​Your Dota 2 questions answered, vol. 5: with PyrionFlax!


Every two weeks, we hear your cries for Dota 2 help, package them up, and deliver them to a wise veteran of the scene. You can find the last set here. This week, PyrionFlax advises on surviving the early game with an unfavourable matchup, not letting Dota 2 ruin your entire life, and why the new compendium isn’t such a bad deal for players.

If you'd like to send us a question for the next installment, email pcgamerpro@pcgamer.com with 'GAME IS HARD' in your subject line. Topics that we are unlikely to cover for you include tech support, where Pit Lord is, tech support, whether or not we are secretly Valve and can help with your tech support, and tech support.

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

PCG Chris: Okay. This is kind of a reasonable approach. I guess we'll see how reasonable it sounds in the end. From David:

I play pubs, primarily. The atmosphere of ranked is something I find rather off-putting. I play Dota because it's fun, not to flaunt MMR about like some trophy. But the thing is, in every single match, I find myself facing off against someone none of the heroes I play can contest. I play primarily support and/or ganker, so there's not much I can do to take out an Alchemist, Pudge, or Huskar, and in every single match, at least one of the above is on the opposing team. I've tried taking up carries, but those matches only end up worse, and above all, I really don't enjoy carrying. So the problem is, with my skillset that contains mostly supporting and ganking skills, I find myself unable to do much, I'm in a deep rut of a losing streak, and find myself unable to do anything to counter the "cancer" of pubs. Are there any heroes that spring to mind? (Except AA) How do I work myself out of this losing streak?

PyrionFlax: If he's saying "I want to take on this" and "I want to take on that" then I guess he's playing heroes like Nyx, maybe Clockwerk. What he's looking for is to get solo kills. In Dota it's really hard to get solo kills early on. If he's playing a cross between a support or a ganker role—if he's picking one or the other—then he should buy his own wards. It sucks, but it's not that expensive and it will help you. Put them in the spots where you think they'll be farming and that will help.

Or just gank mid. That's the best thing you can do. Help the mid out—that really helps the game enormously, and then you and mid together can go and get those ganks and start to snowball. Looking for those early picks is tempting, but purely from what he's saying and the way he's phrased it it sounds like he's trying to go solo, and that never works in a team game unless your enemy has picked really dumb heroes that easy to kill or you're insanely good. He needs to think more about ganking with a friend.

Help me, I need to escape this hell, but every attempt seems only to further sink me into it.

Chris: Next one, from Dan. This was a much longer email, but I've condensed it.

I don't know if this is so much of a question or rant, but I am at an absolute loss as to why solo ranked matchmaking is the most evil and unenjoyable form of Dota 2? I am a relatively experienced casual player...

Chris: I like the phrase 'relatively experienced casual player'.

PFlax: I get what he's saying! He's saying he doesn't play, like, tryhard. I'd consider myself a relatively experienced casual player. I don't tryhard but I've got like 5,000 hours on the game.

Chris: Well, hang on -

...with about 100 hours over the course of a couple years. I love the game, and have put a fair amount of money in it. I just started playing ranked because it seemed like the natural thing to do at this point in playing. I know the meta, and can play a vast array of heroes well. But when I load up a match it is without fail the largest shitshow possible. I suck apparently, and I'm at a loss as to how to get better.

Chris: He then talks a little bit about getting ranked and immediately plummeting down. All his games are very one sided, stories from being in the trench. I'll skip that.

My MMR is so embarrassingly low that my friends are teasing me relentlessly, and anything I saw in a normal unranked match will be written off as scrub nonsense. It needs to go up, but it just won't. I'm almost in tears, this game I love so much is draining the life out of me. It's destroying me. Almost literally killing me at this point. I don't know what to do here. Help, please help.

PFlax: Calm the fuck down!

Chris: Wait! He's not done!

How do I get out of this shithole. I can't carry, I can't support. I can't do anything. It's like having your greatest hobby come to life and destroy everything you love. It's a betrayal.

PFlax: Oh, dude! Haha!

