Chapter I: Introduction
Chapter II: Basic Concepts
Chapter I: Introduction
Everything has to start somewhere. Let us quickly take a look who I am and the motivation behind this guide.
1.1 Short Biography
My name is Timo, also known as "Ler". I am from Stuttgart, Germany and was born 1990. I have studied chemistry, software engineering, and economics paired with informatics. My first competitive Dota experience came with .37b, the journey started in Battle.net to G-Arena over to Dota-League. After that, I quickly found a stable team and got vouched into IHCS2. Since the first day, I played the Support role. In my opinion, supports decisions can impact a game as much as any other core hero.
1.2 Competitive History
After several months in in-house leagues and through connections build over time it all began in Team Visualize with ZoN (Later SK Gaming) and Alan. After that I teamed up with people like Black^ (Later LGD.int/mouz/CIS), Black-Lotus, Azen (Later Dignitas) . But somehow I lost interest in Dota since the competition back then was not like it was today, so a switch to World of Warcraft seemed like the better call. If I just knew that Dota would develop like it is today I would probably never left the game. I was kind of late to the Dota 2 party since keys have been expensive on Ebay and I was not lucky enough to get early access to the Beta.
I have competed in:
· Yard Orange Festival
· Razer Qualifier #3
· EMS ONE Qualifier
· MSI Beat-It
1.3 Motivation behind the Guide
Over the last couple of months I met a lot of people, be it in public games or as a stand-in, who played support and believed they had a clue what they actually do. As far as I can tell it was a disaster. After TI4 it seemed even more clear that good supports can decide games on their own and that a functional support duo is a very rare thing. My hope is that many people will read this document and step up their support abilities to make right calls in public and or competitive play.
1.4 Guide Overview
There are multiple scenarios and tactics, drafts and lanes. I will try to go as deep as possible in every single aspect of support game play to give you a deeper understanding of certain decisions and concepts. This is not the usual guide which tells you a direct order of actions based on the current in game time or how a certain hero has to be played. This guide aims for your mind to support your own decision making. Supporting is more than just buying wards and protecting your carry, but maintaining a tactical advantage for your team.
Chapter II: Basic Concepts
This chapter is all about Dota basics which are needed to understand Support Decisions better.
2.1 Position Model
Someone developed a model to describe how the farm is divided onto the played heroes in a game. Since there are 5 heroes per team the following 5 positions came up:
As the tiers progress, the more farm and levels they get. This shows that the two supports have the lowest farming and level priority.
2.2 Two different Support types
The position model shows us that there are two different kind of supports. The position 5 leaves most of the farm to the rest of his team and the position 4 takes all of the farm that is not taken by the other three remaining positions. The experience you get by creeps/neutrals is often forgotten but also a very important part. The position 5 also leaves all the experience to his team and position 4 takes all the experience which is not taken by the rest of the team. Later we will talk more about the two individual positions.
2.3 Understanding your Position
Before the game starts you should figure out which kind of support you are because this will lead your actions in the early stages of the game.
Position based questions:
· Do I take as much experience and farm as possible?
· Do I (in general) buy Wards/Dusts/Sentries/Smokes?
2.4 Different kind of Supports
An order how different support types beat each other.
2.4.1 The "Greedy" term
The term "Greedy" has been used for a while now and I believe it needs an explanation. If you call a Hero "greedy" it means that the hero is level and or farm dependent which makes him vulnerable during the early stages of a game.
2.4.2 Greedy Supports
Why is this important for support heroes? Well, support heroes lead a team through the early and mid game and while doing that, dictate the speed of the game. The conclusion is that having one or even two "greedy" support heroes will automatically cause a very slow game speed because the supports are busy getting levels and farm. These kind of supports make the team vulnerable to aggressive support duos who can usually impact the game without getting much levels and or farm.
Enigma - Farm and level dependent.
Shadow Shaman - Level dependent.
Sandking - Farm and level dependent.
2.4.3 Aggressive Supports
Aggressive support duos are usually not level and farm dependent and come along with a huge kill potential which allows them to set up ganks very early without leeching lane or pull experience. Playing with such supports allows you to play a very "fast" action oriented game.
Bane - Sleep opens up many combos.
Mirana - Arrow.
Enchantress - Creeps to control early game
These supports seem kind of strong and the way to go, but they can be easy countered by the next support type, defensive supports.
2.4.4 Defensive Supports
Not long ago, people developed a play style which relied heavily on defensive supports. These defensive supports are usually used to safe people when they are engaged to allow a reengage. The upside is that these supports usually are kind of weak in the laning phase or fall of during late game.
Shadow Demon - Banish to save or banish blinked in targets.
Dazzle - Grave focus targets.
Treant - Living armor focus targets.
2.5 Tactical Concepts
When a lineup is drafted, different tactical concepts are used. The idea behind a certain draft must be clear to everyone in the team so everyone can fulfill his or her purpose according to the overall game plan.
There are probably more but I think this should be enough to make my points later on.
A lineup that relies heavily on pushing towers early to close the game out with the gained tower gold advantage. These lineups are often used to counter four protect one lineups. Greedy supports benefit a lot from pushing lineups.
