Essential Skills for Every Dota Player (or even LoL / HoN)

We have to start calling these games MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). These are 5v5 games that usually involves picking a hero and having a split at the middle of the map and the goal is to kill the enemy base. For the purposes of this article I will talk about Dota, but the content is very applicable to other MOBAs as well.

Dota is not an easy game. It’s not even fun all the time. It takes hours and hours of commitment to be able to get to a certain skill level to start enjoying the game. I talked about it here and after some more playtime, they are all still true. I am not an elite Dota player, I’m a decent player who can probably win 40-50% of my games. The journey was not all that fun. There were times that it felt like a task and sometimes even outright frustrating. As more and more people get into playing the game, I’ll just share the essential skills that each player need to have.

Skill #1: Fast Learner

Awareness of the Game Elements! The first skill you need is a good awareness and knowledge of the game. There is a lot to know. Here are some game basics:
  1. There are about 113 heroes as per my last count. Each hero is unique and has at least 4 skills. That means that you need to know at least in some form all 452 skills in the game. At least. Some heroes have 5 or 6.
  2. There are also about 128 items. Some items cannot be purchased and need to be combined from 2 or more items.

Other stuff you need to know are also essential like the map which looks simple but it’s not. There are game elements like fog of war, day and night, creeps, pulling, stacking, jungling, juking, etc etc. Know the different types of roles (carry, support, init). There are a million guides out there that tell you these things and the amount of time you want to spend learning really makes a difference.

Skill #2: Hard work

The second skill you’ll need is really experience. And you need to work hard for that. You can read up as much as you want but to apply the theory to reality, you need to play the game. Not everything you read will be correct. That’s why they’re called guides. It’s just there to guide and hold your hand until you can figure stuff out for yourself. There are also a bunch of stuff that will only start to make sense once you start playing. If by reading some guides you start having your own opinions then you are on the right track.

Skill #3: Being in Touch

Dota 2 is far from being a complete game. There are a bunch of places where things are not balanced. Certain skills might be too powerful so adjustments need to be made. Change logs can hugely impact the way some heroes work. Some might get buffed and some nerfed (weakened) or maybe prices of some items become cheaper or more expensive. So if you don’t read up on these and still follow old and outdated guides, then you are just setting yourself up for failure. You need to be in touch and know what’s coming.

Skill #4: Good Communication skills

Unless you've been playing in a team where everyone knows exactly what to do and how the other person thinks, everyone's going to have a different view on what to do. This doesn't always work out very well. Telling people they're noob or that they suck isn't going to help you win any games. Dota is a team game and to succeed, you need to be able to communicate properly and since you don't have a lot of time to do it, you need to be able to convey your message in a short and succinct way.


Right: “nyx init stun puck, doom ulti weaver”
Wrong: “nyx please try to init when they are about to reach the river. make sure you stun puck before he goes invi. doom walk behind the weaver and use your ulti to make sure that he doesn’t escape the clash”

See the difference? By the time you finish typing, you’re either dead or the clash has already finished.

On top of being short and concise, you also need to TELL your teammates what your plan is. They are not mind readers.

Right: “sk blink ulti *signal location*"
Wrong: “sk do your best to fight”


Skill #5: Patience

You will often be grouped with newbies/noobs when playing pub (public) games. They will suck and they will feed the enemy heroes. You need to use your communication skills to tell them what to do instead of raging. Which at times will be very difficult especially when some of them are just being difficult.

After a failed clash/fight:
Right: “Next time hit sniper before tiny. Slar init first. Drow silence puck”
Wrong: “F you noobs! I’m not joining the next clash you bunch of kids”

Seeing teammate’s inventory:
Right: “Viper, don’t build vlad, get sb instead”
Wrong: “Stupid Sven why buy mek? Please uninstall dota”

Skill #6: Leadership

I’ve mentioned several times that Dota is a team game. And teams don’t get many wins by individual skill. There needs to be a leader who will dictate the flow of the game or who will bring the team to victory. Of course you may have heard that a good leader is also a good follower. Make sure it’s clear who will lead before the start of the game. It does NOT have to be the carry.

Skill #7: Humility and Self Critique


A huge percentage of the more vocal and abusive people in Dota will never admit that they suck. They will always blame everyone else for losing except themselves. There will always be people like this and that’s a reality. You just have to live with that when playing pub games. The best thing to do here is to watch the replays of the game and see what you could have done better. In the heat of the moment it’s also hard to admit that you yourself made some mistakes. Once you start learning how to learn from your mistakes, then you’re on your way.

Again, I am not a pro nor am I an elite player, but I believe that I you are able to have the above skills, it will help set you on the right path to becoming a better player.
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