I know I cannot simply write my losses off as exclusively others’ fault, but it’s just unbelievable to see me and my team of lobotomy patients repeatedly steamrolled by goddamned morons. I can't even get a lane partner who won't auto-attack every creep. Help me, I need to escape this hell, but every attempt seems only to further sink me into it.

PFlax: Wow. Okay. That was a lot.

Chris: It's intense, isn't it.

PFlax: Phew, man. I feel like this guy's talking the way Terry Waite spoke when he first got busted out. Holy shit. He's obviously been in this mental prison that it's destroying him physically and emotionally.

First of all he needs to calm down. Then he needs to realise that a hundred hours is nothing. Genuinely nothing. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt, in case it's typo and he meant a thousand. Even if it was five hundred, that means—assuming you've been completely even-handed—you've played every hero five times. That is not enough to be, in his words, 'competent with every hero' and so on. That's crazy. There's so much you need to learn, and it takes a lot of more than a hundred, five hundred, a thousand hours. If his rank is reflected in the games he's getting queued into and they're shitshows, that's what it's like at that level.

Honestly, I've never been super low MMR having to solo queue. I'm sure it's miserable, I'm sorry for the guy. But he needs to break out of the funk by getting into some parties, play with friends, take it easy. Focus on doing the simple things well. Don't overplay it, just chill out. Don't play it like 'oh my god my MMR!' People focus on that to the detriment of the game. I don't get it.

Chris: If you're not enjoying it you won't improve, either.

PFlax: Yeah! Because you're not concentrating, you're angry. Nobody does anything well when they're angry. Nobody. It does not work. You just start raging. Start getting frustrated. And one thing people do when they start getting frustrated is they make these reach plays—"if I do this, everything will turn around and my life will be happy again. If I can just get this rune. If I can just kill this guy. If I can just dive past this tier three at minute four, everything will right itself."

He just needs to ride it out. If he's as good as he claims, he should be okay.

The Frankfurt Major

Chris: Final question. ‘The Richest Tea’ writes:

One of my favourite things about TI is the compendium and all the cool shit you get with it. It’s a nice way to raise money for the prize pool and feel part of the event when you can't make it to Seattle. But now it seems Valve intends to release a compendium for every single major they will be doing for the foreseeable future, which really sucks as it ruins the charm and Uniqueness of the TI compendium. What do you guys think of the fall 2015 compendium, the coin betting nonsense and how do you feel about the possibility of constant compendiums every big Dota Tournament?

PFlax: It's not every tournament, it's just the Majors—and the Majors are a big deal. These are not run by whoever else. This is Valve bankrolling it, this is Valve laying down what they want, and then the other company is hired as a production company. The money still goes to the prize pool...

Chris: It doesn't, for this one.

PFlax: For this one it doesn't? Where does the money come from?

Chris: Valve put up $3m. There's no contribution from the compendium—the compendium just raises money for Valve. Which I think is a legit concern.

PFlax: I didn't know that.

Chris: That caught me by surprise as well. It used to feel like you were all participating.

PFlax: Alright, well think about it this way. When it comes to TI, Dota players and obsessives like you and I feel compelled to make this work—as some kind of group effort. We feel like TI has to succeed, we have to get a big prize pool because this is for the good of Dota. It's a reward for the players' year of hard work. If Valve come in and put $3m up and make that back on the compendium, we are still kind of paying for the prize pool. If we don't buy the compendium, they won't put the prize pool money in.

Guaranteeing a $3m prize pool is still a huge amount of money compared to most tournaments. They've also paid for the production and there's a budget for that. As a business, they need to justify the cost of putting on these tournaments. People complain about buying these compendiums, but it's optional! Don't buy it. You don't have to bet coins, you can play the game for free, watch all the games for free—how many games can you say that about?

Chris: It's also worth pointing out that the live event is free until the final day, too.

PFlax: Really? Well there you go. So much of it is accessible for free, I don't think we can complain that we have the option to pay for something.

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PC Gamer Pro is 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!

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.