set of tangos instead of the salve, so you always have one ready in case he ganks you with sprout. Get Bottle as soon as possible and Boots after. If the enemy have aggressive heroes, it’s important to buy an early TP scroll as well (right after Boots and Bottle) so that you can react and punish towerdives, something that Earthshaker is very good at.

Core

Bottle, Blink, Magic Wand, Power Treads, TP Scroll and Stout Shield

This is the absolute core that will be the best choice in 99% of games. Bottle and Wand give you just enough mana when combined with Treads-toggling. Swapping Wand out for another smallish item (Urn/Basi/Medallion/etc.) is situational and could work, but will leave you with less mana over-all. Getting one of those items as well as the Wand and Bottle will mean you’ve run out of slots already and have to start selling items very early, which is of course something you want to avoid. Stout Shield is the first item you sell as you start working on a luxury item. You only lose 125 gold, and while this item has made your laning stage a LOT easier, it is not really necessary afterwards.

In the event that you’re farming safelane instead of mid, you can get a Ring of Basilius (later Aquila) instead of Bottle. This allows you to push the tower, helps your mana regen, and gives armor to make up for the lack of a stout shield. Aquila is worth it as an upgrade simply because it’s so cost efficient.

Luxury

Black King Bar, Heaven’s Halberd, Assault Cuirass, Armlet, Sange and Yasha, Abyssal Blade, Heart of Tarrasque, Daedalus

Your first post-core pickup will often be a BKB, because it allows you to get your spells off uninterrupted in the middle of the fight – it is an absolute must versus certain heroes like Puck, Invoker, Earth Spirit, etc. (spell heavy but none of them go through magic immunity)

If the enemies have many right clickers, little magical damage or only a few disables that do not go through BKB, a Heaven’s Halberd can be a great pickup – it makes you extremely hard to kill, and the +20 strength gives you +100 damage on Totem hits, not counting the raw +25 damage from the Halberd, while the active is amazing at shutting down heroes that rely heavily on hitting people (most often ranged heroes like TA, Huskar, Furion, Storm, Clinkz, but also melee’s like PA, Ursa and AM). Note that Heaven’s Halberd is not dispelled by Manta Style.

Assault Cuirass is often my preferred pickup after BKB, because the 3 auras give you incredible teamfight presence, while the armor bonus makes you extremely difficult to kill. The -armor boosts your Totem hits, of course, and the attackspeed when combined with your Treads turns you into a solid right clicker, not relying solely on Totem. It also helps immensely with pushing highground!

Armlet is one of the most cost-effective items, giving you a lot of damage, attackspeed, health, regen and armor for a low cost.

Sange and Yasha is more of a fighting item and works well if you go for an Abyssal afterwards, because it gives you plenty of attack speed. There is no point getting it and then dissassembling into a Halberd, because turning the Yasha into a Manta is a pretty huge waste of gold, and letting the 2k gold item sit in your inventory is not exactly what you want either.

Abyssal can be amazing because it extends your late-game lockdown on a single target a lot, essentially allowing you to Echo->Totem->Abyssal->Fissure->Totem and chainstun someone for 7-8 seconds.

Heart is nice for obvious reasons, but is rarely the best choice, because it gives you just survivability while other items give you that and more.

Why not x?

I personally would never get Daedalus unless it’s my 5th or 6th item, simply because I don’t like how unreliable it is. I’d rather deal slightly less damage but guaranteed, than have to take my chances with a critical hit. Furthermore, like HoT it is a very one-dimensional item, giving you a lot of right click single target damage but nothing else.

I dislike Shadow Blade because the initiation it offers is a million times weaker than Blink, and after the dagger there are many more useful items. Furthermore, people on your team often pick Mirana when they see you take Earthshaker, and getting an Sblade when the enemies have sentries up for Moonlight Shadow is a pretty bad idea.

Aghanim’s Scepter is straight up one of the worst items to buy – you are spending 4200 gold for mediocre stats and its true ‘usefulness’ is only once every time your Echoslam is off cooldown. Even then, the damage boost is negligible compared to the way you can buff up your Totem physical damage as well as survivability through the other items. Seriously, never buy this.

Laning stage & Matchups

Your goal in the laning stage depends on the enemy you’re facing. Generally speaking, if it is a melee hero, you can look to bully them out of the lane and even score an early kill. If it is a ranged hero, you should aim to farm safely and stay healthy in terms of HP and mana so you can assist should your teammate’s gank. Don’t be afraid when you get ganked – you have your Fissure and Enchant Totem to slow the enemies down, and can even use Echo to turn it around.

The hunters become the hunted from 1:32 till 1:46

Lanaya is an extremely strong laner that flat out wins the lane versus many heroes by outfarming them as well as harassing them and having solid kill potential. While Earthshaker doesn’t beat her, he can get decent farm, superior rune control and should never die due to TA’s short attack range. Try baiting her to attack you, going back and letting your creeps take off her Refraction charges. Going for a kill with Echo won’t work unless her Refraction charges are down, so keep a close eye on that.

Despite being ranged, he likes fighting in melee range due to his remnant – it’s important to keep in mind his very high starting armor, because your Totem hits will not be as effective. Nevertheless he is squishy and can be bursted from full hp when you hit level 6-7.

Even though Tinker is a fairly strong laner, this lane is even at worst, and in your favour at best. Even if he Lasers you, you can still last hit with Fissure and/or Aftershock – at level 6 and onwards if you ever get close enough for an Echo next to the creeps, you can burst him even from full hp. If he plays passively by spamming March, you’ll get freefarm and thus get a very early Blink Dagger, which again means Tinker will be an easy kill for you.

Video demonstration from 1:19 till 1:31

Similar to Tinker, she should never even get close to killing you, and should not get any runes as long as you’re in position to Fissure block her. She’s not very tanky early on and you can man up and run at her to fight her in melee range. If she backs off you get some cs and tank her mediocre harass, if she manfights you, you’ll get the better trade. Also killable at 6.

One of the harder lanes for you, focus on getting farm for your blink and Bottle Crow – you can’t really contest runes because he can orb over your Fissure. Don’t bother trying to manfight because he can not only Phase Shift your spells but cancel the huge casting animations with Waning Rift. As soon as you get your Blink, however, Puck should be easy to kill.

Again, one of the strongest laners that Earthshaker is actually quite good against – he’s melee, meaning you can hit and nuke him plenty and threaten a kill! Furthermore, your Totem has a 5 second cooldown and 50 manacost, and even though his clap is a bit stronger it costs a lot more mana and is on a much higher cooldown. If he ever goes on you, you also have your Fissure. When he hits level 6, however, he could go for a kill on you, but as long as you stay at above 2/3rds hp you should be fine.

