HOW TO PLAY SUPPORT IN DOTA 2
In Dota 2 the support roles are usually the roles that ensure that their carries (positions 1, 2 and 3) have a better game by sacrificing their own farm and experience. Supports usually have to make sure that their laning partner has a comfortable laning stage in order to get ahead of the enemy cores and they often do it by providing vision by warding areas, purchasing items that replenish their teammate’s health and mana, maintaining the lane creep equilibrium by pulling the camps as well as stacking them, zoning out the enemy heroes by damaging them with their strong spells as well as disabling the enemy heroes in order to secure kills for their team.
Although many players dislike playing the support role due to its gameplay being lackluster by nature and not as action packed as the core roles comparatively, the support roles are extremely impactful in every game, especially during the earlier stages (first minutes). Support heroes can focus less on amassing gold and items, and more on using their abilities to gain an advantage for the team. Being a good support player would usually mean that you can more often than not ensure your cores a good laning stage, which can be an integral reason to winning a game of Dota since having an early lead as a core player and being able to maintain that lead is going to enhance the chances of winning games, thanks to their support players who allow them to get the head start.
Support heroes however, tend to fall off in the later stages of the game due to the fact that they are not meant to be cores. That usually means that they grow more and more vulnerable as time goes by in a game. It also means that positioning properly is very important as a support hero since dying as a support due to poor positioning can be lethal to your team as they will not have their support to save them in a teamfight or turn a fight around thanks to the powerful spells that the supports have at their arsenal.
Dazzle’s Shallow Grave
Rylai’s Freezing field
THE DIFFERENT SUPPORT ROLES IN DOTA 2 : POSITION 4 AND POSITION 5
Even though both of them fall under the category of support roles, they do not necessarily have the same play style and objectives coming into the game. The two support roles – Position 4 and Position 5, better known as the soft support and the hard support, are vastly different from each other.
POSITION 4 – SOFT SUPPORT
This style of support emphasizes less on babysitting the carries and more on bringing discomfort to the enemy by creating pressure in the map. Soft supports/Position 4 heroes typically lane with the offlaners in the offlane, and leave the lane soon to roam around the map and help to assist other lanes. Heroes such as Earth Shaker, Tiny, Earth Spirit and Nyx Assassin for example, do a great job in exerting pressure by rotating to other lanes in order to kill enemy heroes for their team to achieve a lead. Soft supports are typically very mobile which helps them to transition from one lane to another, and they often purchase Boots of Speed as their first item to benefit from the added movement speed early on in the game. Position 4 soft supports hit their item timings much faster compared to position 5 hard supports as they participate in a lot of engagements and invest less on itemizing to save their core players.
Earth Spirit Ganking the Mid-Lane
Some of the typical Position 4 Heroes consist of Earth Shaker, Rubick, Pudge and Spirit Breaker. These Heroes are easy to learn and are not as complex as Heroes such as Earth Spirit, which can be mechanically challenging to play and pull off.
POSITION 5 – HARD SUPPORT
This variation of playing the Support role focuses on making sure that the carry is able to have a comfortable laning stage and they also need to ensure that their carry players are able to secure farm throughout all stages of the game. Hard Supports almost always lane with their carry player in the safelane, and they usually do not get the freedom to leave the safelane to roam around the map as they need to help their safelaner in the lane. The job of a hard support is to provide aid to the team – healing, warding, stacking, saving teammates from dying and making items that benefit the team all around. Investing in items such as Glimmer Cape, Force Staff, Mekansm and Holy Locket can prove to be very helpful when it comes to saving teammates and helping them in general.
Some of the trademark position 5 Heroes are Lion, Crystal Maiden, Dazzle and Ogre Magi – All of which are low complexity and easier to learn compared to high complexity Hard Support Heroes such as Chen, IO and Oracle as these heroes demand significant game knowledge in order to be played properly.
WARDING AND DEWARDING
In a game of Dota, vision is arguably the most important aspect as without it, you as well as your teammates cannot function properly due to the lack of information about the whereabouts of the enemy team. Your core players will not feel safe when they farm the lanes or the jungle without knowing where the enemy could be coming from. So it is extremely important to ward areas and provide vision where the enemy heroes could potentially want to skirmish your team and take control over your part of the map. You can plant wards defensively as well as offensively, defensively being planting wards on your own side of the map and offensively being warding on the enemy side of the map. Observer wards help to provide vision over a certain area of the map for a certain period of time and they do not cost any money, they are free.
It is equally important to deward as it is to ward. Your enemy having vision over you would mean that they have information of where you are in the map and where you could be headed to, which will give them an opening to rotate and kill you or even smoke gank you. Sentry wards help to spot enemy observer wards as you cannot detect their wards without it. Not only that, sentry wards also help to reveal invisible units, so it is very effective against heroes that possess abilities which allow them to turn invisible. However, sentry wards do cost money unlike observers.
The purpose of wards does not stop at this much. Wards can also be used to block jungle camps in order for the neutral creeps to stop spawning. If a ward is placed within the spawn box of an empty jungle camp, it will not spawn the jungle creeps. You can see the spawn box of a jungle camp by pressing and holding the alt button when in the game. When you press alt, you will see yellow squares around the camp, which is the spawn box of it.
Spawn Box of a Neutral Camp
There are multiple benefits to blocking a camp. As a support, when you block enemy’s camps, they cannot farm the jungle which will slow down the opponent core’s game and their supports will have to invest on sentry wards to deward the blocked camps. You usually get the liberty to go to the opponent’s jungle to block the camps as a position 4 soft support, but as a position 5, you can also utilize the wards by blocking the hard camp during the laning stage. Doing this will restrict the enemy offlane support to pull the camp to their creeps to bring their lane back in a favourable position for them. As a position 4, you would also want to block the easy camp so that the enemy hard support cannot pull the creeps.
PULLING AND STACKING
The core fundamental of the supporting role is knowing when to effectively pull and stack. Being able to pull these jobs off properly will massively impact your core player’s games as well as the game as a whole. Knowing when to stay in the lane and pull and when to leave the lane to stack camps can benefit you greatly and catapult you to the next level as a Position 4 and Position 5 player.
Pulling the lane when not necessary can disrupt the lane and make the laning stage for your carry very uncomfortable. Leaving the lane to stack camps when your carry needs your presence in the lane can also be very detrimental for the game. With that being said, you should have clear knowledge on what pulling and stacking is, why it is done as well as how to do it.
As a support wanting to get the most out of the laning stage, you would want to make sure that your lane partner farms safely near your own tier 1 tower and is not in danger of being killed by the enemy. This would happen if your creeps are too pushed into the enemy side of the lane, and to stop that from happening, you pull the creeps so they stop pushing towards the enemy tower. Pulling is a great tool to gain solo exp and farm as a support, as you would not take the lane creeps due to your carry needing that farm more than you do. Pulling a lane when the creep wave is already near/under your tower is not optimal as that would push the lane even more by the time the next creep wave has been spawned. This is because when you pull your creeps, the whole wave is not denied unless the camp you pulled the creeps to are powerful enough to do so. Usually the hard camp gets the job done of denying the whole wave as it has much stronger neutral creeps than the easy camp, but you would most likely not be able to deny the whole wave when you are a position 5 support using the small camp to pull. Now comes the question of how to successfully do a pull. For the former, you’ll want to attack the camp at the first or third quarter of the minute that the game’s timer is currently on (i.e. 3:15 or 6:45). Then, use their aggro on you to make it so that the incoming creep wave sees them just at the right time. As for the offlane pull, attack with a delay of two seconds compared to the safe lane pull. This would be somewhere around the 17 or 47 second mark. As a support in the safelane (Position 5) you will be able to pull both the easy camp as well as the hard camp, but as a support in the offlane (Position 4) you will only be able to pull the creeps to the hard camp.
It is also important as a support to stop the enemy heroes from pulling.
You can stop the enemy from pulling in 2 ways:
Place Observer Wards / Sentries in the spawn zone for the neutral creeps.
Physically stand in the spawn zone to block the neutral creep spawns at X:00 time.
Now we come to stacking. Stacking is a great tool to enhance your core player’s farm. First off, what is stacking? Well, in dota, the neutral camps have spawn boxes as we have discussed before, and when you attack the neutral at a certain time (i.e. 0:53 or 3:55) and manage to pull them out of the spawn box, another set of neutral creeps will spawn. This will cover up a bad laning stage, that is, if your core player goes through one. Do not leave the lane to stack when not necessary because a support leaving the lane means the carry is alone and vulnerable for the time they do not have their supports with them. Stacking camps for your core players when they do not have the ability to take the camps may dent your core player’s gameplay too. If you stack a camp too many times, your carry may not be able to take it and may even die to the neutrals if he is not strong enough. So do not mindlessly keep on stacking just because it gives a lot of gold to your carry, you have to keep in mind if they are capable of taking the stacks or not.
The concept of stacking and pulling takes time and understanding to get a firm grip on, so to understand these fundamentals more in depth, it is suggested that you watch guides done on these topics by high level players such as BSJ and Purge Gamers.
Support Fundamentals to Take it to the Next Level
How To Focus on the Supporting Fundamentals | 3.2k MMR WD | BSJ Replay Analysis 7.25c
BEHAVIOR ON AND OFF THE LANE WHEN PLAYING THE SUPPORT ROLE
At all stages of the game, you will rarely be in a situation where you will be giving up your positioning and man up on the enemy. Supports as previously discussed are weak and do not scale as the game gets longer. Their top priority in almost every situation is to position themselves correctly as they are very vulnerable and easy to take down. When playing the support role, it is normal to feel suffocated in the map at times due to having so many things that can threaten you, but during the laning phase, it is your duty to make sure that your core player does not feel that way and that you can set them up for the rest of the game.
The behavior of a support in a lane is to zone out the enemy and let their lane partners breathe. If you are playing as a support and your carry is constantly getting harassed by the opponents, then you are doing something wrong as a support by not bringing the enemy’s attention to you. Trading hits with the enemy support to keep them accompanied while your carry freely farms creeps undisturbed, tanking hits to make sure your carry does not get punished even after they step out of their position is your job to take care of. It is completely fine to die as a support during the earlier stages of the game and even later on (with a valid reason of course) as the KD ratio should be of least concern when playing the Support role.
Aside from poking and prodding the enemy heroes during the laning phase, it is mandatory as a support to focus on the creeps that your core player will not be able to secure, which is more often than not, the range creep. Range creeps are prioritized over the melee creeps due to the extra exp and gold it offers. The enemy heroes will try to make sure that your carry is unable to get the range creep secured, that is when the supports come in and make sure that they secure the missed creeps by going as far as using their strong nukes to get the last hit on the creep.
However, when your carry player is in a lane where they do not require much assistance from you, do not be stagnant in the lane by doing nothing aside from sapping exp. Your carry does not always need you to be in the lane, they need you to make sure they have a stable and healthy lane, and if the lane does not need any helping, you staying in the lane does more harm than good.
Rather than just sitting in a lane where you are not required, you could prove to be much more useful by – helping other lanes, stacking camps, providing vision, ganking, etc.
Focusing on all these aspects as a support player will largely impact the quality of your games. Not only will you be a better support player, you will be most likely to also gain more knowledge about the game which will make you an even better player overall. The support role in dota requires patience and is very difficult to master. Being positive and open minded will always make the path of learning much easier and is bound to make you a better dota player since Dota 2 is a game of mental warfare.