Dota2 :: Guide :: The Art of Supporting

In this guide I’m going to be sharing all the basic to advanced tips to becoming an awesome support player guiding your team to victory. This guide is also to clear the common misconception among low skill players who think that a ‘support player is pretty much useless in the team & not really needed to win a match’. Ignoring the importance of a support is a common mistake among 1k — 2.5k players & one of the main reasons why they would be stuck in that bracket forever.

Why is it important?

Most of the time in low MMR games, I find players reluctant to pick or play a support role — this happens mostly in All pick mode where 3 out of 5 in the team go position 1(hard carry). Usually players have the wrong impression that ‘more carries in team means more damage which means we are stronger than the opponent’ — WRONG!!

All carries by design needs “intense” farm and in Dota there is only room for the 1 or atmost 2 carries to farm to their complete satisfaction to get items faster and to come online joining teamfights and making a difference. Now in a scenario where there are more than 2 carries where all of them needs to farm/items to make any difference, one of them would obviously fall behind in terms of items because there is no where to farm anymore which means that hero basically has none to minimal impact in team fights or even worse, starts feeding. This imbalances the team composition & there in begins the downfall of the team. This is why I recommend or urge people to understand the significance of each positions/roles in Dota and abide by it. In this guide, its the significance of a “support” role. Always remember

If it makes it simpler, just think of your team as bunch of kids who needs help in heal/vision/gold/kills and you are the bigger person who is providing them with all that.

Lets get it started

Supports are surely the most underrated and the most important role in Dota, they are one of the most critical decisive factors in how much farm their team carry gets and ultimately ends up by definition “carrying” the game. I will break it down to 5 different areas/talents — Warding, Stacking, Pulling/Pushing, Zoning(mostly offlaners), Teamfights.

Before diving into these, there are few things I want you to keep in mind being a good support player:

  • As a support, you will almost always be poor. This is the role, so don’t fret about you not having gold because that’s how its supposed to be.
  • Your priorities are different from others — Yours include buying a courier at the start, wards to begin with, up courier as soon as possible and then it goes on to simply buying wards(including sentries) and providing vision to your team.
  • Carry dust if any invisible units exist in the opponent team.
  • Change the way you think — Like already mentioned, you should think of your team as bunch of kids who needs help in heal/vision/gold/kills and you are the one who is providing them with all that.

Warding

This is by far the most important aspect of a support life. You should always be providing vision to your team especially at choke points and runes. More wards means more information to your team which also means you could zone out enemy heroes who are more susceptible to ganks.

An enemy gank is successful only if you don’t see it coming.

Make sure you’re team is all time aware of where the opponents are. Another important aspect about warding is to understand where & when to ward. Say you’re team is dominating the opponent and you’ve taken all the tier 1 towers and are in a pushing mode, there is no point in warding on your side of the river anymore. Place offensive wards instead so your opponents are constantly pressured and have no chance to surprise gank your team.

De-warding — Equally important is dewarding the enemy wards. A good offlaner will probably block your neutral camps so you are not able to deny him the experience/gold by successfully pulling the creeps. So early game make sure you keep an eye for this movement. As soon as the game starts, you could immediately go & secure your neutral camps making sure no wards are being placed and soon later you could have a look at the offlaner’s starting items to confirm if he is carrying a ward.

Tips to remember while warding:

  • When warding sometimes couple of nearby tress can block a lot of vision provided by your ward. You could destroy these trees to give you maximum vision.
  • If you’re placing an early game midlane ward, make sure you get the rune spawn in sight. This will greatly help your midlaner in terms of rune control as well.
  • Don’t always ward is the most predictable places, this will get your wards easily dewarded. Especially when your team is behind in farm or enemy have surplus gold to deward. So be sure to make them count.
  • Avoid placing wards when the enemy has vision on you, the enemy will instantly deward it and would have been a waste of gold & effort.
  • Block enemy camps as much as possible especially in the early game.
  • You don’t necessarily need to ward the entire map. If you have placed few wards well, you can narrow down on the location of the enemy players based on the vision you do have.

Warding is the reason why in low MMR games heroes like Riki and Bounty excel in laning stage and thereafter end up snowballing.

Stacking

Usually others would combine pulling & stacking as one talent for a support player but I won’t be doing that here because stacking is much more than just “stack to pull the lane” and I want to share all the other stacking tips as well.

If you didn’t already know stacking is the technique you use to aggro the existing neutral camps at the 54–55 second mark away from its camp, far enough to think that there are no creeps in the camp & thus spawning new neutral creeps in the same camp(double stack). You can also triple stack a camp if done perfectly but beyond that it becomes almost impossible since the creeps are too many too close to each other.

As a support, one of your important role is to always double stack the safelane small camp and pull the stacked camp onto your next creep wave making sure that your creep wave will completely die to the double stacked camp. During early game, never single stack those camps(unless you're planning to push) as you will end up pushing your creep equilibrium towards the enemy tower rather than pulling them towards yours(so you’re carry can safely farm).

There are few important reasons to do this which are:

  • As a support, this is a good way for you to farm/xp as the lane farm/xp is completely left to the carry
  • Most important reason being, you are denying that creep wave to enemy offlaner. With that creep gold/xp being denied to him, the offlaner will surely get crippled & thereby slowing his item progression & level.

