Welcome, Dota 2 player! Starting today, GOSU.AI would like to present a series called ‘How to boost MMR’. We hope it will help you to become a better player; it’s as simple as that. The series is mostly dedicated to the different roles in Dota 2. We have tried to avoid clichés, instead putting a premium on up-to-date strategies, itemisations and improving skills.

Bear in mind that becoming a good Dota 2 player requires a lot of time, discipline and hard work! Since we are living in a time of Esports, it requires more effort compared to the usual type of sport.  This series has been written for players with a serious attitude who want to improve. If you are passionate about Dota 2 and you play to win, then you will find this series useful.

Table of contents


In today’s article, we will talk about the position 5 support. The role is very underappreciated in the Dota 2 community. A lot of players think that it is harder to gain MMR by playing support. We will try to change your mind by the end of this article.

Unlike carry, mid and offlane, which requires players to have good mechanical skills, support is a role which is mostly based on a good understanding of the game, movement, decision making and positioning. Support players are required to provide good vision for their teammates, assist and save their cores, making effective rotations and even sacrificing themselves if necessary. A good support should be able to do everything mentioned above non-stop. That is making support one of the hardest and unusual roles in Dota 2.

One of the biggest complaints regarding the support role is that you are not able to provide enough impact by playing support in order to win a game. This is a very false statement. There are several position 5 supports, which are able to be very effective during all phases of the game and can have a major impact in all of them. Let’s find out more about them.

Draft

Stage of Draft

The drafting stage is one of the most important stages of the game. Very often, your team`s draft can either guarantee a win or lead to an inevitable defeat. Since supports are very often picked in the early stages of draft, it leaves support players with a few good options to select from.

If you want to pick an impactful position 5 support, you need to pay attention to the following global abilities of a support you want to play:

  1. Presence in the laning stage;
  2. Push potential;
  3. Farm potential;
  4. Team fight potential.
  5. Disable.

The more of the above mentioned abilities the support has, the more impact the support will be able to provide in the game. Let`s look a little more closely at these abilities.

  1. Presence in the laning stage. The Laning stage is without doubt, the most important stage of the game. Even if you have a bad draft, you still have high chances of winning a game if your team can win at least two out of three lanes. It is very important for a support hero to be able to provide impact during this stage of the game. If a strong support is picked, who has a decent stats and an ability to effectively trade their HP with the enemy offlaner, you will guarantee a free farm for your carry, which can lead to an easy win.
  2. Push potential. Push potential is a very important ability for a support to have. This ability will allow your team to gain net worth and territorial advantage, which will significantly improve your chances of winning a game.
  3. Farm potential. You can also describe this as a split-push potential. Very often in low-ranked games, core players do not farm very effectively. An ability to clear creep waves quickly, will allow you to farm key items and push the lanes towards an enemy team`s side of the map, which will give you additional map control.
  4. Team fight potential. An ability to provide impact in team fights is vitally important for a support to have. If your hero has a powerful team fight skill, it will prove to be useful at all stages of the game.
  5. Disable. You can benefit a lot from having spells, which will allow you to disable your opponents. This ability will allow you to set up kills and provide impact in fights in all stages of the game.
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Based on this, we can make a recommendation list of  supports to pick for MMR improvement:

Shadow Shaman

1. Shadow Shaman. Skill requirement: medium. This support has four of the five mentioned abilities. With a huge base damage and a strong nuke, this hero can apply a lot of pressure on the enemy offlaner during the laning stage. Mass Serpent Wards allows Shadow Shaman to destroy towers. With the help of Ether Shock, this hero can not only push the lanes quickly, but can also efficiently farm jungle camps. Last but not least, this hero has two powerful disables: Hex and Shackles.

Nature`s Prophet

2. Nature`s Prophet. Skill requirement: high. Furion is another hero with four impactful global abilities. Nature`s Call allows this hero not only to push towers, but also provides a lot of impact during the laning stage and gives him an ability to split-push the lanes. Wrath of Nature makes this support very useful in early-game and mid-game fights.

Jakiro

3. Jakiro. Skill requirement: medium. Jakiro is the only hero in the list who has all five of the mentioned global abilities. The only downside of this hero is his poor mobility and necessity to get a lot of experience to max all his spells. High base strength and intelligence alongside a powerful nuke makes him very strong in the lane. Dual Breath allows him to farm and push lanes very quickly, while Liquid Fire helps Jakiro to push towers. Ice Path is a very powerful disable, which is also useful in team fights.

Bane

4. Bane. Skill requirement: low. Bane is the only support on the list, with just two useful global abilities, but he is the only one who can use them to their full potential. Good stats and a very powerful nuke makes Bane one of the strongest and easiest to play lane supports in the game. Fiend`s Grip is a very powerful disable, which also works on heroes who are not vulnerable to magic.

