Dota 2 Internationals 2016

What can we take away from the Dota 2 Internationals?

 

Learning from The International 6

It’s that time of year again. The dazzling glitter of Immortal particle effects flash in fanfare across the battlefield. The chats teem with memes. And the professionals, the best of the best players of Dota 2, battle it out for a prize pool exceeding twenty million dollars. This is a time to be of the guys jealous of guys making millions playing video games. But it’s also a great time to learn from those professional players.

 

I’ve been playing Clockwerk a lot lately. For The International this year, I decided to focus solely on improving my Clockwerk game by watching pros, and using everything I learn from TI6 to make my Clock game better. The results have far exceeded anything I ever expected. Here’s how I became an all-star Clockwerk player.

 

Focus on the Little Plays

Don’t focus on the big plays, focus on the small ones. Trying to imitate the pros is lost cause unless you’re already a semi-pro. I’m not a semi-pro. Not even close. As a totally average player, focusing on the small plays is what really improved my game. Focus on the little stuff that you, as a player, can incorporate into your game.

 

One of my personal favorites was during the Na’Vi vs. LGD game 2. In a clever use of creep control, Artstyle’s Chen used the Wildwing Ripper’s Whirlwind skill to farm the Dire from across the river. While Helm of the Dominator isn’t exactly a good pickup on Clockwerk, it really brought my attention to creative use of controlled creeps. I started encouraging my allies to dominate creeps whenever possible. Taking control of the enemy’s siege creep when pushing a tower is a great play to get a couple hundred extra tower damage. My personal favorite is stealing a big creep from an enemy jungle camp, and using that creep to farm their other camps. It nets the controlling hero 100 or so extra gold, and takes even more farm away from the enemy team.

 

 

 

Watch a Game, Play a Game

The International is a lot to take in. It’s a sensory overload of intensely high-level micromanagement, coordination, and ingenious plays. Like all great things, TI6 games should be watched in moderation.

 

I was totally overwhelmed when i tried to watch multiple games in a row. There was way too much new stuff I wanted to try. And I did try. I tried to incorporate every single awesome play I could remember into my game. As it turns out, building Eul’s on Clockwerk while attempting to increase my global ganking presence AND clear as many neutral camps as I can every game ON TOP OF doing my best to improve my deny rate… I didn’t perform so well that game.

 

I had slow down, and start focusing on one play at a time. So, I watched one game. I picked the one thing that impressed me most in that game, and focused on it.

 

First, it was clearing as many neutral camps as I could in my downtime. Then I watched another game, and focused on ganking as much as possible in my next game. During that game, I found myself noticing available neutral camps, and farmed them in between ganks. I kept this up in my next series of games, trying one change at a time.

 

Before I knew it, my average GPM was going up, my networth was consistently better than most other players in my games, and I realized that I was becoming a terrorizing global force that the enemy team was constantly playing in fear of.

 

 

 

Track the Stats

Keeping track of the game stats as pro-games play out is an excellent tool for gaining a better understanding of the factors that influence the outcome of games. Game casters periodically bring up GPM and XPM graphs, and the net-worth chart is a constant presence on the left side of the screen in every TI game. Paying attention to these stats made me realize that my own gameplay stats weren’t measuring up.

 

For example, when I lose a game, it may not be immediately obvious why I lost. Maybe I blame it on a few misplays, or my teammates screwing up during teamfights. It wasn’t until i started checking stats that I realized the truth. More often than not, when I lose games, the enemy team had a huge networth AND experience advantage for the entire game.

 

I’ve started paying more attention to my ability to balance farming with teamfighting and pushing objectives (as well as watching my teammates). And I noticed how disturbingly bad I was at balancing these. As a result, my networth was awful about 50% of the time. When it wasn’t bad, sheer luck had a lot more to do with my success than any skill or effort on my part.

 

I’m doing better now. During my games, I’m constantly thinking about my minute-by-minute stats. As the minute marks approach, I analyze how much gold and experience I gained in the past 60 seconds. If it’s not as much as it needs to be, I make a point to increase it during the next minute. I make this analysis as often as possible during my games, though I’m guilty of getting caught up in the excitement and forgetting pretty often.

 

 

 

Resource Management

A mindset that’s been extraordinarily helpful to me has been viewing mana as a resource that can be converted into gold. Mana can be used to quickly clear a creep wave or neutral camp, converting anywhere from 50-200 mana into equal amounts of gold. Rather than hoarding my mana so that it was always available just in case, I started using it. A lot. Always in the back of my mind was “I’m spending 75 mana for 150 gold by clearing this creep camp with Battery Assault. I started viewing mana as a resource to be used, rather than saved.

 

Creeps are a resource. They are little pinatas of gold and XP just waiting for me to popped for their goodies. However, every time that a creep gets killed by anything that isn’t me, resources go to waste. To put this in perspective, every seven or so creeps that I fail to last hit is worth almost as much as a hero kill (high value targets excluded). That’s just over one wave of creeps. I realize that every time I’m not around for a creep wave, I was missing out on the equivalent of a hero kill.

 

I don’t leave the lane anymore unless I’ve got a damn good reason to do so.

 

The concept of wasted resources applies to jungle camps too. Every time that a jungle camp passes the minute mark without being cleared, that’s over 100 gold and experience going to waste. It’s not always practical to clear jungle camps AND farm every single wave of creeps. But I do my best to maximize them both. When I’ve been zoned out of my lane by two or three enemy heroes, I hit the jungle. When the enemy team is prowling the jungle, I either rally with my team to wipe them, or rotate to the offlane. Dota is a game of resources, and the team with the most resources more often than not wins the game.

 

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