Image by Igor Artyomenko
In a previous article, we talked about how Omniknight is a weak meta hero because of his lack of tools that help take objectives on the map. These objectives like Outposts and Bounty Runes give additive team bonuses that boost experience and gold.
This means that moving around the map is more important than ever which is why heroes like Queen of Pain, Nature’s Prophet, and Ember Spirit are currently popular.
This movement around the map is one aspect of map control. In this article, we’ll discuss map control, why it’s important, and how to look at the map to gain an advantage in your games.
The Dota Map
The map in Dota is huge. There are many objectives and things to do on the map and moving from one end to the other can take minutes. In this time, games can end like we saw in game five of the grand finals of The International 2013 when Navi couldn’t make it back to their base in time while Alliance was killing their base.
Most of the time, you won’t be facing a loss because you didn’t move across the map in time, but Dota is all about small additive advantages that accrue over time which tilt the balance in one direction.
By controlling the map, your team is able to collect more additive advantages over the course of the game while limiting your enemy’s resources. This is a tug of war that will definitely make ending the game easier or harder for one side.
Why Map Control Is Important
Map control basically means your team’s space to farm lane creeps and jungle camps.
If you have your lane pushing in, then you’ll be able to farm your jungle relatively safely. If you have vision, you’ll be able to farm relatively safely in the vision area as well.
You want knowledge about the enemy’s whereabouts so you can play on the map safely, whatever your objective is. Knowing where the enemy is is crucial for smart decision making. You can initiate fights, farm safely, or run away if you need to. These are all important Dota moves.
Map Control Concepts
Shoving In Lanes
Shoving in lanes is one way to gain map control. What this does is provide information and vision to help your decision making.
If your creeps are hitting the enemy tier two and they’re not defending it, you know a few things. They’re not defending the tower and getting free last hits which means they could be either:
Basically, by pushing in waves, you’ll either see the enemy so you know where they are, or you know to be cautious because they’re probably doing something that they think will lead to better results than getting free creep kills and defending a tower.
You can use this information to coordinate with your team to smoke gank yourself, or prepare to fight, or split push, or avoid a fight.
If you see one or two enemies defending their tower, then you’ll know that they’re not with their teammates. This can lead to an uneven team fight where you can fight five against three which should be an easy team fight win for you.
The famous dead lane coined by North America’s last hope, BananaSlamJamma. The dead lane is where if you farm there without a specific purpose, you will likely die. This is a dangerous lane to be in so if you’re a position one or two, you should avoid this lane.
The dead lane is typically each side’s safe lane. For the Radiant, that’s the bottom lane, and for the Dire, it’s the top lane.
The reason this lane is so dangerous is because you can’t control all three lanes if the game is even. You have the mid lane which is safe because it’s closest to everything, and then one lane where you can gather your resources.
The safe lane becomes the dead lane at around 10-15 minutes because this is when supports get level six and cores get their first item. This is a power spike and they’ll be looking to make a play.
This image shows why the dead lane is unsafe for each side.
The yellow stars represent all the points where the Dire can invade the Radiant’s jungle, and the red stars represent all the points where the Radiant can invade the Dire’s jungle.
Compared to the other way, which is your offlane triangle jungle, there is really only one or two directions where the enemy can come from, unless they make a deep run through the middle.
This is why your safe lane’s tier one tower is so important. That tower limits the number of attack points available to your enemy. This is also why killing the enemy safe lane tier one tower is so important. It opens up the map for you and reduces the space for your enemy.
Map control is a tug of war with one winner. There are rarely any even trades in this and the winner keeps getting more. It takes a lot of coordination and smart moves to reverse the tug of war in your favor if you’re falling behind. It isn’t impossible though, reversals happen all the time, but they’re often caused by mistakes made by the enemy.
This isn’t a fully comprehensive guide to everything related to map control, but a small introduction to some big concepts like shoving in waves and the deadlane.
What are your tips or insights for controlling the map? Any hero specific tips?