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

“Now the last set of tips.  You now know a great deal about the mechanics of supporting and what your role can and should be. You know how to maximize your effectiveness without being dependent on gold. What else could there be there to learn? Well, take a peek down below and see!

You can take advantage of your overarching view of the game as a whole to facilitate coordination.

  • Keep note of item progression on enemy team. Also keep an eye on inventory for wards, gems, smoke, etc.
    • Due to the nature of your role, you are more aware of events occurring throughout the map and have a little bit more time to gather intelligence on the going-on’s of your opponents. By keeping tabs on how close the steadily fattening Anti-Mage is to getting his Battlefury you can help your team plan and strategize accordingly. Additionally, keeping track of whether the enemy team has wards that they would like to place (e.g. wards in inventory, none the next, must be placed nearby), the ability to detect invisible units (your Bounty Hunters, Nyx Assassins and Rikimarus will be grateful to be informed of such things, or are carrying a smoke (the whole team was grouped up a moment ago and are now gone, perhaps your team should be wary of an incoming gank) will help your team to better predict the other team’s actions. The more information you can collect the better. Information is the tool with which you make decisions and, ultimately, it is the quality of your decisions that determine much of the outcome of a game of DotA.
  • Keep Roshan timer in mind.
    • Roshan becomes a vital strategic objective later on in the game where an instant respawn of a powerful hero in the middle of a teamfight can very well swing it in the favour of the team in possession of such a magnificent artifact. By marking down the time at which Roshan has fallen and diligently checking to see if he has returned (at either the 8, 9, 10 or 11 minute mark) you are ensuring that your team will be well prepared for when he returns.
  • Mark fortification timers.
    • Your enemy’s being invulnerable for 5 seconds can be a real downer and can make the difference between you being able to take down their last remaining tower and one of their barracks or not. However, once they’ve used it is on a cooldown for 5 minutes. This information is useful in being able to anticipate whether your push will be rudely interrupted by a 5 second pause or not.
  • Warn allies if in danger of being killed.
    • If you are glancing at the mini map and notice that most of the enemy team is missing and your ally is farming deep in a lane with little or no vision covering the various approaches to his location then you potentially save his life by warning him of impeding danger. Though he may not be the intended victim of an incoming gank your warning will serve to draw his attention to the potential of such a thing occurring and allow him to be better prepared for such an eventuality.
  • Suggest strategies.
    • As you move about the map and assist your allies while completing various objectives you continue to build on your comprehension of how the game is developing. Unlike the carry set in his lane and utterly focused on continuously accelerating the rate at which he is earning gold or the offlaner desperately dodging and seeking to stay alive or your mid-laner dead set on crushing his inferior opponent you are acutely aware of how the game is progressing. You see that your carry is farming well (or not), you notice that your mid-laner is dominating his lane and keeping control over the runes (or not) or you know that your offlaner has managed to turn the tables and grab a few kills while avoiding his own untimely demise.
    • On top of all of that, you are also mindful of how your opponents are doing. With these things in mind, you are well positioned to advise your team on how they should proceed. Perhaps the offlaner should simply abandon his lane and set his focus on ganking the other lanes, or your team should form up and push out the middle tower while your enemies are distracted, or you should grab Roshan now that your team fight ultimates are online and the others’ are not.You see all. And because of this you are likely able to make the most well-informed calls out of anyone on your team. This is why many professional teams have a captain who is a support. Though it may not be the most glamorous role a good support is always vigilant and surveying the events that are unfolding before them Because they don’t have to be as single-minded and focused on a particular task they are able to see past the minutia of moment to moment happenings and see the bigger picture.

I hope you find these short tips handy. Feel free to comment and suggest additional resources for me to add in. Now that you’ve read them you’ll see that your role extends beyond just buying wards and the courier. You have so much at your disposal and can do so much to improve your team’s chances of winning. Isn’t it exciting?

Keep fighting the good fight. Without players like you, your teams will be much less successful and as you gradually improve you’ll find that more skilled players are much more grateful for the contributions that their supports make.

And finally, additional resources should you wish to consult them!

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.

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

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