First things first – a little Glossary:
Turn Rate – time it takes a hero to change the direction he/she faces. The usual value for all heroes is 0.5-0.6 corresponding to 188/157 ms respectively. Detailed explanation can be found here
Cast/Backswing Animation – the time it takes a hero to cast a spell (during which it can be cancelled/interrupted) and the time the cosmetic animation after a cast is going on. While first cannot be sped up and is a necessary condition for casting a spell, the second one is purely cosmetic and should be avoided by issuing a command right after the cast animation is finished and the spell is used. More here
Ability Queuing – issuing a command with the Shift (default) button pressed will queue the next command right after the previous one is performed. Be vary, though, that if you queue a command after a skill with a Backswing animation, it will be performed fully, losing quite a lot of time. Items have no backswing animation.
Previously, we have discussed how the UI can (and should) be used to your advantage, going over such things like Quick Buy, Ability Learn and other miscellaneous improvements to the human-machine interaction. Today we will have a look at some more advanced techniques that some of the people might be unaware of.
Some of you could have read my rant on our forums and are aware of the problems a lot of the CIS players are experiencing. Long story short – I have recently moved from an area with an average ping of 35ms to an area, where I am lucky to have 135ms latency.
That has forced me to use a lot more of the features available in Dota to stay on the same level. Interestingly, after getting used to the ping and finding ways of improving my gameplay, even with a higher latency, I have managed to climb from ~4.1k to ~4.3k Solo MMR. So here are the things some of you could do to improve your general gameplay:
Shift Your Skill(s)
There is absolutely no reason to disregard the ability to queue several commands. While most of you probably already use queuing to get an advantage while using channeling abilities, like Sand King‘s Epicenter + Blink Dagger, I am a still a frequent witness to some really sub-optimal plays in pubs that could have been made more efficient using queuing.
What a lot of people do not realize, is that the turn rate is a very important characteristic. From using your skills to juking, this characteristic should be incorporated into the thought process, to eliminate wasting considerable amounts of time.
It is even more crucial, when it comes to using Tango while escaping. At early levels, the additional ~7 HP regeneration can change the outcome of a small skirmish. Moreover, Tangos can be used to create pathways for juking.
It is the case, that using Tango on a tree usually results in the hero turning around to face the enemy right after. In case you are running away as an average hero, turning back and forward again will lose you ~0.3 seconds. Add your reaction time and ping to it and realize that without queuing an action after eating a tree you can lose as much as 0.5 seconds!
Develop a habit of shift-clicking a command after every time you are using a Tango – at some point it will become very natural and will occasionally save your life.
Town Portal Scroll and Boots of Travel
Queuing your skills and/or Blink Dagger after teleport is a very common technique among the players, especially if you are defending the tower you are teleporting to, as it is likely there are several enemies around it.
Several things to note – after the teleport you will be facing the same direction you were facing during it. While casting it, your hero will change the direction he is facing to the tower/creep he is telepoting to. While seemingly irrelevant, knowing this can help preventing being caught out by a surprise instant disable.
Be vary of this if you are playing Puck for example, and teleporting to a tower with an enemy team nearby. In an interval between you teleporting and you blinking to silence/stun the enemies, there is a small window of opportunity for an enemy disable, if you are facing the wrong direction.
Queuing your skill in succession to blink will allow you to save yourself from some embarrassing consequences and make sure you made absolute maximum to increase your effectiveness and probability of success.
From theory to practice:
On the images below you can see two Pucks, both teleporting from the middle lane to help defending bottom from enemies (red circle). There is absolutely no difference in teleport time in either case, however, it will be harder to catch Puck#1 off-guard, since the angle he has to turn is much lower (~0.05s), than of Puck#2 (~0.11s).
So, in the first case nothing, except for 0 cast animation disabling spells (e.g. Dragon Tail, Cold Snap, point-blank Burrowstrike etc.) and disabling items (e.g. Scythe of Vyse, Orchid Malevolence etc.) will be able to prevent the blink initiation.
In the second case, there is a multitude of spells like Rubick‘s Telekinesis that can be used to disrupt your plans, since the turn time for Puck#2 is ~0.11 seconds, any hero with a <0.1 cast time can at least prevent the usage of Blink Dagger.
Speaking of preventing the initiation:
If in this situation you are the Rubick and you see Puck teleporting to you across the map (you should notice the TP color and see whether you see the teleporting hero on the map), you can issue a command on him across the map BEFORE the end of the teleport , winning some time and effectively casting your spell as the enemy hero arrives and you turn to face him. Or you could position yourself in a way that you face the newly arrived hero to immediately disable him, if you feel like your fingers are fast enough. Either way, you are more likely to catch some poorly performed Teleport+Blink or Teleport+Skill combo.