Fairly even lane, he’s going to keep his distance so you probably won’t be able to solo kill him unless he makes a mistake, but he’s not going to deny you any farm either. Just remember to buy a Magic Stick.

Quite tough to deal with for any melee. Don’t use Fissure after he links you and runs after you – the animation is so long that he’ll have drained enough damage by the time you break it. Try to anticipate when he’s going to cast it and Fissure preemptively. Other than that, respect his long range damage output and just get whatever cs you can. You should have superior rune control because he cannot pass the Fissure.

Similar to Razor, but not as bad. If he maxes his Orb and Nethertoxin, he will pressure you a lot but be an easy kill later on. If he maxes his corrosive skin forget about solo killing him, but you will be able to get decent farm on the lane.

Fairly easy lane for Earthshaker, if he goes Wex you just outfarm him with your higher base damage and make sure you’re low on mana so that if he goes on you with EMP it won’t burn much and he won’t have the damage to kill you. If he goes Exort it’s even better for you – run up to him and manfight him (he has a very low base MS and armor), kill his Forged Spirit with Totem and get complete rune control.

Midgame with Kelen’s Dagger

Midgame starts for you as soon as you pick up your Blink. At this point you should be able to deal at least 70-80% of most heroes’ max HP with your regular combo, and solo kill anyone from full if you add your Echoslam. If you jump multiple targets, all the better. The key is to make the enemies afraid to be alone, forcing them to 5 man. Of course, when they group up you are even stronger!

The regular combo is in fact not easy to execute perfectly, especially if you include Treads-toggling (which is not always worth it, sometimes it’s better to make sure you get the kill, even if you spend a bit more mana). Basically it goes Totem cast -> wait until ~1.5 sec cd left on Totem, blink in and Fissure from melee range so the Aftershock hits them. Fissure in a direction that won’t displace the enemy nor block you, and will allow you to hit them quickly. Hit with your Enchanted Totem, then cast it again and hit again.

How exactly to pull this off from 0:04 till 0:51 

The higher your attack speed, the easier to pull off, and lategame you could even have time for two rightclicks before using Totem again. When your Fissure is maxed later on, you can use it from fog to initiate, sacrificing a little bit of damage while eliminating any possibility of a reaction by the enemy.
Your only weakness at this point is the cooldown on Echoslam, but it requires incredible coordination from the enemy team to exploit it, something often lacking in pubs. Don’t hesitate to use Echo if you can kill more than one hero, or solo the 1 or 2 position on the enemy team. If going for multiple heroes, remember to hit the right targets with Totem.

Some examples from 0:52 till 1:19 

Fissure blocking is an extremely important part of playing Earthshaker, but there is not too much to write about. The spell has incredible utility, and the ways in which you can use it are only limited by your imagination.

Take a look at the video from 1:59 till the end

Farming and Pushing

Since you should not spend a lot of time farming as Earthshaker after you have your blink (but rather be killing people and / or pushing towers), it’s important to do it as efficiently as possible. Don’t last hit a 10 hp creep with your x00 damage Totem hit, use it on the tankiest one alive.

Video demonstration from 1:47 till 1:58

Furthermore, keep in mind that unlike a critical hit, Enchant Totem hits deal their damage to buildings, which means you can siege towers quite effectively with Totem hits while killing the creeps with the Aftershocks.

Closing words

That’s it for the guide! I hope you found it informative, and if you did and wish to see more from me in the future you can support me by following me on twitterfacebook, youtube and of course twitch.

If you have any requests for the future guides feel free to send me a message on any platform.

Good luck and let’s shake things up!

Video Transcript

Hi guys, this is SlashStrike, and today I’m bringing you my guide to a solo mid Earthshaker.
These first few clips demonstrate a mid Earthshaker’s basic killing combo, without using Echoslam. You cast Enchant Totem out of the enemy’s sight in preparation, and wait a little bit for the cooldown. Stun them with Fissure, hit them with Totem, cast Totem a second time and hit them again. This combo deals about one thousand damage, partly magical but mostly physical, meaning it is more effective versus targets with lower armor.

What’s crucial to land the combo properly is to make sure the Fissure hits them from melee range. This is because a level one Fissure only stuns for one second, which is not enough to both attack with the Enchanted hit and cast Totem a second time. By landing the Fissure from melee range you trigger the aftershock, which stuns for 1.5 seconds at level 4, giving you enough time for the combo.

When going for multiple targets, it is important to you distribute your AoE and single target damage accordingly. Notice how I hit Clinkz with my first Totem hit, and then let the Aftershocks finish him off, while I use the second Totem hit to kill dazzle.

Whenever you can kill two heroes or more, it is always worth it to initiate with your Echoslam. Because the cast time is instant, it gives your enemies no chance to react no matter how fast their animations are.
As soon as you hit level 6, you can use your ultimate to burst down the enemy mid from full hp. Very few players expect this, and despite the long 150 second cooldown it is worth it because often you won’t have your blink dagger yet.

When you’re getting ganked, don’t panic. Try to bait the enemies close to you so you can hit them with your three aoe stuns. Remember to use Bottle while they’re stunned, so even if  you don’t kill them during your stuns, you’ll have more hp afterwards and still be able to survive.

Like with any hero, it is important to farm as efficiently as possible with shaker. Notice how I bring three creeps to low hp, let Aftershock last hit them and use Totem to kill the last one.

Fissure blocking is what separates a good Earthshaker from a great Earthshaker, because it depends so much on the enemy’s position, the only way to learn it is by practicing. The more you play, the more familiar you will get with how you need to position yourself.

Fissure is a very versatile spell. It can even be used to separate void from his target inside the chrono sphere! It is however not easy to use, and with a high reward comes a high risk. In the following clip, I miss my Fissure. Instead of blocking TA, I block my team and help her escape.
Of course, the risk of this happening does not mean you should not try to get Fissure blocks – even though a mistake is bad for the game you’re in right now, it improves you as a player in the long run.

This is a similar clip from a different game –t his time I don’t miss the block, and thanks to the vision provided by bloodseeker my team was able to seal the deal and get the kill on TA.
That’s it guys, thanks for watching – if you found this guide informative, and want to see more in the future, you can support me by following me on the social media linked in the description.

