Tag Archives: dota 2

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.

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The Money, Dota 2, and Making Decisions Addendum

This is an addendum, of sorts, to Twenty Seven. While this will (hopefully) make plenty of sense without reading that first, I’d still recommend it.

Yours truly, back in February:

Or on a more personal note, maybe life’s too short not to travel the world. Too short to have to reconcile giving up what you enjoy doing for the faint promise of career progression. Too short to not go to The International every year, or not get to one esports event in a different country. Too short to not spend time with family and friends. Too short to not talk to that pretty girl you like. Suddenly, you’re not sure what you should be doing any more, and all because life’s too short.

You — where I, of course, really mean I — could probably cross a few things off that list without worrying about what happens next. It’s (mostly) just money, after all, and you only live once.

Unfortunately, like most people I wasn’t born into wealth, and like most people will have to earn every cent I want to spend. Which probably means picking and choosing what I want to do, the places I want to go, and perhaps most importantly, the experiences I want to have. Provided I stay gainfully employed there’s probably nothing stopping me from doing an overseas trip every few years, or having an interstate jaunt a couple of times per year.

A little while back I read about spending money on experiences, not things, and it’s the same wisdom I’ve attempted to impart on others. Being a technology enthusiast is particularly terrible in this regard, because there’s always a cool new toy to buy, but lately I’ve been doing OK about justifying the things I purchase, carefully weighing up their value versus the use I’ll get out of them and a myriad of other factors, including how much I want other, perhaps more expensive, things.

My iPad Pro? Probably on the wrong side of that scale, but by the same token, my original generation iPad mini was no longer supported by the latest version of iOS, and was a little long in the tooth. My iPhone X? I think this was an OK purchase, but it’ll be better when I sell my old iPhone 7 that I had picked up the year before. (I know, I know. Don’t tell me about it.)

So yeah, life’s too short to worry about money. By the time you think you have enough of it to live comfortably, you’re wondering where the years went. Before you know it, you’re too old and frail to really enjoy the places that you probably should have been when you were still young. So you get to choose between travelling as a broke youth, travelling comfortably during your twilight years, or whatever happy medium you decide to settle for.

Which brings us to… Dota 2.

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The Haul From An Impromptu Malaysia Trip

I wouldn’t say I go looking for cool stuff. It’s not as if I’m methodically searching through every retail outlet or corner store for that extra special piece. But by virtue of my curated RSS and Twitter feeds, all relevant to my interests, I’m always peripherally aware of cool things, and sometimes I go looking.

A recent impromptu trip to Malaysia for the funeral of my grandfather was hardly the ideal time for shopping. Reflection, perhaps, either on the traditional Chinese funeral, or the grandfather I didn’t really know, but somehow, we still managed to make the trips to Aeon. Almost every day we were there.

It was in Aeon’s shopping complex that I first saw the Pikachu and Eevee. Not sure if it was cool or not, I borrowed my sister’s internet to look it up. Apparently, it was a promo that was only available via some kind of lottery system at Pokémon Centres in Japan in 2013. I’m entirely unconvinced that what I purchased is the real deal as the box text is slightly different, but eh, it’s a pretty good fake… that I later discovered was super-common, after finding it at a few other shops.

Later in the trip I found myself at KLIA2 more than twelve hours before my flight was scheduled to depart. We were dropping off my sister, and after that was done, there was still over six hours to kill before check-in opened, and another eight before my flight was scheduled. We took the KLIA Ekspres to KL Central, then a taxi to Mid Valley Megamall.

We go to Megamall basically every time we’re in KL. Truth be told, I was beginning to get a little sick of the place, even if I’ve found some cool Dota-2 stuff there before. Alas, the gaming store that was there before wasn’t there any more, replaced with yet another gaming store that had nothing that was particularly interesting. I thought about picking up the Hypebeast edition CS:GO Steelseries mousepad, if I didn’t find anything else that piqued my interest elsewhere in the mall.

But it was on the recently-refurbished (at least, I think it was recently-refurbished, it definitely wasn’t like that the last time we were there in 2015) fourth floor that I found a small gaming store. They didn’t have as much stock as some of the larger stores, but their shelves were crammed with all kinds of gaming gear. And on one of those shelves, the SteelSeries Rival 100, Dota 2 Special Edition.

It was only afterwards that I learned these were originally sold at the Shanghai Major Secret Shop, and later released worldwide. But I’ve never seen it posted online anywhere, so stumbling on it was completely by chance.