As you can see, the only ability, which combines all the heroes in this list, is the ability to provide impact during the laning stage. Winning your lane will allow you to have an easier time in the later stages of the game. It is significantly easier to provide impact if you have good levels and items.

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Starting Items

What to buy at the start of the game

At the start of the game each player receives 600 gold. For a support player, it is very important to use this gold effectively. The biggest mistake a support player can make is to purchase small amounts of regen. As we stated above, the laning stage is the most important phase of the game. It is necessary for a support player to buy the needed amount of healing items to effectively sustain the laning stage. In most games, it would be a good decision to purchase 6 Tangoes and a Healing Salve. Keep in mind, it is also the support`s responsibility to pull two Tangoes to a midlaner and also give him and the offlaner an Observer Ward each. It is only worth leaving Observer Ward for the safelane if it is necessary to have vision in the jungle area. It is mostly useful against heroes, such as Keeper of the Light, Techies, Mirana and Pudge.

Aside from the healing items, it is also important to purchase mana regeneration items.

Ideally, your starting item build for a support hero should be  6 x Tango, Healing Salve, Amimal Courier, 2 x Observer Wards, Iron Branch and Clarity. This build works very well for most support heroes.

Side notes: For Jakiro, it is more effective to buy more mana regeneration items instead of Healing Salve in order to be able to use Dual Breath more often. Since this spell applies a powerful attack slow de-buff, Jakiro`s opponents are not able to fight back effectively.

For Nature`s Prophet you can consider purchasing less healing items and buy Blight Stone instead. This item will allow Nature`s Prophet to apply more pressure on the enemy offlaner. After you reach level 2, you can use Teleportation to get additional regen from the base.

Tips: If you know that you will lane against hero or heroes who constantly spam their spells, it is very effective to leave 100 gold at the start of the game and purchase Magic Stick from the side shop after your team picks two Bounty Runes.

Early stage of the game, part 1: Laning Stage (0:00-5:00)

Good positioning is key for a support player to feel comfortable during the laning stage. Basically, there are two common positions you can select:

  1. If you lane against a solo offlaner or against a very weak duo lane, position yourself closer to the jungle, on the side of the lane. This position will allow you to effectively harass the enemy offlaner while not dragging the creeps aggro on yourself at the same time.
  2. If you lane against a powerful duo lane who is able to punish you for aggressive positioning, you should stay behind your carry and focus more on denying, while also using opportunities to safely harass your opponents.

Whenever the lane is pushed, make a pull to restore a lane equilibrium. Make sure to communicate with your lane partner whenever you leave him to make a pull. Ask him to lane more safely while you are far away from him.

You can also prioritise pulling if your carry is significantly stronger than the enemy offlaner and is able to zone him by himself. It is always good for a support to get additional experience and gold from the pulls.

Early stages of the game, part 2: Early movement (5:00-12:00)

It is essential for a support player to provide good vision for his teammates throughout the game. It is particularly necessary to provide good vision during the first night time. You should always aim to bring 2 x Observer Wards before the 5th minute and place them right after the night time begins. Place one Observer Ward in the safe lane and the second in the middle lane.

Do not forget about the Bounty Runes. Always pay attention to the game timer and collect them in time.

Multitasking and effective time management is very important for a support player. While you collect the Bounty Runes, you can also use this time to place the Observer Ward in the safe lane. While you place the Observer Ward in the middle lane, you can also gank the enemy midlaner. As soon as you begin to use your time effectively, you will be able to provide a lot more impact during games.

Always seek for opportunities to gank the vulnerable enemy cores. Good movement is a key to winning games as a support. Do not be afraid to leave your carry alone in the lane. If you picked a strong support and secured the laning stage for him, it means you have already done enough.

Side notes: As a Nature`s Prophet, always check the enemy midlaner’s inventory. If he has no Tangoes left, you should always use an opportunity to gank him with the help of Teleportation and Sprout.

Nature`s Prophet
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Mid stages of the game (12:00-26:00)

Starting from the mid stage of the game, you will need to play more around your teammates. Make sure there is good communication with the rest of your team. Your goal during this stage is to destroy as many enemy towers as possible in order to gain net worth and territorial advantage. Use Smoke of Deceit to force team fights near key objectives or to make key kills.

Think about the strengths and weaknesses of your enemy’s and your team`s drafts. Use this information to your advantage. If your team has a better team fight, you need to make sure to defend your towers and use all opportunities to take fights. If your team doesn’t have team fight potential, but becomes stronger in the late-game, focus more on split pushing and making single kills.

Find ways to secure yourself some farm and experience. Do not be afraid to push lanes aggressively. It is normal for a position 5 support to die once or twice.

Keep focusing on providing good vision for your teammates.

Side notes: As a Nature`s Prophet you can use Teleportation to place aggressive Observer Wards, which can give a lot of information about enemy heroes positioning.

As a Shadow Shaman or Nature`s Prophet you have an ability to kill Roshan with the help of your teammates. Always use opportunities to kill Roshan and secure Aegis of the Immortal for your team. This item can have significant impact in fights.