Climbing the Ladder – Chapter 2: Ganking

Introduction

This post is the second of a relatively long series that will hopefully cover as many of DotA’s large strategic elements as possible. Before starting with anything, I just want to remind you that DotA is a game of reactions, and no advice should ever be followed blindly. What I describe may work in most situations, but could be a bad option in some particular games. Therefore, look to learn as much as possible from this but remember to not treat it as a step by step plan.

These are the elements of ganking I will be discussing:

  • What ganking achieves / why it is done
  • When to gank where
  • Midgame ganking
  • Lategame ganking
  • Defensive & offensive items
  • Global interference
  • Baiting & Smoking
  • Dodging ganks

What Ganking Achieves / Why it is done

Ganking is obviously done with the intent of killing the opponent’s hero. But what does the kill actually give you, and what does it take from the enemy? You get gold (Current Streak Of Dying Hero + 200 + Dying Hero Level * 9) and you get some experience depending on their level. The guy that just died loses 30 x his level in gold, and is out of the game for 5 + 3.8 × his level in seconds.

However, we have to take gold reliability into account – supports will have mostly reliable gold on them, which means they won’t lose nearly as much when dying. Carries on the other hand, will usually be stocked up on unreliable gold and lose much more, as well as have to waste time getting back into a position they can farm in. This is why you would much rather gank carries than supports, because you get the same benefits as killing a support, but you set the enemy team back a whole lot further. The fact that carries are usually the optimal gank targets may be common knowledge, but it is important to understand exactly why that is. I really cannot stress this point enough – far too often I see players neglect farming so that they can kill a support over and over. Not only is it not beneficial, it’s bad. It doesn’t matter whether that CM is 0-5 or 0-15, once the enemy PA gets farmed and fat from creeps she will just enjoy that huge gold bounty on your head even more.

So we’ve discussed the gold and experience factors, and what remain are the more important ones – time and position. Obviously, when the enemy hero respawns they do so at their own fountain. This position is set in stone and can either be a good or bad one depending on where the fighting is taking place. This explains one of the inherent advantages those defending their own base have over those pushing their foes’ base – respawning naturally or buying back means you are back in the fight in no more than a few seconds. If you are the one doing the pushing, however, it takes much, much longer – unless you have Boots of Travel.

And finally, the time spent dead. Many heroes, especially cores, have big impact spells that change the course of the game – heroes that prevent you or make it more difficult and riskier for you to take objectives. The obvious ones would be strong teamfighters with big AoE’s like Tide, Enigma, DS, ES or Disruptor. But then there are strong antipushers like KotL and Tinker, which prevent you from taking any towers. Then there are heroes that are extremely strong around the roshpit due to the terrain, like Batrider, Storm and again the big aoe teamfight heroes – these prevent you from safely taking Rosh even when you are ahead.

Lastly, there are the splitpushers that make the taking of objectives difficult simply because they will push one of your lanes until you react. Nature’s Prophet is the best example – if you want to contest or take rosh, you send 5 heroes there. Furion teleports top and starts pushing. Both teams know it is 5v4 at the moment so the enemies play carefully, but they can also have the Furion TP in and make it a 5v5 whenever they need to. Your team on the other hand cannot afford to make a rash initiation, because if you lose the fight you not only lose rosh but your racks as well. While you are contemplating your decision, Furion’s push continues – as soon as one of you tp’s back to defend, Furion tp’s to Rosh and suddenly it is 4v5 with the enemies having an advantage.

So, here’s the point. All of these heroes restrain your game in some way. As soon as you kill them, you have the space to take an objective, or force their buyback if we’re talking lategame. While some heroes allow you to take objectives through solid pushing or teamfighting, strong gankers allow you to momentarily take those heroes away from the enemy, and press a numbers advantage. Pickoffs on the right targets often mean an uncontested objective taken or a fight without a vital enemy hero.

When to Gank Where

This is probably the single most common question when it comes to ganking.

Keep in mind that when ganking as a core you are losing time during which you are not farming, and this loss is to be directly subtracted from the gains of the gank when considering whether to go for it or not. In order to determine this, you also need to look at your farm rate. Carries such as CK, Slardar and WK have no farming spells, so they are usually picked with the idea of getting some core items and fighting and ganking early. Utility mids such as Puck, Magnus and Batrider do farm well and scale decently but are picked to be tempo controllers, making them well suited to ganking.

Most heavier farmers (AM, Medusa, Naga, etc.) of course should never gank and only look to join a fight in order to pick up some kill gold and help with a push afterwards. Exceptions to this rule would be hard carries that can get solo kills such as Void, PA and Luna, but even for these heroes it is very rarely worth it to put themselves in a dangerous non-farming situation just to have a shot at getting a kill.

Every gank has a certain chance of succeeding, and there are just about a million factors that create that final percentage, many of them uncontrollable. Will the target be watching his hero? Will he be navigating the shop at that moment? If everything goes his way, can you still get the kill? If it’s risky, what will you potentially lose if it fails? All these questions that can be asked about the gank are questions you will start subconsciously working through as you get a better understanding of the game.

It is also important to keep in mind the level of teamwork, timing and over-all difficulty of the ideal execution for the gank. Things like Disruption/Nightmare into Arrow are pretty much a no-brainer, and can be coordinated with anyone. However, often you will see pro teams go for ganks that are not quite as easily done and require everyone being very well on the same page – these are mostly ganks that do not involve many disables but rather burst damage. For example, combining one or more global nukes (AA ult, Furion ult, Clockwerk rocket) with a hero’s regular combo requires good timing – if either comes too early, the enemy will simply back off. Or a gank against a blinking hero with nothing but ministuns – requiring you to cancel their animation just before it completes, several times, in order to get the kill (e.g. Morphling + Dark Seer + Zeus ganking a QoP), or simply combos that require near perfect timing or will completely fail (SD Disruption into Hoofstomp/Torrent/Waning Rift against Blinkers).

Lastly, keep in mind where you will be after getting the successful gank off. In the early game, simply rotating 3-5 heroes, diving the tier 1 and getting a few kills often translates into a tower kill, because the tier 1s are so difficult to defend. However, getting a pickoff in the enemy woods? That’s great, but heroes will respawn very quickly in the early game and you might not be able to get anything more out of that kill, simply because you’re far away from any objective and don’t have the means to get there quickly.