In this scenario you rely on one carry to become really fat to close out the game in the later stages of the game. The goal is to out carry the opponent team. To make sure this happens 4 players try to secure the carries farm. This lineup is often played with two defensive supports.
2.5.3 Two Core
A more dynamic approach is to have two heroes farming instead of one. You can basically say that one core makes up for the other one and vice versa. Alone they are weak, together they are strong. This lineup can have any form of supports in.
2.5.4 Tri Core
The idea behind this concept is to spread your opponent thin. It is nearly impossible to shut down 3 people farming the map so there will be always one player that comes out farmed after the midgame to prolong the battle. That gives the other cores time to catch up. In this lineup any support type fits in.
Gank lineups are usually used to counter greedy play in general. The goal is to achieve early kills. These kills should force rotations from other lanes and or push the tower as a result. These lineups can often fall off when early ganks fail. These lineups are usually played with aggressive supports.
This is the most greedy tactical concept. You rely heavily on one support to fill the support role, while the second support on position four moves to a core position due his jungle farming. Another option is that the position four is on a roaming mission so he snowballs out of the kills taken or has to play catch up when it fails which leaves the position five alone on his support job most of the time. Greedy supports in general benefit from that tactical concept if you leave them time to farm.
2.6 Correlation: Tactical Concepts and Early-Game-Impact
Before the draft is started, a tactic is chosen. This leads to a certain draft. The draft has to be laned in a certain way. The laning opens up certain decisions for the support players. These decisions lead to the early game impact.
2.6.1 Limited Decisions
As you can see in the image above, decision making heavily relies on the steps taken before. That includes laneing, draft and the overall tactical concept.
What does this mean for a support player:
· Understand your Tactical Concept and Draft.
· Analyze your lanes and opponents lanes.
· Make your decision on the points above.
This should show you that many decisions are not random nor game dynamic but can be planned to maximize the early game impact. On the other hand you can also see that the tactical concept and the out coming draft forces supports to decide in a certain way.
Your Captain decided to go for a Four-Protect-One lineup and picked two defensive supports. Your opponents run an aggressive Tri-Lane. This will limit your movement to a minimum if you planned a safe lane Tri-Lane since your carry need to farm and you have to ensure this happens. Your decision making is now limited by your draft, your laning and by your opponents laning.
There are three different kind of lanes. In this section I will talk about the possible lanes, why they are chosen and what supports do on these lanes.
2.7.1 Defensive Tri-Lane
A defensive tri-lane will always be played on your Safe Lane.
The following objective shall be achieved:
· Secure carries experience and farm.
· Deny offlanes experience and farm.
· Secure supports experience and farm.
· Stack your own jungle.
· Control safe-lane rune.
2.7.2 Aggressive Tri-Lane
An aggressive Tri-Lane will always be played on your offlane.
The following objectives shall be achieved:
· Deny opponents carries farm.
· Deny supports experience and farm.
· Limit opponents support movement.
Dual lanes can be on any lane. Safe-Lane dual lanes share the some objectives as the defensive Tri-Lane and offlane dual lanes share the same objectives as the aggressive Tri-Lane. Another possibility is a dual lane mid. This scenario is kind of rare.
· Deny mid-lanes farm.
· Secure your mid-lanes farm.
· Control of both rune spots.
· Stack your own jungle/ancients.
The term "Rotation" is used when you leave your initial lane to make something happen on the map. This can bring several benefits but also comes along with certain problems. This section will show you which things happen when you decide to rotate.
2.8.1 Reason behind Rotations
Dota is not a static game. Lanes are not set in stone and several things can happen in a game which make people leave their lanes to rotate somewhere else.
· Opponents offlane left to rotate somewhere.
· Aggressive tri-lane did not go well and has to be abandoned.
· Opponents supports rotated.
· Mid-lane rotates to gank.
2.8.2 Effects of Rotations
When people rotate on the map, usually space opens up in one or the other way. This space can be used to your benefit but will also be used by your opponents.
· Experience and or farm distributed to other players.
· Kill potential on other lanes.
· Deny of ganks / possibility to counter gank.
· Force rotations out of your opponent.
· Leaves the lane you left vulnerable to ganks / pushes.
· Deny of experience and farm while rotating.
· Opens farm and experience for your opponents.
2.8.3 Rotations - Conclusion
Rotations do often fail because certain circumstances have been ignored before the rotation started. When this happens, you are pretty much behind. You lost experience and or farm and you give space to your opponent. On gank heavy lineups, this can snowball out of control and result in a quick loss.
On the other hand, playing a greedy lineup and avoiding rotations gives you a huge advantage due to the fact that you did not waste time and got what you wanted: experience and gold.
What does this mean to support players:
Think about the rotations you do. Are they necessary? Can they achieve a given objective? What is the backup plan if it fails(if there is any)? Is it worth sacrificing my lane to rotate to win another? In the following chapters you will get the information you need to solve these question on your own.
That's all for the first section of our theoretical approach to support play. Join us for Part II when we go into possible support duos, role determination, and how to set up aggressive plays and pattern movements.