Dota 2 is hard. Everybody runs into trouble, and everybody has questions they want to ask. Whether you’re struggling to maintain your composure in a game gone wrong or simply bored of the same old heroes, the best thing you can do is seek out the wisdom of others. Starting today and continuing every week, I’m going to deliver your questions—yes, you!—to the Dota 2 personalities that can help. Or at the very least make jokes about your problems. We're going to call it 'Game Is Hard'.
PC Gamer Pro has been developed in something resembling secrecy, however, which has made it rather difficult to solicit questions from you guys. With that in mind, I went and got all of my questions out of the way, spilling my most private Dota 2 concerns to my friend PyrionFlax. He made fun of me less than I expected.
If you’d like to submit questions for next week, you can mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure ‘GAME IS HARD’ is in your subject line, because I am a naturally lazy man.
Pyrion’s life as a Dotaman began with his expertly illustrated, pro-quality hero guides and continued through an announcer pack and subsequent appearances at pretty much every Dota event on the planet. We once played in a games industry Dota tournament together, which is notable for this moment, possibly shane’s finest hour (warning: NSFW language.) Pyrion currently has a new Dota 2 series in the works, Lanin’ ‘n’ Complainin’ with TotalBiscuit.
I’m too nervous to pick the lane or hero I really want in solo ranked. Help!
PyrionFlax: The problem in Dota is that if you mute all your teammates so you don’t get all of the abuse that you get when you’re playing a new hero, you can’t work together as a team—which defeats the whole point of playing a team game. So you have to grow a thick skin, accept that you’re going to be flamed, and accept that the game might be lost. I don’t practice new heroes unless I’m playing with friends who are competent and forgiving. If you can’t find those friends, just hang back on playing the new hero—or the hero you’re not confident on—and take your time.
What if it’s not a new hero, but I really want mid or solo offlane—but I don’t feel like I can demand a core position.
PyrionFlax: If you’re playing solo ranked, the fact that it shows a little MMR thing next to your name to show who’s the highest-ranked player is the only way to settle the argument of who goes mid. Generally, whoever has the highest MMR says ‘I’ll go mid’ and everybody else says ‘let him/her’. Otherwise, it’s tricky—everybody wants what they want, but it is a team game. If you watch the pro players, if you watch Fluff, when he queues he plays position six. He practically plays position seven. He buys extra tangos to give to the carry. That’s not much fun for most people, but he enjoys that because, for him, winning the game is what’s fun.
His focus is: ‘I just want to win the game. I don’t trust my team to do that, so I will help them the only way I know how: which is to support like an absolute pro'. If that doesn’t appeal, then I guess you just have to sometimes miss out on getting mid. I never take mid in solo queue because I just don’t want to let people down, to be honest with you.
I’m bored of the same old heroes. What pick or combo is secretly brilliant at the moment?
PyrionFlax: Huskar. People don’t pick him as much as they should against all of these magic damage heroes—Lina, Leshrac. Lina less so, but if you can get up in her face you can do so much damage. Yes, she can give you the zap [Laguna Blade—Ed.] but if you build right, and you can toggle an armlet like a god, you can destroy people with Huskar.
The capacity for Huskar to go absolutely HAM in this era of teamfight Dota is insane. Huskar is a hero that I consider should be picked in most games. I see people first-picking Zeus because they’re like ‘what are you going to pick against Zeus, he’s so good’—Huskar destroys Zeus. He’ll win pretty much any lane because of the damage that Flaming Spears does. He’s an insanely good hero. Once you’ve got a Satanic on him he’s pretty much unbeatable.
I personally think that Disruptor is probably the strongest fighting support in the game right now because he doesn’t need much to become awesome. If you win a fight and you want to chase, Disruptor is ridiculously good. His ultimate is insane. I think Disruptor and Huskar are my two heroes that I’m surprised not to see in every game.
I hate laning against Undying. What am I doing wrong?
PyrionFlax: All you’ve got to do is try and kill him before he gets level 2 Tombstone. I know it’s tough. Don’t group up! There’s a tendency for everybody to run away in the same direction and he gets a stack of Decay on two or three people, runs at you, drops the Tombstone and it’s all over. Mind your distance from each other.
He is melee, so you can zone him out. Keep an eye on his Decay stacks, because when they run out he suddenly gets a lot weaker. He might have mis-timed it, pushed up while thinking that he’s stronger than he is. Generally, kill him early. If you’re going to go up against an Undying, make sure you’ve got a Skywrath Mage or somebody like that. When he aggressively comes in, Skywrath can get the silence on him—and the amount of harass that Skywrath can put out is insane. Try and force him to take Soul Rip earlier than he wants. If you’ve got ranged heroes in lane, you should be able to zone him out—he can’t Tombstone every twenty seconds.
Don’t focus the Tombstone if you’re also in a creep wave and covered in zombies. If one guy tanks it to death, that’s fine. Don’t let everybody die while trying to hit the Tombstone because Undying is stood there Decaying everybody. It’s more about positioning against Undying, I think.
If I need to take a break from Dota 2, what’s a good wind-down game?
PyrionFlax: In any game, the pressure of losing to a human being is far higher than the pressure of losing to a computer. So I play singleplayer games. I play strategy games like Crusader Kings or Hearts of Iron or XCOM—something where I’m just killin’ aliens, or managing an army. Endless Legend, or something where I can just manage my empire and everything’s cool and if I lose nobody knows about it. I can just reload and it’s no big deal. That’s the way to take the pressure off. Dota itself is an intense game, but it’s because you’re playing against other people that the pressure gets exaggerated.
So, I just found the button in Steam that tells me how much money I’ve spent in Dota. How do I live with myself?
PyrionFlax: I don’t buy much. I get gifted stuff when I’m streaming—‘I won this set in a drop and I don’t want it’, that kind of thing—and I did put a fair bit of money into the compendium, but I don’t really buy many sets because a lot of the time I don’t really need them. I don’t see one that I’m a big fan of. I buy them occasionally—I buy the Arcanas and such—but I didn’t buy the Phantom Assassin one I don’t think.
If you think you have a problem, then stop spending money. My friend Joe spent so much money on Dota 2 items that we’ve started calling him Immortal Joe—like Immortan Joe from Mad Max. It’s ridiculous. He’s on the Marketplace all the time, he’s always buying stuff, he’s spent thousands of dollars—his Compendium was disgustingly high level. People can absolutely go nuts, and it is dangerous.
Then again people complain, but you’ve done it all voluntarily. If I found out how much I’ve spent on World of Warcraft over the years I’d be appalled, because a lot of the time I was subscribed I wasn’t playing very much and looking back now it was probably a waste of hundreds of hours of my life. Whereas with Dota 2 at least it’s social and I’m playing with friends—I don’t think it’s so bad. Jesus, I spend more than that on drinking every couple of months.
For me it’s basically a cheap car I’ll never own. But I can’t drive, so that’s fine.
PC Gamer Pro is a new channel dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!