Midgame Ganking

This is usually the time where initiators that rely on Blink Daggers start shining. Sand King, Earthshaker, Puck, Magnus, Batrider, Brewmaster etc. are the heroes that control the game at this point. It is extremely important to know when exactly they get their blink, and your team needs to be prepared and ready to react. Simply calling missing 5 seconds after they stop showing up on lane isn’t enough – it’s fairly common for a Puck that has his Blink to back off as the courier is bringing it together with a TP scroll, and immediately TP to a sidelane to gank, often resulting in several kills if the opponents are caught off guard. Generally in the midgame neither team has built up a huge advantage just yet and fights / ganks can go either way, mostly depending on whoever gets the better initiation or better positioning.

Lategame Ganking

At this stage, the repercussions of a successful or failed gank are much larger. This is mainly due to a longer respawn time, but also higher gold loss (30 x hero level). In fact, the respawn time is not the only time-factor that changes from early to lategame. Your team is able to take objectives at a certain speed depending on the line-up (mobility and building damage), and that speed is always going to be faster the later the game goes due to levels and items. So there’s an increased respawn time, and it takes less time to kill a building or Roshan. If Tinker is dead with no buyback during the midgame, you can maybe get a tower or two at most. If Tinker is dead without buyback lategame, it could mean Rosh and/or one or more ‘racks gone. This is why people play much safer during lategame.

However, it is also a lot more difficult to pull a successful gank off at this stage. Teams tend to stick together a lot, perform baits, and it is also much easier to notice when many people are missing off the map. Another factor to keep in mind come lategame is the inevitable availability of buyback – even if you pick off an important hero, there’s a high probability that they have buyback so do not just charge in blindly.

Defensive & Offensive Items

This is an extremely important factor to consider when determining how a certain fight is going to play out, and is often an element that separates the good players from the bad. At a certain level, you are expected to know all the skills of every hero, and naturally take them into account when going for a gank. However, items are equally if not more important – does the hero have a magic stick or wand? If so, how many charges are on it? Even if it has 0, how many spells are you probably going to use in the gank? Do you have enough damage to go through the wand? This is a fairly straightforward example, but you would be surprised how many people go for ganks that clearly have no chance of being successful, just because they did not check the target’s inventory. Further examples:

Linken’s Sphere, an item commonly purchased on heroes that are already slippery (Morphling, Weaver, Storm, Potm, Slark), making them very difficult to kill. These heroes are already impossible to catch with disables that have a slow casting or travelling time, so you want to have a fast or instant disable – spells like Telekinesis, Primal Roar, Burrowstrike, Fissure, Fiend’s Grip, Hex (spell and item), Orchid, etc.

So, what happens when your gank target gets Linken’s? You can no longer initiate with the instant spell because it will get blocked, and so you need a Linken’s breaker which is either one of your instant casts sacrificed (not recommended because you will often need to chain them to get the kill) or a non-disable that breaks Linken’s with either an instant cast or a long range. These are things like Furion’s ult, Bara’s charge, Axe’s hunger, Luna’s beam, Zeus’ bolt, Disruptor’s glimpse, Invoker’s coldsnap, and for items Forcestaff, Dagon, Eul’s, and others. Another option is a quickly-cast AoE disable that does not get blocked by Linken’s, such as Centaur’s Hoof Stomp, Slardar’s Slithereen Crush, Disruptor’s Static Storm & Kinetic Field, Earthshaker’s Echoslam, etc. If you have no way to effectively deal with it, that is a sign that you are either far behind in terms of levels and item progression, or that this is a weakness in your draft.

The Blink Dagger is also important to note here. Many good players have solid reflexes and will simply blink out if you attempt to initiate on them with any kind of slow-casting spell. Against such targets, it’s a good idea to first break the blink and then go in. Spells that are effective for this are long-range such as Vengeful Spirit’s Wave of Terror, Zeus’ Static Field, Earthshaker’s Fissure, Legion Commander’s Overwhelming Odds, etc.

Another mention goes out to the TP scroll. A far too common mistake on gank parties with a low amount of stuns or ministuns is to use them all straight away – never do that unless you can burst the target in 3 seconds, because otherwise they will simply TP out. When solo ganking with a Nightstalker for example, do not void straight away unless the target is really low – silence and hit a few times, then void, or the target will just tp out immediately after you use your only ministun. A successful gank is all about checking the opponent’s inventory and having an answer ready for heals, ghostform, blinks, forcestaffs, invisibility, etc., so that there is nothing that can take you by surprise and result in a failed gank.

Lastly, keep in mind that at a higher level of play enemies will expect you to check their inventory when given the chance. This knowledge is used to play mindgames, most often with (but not limited to) extremely crucial items such as a blink on initiators like SK, Tide, ES or Enigma. The player in control of that hero will drop their blink or leave it on the courier and then come out of fog – this is when you instinctively check their inventories and call out to your team not to worry, “Enigma has no blink yet”. Half a minute later you’re all pushing highground, supposedly safely, when suddenly Enigma blinks in and gets a fight-winning black hole, and everyone is left dumbfounded.

Don’t be fooled – stay one step ahead of your enemy. Think critically – is it really important for an Enigma to be farming the lane just as we are about to push? Why is he showing himself? Furthermore, consider how the game has been progressing, and whether they really cannot afford a certain item yet.

Global Interference

Just like taking items into account separates the good from the bad players, taking global interference into account separates the great from the good. Fortunately, there aren’t that many global abilities so it should not be difficult to check for them at the beginning of the game. Wisp and Furion’s global TP’s, Mirana’s invisibility, Chen’s heal, Treant’s block + heal, Visage’s birds (some teams use them to follow whoever is likely to get ganked, with the stuns giving the target extra safety) global damaging spells (that might turn it around on you) like Zeus’ ult, Sunstrike, Spectre’s Haunt, etc. Lastly, a special mention goes out to Centaur’s ult. Global haste is always useful, but it is especially one of the few counters to the otherwise so powerful blink->hex initiations, because the haste applies on the chicken and allows the target to escape – keep in mind as well that even if you have more follow up disables, the polymorphed unit has a very small model and is therefore not easy to click when moving at 522 MS.

Baiting & Smoking

Baiting can be achieved in several ways. Usually the goal is to lure the enemy into initiating a fight that seems favourable to them while in reality it favours you. Smoke of Deceit is often used to achieve that effective surprise factor.

The most known method is to have a carry farming the lane seemingly alone, with the entire team smoked up behind him. Unsurprisingly this is the least successful method because very few teams, especially pro teams, will fall for it. You could use that to your advantage and farm aggressively without your team backing you up. The enemies will think your entire team is behind you and decide to push the supposedly empty lane on the other side of the map, when – surprise! – your team is waiting for them there.

There are many other clever ways to be one step ahead and bait the enemy team into your trap, and you can even come up with a new one if you think hard enough. There is the key-item bait as described earlier, often related to blink daggers. You can also position illusions during a push to bait out spells on them.