As I mentioned earlier, there is much more to stacking than just stacking & pulling(which I explained above). As a support, you always need to keep a tab on your fellow teammates on how they are doing in terms of farm & xp. When you see one of your teammate underfarming or constantly getting ganked, you could start stacking(double or triple) as many jungle camps as you can to help him get back on the lost farm/xp.

This is the reason, why most of the captains in pro teams are supports. They need to be constantly aware of their team farm/xp and make decisions based on that. This is too much of an effort for a core player considering they have to concentrate on their farm.

Tips to remember while stacking:

  • Always keep an eye on the time, at 53–55 min mark try to stack a camp closest to you so your carry can farm them later for good amount of gold/xp.
  • Keep tabs on your teammates and notify them of the stacked camps, this also helps in building trust & confidence among your teammates.
  • Make sure you don’t stack when enemy has vision on you or they might sneak into your jungle and take all the farm.

Pulling/Pushing a lane

One of the most important knack a support player should possess is to understand a lane’s creep equilibrium.

Most of the explanation regarding pulling is done in the stacking section above. To summarize, you usually pull your lane creeps early game so you deny the farm/xp going to the enemy offlaner. Never pull a single stacked camp(unless you’re planning to push) to the lane as this would push your creep wave instead of pulling them meaning it will become easier for the offlaner to safely farm & get xp under his tower. Also early game, if you want to pull your wave, one of the common technique is to aggro the enemy creeps towards your ranged creeps or body block your melee creeps letting your ranged creep go ahead. The idea here is that the ranged creeps has low health and more damage compared to the melee creeps so getting your ranged creep killed will basically push the enemy lane(pull your lane). You will see most of the good offlaner do this to avoid their waves being pushed.

You need to counter this by performing an aggro of your own. As a support, you could also spot the enemy creep wave from far & if the enemy ranged creep is ahead, you could pull that ranged creep away to prevent that enemy’s lane being pulled. This is shown in the image below. As you can see the enemy offlaner has body blocked his wave very well letting the ranged creep go ahead but the Vengeful(opposition support) saw this from far and is now trying to aggro that ranged away from the lane messing up the offlaner’s plan to pull the lane.

That being said you should not always stick to pulling the wave. Once your carry gets good farm and you slowly transition towards mid game, you can now start pushing the lane instead. Catapult wave is the best wave to push a lane(make sure you pull a single stacked camp this time).

Sometimes, when you see enemy team ganking one of your hero on the other side of the map & you have no intention of helping, you could instead make use of that opportunity to push out your lane using spells & maybe take out the tower. This way even if your teammate died, you atleast got something out of it.

Zoning offlaner

Zoning is basically a way to put pressure on an enemy hero in a lane(usually offlane) so that enemy hero spends less time gaining farm/xp & spends more time trying to stay alive or running away from your heroes which in turns denies him farm/xp as well and your carry can free farm the lane.

Tips to remember while zoning an offlaner:

  • Avoid pulling aggro towards you while harassing the offlaner, apart from more damage being dealt you also are messing with the creep equilibrium which might end up favoring the offlaner.
  • Try to stay ahead of your enemy while zoning. Especially while chasing, you could cast a spell or right click & move forward in between the attacks to stay ahead of the enemy. This will sometimes give you couple of additional attacks while he is running towards the tower which might be crucial in getting that kill.
  • Never stack stuns on a target. example: If a crystal maiden & lion are zoning an offlaner, do not cast EarthSpike and FrostBite at the same time. Make sure you chain stun the target. You both stunning at the exact time will override the previous stun and now you will have no way to lock down the enemy anymore.

Teamfights

Lets be frank, a support’s life sucks in teamfights. You will probably be the first target for an enemy core. Please read through each of the below points in details as each of them play a crucial role in having maximum impact in teamfights.

Tips to remember while casting spells:

  • Make sure you cast as many spells as you can before dying. You dying without casting any spells means you made zero impact in that teamfight.
  • As a support, you are built with crazy powerful spells which can turn the tides of the teamfights. If you’re playing a hero like Lion, use the Finger of Death as soon as possible to burst a hero down immediately & NOT to get a kill count.
  • Always prioritize building team & situational utility items like Mekansm, Arcane boots, Guardian Greaves, Euls etc. which also gives you good stats.
  • As a support, prioritize the “Cast Range” talent tree as getting your spells at the right time from as far as possible matters a lot.
  • If you’re carrying a dust, use it before you die as the effect of dust most of the time still persists even if you go invisible after the dust was used. The dust you used might actually help your team to detect an invisible hero and get a kill.
While in teamfights for supports, Kiting is the key. Stay in safe distance as much as you can. Get used to the range of your spells and stay at maximum range. Make sure you survive and cast as many spells/items as possible.

Conclusion

What most Dota players don’t realize is that a support is the key. To make sure the carry is farmed, to maintain creep equilibrium, to give vision to your team. A good support player will automatically give a positive vibe to the teammates. Other players in your team will now trust you in fights and respect any calls or decisions you make.


Originally published at gamegeek121.wordpress.com on June 20, 2017.