Tilted and Muted

“Reported in 1 matches by 3 different parties”. Evidently, that game was a bad one.

With the introduction of the ranked role queue in Dota 2 for Dota+ members, I’ve been playing ranked for the first time in years. You can say what you want about Dota+ as a whole, and I’ll be equally as honest and say that there aren’t that many tangible benefits, but ranked roles improves on a crucial aspect of the ranked queue experience by guaranteeing you’ll be able to play a particular role and lane. By removing that extra potential point of friction, you could argue that it’s a little pay to win, but it’s perfect if you want to grind out tens of games on a particular hero.

Which is exactly what I’ve been doing. Much to the chagrin of my teammates, I’ve been picking offlane Luna and relying on a good support to do well enough to get past the laning stage, at which point I’ll focus on pushing out the lanes and creating space — either until my team’s real carry has enough farm to carry the game, or until I get big enough to feel that I can.

And it’s been working. Kind of. Dotabuff says I’m 13-9 on Luna in ranked games over the past three months, and while I’ve only played one game since patch 7.20, it’s early enough in the patch, here’s hoping that I’ll be able to get away with it until early 2019. Even though I consider myself pretty good at pushing out the lanes and making space with a carry that can farm, this tactic of picking offlane Luna isn’t exactly winning any popularity contests. Unless my team wins, in which case all is forgiven, but losing inevitably makes me the prime target for most of the blame.

So even though I know what I’m doing — playing a carry from the offlane position, making space for our “real” carry, even if that turns out to be me — some of the time, my team isn’t on the same page, which leads to mistakes and pickoffs, which often leads to some very unhelpful suggestions in chat.

I’ve said before that ranked is a festering cesspool of the worst Dota 2 players, which carries the unique distinction of being the only game mode where you can literally measure how good you are at the game, relative to everyone else, either via the ranked medals they introduced a little while ago, or via the MMR that you see on your profile page.

My thoughts on that haven’t changed — I continue to believe that ranked is the most toxic game mode in Dota 2, like any competitive mode in any other game — but on the other side of the scale is my own willingness to improve in a game that I’ve spent thousands of hours in. I cannot believe how truly awful I am at a game for the amount of time I’ve spent playing/watching/reading Dota. It’s actually unbelievable, and the only reason I haven’t quit altogether is because I know I haven’t played anywhere near enough to be good (and also because no one really quits Dota). If you want to get better, you play, and that often means playing a lot.

And so, if you want to see how good you are at Dota, or measure how much you’ve improved in any way, shape, or form, you play ranked.

Unfortunately, I worked out a little while ago that I’m easily tilted from chat. I can count the number of times I’ve read relevant, useful information in chat on one hand, but the times I’ve read unhelpful, inane, and downright toxic comments has to number in the hundreds, if not thousands. I wish I could just ignore it, but in the intensely stressful situation of needing to do everything perfectly or lose the game and precious MMR, I’m not capable of taking everything seriously except for this one little thing. It’s just not possible.

People way more experienced than I have said that sometimes it’s good to to just mute everyone and play Dota. It’s a good idea in principle; people will rarely say anything useful, and you’re likely to disagree with whatever they say anyway, so instead of subjecting yourself to their terrible opinions on what items you should build, you should preempt any of that and just mute them when the game starts.

For a while, I was doing just that: muting everyone as soon as the draft was over, and playing my own game. You could make the argument that by muting everyone on your own team, you’re instantly giving yourself a disadvantage compared to the other team that has potentially good communication, and while that’s true, there’s always the possibility that you’re better off playing your own game instead of however the other four players on your team want you to play.

No, better to mute everyone and focus on your own game.

But instead of straight-up muting everyone, there’s a better way: the mute all incoming chat option in settings. It’s a bit overkill in that it blocks all voice and text chat from your allies and players on the opposing team, but it doesn’t block things like pings. And while muting individual players from the scoreboard blocks text and voice chat, you also don’t get any of their chat wheel responses, or hero/item/ability alt-click pings. That’s not the case with the mute all incoming chat option, meaning you can still get some useful communication with your team, while cutting out any time they decide to be “helpful”. Of course, your own chats and pings aren’t muted to them (unless they also have you muted), so you can still communicate useful information back.

It’s a good idea if, like me, you are easily tilted by what your allies say. I just want to play and get better at playing Dota without having to worry about the future of humanity as represented by the individuals who queue for, and play ranked.

After all, it’s just a game.

Isn’t it?

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