There are some more advanced baits too, such as the S4 Roshan level 1 bait with Furion, where the Furion intentionally dies to Rosh at level 1 while his team waits for the enemy team to check – then they backstab them and Furion skills level 1 teleportation to get back into the fight. Lastly, the DK courier bait where they send the courier through enemy vision in some direction to make their opponents think that’s where someone is waiting to get their items, while in reality the entirety of DK is smoked to the side and ready to ambush the confused enemy team.

Lastly, having knowledge of where the enemies have wards, but not dewarding them, allows you to use smoke with maximum effectiveness, ambushing them exactly where they felt safe due to having vision.

Dodging Ganks

This is a very important skill that solely requires good game sense and the ability to place yourself in your opponents’ shoes. If you imagine you are on their team, and you have good knowledge and understanding of the purpose, execution and timing of ganks, you will be able to predict them and therefore dodge them, as well as not get baited. It’s all about staying several steps ahead of your opponent.

For example, think about your opponents’ gameplan. Do they have a much weaker lategame than you? Then it is safe to assume they will try to gank, push and fight early a lot in order to finish it in time, and they will probably want to keep the heavy farmer down as much as possible. With this in mind, you should be very careful. And again, think about item timings and what they are doing at the moment. Are they taking Roshan with you being unable to contest, because your initiator is dead? Don’t just farm your woods, push top lane and at least damage the tower for example.

Communication is of course key here – you cannot expect everyone on the team to be checking everyone’s item progression, cooldowns and positioning – call out when Doom uses Doom, or when Ravage is on cooldown, so that your allies can make use of their temporarily increased safe space.

Conclusion

So, to sum it up, ganking is a part of pretty much every dota game, and you need to know both how to execute it properly and how to be prepared for it or dodge it. Know why you gank and when to do it with which heroes, as well as what the chance is of it working out and what lasting objectives you can take as a result. It is important to be aware of every single enemy hero’s positioning, item progression and cooldowns, because that paints the picture of the enemy team’s over-all capabilities, and allows you to gank and react accordingly.

***

END OF CHAPTER 2: GANKING

These are some of the topics I will be discussing in the following chapters. If you want me to write about a certain one next, or have an idea for a topic that is not listed, feel free to message me.

  • Positioning
  • Teamfighting
  • Skillbuilds
  • Itembuilds
  • Drafting
  • Fight participation
  • (Support) rotations
  • Timing
  • Laning

Climbing the Ladder – Chapter 1: Farming

Introduction

This post is the first of a relatively long series that will hopefully cover as many of DotA’s large strategical elements as possible. Before starting with anything, I just want to remind you that DotA is a game of reaction, and no advice should ever be followed blindly. What I describe may work in most situations, but could be a bad option in some particular games. Therefore, look to learn as much as possible from this but remember to not treat it as a step by step plan.

These are the elements of farming I will be discussing.

  • Quelling Blade, Stout Shield, Ring of Basilius, Morbid Mask
  • When to farm where
  • Jungling (creep priority)
  • Midas – when to buy and how to use
  • Maelstrom – when to buy and how to use
  • Battlefury – when to buy and how to use
  • Radiance – when to buy and how to use
  • Stacking the jungle
  • Pushing the lane
  • Maintaining creep equilibrium
  • Teleportation Scrolls

Quelling Blade, Stout Shield, Ring of Basilius and Morbid Mask

These are the three most basic small items you will make use of with most safelane farmers.
If you’re farming the safelane, in 95% of games you want to get a ring of protection as part of your starting items. This is so that you can upgrade to a RoB from the sideshop, which apart from giving you a nice 6 damage is absolutely crucial for the creep armor aura, giving you the ability to control the lane, and make the push for the tier 1. If you effectively zone the offlaner and they go off to farm the jungle leaving the lane free, just make your support single-pull the 2:30/5:30 creepspawn. This is because at 3:00/6:00 the catapult spawns, and if you have a doublewave with a catapult + a ring of basilius, you can straight up take the tower.
Once you’ve taken the tower, you will usually want to reset the lane by letting your creeps die to the tier 2 tower. Once the creep equilibrium is back close to your tier 1, you can let a support take over the lane and farm safely, because without a tier 1 tower the offlaner cannot get TP-support, making the lane very dangerous for him.
But if a support takes over the lane, where do I go?! You jungle. At this point you should have enough farm to pick up items that allow you to farm the jungle quickly, so that is what you should begin doing. If you did not have a quelling blade in the laning stage (which you shouldn’t unless you’re being heavily contested in last hits), this is when you buy it. That small 112 gold investment (you get half back when you sell it) will speed up your farming a ton. A stout shield should also be considered so you can tank the creeps more effectively.
Last and perhaps most important is the sustain – lifesteal. There are essentially two choices – HotD and MoM. Not only does the lifesteal sustain you in the jungle and for the ancients, it will sooner or later allow you to take an easy Rosh. Generally speaking, HotD allows you to fight better early while MoM allows you to farm faster and makes you very strong 1on1. HotD also has the added benefit of controlling a jungle creep which can be used for ancient stacking, scouting, ganking, pushing, and even lasthitting on the lane while you’re farming the jungle – be creative!
Mask of Madness on the other hand, allows you to farm faster by increasing AS and MS, however, few heroes can use the active in fights safely, being sure they are not going to take damage. Examples would be Sniper and Void. A hero like Juggernaut also buys MoM mostly for farming purposes, but has to be a little bit more careful not to take damage, because without the invulnerabilities from Bladefury and Omnislash, he is very squishy.

When to farm where

There are three lanes, two jungles and two ancient camps. How do you know when you should be farming which? As a general rule, farming the lane is more efficient (gold/time) than farming the jungle. However, lasthits on the lane are not guaranteed – an enemy may be disrupting your farm by denying, off-hitting, drawing creep aggro, pulling, pushing the wave into your tower, etc. On the plus side, however, you do not take as much damage from the creeps as you would in the jungle. Few heroes can sustain themselves farming the jungle with no items, and fewer still can farm it quickly starting from level one (enigma, bat, axe, chen, ench) – notice how none of those are carries.

So generally, for your first few levels you want to stay on the lane and get as much as you can there. If your support pulls, don’t go killing neutrals because the enemy lane creeps will die to your tower. Take your lane creeps and let your support get something out of the jungle. You want to keep the lane static close to your tower (how to do this described under ‘maintaining creep equilibrium’). There comes a certain point, however, when you have a certain farming item, some more levels, some crucial skills or simply more damage – this is the moment when you can, and should start utilising the jungle.

