​Your Dota 2 questions answered, vol. 3: with PyrionFlax!

Windranger Array of Tranquility

Image: The Arrray of Tranquility set for Windranger.

Arrray of Tranquility

Every two weeks, PC Gamer Pro takes your deepest, most personal Dota questions and delivers them to the personalities that can help. You can find last week's set right here. This week, PyrionFlax talks in-game voice, the removal of guilds, right clicking exactly one time, and why your MMR is probably right even though you don’t want it to be.

If you'd like to send us a question for next week, email pcgamerpro@pcgamer.com with 'GAME IS HARD' in your subject line. It would be awesome if it was either (a) not a tech support query directed at Valve or (b) not about why your MMR is wrong.

Ted 'Pyrionflax' Forsyth


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.
Twitter @pyrionflax
Twitch pyrionflax

From Marina:

I've got a question regarding communication: I'm a girl and I'm completely terrified of using the in-game mic, as I've had a couple of matches completely ruined because of that. I usually just type in chat my intentions but I don't feel like that's enough. I just really, really want to win a match, but my teammates are busy throwing games and calling me names instead of cooperating. Do you have any advice for that?

PCG: I want to return to this topic when I’ve been able to bring in the viewpoints of more female players, but I figured it was worth discussing here too.

PyrionFlax: I’ve played Dota in solo queue when there’s been a girl and it’s been exactly as she described. I’ve also played where it hasn’t made a difference because we’re in a five-stack and we’re not dicks. The idea that she deserves to be called out because she’s a woman is bullshit. I hope that for the most part it’s kids doing it. I have no idea how to overcome it except to hope that those people mature into something a bit more decent. It’s bullshit. You wouldn’t do that in your day-to-day life. Just because you’re on the internet, let’s not turn into arseholes.

Sadly, she’s just going to have to hope that eventually it stops happening. What’s she going to do? Get a voice modulator and hope that she sounds like a dude? Perhaps she should do that—get some bass in her voice, like when people call up for a ransom. ‘I AM GANKING TOP LANE’, something like that. But the best thing I can suggest is to play with friends, not with strangers. There are good communities out there - DotaNoobs is a good community. I point a lot of people at this community, a lot of people play in this community, a lot of women play in this community, you will be welcome.

PCG: If voice chat is a write-off because of the regular community, what are the most effective ways to use chat? I wrote something about this last week, but is there some other magic trick?

PFlax: Just use the chat wheel and if anybody complains, say you don’t have a microphone. Most of the things people say in Dota don’t need to be said—they’re self-evident. If you ping to smoke, people get that. If you buy a smoke, people get that. You can convey what you need to. Loads of pro players manage to play without using in-game chat very much, so it is possible—I’d just say that I’m sorry that her experience in-game has been shitty, and good luck.

PCG: Very different tack, now. This person writes to us with a subject line that is just the word ‘GUILDS?!’ I am not fully sure that he knows what is happening.

From Marian:

I don't understand why you have disabled guild from Dota 2. I was a member of one of the best guilds in the world at Dota 2. It was called Minimis created by Baumi. It had around 4000 members. There were discussions and many other things like creating new teams, new friendships, new strategies so on. It is a nice patch but I had a bug like seeing a Storm Spirit walking in his ulti. I wish to have guild on this patch. Thank you! Have a nice day!

PFlax: First of all, I apologise for removing guilds from the game. It was my call. I code Dota 2. Secretly, I’m IceFrog and so on.

I actually spoke to Bruno about this and he said, and I quote, “people aren’t using it.” I said that all of the streamers I know use it, and he said that we must be the only ones. Like, there are ten million people playing Dota and most of the guilds are based around a few community people whose viewers want a guild. There may be a few others but on the whole, guild chat was just not something that was being used according to Valve. Although your experience was different to theirs, I’m sure they’ve done the numbers on it. As far as I’m aware they have no intention of adding guilds back in.

It’s screwed me over because I used to do sub games a lot, I could add people from the guild and now I have to use Steam groups and it’s a pain in the arse. So I apologise for removing them, but I assure you I wouldn’t have done it if I had anything to do with it.

PCG: It feels like the weakness in saying “nobody’s using it, so let’s cut it” is when the 1% that are using it represent the most engaged players.

