For the longest time, I’ve wondered why it’s hard for those who are merely average — myself included — at Dota 2 to improve at the game in any kind of reasonable timeframe.

My own theories revolve around improving at Dota is hard because a lot of the time, you don’t recognise your own mistakes. Whether you’re playing in the so-called “trench-tier”, stuff that wouldn’t work in the pro scene works, and stuff that works in the pro scene doesn’t work in your trench-tier games, mostly because people do (and don’t do) things you wouldn’t expect. It never ceases to amaze me that people who have literally no idea what they’re doing or how the game works can be playing the same game as those who play Dota 2 professionally. It’s completely insane, and totally a topic for another time.

We can probably blame Dota’s “fair and balanced” matchmaking for slow improvement, too. Maybe people just don’t play enough games to notice any real rise in skill, but a lot of the time I feel as though because Dota tries to match you up with and against people who are at the same skill level as you, you often don’t see when you’ve climbed up an MMR bracket, because people will still be, relatively speaking, the same feeding bastards they were when you started out.

Now that I know a little about the game, I’ve often wondered if I should be starting a new Dota 2 account and playing ranked only to see what kind of MMR I end up at. To be fair, it’ll probably be around the same MMR that I am now — how do I know? Because even though I often perceive myself as better at Dota than my teammates, I can’t seem to carry myself out of the rubbish tier I’m in. It’s kind of sad, and is mostly the reason why I don’t play much ranked.

But forget perfect last-hitting mechanics. Forget perfect decision making. If I could choose to be insanely good at just one aspect of Dota 2, it would be in the critique of my own gameplay.

Analysing where you’ve made mistakes is a truly underrated skill, in my opinion. By looking back on games you’ve played and identifying where you could have been more efficient in farming, or where you should have gone through the jungle instead of walking through the river, or where you should have just TP’d out of Dodge as soon as you saw all the other lanes missing, you can learn to improve you own game much more than if you had perfect last hitting mechanics. Perfect decision making would probably help, but if you’re bad at the game to begin with, there’s only so many good decisions you can make, you know?

This ability (or more accurately, lack thereof) to self-analyse and identify mistakes is called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. My favourite pro player at the moment asked about this in relation to Dota 2, and got an answer from Dr Dunning himself. You can check out Aui’s questions and Dr Dunning’s answers over on Reddit, but long story short, the DKE probably explains why people can’t improve at Dota as much as they might like, and sadly, there’s probably no real way to combat the DKE when it comes to improving in Dota 2.

I know I’m incredibly mediocre at Dota 2. But if I want to improve, it’ll take more than just playing games. Analysing games where I played awesome will help as much as analysing games where I played rubbish, but overall, it’ll be a real struggle.

These words part of Blogvember, a thing I just made up right then about getting back into blogging. You can read more words about Blogvember right over here, but the gist is that I'll be attempting to post something up on the blog every day in November 2014. Read other Blogvember posts.

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