Do not forget the ancients as a source of income. Generally even fewer heroes can farm them efficiently and early enough, so if you are a hero that can you should do so as much as possible instead of regular jungling, because it frees up the jungle for the rest of your team. Of course, if you are the 1 position and have some form of aoe right click damage, it is most efficient to stack the ancients while farming the lanes and jungle, and go to kill 4-5 ancient stacks all at once.

Let’s go to a situation later in the game, let’s say mid-game around 25 minutes. The more the game is in your favour, the more aggressively you should be farming, meaning closer to the enemy base and including their jungle and ancients. This prevents them from farming it, while your jungle is even less accessible.
The further behind you are, the safer you want to farm. This however does not mean you cannot leave your base. Yes, if the heroes on the enemy team that are missing right now can kill you, you should generally be farming safely close to your towers and allies.

Which heroes should you be afraid of when they are missing? This is knowledge you can only learn through experience. Let’s say the only hero on the enemy team missing is an Axe, and you are a Luna with a max HP of 800 wanting to farm the Radiant safelane with your tier 1 tower down. Does he have a blink dagger? If yes, it’s likely that he can blink in, call and solo kill you. If no, does that mean you can farm anywhere? Still not the case, if you stand close to the trees he can simply walk up to you and call you before you see him. So, you position yourself on the side of the lane opposite to where you expect him to come from. Your movement speed is very high so even if he runs up to you and hungers you, you will be able to run away. But what if he comes out of the trees between your tier 2 and you? There is no tier 1 to run to or that allies can TP to, so your only option is to run into the trees and TP out – you will need to be able to judge if he is far away enough so that he cannot reach you in time, taking any possible items into account (checking his inventory). Any other options (running, juking) involve giving time to both your team and his team to arrive, and once again you will need to judge how the potential fight will go down, something that becomes more and more difficult the more heroes enter the equation.
And this is the case with an blink-daggerless Axe on the enemy team. Imagine a Batrider with blink+force+BoT. His initiation range is massive, you cannot juke him, you cannot tp away due to ~1.5k range flamebreak, his firefly allows him to come from anywhere and drag you anywhere, and he can drag you out of position into an enemy that just tp’d in. You should be able to understand more clearly now why he is and has been a top pick and ban for a very long time.

However, this does not mean that every time you are behind you should be hugging your towers. You see a fight or gank breaking out, or the enemy team pushing the tower, etc., any situation in which 5 enemy heroes are visible on the minimap and far away from a certain lane, you can farm and push that lane. By pushing it you force a reaction, you force them to move there to defend it and that in turn creates space for you to farm the jungle for example, or another lane.
It doesn’t matter if you are in their base or in their jungle, as long as you see where every enemy is and are quick enough on your TP, you will be able to escape. That’s why there are no global stuns in dota. Also remember, TP’ing to escape doesn’t always mean you should TP to base. If you have the health and mana, you can just TP to another lane and farm there.

Jungling – Creep Priority

Your goal is always to farm as quickly as possible, which means killing creeps as quickly as possible. This means being conscious about what order you focus creeps in, in the jungle. In the early game, with junglers especially, you want to kill creeps in such an order that you take as little damage as possible. However, later on when you are flashfarming with lifesteal or high regen, your priorities change.

In the bird camp, you wanna kill the one giving the armor aura first, making the others weaker.
For satyrs, you kill the one giving regen first (it’s only 3 hp per second, but if it makes the difference between a total of 16 hits instead of 17, it’s worth it).
Troll priest, kill healer first.
Ghost camp, kill ghost reducing your attack speed first.
Big troll camp, kill the small one first, then hit the big one to make him summon skeletons – they have a very nice hp/gold ratio.

Midas

Generally speaking, other items allow you to farm much faster than a midas. The only reason to buy this is if your hero really benefits from levels since he absolutely needs all spells maxed, like a Slark / Invoker / Tiny. The attackspeed is nice on some heroes and not that great on others, but over-all shouldn’t come into the equation when you’re deciding if you want to get it. As nice as it sounds as it is, 2050 gold for 30 AS is absolutely terrible and if you’re constantly fighting after you buy it you will really wish you bought something else. Also, try not to get more than 1-2 on your team in pubs, because you usually won’t have the coordination to play passively and not fight, which means you’re likely to feed and lose because you essentially dug yourselves in a 4k, 6k or 8k gold disadvantage (2, 3 or 4 midases).

In pretty much all cases, unless you really need gold more than exp (~lvl 16+, never for invoker), you want to use Midas on the big creep, because it amplifies the experience gain by 2.5, and over-all leaves the camp dead quicker. Naturally it should be on cooldown as often as possible, so you wanna head into the jungle as it’s about to come off cooldown. Sometimes there is a lot of farm on the lane or someone else has cleared the jungle, and in those cases it’s better to just use it on a lanecreep instead of wasting time. Remember however to use it on the melee creep, since it is level 3 and gives more experience than the level 2 ranged creep!

Maelstrom & Mjollnir & Radiance

You wanna leave creeps once they drop below a certain amount of HP, and move on to the next one so that the lightning / radiance kills them off and you don’t waste unnecessary hits on them.

These are more dependent on the heroes unlike midas. Radiance is good on heroes with illusions because they carry the aura and that allows you to splitpush – it’s pretty bad on most other heroes. As a general rule, Radiance gives the enemies reason to focus you, so you better make sure you can deal with that focus even after spending 5k gold on an item that gives you 0 survivability. Bristle and Wraith/Skeleton King are the somewhat only non-illusion heroes that fit this category.

Battlefury

You should always be looking at how much damage your cleave deals, and thereby switching targets so that ideally one hit finishes all the creeps. Of course, this is not the case in the aforementioned situations under ‘creep priority’.

The only heroes this item can be considered core on are Anti-Mage and Ember, and that’s because AM’s blink allowing him to flashfarm if he has a Battlefury, and Ember’s sleight of fist takes great advantage of the cleave. The few other heroes it can situationally work on are Phantom Assassin, Void and Jugger, but in most cases there are better choices.

Stacking the Jungle

You hit the creeps to draw their aggro at around the 53rd to 55th second of every minute and run away, pulling them out of the camp-block area and allowing a new camp to spawn. Ideally you would have supports do this for you, but this does not mean you cannot do it yourself as a carry when you can or have to leave the lane, when you are walking back to base, if you have a summon / illusions / long range nuke to aggro them with, etc.