And to finish off, I will talk about typical Blink initiation mistakes on heroes like Magnus or Axe.
A lot of times, when I am playing heroes with instant disable ( Rubick, Dragon Knight, Skywrath Mage, Lion etc.) I manage to turn the tides of battle, by not allowing enemy initiator to cast his spell after blinking. What are the common mistakes they occasionally do?
Giving the cast animation on, for example, Reverse Polarity, that is 0.2 seconds more than Rubick‘s Telekinesis, it is rather easy to lift him before he finishes the cast. With some proper training, that is (that only works if you are facing him when he blinked-in).
Moreover, if you see Magnus when he is about to Blink-in, you can predict what he has in mind and issue a command, for him to blink-in directly into a trap – since your command is already issued and he blinked-in in front of you, you will have quite a bit of an edge.
That one is similarly important. Rubick has a cast time of 0.1 seconds, outcasting Magnus by 0.2 seconds.
So, in order to be successful 100% of the time you need to squeeze out an absolute maximum when trying to catch the enemy team off-guard. And you can’t allow yourself to have ping tamper with your initiation.
So, if you Blink to initiate, try to blink behind the enemy, giving yourself some time for your cast animation, while the enemy heroes are spending time turning to face you. And to queue the abilities just issue a move command on the ground 100-150 units away from you in the direction of the enemy and the rapidly click Blink Dagger and your initiation skill while holding the Shift button.
Here is a comparison chart for Magnus Queuing his abilities, for the one who does not, and Rubick, trying to respond to a blinked-in (time 0 on the chart) threat (HRT=human response time, average ping of 35ms for both players):
As you can see, there can be a huge difference between Queuing your spells and not. And blinking in front of the enemy and behind him. In this particular case the difference would be between a successful Reverse Polarity, possibly catching several enemies, and a sad, dead Magnus.
Now imagine what happens when you have a higher ping!
Now a more visual explanation of the concept in a Lion (0 ms cast time on Hex) vs. Magnus (300 ms cast time on Reverse Polarity) initiation battle:
If Magnus blinked in behind me it would take me 188 ms to turn around, as well as ~135 ms of ping to issue a command, making this play literally impossible. And that is if I had 0 ms response time, unheard of in human beings.
I agree that most people play on a much better connection and are located a little bit closer to the servers, so the next section is explaining why it is crucial to maximize your effectiveness even if you and your enemies are in a low-ping area.
Some number crunching.
In my case, I am playing with 135ms ping against ~35ms ping players. It means that no matter what I do, I will be losing 0.1s to everyone on the enemy team, if I don’t Queue my abilities. If I do, however, I am effectively playing with 0ms ping at the times when it matters – something that has occurred to me only recently.
By the same logic, a player that queues his abilities on a 35ms ping will have a 0.035 sec. advantage over the one who does not (e.g. cast time for the Lion who does not is not 0.3s, but rather 0.335s).
While using a Blink Dagger to initiate/escape/pretty much anything, try to queue a command you want to do right after it! Even if the command is as simple as moving. Developing good habits is never unwelcome.
While TP-ing to a tower that needs defending queue an ability, to fire it as soon as possible (you can cancel it once you arrive, during the animation, if it is no longer needed). And be mindful of which way you are facing and how long it is going to take you to actually use the ability. Also – if you are teleporting from base, you can usually use a skill “for free”, since you will have the lingering fountain buff with extra mana regeneration.
The logic of shift-casting can be applied to every item, since they don’t have backswing or cast animation. Queue a move command after using a Force Staff on yourself to immediately start running, or queue Light Strike Array from Lina after using Rod of Atos to land that perfect stun.
Also note that in almost every case you should only use queuing of abilities after items, but not after your other abilities, since as long as your ping is <510ms, you will lose more time to backswing animation of heroes and their abilities.
Heroes that have no backswing animation are: Invoker, Io, Tiny, Earth Spirit and Ursa. Use this to your advantage!
I understand that a lot of it might seem irrelevant/unimportant, but believe me, when you consider each and every factor contributing to the time loss (ping, time to process information, time to react to the information), it can go as high as half a second in certain cases, even for the best players with the fastest fingers. And if you think that 0.5 seconds is not a lot, I suggest you re-read the whole Blog again.
I hope this post has been somewhat useful to you. I have tried my best to explain how to get that time advantage over opponent, resulting in plays that look and feel awesome.
It is your right to disregard a lot of this information if you think doing all of it is really complicated. However, I have to say that after a week or so of forcing yourself to play this way, you get used to it and it starts to pay off. Give it an honest try!
And, as always:
Thank you for reading!