Solid strats to land you and your friends some much-needed MMR.
For a game whose outcome is so heavily reliant on what characters are picked by the players, Dota has long been home to people who tend to go for Heroes based on everything other than an idea of macro synergy. Comfort, lane combinations, or worse — that one random replay where they saw some pro player pull off some shenanigans on some Hero.
We all know there are Hero combos in Dota, but outside of typical wombo-combos like Lich-Earthshaker or Silencer-Sand King, many players don’t know much about the many different strats you can execute by drafting Heroes accordingly. Knowing these can make the difference between struggling in an MMR trench or climbing out alongside your team, so feel free to give the following tactics a try.
1. The Global Strat
It’s one thing to know where the enemy is, and another to be able to access them whenever you wish to. The “Global Strat” is one that gives you a map-wide or near-map-wide reach to grab and punish opponents, and the ability to have your team relatively spread out but always ready to unite for a teamfight. This can be invaluable as most of your cores can keep farming until they see fit to pop into the fight and not waste precious time following the team around. Additionally, this strat is surprisingly easy to pull off as it doesn’t really require millisecond-precise timing.
Since global skills are extremely powerful, this strat has the lowest number of Heroes available to pull it off. The best Heroes to execute this with are undoubtedly Spectre, Dawnbreaker, Zeus and Silencer. Optional picks include Ancient Apparition, Nature’s Prophet, Mirana, Chen and Night Stalker.
It’s entirely possible to replace one or more of the cores, such as Centaur Warrunner instead of Dawnbreaker in the Offlane, Mid Silencer or Mirana instead of Zeus, and Nature’s Prophet and Ancient Apparition in the Safe Lane instead of Spectre and a support, but it is imperative that either Zeus or Spectre be in the lineup in order to give vision of all enemies during teamfights.
As those with enough Dota experience will no doubt have noticed, none of these Heroes have a hard saving mechanism (such as Nether Swap, Disruption, Snowball, etc) and they are also low on disables (with the exception of ministuns/low duration stuns). Moreover, the entire lineup is extremely reliant on their Ultimates. All of this opens a window for the opponent to pick off an integral part of the combo (such as the Silencer or Zeus) or kite/survive the onslaught of Ultimates only to come back with a vengeance when they are offline.
2. The Four-Protect-One
Once a meta and for a long time an extremely popular strategy, the Four-Protect-One has four Heroes not standing around and guarding a fifth, but creating space for the Carry (usually a “hyper Carry” such as Anti-Mage, Phantom Assassin, or Alchemist) by keeping the enemy’s hands full with ganks, split pushes and distractions. Sure, they might die, but as long as the pivotal Hero is hitting their item timings, the team can find success in the long run — especially if the four “protectors” have good synergy with the Carry.
While the choices for a hyper Carry are very limited in 2022 due to numerous items that have made it much easier to kite one single Hero, it’s still hard to counter a hyper-farmed Terrorblade, Faceless Void, Anti-Mage, Morphling, Phantom Lancer, Slark or Spectre. The four supporting picks can either be Heroes that are strong in the early-mid game or just straight up help the Carry somehow, such as Magnus, Ogre Magi, Marci, Lycanthrope, Dazzle, or Vengeful Spirit.
The main issue with using this strategy in 2022 is that your opponent will almost certainly have two evenly farming and one semi-farming core, while your teammates will be pretty far behind and unable to scale as effectively. You will essentially be on a timer to finish things off in the early-late game (30-40 minutes) when your one DPS Hero towers over all others. If things get later than that, opponent Heroes will have much better kiting mechanisms, your BKB duration won’t be as high, and multiple opponent cores will simply outperform your singular powerhouse.
3. The Fast Push
Ever picked a run-of-the-mill draft without much in the way of crowd control spells only to face mass summoners who proceeded to destroy your base? That’s what a Fast Push strategy can do. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many kills you get or how much gold you’re ahead by if you end up losing your Throne, and that’s precisely what this strategy targets. You can farm in your jungle or your opponents’, stack Ancients and get fat, but when you’re facing Super Creeps at 15 minutes in, all of that goes out the window.
Needless to say, anything that’s good at pushing is good here, but this strat also requires you to ban out certain Heroes. As far as picks go, a great draft would involve the likes of Shadow Shaman, Warlock, Beastmaster, Leshrac, Broodmother, Enigma, Nature’s Prophet, Chen, Snapfire, Lone Druid and/or Abaddon. Naturally, you are expected to push as soon as everyone gets their ultimate abilities. Some items are also involved — Mekansm, Vladimir’s Offering, and Drums of Endurance.
While undoubtedly a potentially effective idea, this strat requires your opponent to have a lineup without wave clearing abilities to work properly. Make sure you ban Heroes such as Earthshaker, Undying, Zeus, Underlord, Sniper, KotL, and several other Heroes with rapid crowd control abilities. Additionally, it’s important to remember that this is a very all-in idea — if you fail to do significant damage to the enemy base within a certain timeframe, there’s very little chance of winning the game down the stretch.
4. The Pickoff Strat
Winning a fight against the odds is difficult, and that’s exactly the position this strat puts your opponent in. Relying on catching and nuking down, you basically grab an important cog in the opponents’ machine and take it out of the fight to either find a favorable battle or reset and come back shortly afterwards in the event of a Buyback. Make sure you itemize in order to be able to get in and out of battle, as you’re going to need to do a lot of that.
Heroes that deal massive damage very quickly and either have ways to jump in and out or naturally go for Blink Daggers are the weapons of choice for this plan. You also need to make sure that most of the nukes have relatively low cooldowns. As such, Tiny with his Toss + Avalanche + tree throw (and perhaps an Echo Sabre for good measure), Marci, Slardar, Earthshaker, Clockwork, Morphling, Phantom Assassin, Legion Commander, Sand King, Lion, Queen of Pain, Windranger, Storm Spirit, Sven, Chaos Knight and Zeus are all excellent choices for this playstyle.
This kind of strategy can be vulnerable to Heroes with good vision (such as Beastmaster or Treant) and saving abilities like Disruption or Swap. Moreover, items like Aeon Disk, BKB, and Eul’s can also throw a wrench in your plans by helping your enemy survive the assault while you’re caught in a compromising position with your Blink Daggers and other spells on cooldown. That being said, this isn’t as all-in as some of the other strats on this list, and even if you mess up a couple of times, you can still come back.
5. Alternative Wombo Combos
Normally, a “wombo combo” involves instant or very fast magic damage, as exemplified by the aforementioned traditional combinations for such combos. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case. There are many ways to form strong teamfight combinations that can give you a massive edge and leave opponent Heroes helpless. We don’t just mean killing them off with instant nukes, but putting them in a position where they are unable to fight you.
There are many different combinations with which you can do this, rather than a group of Heroes who are interchangeable within the strategy. One of the combinations is Treant Protector and Phoenix, whose ultimates combine to ensure prolonged immobility/disablement. Another such combo is Disruptor and Naga Siren, with a Scepter Static Storm and Kinetic Field being placed upon still-Sleeping enemies. The last combo like this we will suggest is Puck + QoP, wherein Sonic Wave can be used to force enemies to break Dream Coil.
Like most wombo combos, the problem with this strategy lies in the fact that you’ll be reliant on cooldowns, timings and positioning — which can be exploited by a good opposing team. Moreover, these combos aren’t always easy to pull off, and a mistake here or there might end up in the whole thing going belly-up. You’ll also need some farm on certain support Heroes in order to get the most out of most of these combinations, so that’s something you might have to consider as well.
Now go out there and put these drafts to the test, and keep an eye on our site for more Dota content.