To read about the role of Support, see: SupportThe central principle in how to play support is that you put yourself in the shoes of the carry/core heroes in your team and ask yourself what they would benefit most from. As a support you make these things happen to build a comfortable game for the core players in team. Some support heroes can even go very aggressive to the point that they are the ones who alter the rhythm of the game.
Ultimately, experience and understanding of the game are the key abilities as a support player while the strong game sense and observation on everything happening in game make you a great one.
Most of the support heroes are naturally fragile so correctly positioning your hero during every phase of the game is of utmost importance. Find a balance between keeping close to your tower for protection, staying within exp range of the creepline, and keeping close to the hero you are supporting while at the same time keeping clear of enemy heroes, their spells, and possible traps or places where enemies could be hidden.
Feel free to spend your money on healing items and, if it so happens, giving them to those in need. It is better for the team if a carry eats 100 of your gold in the form of a salve than if he dies and loses the team exp and possibly even more gold.
In teamfights, make sure you do not die prematurely. Although your survival is lower priority relative to the rest of the team, it is critical you play your role – getting your spells off, or surviving until they are needed – before you kick the bucket.
Do not die meaninglessly (also known as feeding). Since a support’s income is low or non-existent, dying less is the best way to maintain your income, and if you survive the team fights, you will generally get a very nice portion of EXP and assist gold.
Fat supports are scary supports, under the condition that your allied core heroes are fat in the first place.
It is not the case that as a support you need 0 farm. You still need to be able to afford wards, regen items, and boots and there are certain items that are best to get within a certain timing window. However, do not intentionally fight last hits with your carry. If you need a couple of last hits to be able to afford your next item, oftentimes you can ask and a good carry will understand.
Denies and harass
Denying and harassing are two of the most basic skills in all of DotA.
Denying – last hitting your own creeps before your opponent can – reduces the experience and gold gain of the enemies. Ideally, you last hit all your own creeps to maximize this deficit while your carry can focus on last hitting theirs.
Harassing is the act of trying to land hits on the opposing heroes. They will take some damage and will ideally be driven back, out of exp range.
Harass is especially relevant when you are 2v1, 3v1, or 3v2 in a lane. Since you are more numerous, experience will be split more ways, giving you less overall per hero. It is therefore critical to compensate for this loss by using harass to deny your opponent experience also.
As an example, you commonly do a 2v1 on safelane with your carry. If you do not deny creeps or harass the opponent enough the opponent will hit level 7 by the time the two of you are level 4. Some heroes can kill both of you straight away with that level advantage or when you leave the lane to do something else your carry will be 1v1 against an opponent with 3 levels advantage.
This part of the support role becomes self-explanatory as you play more carry heroes. Just remember, as a support you should always try your best to give the core heroes on your team what they wish for.
As a support you will be in charge of buying and placing wards. While Sentry Wards are situational, depending on whether you are up against invisible heroes, Observer Wards are a staple part of every game. At the beginning of the game one pair of wards should be purchased (to lighten the load, usually one support hero invests in the wards while another buys the courier).
There are two warding spots in the river that overlook both the runes and pathways that are popular for setting up ganks. This is where the initial wards usually go. They let your midlane hero(es) know if either rune is still available and they will give you map awareness, keeping you safe from surprise attacks.
Wards run out every 6 minutes which means they need to be replaced. As a rule of thumb, you can buy wards after you get your boots then again at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and 45 minutes.
Using text chat ( Enter ) and pinging ( Alt + Left click ) are your basic tools of communicating information to the rest of the team. When playing, keep in mind the following.
When an opponent hero is suddenly missing from where he was before this could mean a number of things. Maybe he is healing at his fountain, maybe he is visiting one of the shops, or just maybe he is TRYING TO GANK ONE OF YOUR TEAMMATES! Use the text chat to call out “missing”. Usually this is abbreviated to “ss” and additional info can be added, such as what lane he is missing from (“ss top”) or what hero is missing (“pudge ss”). With this heads up, your allies can play a bit safer to prevent being caught off guard. When a hero that was formerly missing returns to his lane you can type “re” (“re top,” “re pudge”) and your allies will know that all is well again.
Text chat can also be used to coordinate engagements. A simple “go?” to check if everyone is ready, or “go!” to signal the attack can be very helpful. Alternatively, if you are waiting for a certain item or a spell (ultimate) that is still on cooldown you can inform them as well (“ult in 9,” “mek in 17”).
Scouting information is also useful to share. If an enemy’s ult is on cooldown and now is the time to pick a fight, let your allies know. If you see an opponent pick up an invisibility or double damage rune, let your team know to be careful. If you see what key items your opponents have purchased, let your allies know.
Map pings are a quicker, but less specific way, to alert allies.
One main use for the ping is to use it on runes (and the game client will automatically display a message detailing what rune it is to your allies) or, occasionally, items (such as dropped gem).
Another great use is when you spot an enemy hiding out, waiting to surprise you or your allies. Ping the enemy hero to alert people of his presence. Alternatively, if you and your team are chasing an or several heroes, pinging there whereabouts helps the hunt.
Lastly, if it is the first time playing or you are not confident enough on using certain hero, please inform the team. This is common Dota-etiquette so that people on your team will not rely on your hero to make good play and some of them will help out on how to play or build the hero.
Once you have a grasp of the basics, it is time to take a more in-depth look.
