Part I – You’re Not Alone: How to be a Selfless Support

“Supporting in DotA is a tough, sometimes thankless job. We’ll all been there and there are many articles about it. This is a short rundown of what you contribute to your team as a support and how you can build on your contributions. At the end of the article there is a variety of sources that provide information and guides on supporting along with brief descriptions of their contents and my opinion on them. Consider this your cheat sheet on how to support most effectively and your reservoir of knowledge and optimism should you ever fall into a state of despair after a particularly awful game.

Supporting in a few short points.

You exist to facilitate the success of your team.

  • If your core (hero with strong mid game potential) or carry (hero who is strong in the late game) does well then you’ve done well.
    • This does not mean you should just die meaninglessly but if you sacrifice yourself in order to protect your carry and secure a kill for him then you are playing your role correctly.
  • The overall success of your team is what is important. Many deaths does not mean you’ve done a bad job.
    • Many professional support players go through entire games while only taking one or two kills to their name. Sometimes even none!

You must make use of the limited resources at your disposal in as efficient a way as possible.

  • Buy items as soon as you can
    • This reduces the amount of money you lose when you die.
  • Place wards carefully
    • Wards cost you 75 gold each (150 per two) and are limited in available quantity. Misplaced or obviously placed wards leave your team with less vision and a disadvantage in positioning and decision-making.
  • Carry things like dust pre-emptively
    • This does not mean that you should just purchase dust every game but if you are on your way to help out in a lane with an invisible hero bring dust if you can afford it. That way you can secure a kill that you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten if the opportunity arises.
  • Smoke when opportunities arise
    • You may sometimes feel like you are left to twiddle your thumbs at certain points in the game. If there is a lull in the action or you see an opportunity arise (e.g. 3 heroes in a lane, other two missing likely in jungle or at Roshan) get a smoke and orchestrate a gank or favourable teamfight engagement. By making plays like this you can have a huge impact on the outcome of the game even with limited resources (Smoke of Deceit only costs 100 gold).
  • Do not sacrifice the well-being of your team to obtain an item
    • Though it may be tempting to neglect purchasing wards for the next eight minutes as you struggle to afford your upgrade to Arcane Boots or get that elusive Blink Dagger, you need to continue taking care of your support duties regardless of your itemization aspirations. If you really need an item, see if you can get some help from another person on your team who is also less in need of gold. They can take over your support duties until you get your key item at which point you can resume being the one responsible for those duties.
  • Coordinate with your fellow supports to ease the burden of your role.
    • If you’re fortunate enough to be playing a game where you aren’t the only support on your team then you can coordinate (if suitable) for one person to get the next set of wards while the other upgrades the flying courier (for example).
  • Let your teammates know which items you are getting.
    • Thus preventing the purchase of two Mekansms for example.

Some additional sources that I have vetted and you may find useful.

XVRogue’s videos on various topics

XVRogue provides a thorough explanation of various facets of DotA 2. I’ve always found his videos to be well-made, succint and to the point and knowledgeable. Of particular interest to us is his guide on playing as a support. If you don’t feel like reading a bunch of text, this is probably the best option for you!

Tsunami’s articles (Pull Camp/Rune WardsPushing Wards, Situational Wards) on placing wards and Making Money as a Support

With warding being one of the most important roles of a support, these articles provide additional information on where exactly to place your wards and sentry wards to block camps, rune and Roshan pit vision, using wards to get additional information while in lane, placement around towers, where to place wards based on your current situation (T1, T2, T3), as well as a variety of situational wards that you may find useful. In his article on making Money as a Support, Tsunami gives a few helpful tips to maximize your usefulness as a support, make the best use of the limited funds available to you and take advantage of the select few opportunities you do have to generate income.

Sando’s guide on supporting

Sando goes into more detail on the theory behind hard supports and the reason to pick them (and is a great deal more articulate). He also provides specific examples of lane compositions and potential situations (and the strategies to match them). He then goes into application of game knowledge and capitalizing on situations that present themselves. He gives a useful snapshot of the support mindset with regards to gold and experience, team fights, when to fight or run, managing your mana and dewarding. I would recommend this guide for anyone new to the role or who feels like  they could do with a refresher with regards to some of the facets of such a complicated role.

BurningSera’s guide on how to play supports.

BurningSera provides an in-depth look at playing the role of support with a breakdown between basic, intermediate and advanced points. He has some points that I don’t quite agree with (like buying a Divine to intentionally suicide and attempt to ensure it’s transfer to your carry and playing with near-reckless abandon in a lane that you feel you will likely lose) and it’s not written in the most articulate fashion but it has many useful points and images to illustrate said points.

Parliament’s guide to Competitive Positions

Parliament briefly covers the concept of the 1-5 role system and gives examples of heroes that fit those roles and professional players who play them. With each role he briefly covers what is to expected of them and their goals in the game. This guide is less friendly to new players as it uses a lot of jargon but it is an effective breakdown of what is to be expected from each role. His description of the #5 role (the hard support) is pretty on point and would provide a new player with a good understanding of what they should be doing.

Keep an eye out for Parts 2 and 3 of this guide!

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

Note: If you liked this article. Consider donating or installing this Chrome Extension I made that gives me credit for your Amazon purchases (by adding in my referral tag when you’re browsing Amazon).”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *