Get out of the trench!

It’s not a surprise that such a thing actually exists, and even more so that the internet has come up with a taxonomy just to classify it. Frankly speaking, the Internet has hit the nail on the head with this one, the reason behind which I shall explain to you shortly. The infamous MMR trench in Dota 2 is the MMR below 1000 and is notoriously difficult to get out of simply because the skill level of the players in that zone is really, really low. Why is it so low? I can speak for myself and say that, I had pretty much no gaming experience other than a few bouts of osu! from time to time which does not help much in the vast and versatile world of gaming. Another reason is that lots of people who are playing Dota 2 for the first time and calibrate once they reach the required level to play ranked matches usually aren’t good enough to get past 1000 MMR. As for myself, I calibrated at around 650 MMR. Which isn’t anything special. But what is special is that, at one point in time, I was down to 1 MMR! I had to climb the entire ranked ladder to get to 1000, which is my MMR now. But the biggest and exuberant achievement of all is that, I made all the MMR playing support!! Take that bitches!

Here’s the story of my Road to 1K

I started out by analyzing the general picks of the lower MMR brackets. They mostly pick carry heroes, that’s really no huge surprise because once they are six-slotted they can get out of control. Everyone likes RAMPAGES. Even supports (but let’s get real now). PA, LC, DK, CK, Riki, Sniper and even a few bouts of Axe and BB are prevalent at the lowest of the low MMR (0 – 400). You really can’t do much other than hope that you get a good team and try your best to win. I spammed Vengeful Spirit in that MMR range, and I even hit 100 games with her! VS can be a really good hero who can transition to carry role depending on how the game goes. We had to win the laning phase, and the game was pretty much ours. This fact is true throughout the low MMR range. Get a medallion, with stun and right click to win the lane. So, spamming heroes is actually a good thing. Don’t think too much, find a hero that you like to play, or a hero that suits your style of playing and start winning games. Don’t feel that you are inferior to others by having a smaller hero pool. I will explain to you later why.

One of the obvious things in the lower MMR brackets is that everyone plays carry role. So, I chose to play support. Well, at least for the first half part of the game. Once I got high around 400 – 450 MMR, I got stuck. Spamming VS no longer worked. My play style did not suit the changing skill of the players. As a tribute to my winning strategy of spamming heroes, I realized that I had to analyze the game and chose a hero (to spam) which better suited this bracket.

Jakiro was it! It was exactly the kind of hero that I had been looking for! THD or Two Headed Dragon is the alias given to him. He is the only hero who has 4/4 AoE active abilities (Underlord is similar but has one passive)! Isn’t that awesome! I knew I had to continue to play support, because the rest of the team would anyway pick cores and there would be farm deprivation. Basically, in every game my job was to make sure my carries had the best game of their lives. But when I started playing Jakiro, I went for the lane winning harass build, maxing out E. My current build isn’t the same, since my play style has changed a whole lot from that time. THD has a AoE stun, AoE attack slow and tower push, an AoE slow with DPS and an AoE DPS ultimate. In addition to that, I always made a Veil of Discord and Euls (which proved incredibly useful to dodge attacks like sniper’s ult). He was simply the perfect hero and won me another 400 – 450 MMR, till my MMR was around 800 – 850.

Then I faced the same problem that I had faced with VS, a saturation where I couldn’t win any more MMR. Once I was watching Artour’s stream when I heard him say the enemy team had the 2 most cancerous heroes in dota. Indeed, one of them was Treant Protector, a strangely good support. He hadn’t been played much (due to the fact that he’s a “shitty hero”, not my words, mind you). I played a couple of Normal games with him, and immediately realized the latent potential. So that was it, I became a hard support in all my games, I played in safe lane healing all the heroes on the other lanes. But towards the end of my pursuit to 1K, I just pulled creeps and gave my safe lane carry a solo lane while healing them up. I maxed out E and W although that’s not the build pro players use (but it certainly paired well with this MMR bracket). I seldom reached level 25, but the talent at that level just takes Treant to the next level. It’s so good that I have seriously considered building Midas on him. He gets an additional 5 stacks of E. All your teammates will instantly become unkillable. I went Arcane to Medallion to Solar Crest to Guardian Greaves, and by then we had won the game already!

Why should you spam heroes?

It’s actually a good question, much debatable among dota players. Some would say, play different heroes so your versatility would eventually pay off when picking a counter for the enemy team. Or simply that playing just one hero every time can become boring. It doesn’t, once you start raking your MMR like a popcorn maker makes popcorn! You want to win! Don’t you? So focus on winning. Versatility comes later, at least in my books. Just master a couple of heroes first. Learn to use items, be versatile with items and leveling up your abilities and learn from those. Win some MMR, practice other heroes at that bracket, then win some more. That’s how you can rise. Playing with people who are better than you will make you better, and dota is no exception to that rule.

One other thing that I had forgotten to add before is the fact that timings can play an incredibly important role in you winning ranked matches. By timings, I don’t mean your reaction speed but the time at which you play. If you look at the stats, you will see that the highest population of players exist in the 3K MMR range. Surprising, right? As a 1K player, reaching there seems like some dream! How did they even grind for so many countless number of hours? Well, that’s a question for some other day. As I was saying, the population is highest not in the < 1K range at all! In fact, it is very low in there. Which means that there is a high chance that the matchmaking will result in you having a bad team. At the end of the day, your chances of winning a game also depend on the kind of team that you get.

At least, in the region that I play in (SEA), I have observed that both my team and the enemy team get good players when I play between a certain time range. So now, I only play during that time and not so surprisingly enough, it has won me a hell of a lot games! It’s not the matchmaking fault by all means that you get bad teammates. If there simply aren’t good players around when you match make how can you expect the MM to be so good? You really can’t. This is something that’s out of your control as well as Valve’s control. But you can do something about this, how about converting LoL players into Dota 2 players? Ahahaha…

Dota 2 vs. LoL

Probably one of the biggest debates out there! Dota 2, a game started in 2009 and completed in 2013 created by Valve with help of IceFrog and League of Legends a game released in October of 2009 are one of the most formidable rivals in the gaming industry. With Dota 2 comes stunning graphics and spectacular gameplay integrated with Steam where as, LoL has some really interesting background stories of the champions and large amounts of art created by their developers Riot Games.

LoL was officially there on the scene first! Which is why they have amassed a larger number of audience than has Dota 2. There are other reasons behind this, like the huge size of Dota which is like 17 GB whereas LoL is just about a third if that. Another reason is that Dota 2 relies on more powerful PCs which can pose a problem to those who still use ancient machines. LoL is a little lax with its graphics requirements, but after playing both games in full graphics settings, it becomes hard to distinguish between which is better.

Coming to the graphics, LoL terrain and buildings have a much smoother look and they actually look better than Dota 2 buildings. However, heroes look better than the champions in LoL and so do creeps than the minions. LoL offers more than one map unlike Dota 2 where players have to play play on the same old map over and over again, though that does not get boring. I like the Dota 2 map much more, because there are several elements which give it a realistic look like the way the map is in no way symmetrical and even the Radiant and Dire sides are completely different! LoL has a generic map which looks symmetrical and lacks the kind of detail that’s put into Dota 2 maps.

It will not come as a big surprise to you that I find the gameplay of Dota to be better than LoL. The map, the characters, their movement and even the way Gold shuffles hands! LoL has some interesting features like spells which give bonus abilities with large cool downs like healing and agility. Although after playing Dota, I didn’t see the need for such spells I won’t deny that they saved me more than once 😀

LoL has an easier learning curve and Gold is also easier to procure. No gold is lost upon death, but the opponent gains some if we die. In any case, the items that you can buy are in a way cheaper than Dota items and there are 7 slots instead of 6 in LoL unlike Dota which has the latter amount. If you really like stories, you will enjoy the lore behind every champion on their websites and in-game, even every skin has artwork made for it. Just imagine how much artwork is made for LoL, there are around 130 champions and each one has at least 4-5 skins. Some things about that game are really incredible. No wonder LoL has far more players per month that does Dota 2!

One of the best things about the Dotaverse is the Arcade. The Arcade opens up a whole new level of games, like a 10v10 where 10 players on each side battle for the other’s ancient and overthrow. Many of the games are made by the official Dota 2 team, and they have released a development workshop for those who are interested in developing games for that section.

Dota 2 gives full access to all heroes from the beginning to a new user, but LoL relies on the user levelling up and earing influence points (IP) by playing more games or buying riot points (RP) to purchase champions and skins. Every week 10 new champions are introduced to players for free. It strikes me as odd that some champions are more expensive than the rest (does that mean they are also better?). Dota is said to be a balanced game, a fact that don’t think is absolutely true. But then again, it really depends on how your teammates play.

My take on the two games is that, Dota 2 is the better one. It might have just one map, and the size may be massive, but still the experience and fun I had playing the game clearly exceeded my expectations of MOBA.