Since the ancients are slightly further away, many carries pick up an early HotD to stack them with a dominated creep. You can even share unit control to let your allies use your creep to stack for you.

Note that stacking does not always mean getting 3-4 stacks and then killing them – even if you are simply farming a camp and you notice that you won’t be able to kill it before the xx:00 minute mark, it is worth it to stack it and finish off the camp-and-a-half or leave it for later.

Heroes that can farm stacks are those with any single or combination of the following: a multi-unit hitting attack (cleave (battlefury/magnus/sven), splash (DK), splitshot (medusa, gyro), bounces (luna), and spill (lanaya)), any AoE nuke (not for ancients), any lifesteal or high regeneration. If your carry has none of these (CK, Slardar, Night Stalker, Spirit Breaker) then you better fight early before you get outfarmed.

Lastly, keep in mind that when jungling you can sacrifice some speed for sustainability by drawing the creeps away from the camp, running, and then hitting them on their way back.

Pushing the Lane

You want to kill the enemy creeps as fast as possible while making your own creeps not take too much damage you can tank the wave if you have enough sustain, and you want to focus the ranged creeps first because they die the quickest but deal the most damage. Keep in mind that unlike the jungle you can lose lasthits on lane, so make sure you focus down creeps one by one.

If you have strong aoe damage and a gigantic enemy creepwave is coming but it’s very drawn out, run against it before your creeps arrive, and pull all the enemy creeps together so you can kill them all together. Note that this means you lose some HP and may be dangerous if you get ganked and disabled while tanking 4 creepwaves.

Maintaining Creep Equilibrium

To achieve this you need to essentially make sure both sides of creeps take equal damage – first off this means they need to be equal in number, and this can be achieved either by tanking enemy creeps and killing them quickly or only hitting enemy creeps once when they’re very low but starting to deny yours as soon as they’re below 50%.

Once you’ve got them equal in numbers, you need to make you’re not tanking anything and making sure that for every last-hit you hit your own creeps once (does not always have to be a deny)

Scrolls of Teleportation

Don’t TP to a lane unless there is a big wave incoming that you’re gonna miss out on. Try to see where big waves are going to gather and get there in time, saving your TP. When you do TP to a lane to farm make sure there is no fight going to break out soon that you can’t get to because you just used your TP. Also make sure you don’t find yourself in a situation where you need to TP out but can’t because it’s on cooldown.

***

END OF CHAPTER 1: FARMING

These are some of the topics I will be discussing in the following chapter. If you want me to write about a certain one next, or have an idea for a topic that is not listed, feel free to message me.

  • Positioning
  • Teamfighting
  • Ganking
  • Skillbuilds
  • Itembuilds
  • Drafting
  • Fight participation
  • (Support) rotations
  • Timing
  • Laning
  • Enemy manipulation

The Power of Positivity – Guide to Solo Ranked

Introduction

You want to boost your solo rating, and of course the only way to do that is to win solo ranked games. “But how can I do that,” you say, “when my team is always full of [insert insult here]?”

This is a guide that will help you in a much more thorough way than situational advice such as ‘play x hero on y lane versus z enemies’.
This guide will teach you to how to have the largest influence possible on any given solo game, show you the importance of being positive, and teach you how to apply this to your own games for the final goal of not only a higher win-rate, but a more enjoyable experience for both you and your allies!

The Importance of Positivity

‘Being positive’ can seem like an abstract concept. “Okay, so I don’t flame my team – is this going to give our team a global attack speed, damage and armor buff?” No, of course not. It does much more than that.

Behind every hero sits a player. That player has a conscience that plays a much bigger part in his over-all performance than most people seem to realize. Sure, there’s skill, there’s knowledge, and there’s experience. But how come you regularly crush randoms in a given match-up, whereas if you face a pro player in the same situation you wet your pants and fail to do so, only to afterwards explain the failure as an example of why he is a professional player and you’re not? Believe it or not, a lot of that is owed to your mindset and nerves. Many pro’s aren’t that good, not individually at least.

Let’s take another example from pro teams – why are the players there so comfortable with taking risks, trusting their intuition and shaping their own style? Because they hold no fear of their team, they are not afraid of letting them down, disappointing them or pissing them off. The team relies on them and they rely on their team – there is no room for negative judgement during a game, and knowledge of this gives players comfort and freedom to play to their fullest potential.

Of course, the majority of the player-base rarely faces pro players, so excuse me if you cannot relate to the above anecdotes. It is, however, a clear example of the impact your conscience can have on your ability to play well. So, how can you apply this to your own games? Make your random pub allies feel comfortable. Do not ever flame them, do not ever question their decisions, because if you do, they will too. This leads to them doubting themselves, which leads to indecisiveness which is akin to having delay – one of the most punishable traits in the game. So next time you see someone building an item you don’t like, following a skill-build you think is not optimal, or moving around the map in a way you deem inefficient, take a second to think before you point out your concerns to them. There is a small technical difference between the following sentences:

  1. “Oh my god, this Luna is not going BKB!”       
  2. “Luna, why are you not getting a BKB?”
  3. “Luna, I think a BKB would be good for you here.”

Essentially, all three mean the same, but the effect they have on not only the Luna but your team is colossally differing.

Option 1 is the worst – by not addressing the Luna directly, you are implying that person cannot be reasoned with. This is not only insulting to that player, hurting their confidence and having the aforementioned effects on their performance, but it gives everyone on your team the impression that the situation can no longer be helped and that all that is left to do is complain and whine.

Option 2 is less bad, however it is still very bad compared to option 3. I have a feeling most people think this to be the right option, or at least go for this one most often. Not only does this create doubt as I mentioned above, it immediately puts your ally on the defensive as they feel pressured to explain their decision. Even if they had realized themselves that the decision was bad, the chance of them replying positively to such a question is close to non-existent. Now you have created a rift in your team, between you and that player. They may not consciously decide to do anything about it, but sub-consciously you can bet split-second decisions will be influenced by what you have said. Why should I help/save/listen/follow the guy that is criticizing me? Such a thought coming up in the Luna is not unlikely at all. Furthermore, the rest of your team may take either side which magnifies the problems.

Option 3 is ideal. It doesn’t matter whether the enemies have 3 disables each that are all negated by BKB and you think Luna must be below 2000 MMR for not realizing that, and in fact it doesn’t even matter whether she follows your advice or not (however, when you put it this way it is a lot more likely that she will), as long as you have tried to convince her.