Late stages of the game (26:00-until the end of the game)

In this stage of the game, you will need to show all your individual skill to its fullest potential. Every single fight in the late stage of the game can decide the overall outcome of the game. You need to pay maximum attention to your positioning and use your spells as effectively as possible during fights.

Vision in this stage of the game has to be exceptional. One effective Observer Ward, which will spot an enemy team`s rotation can secure a win for your team.

Maintain good communication with your teammates and focus on playing around key objectives of the game, such as Roshan, Towers and Bounty Runes.

Roshan

Itemisation

Support heroes can benefit a lot from having items, which will improve their mobility, stats, and defensive potential. The biggest mistake you can make, is to go straight away for a very expensive item, such as Aghanim`s Scepter as your first major purchase. The best items you can get on support heroes are Force Stuff and Glimmer Cape. If you have a bad game, you should always consider buying several Bracer`s, as they will allow you to survive longer in fights. If you managed to make several kills in the early stages of the game and secured yourself a good amount of gold, it is always a good idea to get yourself a Hand of Midas. This item will help you to gain the necessary levels faster.

Bane
Jakiro
Shadow Shaman
Nature`s Prophet

Side note: Nature`s Prophet has a very varied item build. You will need to decide for yourself which items you will find more useful to have on this hero. For Nature`s Prophet it is always possible to become a powerful late-game core.

Do not buy Aghanim`s Scepter on Jakiro.Many supports make this very common mistake. There is no reason to use your resources to improve Macropyre. This ultimate is not very useful, and is mostly used to split push lanes.

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Skill build

Which skills to choose the first

Since you look into providing impact by yourself, you need to adjust your skill build respectively. Always prioritise to max spells, which will allow you to deal more damage and will improve your farming potential.

As Bane, it is a huge mistake to learn any other spell but Brain Sap at level 1. Even if thanks to Nightmare you will be able to snatch the Bounty Rune or even set up a kill, most of the time it will not be worth it, since you will become useless in lane until you reach level 2.

For Shadow Shaman and Jakiro it is important to max Ether Shock and Dual Breath respectively. These spells will allow you to deal damage in fights and will significantly improve your farming potential.

For Nature`s Prophet it is a good idea to max Nature`s Call in most games. This spell will improve your split push and push potential.

Side note: Do not rush to skill Teleportation on Nature`s Prophet at level 2. Sometimes, it is better to learn Sprout and use it to set up a kill.

As Jakiro, do not select any talents, which are focused on improving Macropyre. As stated above, it is not good to waste any resources on this spell.

Global Errors

Main mistakes

Now let’s take a look at the most common mistakes many supports make in their games. Try not to make these mistakes yourself.

  1. Not buying enough healing items to effectively sustain the laning stage. It is not a big issue if you buy too many regen, but it can be a major issue if you don’t buy enough. As a support, you need to be able to effectively trade your HP with the enemy offlaner and create space for your carry to free farm.
  2. Not moving around the map in the early and mid stages of the game.Effective movement is a key to win games as a support. Bad movement also equals bad vision around the map. Starting from minute 5 you should aim to start rotating around the map and apply pressure on the enemy carry and midlaner.
  3. Poor warding. It is essential to provide good vision for your teammates during all phases of the game. It is doubly more important to have good vision during night times.
  4. Not using Smoke of Deceit. Smoke of Deceit is very cheap, but a very effective item. You can use it to force team fights, make key kills or place aggressive vision.
  5. Buying too much consumables. Some supports think it is a good idea to continually spend all their gold on Observer Wards, Sentry Wards and other consumables. It is a big mistake. Warding is not your only responsibility in the game. You need to have basic items to be able to effectively rotate around the map, help your cores and provide impact in fights.
  6. Poor positioning. It is vital for a support to keep good positioning during the laning stage and fights. Having good positioning will allow you to survive for a longer time in fights, which will help you to get levels faster.
  7. Communication. Try to cooperate with your teammates. Good communication and a healthy environment in a team will lead to a better experience in a game and will also increase your chances of winning a game.

Tips

Tips & Tricks
  1. Improve your skill through watching streams, videos or replays of professional players, who pick the hero you want to improve on. This is the easiest way to learn to play on a specific hero. You might be surprised, but many professional players watch and learn from each other on a constant basis. When you watch the other player, try not to copy his moves blindly but try to understand them.
  2. Focus more on playing around key objectives of the game, such as Towers, Roshan and Bounty Runes. Dota 2 is not about fighting, it`s about destroying the enemy Ancient first. You should always remember this.
  3. Think about the strengths and weaknesses of your enemy team`s and your drafts. Use this information to your advantage. Try to avoid fights if an enemy team has a better team fight. Make sure to push towers if your team has good pushing potential. Play smartly and effectively.

April 17, 2019
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