PFlax: I completely agree. I wish they hadn’t—I used it every single day. You had all of these communities. It’s almost like they want to minimise that part of it—you saw, when Reborn came out, that the friends bit was tiny! It was all about your ‘feed’, which is garbage. I’ve got Twitter for that kind of shit. I’m in ‘London’ chat now. I don’t want to be in London chat. I want guilds. I’m in London 14, where all they do is talk about which area of London is the shittest.

PCG: You should see the Bristol chat, it’s bouncing.


From Alexey:

My question is why Windranger's shackleshot doesn't count as assist??? I really like this hero, have about 400 games played as Windranger and I've faced this situation more than once: I stun enemy hero for 3.5 sec, my teammate solo kills him and gets all the gold. Its unfair you know, without my stun he never could have a chance to kill enemy, and I don't even get f*ckng assist gold!!!

PFlax: I’m pretty sure you need to do damage to get an assist, so shoot him once. If he’s shackled for 3.5 seconds, shoot him once. Problem solved. Boom.

PCG: Yeah. What was he doing all that time?

PFlax: Just help out! Shoot him!

PCG: ‘Right click once’ is the answer to this question.

Okay, this is a long one.

From Ayan:

I've been into Dota since the DotA 1 days. Ever since the MMR thing came out I've been grinding matches on my smurf to get myself on a 'decent' bracket. But the thing that worries me is when I hear my friends claiming that the MMR system is broken and it needs to be fixed.

Actually I didn't give it much thought until I started to realize this myself. I got calibrated at 4.4k in my smurf and every time I reach 4.7k I seem to get into a losing streak back to 4.2k and then again on a winning streak to 4.7 and back to 4.2 or even 4.1. Previously I had read an article where Valve claimed that there is no such thing as losing streak in the matchmaking algorithm and they DO NOT want us to be in a losing streak.

One of the few upsides of the Reborn client is that you can check others' match history. So recently when I happened to be on the losing streak (again) I started to check the match history of the other 9 players in the game. And to my great surprise, I found that most of the players on my team (including myself) were on a losing streak of 4-5 matches and on the other hand most of the opponents were on a winning streak. Thus most of the matches happen to be vigorously one-sided and there is a lot of negativity coming from the losing-streakers.

So my main question is, is there any criteria set into the matchmaking algorithm to take win/loss streak of players into account? If no, then how does 4-5 losing streakers get matched into the same team one match after the other?

PFlax: If you get into this kind of detail, it’s all supposition. “I lose because the MMR system is broken, matchmaking is rigged”… why would they do that? What incentive is there for them to force you to win or lose matches? There’s none! Somebody has to win or lose the game, but they don’t care who—because it doesn’t affect Dota either way. There is no benefit to holding you back from your ‘true MMR’ with a clever piece of code. There’s no reason for them to do it. You’re making something out of meaningless numbers.

Maybe you played too many damn games in a row and you need to take a break. Maybe you won too many times in a row and settled into a comfort zone. People are so quick to associate their success or failure, even as a team, with some outside factor. It’s very rarely that. It’s always you who won or lost the game with your team, and that’s it.

PCG: The thing I want to get printed on a giant rainbow banner is “MMR is an average.” Your MMR is not how good you are in total—if you’re a 4.5k player, you sometimes will play like a 5k player and sometimes like a 3.5k player. You veer up and down all the time. The idea is that you average out where you should be. If this guy calibrated at 4.4 and veers between 4.7 and 4.2, then it kind of suggests that he was calibrated in the right place.

PFlax: Also, your MMR being two or three hundred points higher isn’t a big deal compared to being in the higher brackets. The difference when you get to 6k-7k players is godlike: I’ve seen this with Blitz. He’ll queue into a game and be like “oh, it’s this guy and this guy.” He knows them, because the community of players that they can be matched with is so small that they bump into each other again and again. That’s how people get headhunted.

The chances of your MMR being wrong by a few hundred isn’t going to matter, because you’re in this huge pool of people that are actually pretty similar in skill level. It’s only when you get up to the absolute top that you realise this huge gulf in class. Honestly, though, I just can’t believe he’s reading that much into it.

PCG: I suspect that we’re going to get “is my MMR wrong” questions for as long as this column exists.

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Chris Thursten

Joining in 2011, Chris made his start with PC Gamer turning beautiful trees into magazines, first as a writer and later as deputy editor. Once PCG's reluctant MMO champion , his discovery of Dota 2 in 2012 led him to much darker, stranger places. In 2015, Chris became the editor of PC Gamer Pro, overseeing our online coverage of competitive gaming and esports. He left in 2017, and can be now found making games and recording the Crate & Crowbar podcast.