The draft is one of the most complicated parts of Dota 2. It is absolutely fine to have difficulties understanding drafts and selecting correct heroes, especially if you play Dota 2 for less than a year or two. Understanding the drafts comes with experience. Even professional teams make mistakes in the draft on a constant basis, as the process of the draft can be quite stressful. In this article, we will try to help you understand the basics of the draft.

When you think of a hero and the draft of the team in general, you should think about:

  • Pushing;
  • Split-pushing;
  • Team fighting;
  • Lane presence;
  • Disables;
  • Initiation;
  • Counter-initiation.
  • Frontliner;
  • Roshan damage;
  • Saves.

You are not required to have all of the mentioned above aspects, but you need to build your gameplay based on how many of them you have in your line-up composition.

For example, you do not have any significant pushing potential(i.e. tower damage) in your team but have a good team fight potential. It means, anytime you plan to take down a tower, you need to bring more heroes and potentially use Smoke of Deceit to force and win a fight near the tower, so you can destroy it afterward.

Do not have a frontliner but have defensive support? Let your the most tankier hero go upfront and position a saving hero behind him, so he won’t die before you can react.

The analysis of the draft doesn’t end here. Aside from key aspects and abilities of a hero, there are timings and win conditions.

Different heroes come online at different stages of the game. For example, Anti-Mage is next to useless until he finishes Battle Fury and Manta Style, which means he needs from 20 to 30 minutes to start providing impact in the game. It makes him very strong in the late game, average in the mid-game and absolutely useless in the early-game. In the meantime, a hero like Lycan comes online a lot earlier, all he needs is Help of the Dominator to start moving actively. Once he finishes Necronomicon level 3 he becomes insanely strong. Sadly for him, the longer the game goes, the less impact he can have in fights. It makes him very good at the early-game, strong in the mid-game and kind of average in the late-game.

Usually, win conditions and timings apply to core heroes more than to support heroes, with several exceptions.

You think that’s it? Sadly, no. With each patch, there are always heroes, which are significantly stronger than all the others. So-called meta heroes. Picking meta heroes helps to strengthen the draft in opening picks. Slardar, for example, in a current patch, is a great opening pick, as he is very strong in the lane, provides initiation, great frontliner, improves Roshan damage, works great in counter-initiation, builds team fight oriented items and also provides disable.

The next important part of the draft are counter picks. Hero A counters hero B. For example if the enemy team picks Phantom Lancer, you need to pick a hero, who can deal with illusions, such as Leshrac. If the enemy team picks a mobile hero, such as Storm Spirit, you need to pick a hero, who can catch him or hold him in place, such as Puck.

Now, let’s step away from all this madness and look a little closer at the key aspects of the draft. We will split them into two groups: normal and necessary. Keep in mind, next analysis and suggestions are focused on low to middle tier pubs.

Pushing. Group: necessary.

Pushing pretty much means tower damage. It is a lot easier to establish control over the map if at least one of your heroes has the potential to destroy towers quickly. Presence of the pushing hero is not very important in professional matches, but definitely has a key factor in lower and middle tier pubs. If you want to improve MMR quickly, picking heroes with pushing potential is the easiest way to do so. Each tower you destroy opens a space on the map, which helps to farm faster and prevent enemy heroes from farming as well.

Split-pushing. Group: necessary.

Split-pushing equals wave clear. Lack of pushing potential may not allow you to open the space on the map fast enough, lack of split-pushing may demolish your chances to win the game, as it can be way too hard for your team to even leave the base once the game reaches 25th minute. If the enemy team has at least two heroes, who can push the wave by using two spells or hitting the wave 2-3 times, while your team has only one such hero, it means the enemy team will push waves twice as fast. It is going to result in two lanes constantly pushing towards your base, which will limit your possibilities to make ganks or even move freely around the map. In any game, try to have at least two heroes, who can push lanes relatively fast.

Team fighting. Group: normal.

Having a good team fight potential is very important, yet not necessary. Usually, team fight oriented heroes are weaker in the lane, which means you can possibly win all the lanes and then snowball the game. However, in case you have at least two powerful team fight oriented spells in your team will make your games a lot easier.

Lane Presence. Group: necessary.

Keep in mind, here are we talking mostly about low and normal tier pubs, rather than high tier pubs and professional games. Having a strong lane presence in lower to normal tier pubs is a must. The result of most games in these tiers is determined in the early game. By securing even the smallest advantage in the lane, you can easily improve it and finish the game very quickly.

Disables. Group: necessary.

Once again, even though in higher tier pubs it is possible to play without disables, by relying on the high farming and pushing potentials of heroes, it is not as simple in lower tiers, where people do not understand all the strengths of the draft. Disables are going to allow you to set up kills easier, which can later transform into the net worth and experience advantage.

Initiation. Group: necessary.

Pretty much like disables, initiation serves the same purpose. Having the ability to jump in and initiate a fight helps to ease the overall gameplay of a team by a lot.

Counter-initiation. Group: normal.

Counter-initiation crosses its roads with initiation and team fight potentials. Spells like Ravage, Chronosphere or Song of the Siren may allow you to turn any fight to your advantage. It is very unlikely you are going to rely on counter-initiation in lower and normal tier pubs, so let’s leave it to players with more experience.

Frontliner. Group: normal.

Having a powerful frontliner, such as Bristleback or Timbersaw is very good for setting up fights. A hero, who can fearlessly go upfront can create a lot of space for the rest of his teammates, which can allow them to use their spells very effectively. Yet, it is more than possible to play without a frontliner by relying more on your team fight or saving potentials.

Roshan damage. Group: normal.

People in lower and mid tier pubs pay very little attention to Roshan. That is a huge mistake, but it is like it is in a current state. Having heroes like Ursa, Huskar or Templar Assassin, who can kill Roshan very quickly, can lead to very easy victories. Aegis of the Immortal, if used correctly, can allow your team to destroy a lot of towers, win many team fights and after all secure huge territorial advantage on the map.

Saves. Group: normal.

In this group, we can include Oracle, Omniknight, Winter Wyvern, and many other heroes. Having any of these heroes allows your cores to play more aggressively, create more space in a fight and potentially turn the fight around. Is it good to have a defensive hero? Sure. Is it necessary? Unlikely, as counter-initiation and team fight potential may be more crucial.

Based on this, we can make a conclusion, that for lower to mid tier pubs, it is very important to have good pushing, split-pushing, initiation, disables and lane presence. Boost it up with one of the mentioned above ‘normal’ aspects, and very likely your team’s draft is going to be very balanced, which will lead to easy victories.

In upcoming articles, we are going to breakdown several professional and matchmaking games to help you understand drafts even more.

👉 Not sure whether you provided more impact than your opponent? You can check it in the GOSU.AI post-match analysis 👉