Main article: WardingMaphack is technically allowed in DotA/Dota 2 because it is purchasable in game – through Wards . Good vision on map from warding can win the game singlehandedly because your team will never get caught off guard, your team can do anything with a plan by knowing the location or movement of enemies on map, and most importantly your team will always have better initiation/counter-initiation in fights due to you knowing the exact positions of enemies.
Simply put again: Wards win games.
As a support it is your job to keep an eye on the wards and make sure their buyout is never on cooldown. A support should have a good understanding of when and where to place wards. For an in-depth look, see Warding.
While babysitting your carry hero, harassing the enemy, and picking up some denies are still your basic tasks during the laning phase, the role of support is far more extensive and all-round than just that. While the carry is happily farming and gaining levels, you are the one that is in control of your lane’s setup, the area between your lane and the mid lane, and you should even keep an eye on the third lane in the scenario of ganks (see below).
Vision (see above) and map-awareness are important aspects of lane control. It is your wards that will see the enemy trespass on your territory and that keep an eye on the runes. If at all possible, you should assist your mid hero in securing the runes either by alerting him of its presence or by actually walking out and driving off an enemy that tries to pick it up.
You are also the person in control of the creepline. Your denies keep it close to your tower, or your assisting in auto-attacking them will push it forward. Should the lane be too far forward, you are the one in charge of pulling and, if possible, stacking. Pulling is the act of luring neutral creeps into your lane, thereby slowing down your own creeps’ progress and halting the creepline’s advance. It is an integral skill in the support’s arsenal. To read more, see Pulling.
Ganking is the act of trying to kill one or more enemy heroes, thereby gaining gold and experience while denying them these commodities for some time.
Supporting heroes play a pivotal role in most ganks. While you do not deal the kind of damage to get the kills, your spells will be able to heal you allies mid-battle, disable the target, or provide some kind of buff or debuff to your benefit.
When you play a support hero make sure to have a good understanding of the hero’s abilities and how they function in aiding your allies as well as how to play the hero during ganks.
As a support you are usually the one initiating ganks. Keep an eye out to try and spot opportunities and make sure to communicate your plans well to your allies (for example, by pinging the target). Be patient and wait for the right moment to pull off a gank successfully.
When a gank is attempted by the enemy the roles are reversed. Your wards should ideally take out the surprise-factor and your spells are now a tool to prevent their gank from succeeding.
You should start carrying TPs once you can afford them. When a different lane is being ganked – and it is safe to leave your carry – you should TP in to save their asses.
Towerpushings usually happen early-mid or mid game during the following situations:
1. Most of your core heroes come online (usually after they have reached Level 6) and your team has decided to do a timing push.
2. Your team won a team fight and then proceed to take a tower close to you.
3. A successful gank followed by a tower push.
4. Simply a brute force tower pushing by pusher heroes.
What a Support can do during tower pushing (or defending against tower pushing):
1. Vision: drop a ward behind the tower to see if enemies are coming to defend so your team can decide whether you should retreat or fight the opponent(s) at the tower. Sometimes 1 or 2 opponent heroes may hide behind the tower (usually they are awaiting the arrival of their teammates to defend the tower). You can choose to dive them with your team or simply focusing on taking down the tower.
Generally speaking, if you survive team fights you will get a very nice portion of EXP and assist gold.
There are situations where the opponent team jumps and slams everything on a fragile support in a team fight. Even when the support is sitting at the back of his/her allies, the opponent team will sometimes still decided to jump on him/her first. And the consequences? The opponent team traded their whole team for a (rather useless) support. As a support you want that to happen though because trading one support for four or five enemy heroes is a delicious trade, but of course life is tough when you keep dying and get no EXP/Gold.
There are two main reasons that lead to the above situation:
1. Your level is lower and they think they can kill you instantly – killing your team’s supports gives an edge to the opponent.
2. They just hate you. Due to you being the key hero or they are simply haters or they just hated you because you are irritating, annoying, and bitchy. Yes, DotA/DotA 2 is all about mind games, and people take things that happen in game quite personally at times (even in pro tier games).
People always take the games personally. Use, or rather, abuse that.
In any ‘hard’ game (where everyone in game knows exactly how to play each of their own heroes proficiently and effectively) you need to be the one who knows how every hero works so that you can do your support job adequately). Regarding interaction with the opposing team though, your goal as a support is ultimately to be irritating, annoying, and bitchy.
You force the opponents to play their heroes out of their comfort zones – you mess with them by knowing exactly what they want for their heroes. Mess with their last hitting habits, screw up the timing of their key items – you do not let the opponents easily get what they wish for; you make the game very hard for them. When you start to do these things while keeping in mind that ‘People always take the games personally,’ opponents will start to make mistakes. It does not matter how good they are at playing that hero or how good they are at last hitting, when you force the opponents to spend their energy on something that they do not normally deal with you are actively messing with their mental stability, and that can only be a good thing for your team.
If you can, check enemy heroes’ items and focus your efforts on opponents that forewent buying enough regen items.
Simply put, when the opponents need to spend effort to deal with the support heroes, how much more effort do they need to deal with your core heroes? Additionally, while the opponents are focusing their attention on you, your carry player(s) should be free farming happily without hassle.
When you hit this stride, it is time to make kills happen. It is time to alter the rhythm of the game in favour of your team. It is time to destroy everything that the opponents wanted for their team. You can do all that by being a mere Support.
There are a number of specific items that are yours to acquire when playing support, . To read about them, see Support Items.