So let’s say you went with option 3 and said it in the best possible way, but Luna still isn’t getting a BKB. It’s really easy at that point to go into rage mode, complain, whine, consider the game lost, some people even grief. But that won’t get you to 6k. Let’s talk about what you should and should not do.

In-Game Application

You should not mention what happened 10, 5, or even 2 minutes ago. History is never relevant during the game – only in replays. Many players have received the advice of thinking about what they did and what they could’ve done better, yet fail to execute this idea properly.

First of all, this is only applies to you personally – never should you try to point out what someone else could’ve done better. Why? Because there is no way they are going to learn from you, a random pub, criticizing them while being not so great yourself. They can also notice they died in a stupid way, whether you point that out or not. The vast majority of the time they are not going to start making better decisions or playing better during the same game you are in right now, so by ‘teaching them’ you are in fact only coming off as an arrogant asshole, lowering your chances of winning by distracting and demoralizing everyone, including yourself.

Secondly, analyzing how the game went is for replays. That’s when you have all the information at hand, and can make proper deductions. It’s very easy to say someone should not have been farming out on their own 5 seconds after they get ganked and killed. Everyone can see that after it has happened, and discussing all the circumstances that lead to that happening is to be done either on your own or with your team after the game is over, while studying the replay. What can truly help is to warn your team of things that may happen or are happening. Let’s see if you are getting the picture here.

  1. “Wow, Troll just took uncontested solo Rosh, we should’ve known.”
  2. “Guys, Troll has been missing for a while, he might be taking Rosh.”
  3. “They have a Troll, he will probably try to solo Rosh quite early. Let’s be prepared to contest the Roshan when he goes for it.”

Clearly option 1 is bad, option 2 is better and option 3 is best. Of course, if you are inexperienced these things may be difficult to analyze or conclude before they have actually happened. However, that does not mean you should resort to option 1. You can think that for yourself, draw your own conclusions, but if you want to win, do not type that to your team.

Every single moment in the game is to be considered only presently: what farm and levels does every hero have, where are they positioned right now, what are they planning on doing, how can they be countered, etc. There is absolutely no reason to dwell on what has already happened. Don’t even mention past wrong decisions such as who went on which lane, what item and skill-build they went for, and who made what mistakes.

Things like “Because Rhasta died so many times, this Slark is now super fat.” are some of the worst things you can say. Not only do you make the Rhasta feel bad (making him play worse), you demoralize your entire team by making them think Slark is now some unstoppable force that became so in a manner they couldn’t have influenced, encouraging them to lose hope. They will essentially think of the Slark as a mess that Rhasta created and they have to clean up. Now the team is also set against your poor Shadow Shaman.

The truth is that it doesn’t matter when or why the Slark got his farm and levels. What matter is how much farm and experience he has right now, so that you can decide how to appropriately deal with him. Can you reliably gank and pick him off? Can you survive if he jumps you with his ultimate? Can you burst him down after his ultimate? Can you outfarm him and hope to outcarry him later on in the game? These are the actual useful questions that should be going around in your head, not a judgmental finger looking for someone to blame for your incapability of dealing with a given situation.

Surrendering

“We fucking lost!” – No, you didn’t. I don’t like coming up with statistics, but I’m pretty sure that over half of the ‘finish fast pls’ calls are made earlier than 30 minutes into the game before the tier 3’s are even taken. If you’re playing a pub, there’s no reason not to play until the end. The game is never over until either the tree or throne goes down, or you give up. If you aren’t going to play, just abandon and don’t waste people’s time. It’s that simple.

A big aspect of this problem is the fact that it’s essentially a quagmire – people give up as soon as they fall behind, so they don’t learn how to play from behind because they never try, and then every time they fall behind they are more likely to give up because they are clueless about how to play the game properly when they’re not ahead.

“But surely I can give up if the enemies have megacreeps, 6 consecutive Roshan kills, a 40,000 experience and a 60,000 gold lead with all their tier 2 towers still up?” No. Take 6 minutes of your time to watch the pleasantly edited video below.

“But you only won because the PL sold everything and bought 3 rapiers, they would’ve won if he hadn’t done that!” That’s the point – the enemies are players too, they can get arrogant too and they can throw the game too.With the advantage they had, it was not unreasonable of PL to think the game was in the bag and he could go for whatever he wished.

The point still stands – the game is never over until either the throne or tree goes down, or you give up. Countless times I’ve had people on my team claim the game is over and not worth playing. Despite the team’s best efforts to convince them otherwise, they continue playing but are no longer trying; they take stupid engagements, make dumb decisions, no longer play their hero properly, buy suboptimal items, etc. They drag the team down to a loss. And in the end? “See? I told you there was no way we could win”.

I don’t understand why people do this. Perhaps they think their teammates will consider them smart and knowledgeable because they were clever enough to know the outcome of the game before it happened. I sincerely doubt anyone ever thought to themselves “Wow, that guy said we’d lose and we did, he must be a really good and knowledgeable player”. The truth is, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The game is not over just because the enemies are a certain amount of kills, towers or gold ahead. The game is not over because you just got teamwiped or you just lost a set of barracks. The game is only over because you gave up on it. So, I repeat. Never give up, never surrender. If you don’t feel like playing, abandon and spare your teammates’ time. And next time do not queue up unless you are certain you can sit focused through an entire game.

Lastly, some general tips on boosting winrate

  • Don’t play when you’re tired

This may depend a bit on the person, but generally when tired your map awareness and decision-making takes an enormous hit and you play well below your regular skill level.

  • Take a break after a loss

Don’t angrily insta-requeue after a loss, your negative emotions will likely carry over to the next game and increase the likelihood of losing that one as well.

  • Switch things up after several losses in a row

Try some more relaxed mode you don’t care so much about winning or losing – AD, bots, or even party ranked if you don’t care about your party rating.

  • Play heroes with a lot of impact

Avoid passive farmers, especially junglers. They require a held back and protective playstyle and generally much more coordination over-all which is unlikely with a team of 5 randoms. Also, your team is less likely to work with you if you expect them to create space and protect you while you farm for 30 minutes. Even if you do end up jungling, make sure to contribute as much as possible as soon as possible.

  • Communicate with your team

Don’t expect someone to read your mind and understand your whole thought process from several frantic pings – use voice chat or type and let your team know all your thoughts and intentions. This greatly empowers teamwork and makes all kinds of coordination more successful, as well as reducing flame since most of it rises from miss-communication.

Hi everybody!

This is going to be my permanent blog from now on. I will no longer write on any other sites such as blogspot, weebly, or 2p. On top of new content, I will re-publish all older content on here as well. Enjoy!