Last but not least, I happened to know that Uniqlo in the US offers Nintendo-themed tees. I’ve never seen them at an Australian Uniqlo, but a quick recon of the Uniqlo at KLIA2 revealed that Asian Uniqlo stores stocked the Nintendo-themed tees. With the hours dwindling, I made one last stop and picked up a Pikachu-themed tee from the collection, completing this trips haul.

It’d be a misnomer to say cool stuff finds me. I’m always on the lookout for that next exclusive, unique piece that will somehow make my life that little more fulfilled — if only momentarily — but sometimes, that necessitates a little looking. And most of the time, I’m glad I did.

Toxic, Part II

Picture this: it’s the eve of the Dota 2 Manilla Major. Pro players from all the world will soon be converging in the Philippines to decide who the best team is of the current patch. I, a slightly-below-average skill player, queue for a game of Dota 2 on a Saturday night with four of my other friends, only to find that we’ve been matched up the most toxic team of Filipinos I’ve ever played against.

Completely unprovoked, they begin with slurs in their own language, then move on to abuse in English and then graduating to straight-out racism. Perhaps it’s the fact that as Australians we’re always going to give as good as we get it, but I’m still disappointed to admit some of us stooped to their level and trash-talked whenever we won teamfights or got a pick off, but I can safely say that I have never played against (or with) a more toxic team. I ended up muting them about 20 minutes into our 82-minute game, but you can read their full comments thanks to the wonders of Yasp and full-replay parsing.

And I get it. You’re doing well in a game, so you decide to throw out some trash-talking in order to tilt your opponents even more. You chuck in a few taunts here and there whenever a teamfight goes your way, hoping that your opposition will doubt themselves and lose confidence, leading to poorly-executed teamfights and their eventual loss. As Australians we’re no stranger to a few sledges thrown either way during competitive matches of any kind, but there are boundaries, and there’s such a thing as taking it too far. I’m all for calling other people “noobs” — I’ve seen it so many times the word has lost all meaning for me now anyway — but there’s no reason to be racist, sexist, or generally an awful human being to other people.

I keep coming back to this tweet from SEA player Meracle. “you can suck at dota it’s not a sin but just at the very least be a decent human being.”

Everyone sucks at Dota, it’s true. I only sometimes remember to use Midnight Pulse before dropping Black Hole. My micro skills are almost non-existent, and my decision-making as a carry is questionable at best. But I’ve learned a lot about myself playing Dota, and it’s that if I can’t be good at Dota, then I might as well be an OK person.

So, why am I writing about this? It’s because that the internet these days, Twitter especially, has become a cacophony of negativity. So much vitriol, so much toxicity. There’s endless sarcasm, complaining, and outrage. It’s awful, and I hate it. I can hardly say I play video games for fun anymore, seeing as that’s about all I do outside of work these days, but when your games are filled with such awful people it makes me wonder whether it’s all worth it.

And then you win against the most toxic team of Filipinos in a game of Dota 2 that lasts 82 minutes that more closely resembles a 5v5 game of chess than any other game you’ve ever played, and you conclude that yes, it is all worth it.

Don’t pick a support

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 4.26.29 pmThere are a few mechanics that work in the sub-3K or normal skill bracket of Dota 2 that don’t at 4K and above, and today we’re talking about how you shouldn’t be picking a support.

Dota 2 has well-defined roles. If you look at the players on any pro-level team, you’ll see that each one has their own position based on farm priority, which is most commonly denoted by a number from one to five, where one is the player with the most farm, and five is the player with the last farm. Most of the time, these farm priorities match up to the role within the team, whether they’re playing the carry or one position role, the mid or two position, the offlane or three position, or one of the two supports, four and five.

Seeing as I am neither a pro or playing a position within a serious team, I can say with some confidence that supports are overrated in the sub-3K MMR skill bracket. Due to the nature of the skill bracket, no-one plays the support position effectively enough for any given support pick to be worth it.

In sub-3K, most of the time you’ll be more or less even on kills. Even if you’re more than ten kills up, a couple of teamfights later you could be even again. But as I’ve said before, kills don’t matter. Objectives do. Even if you’re crushing the early and mid game with as many kills as you team can accumulate, it means nothing if you can’t close the game out while you still have the advantage.

