With millions of dollars on the line for the most winning teams, it makes sense that the way that Dota is played would change as players strive to perfect their gameplay. Although the basic principles of Dota have stayed the same, some more advanced ideas have adjusted as new patches have come.
Here’s a shortlist of some of these principles that have changed that you’re doing wrong:
The mid lane isn’t just a 1v1 anymore
The days when the mid lane was just one player facing another, when a higher skill player could dominate a lesser skilled one is not the reality that we live in anymore.
That is not to say that the mid lane doesn’t require skill, but the skill that is required to play the role has gotten lower because of the addition of the small camp near the mid lane and the increased emphasis on support rotations.
The runes are vital to the flow of the game and allow mid laners to take their early advantages to the side lanes with ease. Higher ranked players have picked up on this and now will often bring one or both supports to contest the runes for their mid laner at the 2, 4, 6, and 8-minute marks.
Making sure that your mid laner is having a good game is so important that support players will teleport from their fountain to refill their mid player’s bottle – even if it means having the carry suffer for 30 or more seconds. If someone complains about other heroes helping their mid laner to save a losing lane, then they just got outplayed.
Supports: don’t be afraid to die and buyback early now
Buying back before the 30-minute mark was seen as game ruining in the past. Now? It is often optimal to let yourself die as a support and to buy back to return to a fight.
It isn’t advisable to die just to die, but it is very strong to position yourself in a place to bait enemy heroes and to get them to initiate onto you and kill you, only for you to buyback and teleport back into the fight now that they have wasted spells and gone out of position.
This technique is most useful in games where you have heroes on your team that have strong team fight abilities but have a hard time being the first person to enter a team fight. Some examples of these heroes include Magnus with Reverse Polarity and Faceless Void with Chronosphere.
Poverty is no longer a virtue for supports
There used to be an age where a support’s inventory at minute 20 would consist of just Brown Boots, a Magic Stick, 1 Observer Ward, and 4 Sentry Wards. Modern support players have learned to eke out efficiency, and the game has gotten a lot more forgiving towards support players over the patches.
Supports have significantly more gold with observer wards no longer costing gold, flying couriers not needing to be purchased anymore, and the cost of sentry wards being cut in half.
Having a Glimmer Cape or Force Staff can often make the difference between a won or a lost fight. Just because you aren’t playing a core hero doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to ignore your inventory!
“4 protect 1” strategies are outdated
Although you occasionally see a selfless mid hero like Quas-Wex Invoker who prioritizes buffing the carry hero, the 4-protect-1 strategy is no longer popular. Professional Dota drafts have veered away from using four heroes who fight without farm or hitting item timings to support a greedy carry who comes online after 30 minutes.
This style of gameplay has been obsolete for a few years, as it gets outscaled by teams that have multiple cores heroes that are farming and aiming for their power-spikes, and it is too slow to beat lineups that utilize their carry in their early fights.
Although Dota used to be run by heavy farmers like Anti-Mage and Faceless Void, in competitive level games, it is much more common to see carries like Chaos Knight and Nature’s Prophet that can contribute early in the game.
Eating a Moon Shard in the late game is a waste of money
Although it was once seen as the go-to late-game luxury, it is RARE to see an eaten Moon Shard in professional games.
Ensuring that you have the best possible 6 items in your inventory so that you can do your job in the game makes it so that it’s seldom worth spending 4000 gold for 60 attack speed and 200 night vision.
Replacing a farming item or adapting to enemy heroes with an item is always a higher priority for top carry players than eating a Moon Shard. Does the enemy team have evasion? Replace one of your slots with a Monkey King Bar or a Bloodthorn. Are you getting initiated on and dying before you have the chance to use your Black King Bar? Perhaps you need to replace one of your slots with a Linken’s Sphere or an HP item to ensure you have longevity in fights. Even making sure that you have a Refresher Orb (even just for your backpack) to get a second round of spells and items for team fights or the recently buffed Boots of Travel 2 to deal with lane depushing issues are preferred.
Although I have a hard time saying these things ideas are definitive and apply to every game, these trends are noticeable in a majority of high-level games. Dota is a game with a practically infinite amount of variables, so learning to adapt your ways of thinking will help you stay on top of the ever-changing metagame.