Playing Support in competitive Dota 2 can sometimes feel like being the nanny of some particularly unruly children. It requires enormous patience, a keen awareness of the map, and the ability to interpret the state of the game as it evolves.
While there isn’t a universal formula to win every single match, the performance of Support players is based on how well they enable their Carry heroes to accumulate gold and experience until they reach their target power level. Support players are also expected to provide some form of utility to their team – in contrast to Carry players who focus on providing damage output.
10 Block The Enemy Pull Camp Before The Creeps Spawn
During the Laning Phase, to maximize the gold and experience gain of your carry, the creeps have to meet in front of your Tier 1 Tower, or near this area. This is called creep equilibrium and the enemy heroes will try to disrupt this by pulling their own creeps towards their neutral camp.
To avoid this problem for the first two minutes, just run to their neutral camp and block it with a Sentry Ward as soon as the game starts. Remember to secure the kill on the ranged creep because it is worth more than the melee creep.
9 Bring Enough Regen Items
As the lane Support, you should be harassing the enemy heroes and absorbing damage that would have been dealt to your Carry. The longer you spend being low on health or mana, the less you are able to provide lane support. Use your courier to ferry as many Tangos, Clarity Potions, Healing Salves, and Enchanted Mangoes as necessary.
In certain situations, you may even need to share these items with your Carry, so they can spend their gold building other items instead of spending on consumables. If you die during the Laning Phase, you can decide to bring stashed items to your Carry or refill the Mid player’s Bottle.
8 Contest River Runes And Bounty Runes
It is common for enemy heroes to set up ambushes (called ganks) around the Water Runes and Power Runes found on the river. Experienced Support players will assist their Mid hero in securing these runes (especially if they have a Bottle to replenish). Some Mid heroes like Pugna rely heavily on their mana pool to cast spells and be effective in fights and helping to sustain their resources will enable them to have a better game.
A Haste Rune or a Double Damage Rune can quickly turn the tides of battle and the team that secures these power-ups will be at an advantage.
7 Prepare Stacks Of Neutral Camps
Another method to accelerate the farm and experience of your team is by stacking the neutral camps on your side of the map. This is done by luring the neutral creeps away from their camp before the next minute mark, causing a new set of creeps to spawn.
This should be your priority if you have heroes on your team who can clear these stacks of camps very quickly, like Bristleback, Axe, or Medusa. If you’re lucky, they might even drop most or all of the available Neutral Items, which will save time.
6 Teleport And Help The Other Lanes
It is your job as a Support Hero to participate in important fights. When your team is converging on an enemy hero or Tower, it might be a good idea to leave the lane and help them out. It is likely that the other enemy heroes are preparing to defend, and your team’s chances of winning are higher if you join them. Some Carry heroes like Slark and Wraith King want to hit Level 6 as soon as possible, and if the enemy team is not exerting too much pressure on them, it's better to let them have solo experience in the lane.
Conversely, when the enemy team is making aggressive movements against your teammates, teleporting to a nearby tower and joining the fight can save your teammate’s life and punish the enemies.
5 Communicate Your Actions To The Team
Carry players are often too preoccupied with farming to pay attention to what is going on elsewhere on the map. Inform your teammates of the important actions you plan to make.
If you are leaving the lane temporarily to pull the creeps or stack the camps, make sure that your carry knows that they will be alone for a few seconds. You should also consistently ping the cooldowns of your important abilities and TP so that your team can make more informed decisions.
4 Manage The Map Vision Of Your Team
Defensive Wards provide vision in areas of the map controlled by your team so the Carry heroes can safely farm. Meanwhile, Aggressive Wards provide vision behind enemy lines, even behind their Towers, for when your team is trying to push.
Other areas of interest include Roshan’s Pit, for when either team is looking to secure the Aegis, and Tinker Wards that reveal the trees on the edges of the map. Determining the correct placement of Observer Wards at a given time is a skill that comes with experience. It is also the Support hero’s duty to locate and destroy enemy Observer Wards.
3 Bring Detection Items
Support players, even in high ranks, still forget to bring Dust of Appearance and Sentry Wards from time to time. Having these items available against heroes like Bounty Hunter and Weaver can be the difference between a kill and an escape. Experienced players also know how to bait and trap heroes like Nyx Assassin who are always looking to scout areas of the map using invisibility.
Items that provide invisibility, such as Glimmer Cape and Shadow Blade are also fairly common and catch many players off guard. A good habit to have is keeping at least one Sentry Ward in your inventory in case you need to destroy an enemy Observer Ward.
2 Have Correct Positioning
Avoid being out of position, as this puts you and your teammates in danger of getting picked off by the enemy. However, when your team suspects a Smoke Gank coming, it can be strategic to place yourself in front of where the enemy might emerge to break their Smoke. Do this while on the high ground or hidden in the trees so that you have enough time to react defensively once they appear.
Sometimes, you will need to stall the game while waiting for teammates’ respawn timers. To delay the enemy push, you can sneak behind them and cut the creep wave, or you can shove the other lanes to force one hero to retreat.
1 Build The Correct Items
The item progressions of Support heroes are more flexible. Determining which utility item is appropriate to build with your limited gold is another skill that comes with experience. In some matches, items like Spirit Vessel and Lotus Orb are invaluable, even though no one else on your team wants to build them.
During the Late Game (around the 40-minute mark), a lot of inexperienced Support players are reluctant to build powerful items like Scythe of Vyse and Black King Bar because they are Core Items that are hard to farm, but having these items during the late game can be the deciding factor.
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