Check out this recent game, for example. I had a pretty awful time in the laning stage as Spectre — for some reason Bristleback wanted to share the lane with me, which worked out as well as you can probably imagine. But it was sweet, because the Timbersaw, Pudge, and Necrophos were doing a fantastic job of ganking, picking up a few kills here and there. And when the Bristleback left the lane and started to join them, they just ran at heroes and got kills that way.

Meanwhile, I was farming. Every now and again I’d press R to haunt in to join a teamfight, but as the game got later and later, the TA and Lifestealer started doing actual damage. The Phoenix and Lifestealer actually picked up Midas’ pretty early, which probably explains why three heroes had a higher networth than the most farmed hero on our team (me as Spectre). At about the 35 minute mark, we stopped getting kills, got picked off every time we tried, and it was mostly down hill from there. We lost the game not because we were ahead early, but because I couldn’t keep up with the enemy team, and no-one on my team had enough of an impact later on for it to matter.

Why am I so against picking supports? Because generally speaking, they have too little late-game impact. Once the enemy starts getting BKBs, your Crystal Maiden becomes good for an aura only, and even that may be negated by the items the carries on her team have already picked up. Your Venomancer ult now does less damage thanks to the pipe picked up by the Enigma that was free-farming in the jungle, and so on. You can do everything right early-game, you can get assists on enemy kills, you can put down wards and use scan to stop ganks, but come late game, you might as well be a ward.

So don’t pick a support. Notice I’m not saying that people shouldn’t play like a support, but pick a hero that has some utility outside of getting killed when planting wards. Instead, pick a hero that can have some kind of impact late game, because you’ll be getting to the late game a hell of a lot in sub-3K. Bane can use Fiend’s Grip on an enemy carry with BKB activated. Beastmaster can use Primal Roar an enemy and waste their BKB duration. Ancient Apparition might be a great counter to the current strength/sustain meta of 6.87, but that’s only if you’re hitting perfect Ice Blasts every time it matters.

Share the support workload. Everyone can buy wards, everyone can buy smoke or dust, and everyone can carry a TP scroll. Put out wards when it’s safe to do so, don’t get caught out, and help support your way to your team’s victory.

Just don’t actually pick a support.


570_20160409141155_1When you’ve played as much Dota 2 as I have, or even if you’ve lurked the Dota 2 subreddit, you’ve probably heard of them. They’re referred to as toxic players, people who constantly flame their team mates, both due to the competitive nature of the game, the need for five individuals to work together towards the common goal of winning the game, and because everyone thinks they’re better at Dota than you are.

I’ve been there. Everyone has. When you carry has no items and it’s 30 minutes into the game, you can point this out as nicely as you want, but chances are you’re going to get an unfavourable response from someone who thought his supports should have warded better, fed less, or executed combos like your team was playing at The International.

And I get it, I do. Dota is all about winning, and there’s a chain of events that need to occur before that can happen. Your team gets ahead in farm, they take teamfights, objectives (although perhaps not in that order), and eventually, when you take the enemy’s ancient, you’ve won. But when any mis-step puts you behind and makes the game harder until the next engagement or objective, emotions run rampant and often, the response is to take it out on your teammates instead of what you should be focusing on: good, clean, Dota to get you back into the game.

I’ve been told before I have a poor attitude when playing. I’ve been told I take the game too seriously, and that I’m always angry when playing. I’ve flamed team mates — both people that I know and those that I don’t, and I’m no afraid to admit that. But it makes me ashamed of myself, to think that I could say those things when “it’s just a game”, even if that game is the only thing I play with any kind of regularity, and will probably be so for the foreseeable future.

People think memes about winning via friendship and teamwork are all a joke, when in fact they’re the key to success. I had a game recently where three of us picked three different heroes at random, then proceeded to eventually win the game due to not taking losses too hard, sticking it out as a team, and coming back to win the game on the back of some good strategy and play. Obviously, not every game is going to turn out like that. Chances are you’ll lose as many games as you win, but what’s the big deal?

So before you decide to flame your team mates, puffing yourself up about how you just went toe-to-toe with the enemy carry and came out on top, maybe recognise that it was your support that put the enemy carry out of position in the first place, your offlaner that took most of the damage, and one of their supports which stuffed up before recognising that you’re the best carry in the world. And even if you where, why would you need to prove that to your team mates? We know dude, we know.

As for myself, I’m working on it. I suggest things to my team mates instead of telling them what to do, based on what the enemy team has been doing so far. I say “it’s fine” when it feels like we’re behind, and I try not to give up so easily when I know we are — after all, everyone likes a good comeback.