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My Team Is Bad – a DotA Guide Out Of Elo Hell

Rawr. (courtesy of


Strictly speaking, it can happen.

Yes, we do tend to blame our team for that -25 MMR, so we don’t have to blame ourselves. This occurs more often than not, and not only in video games.

Still, we’ve also seen great players lose some matches in way lower tiers than theirs. And without them really screwing up that much; certain circumstances can arise, that can make a match practically unwinnable for anyone. It can’t be happening all the darn time, of course, despite what a lot of people “stuck in ELO hell” would argue.

These circumstances can be a combination of pretty much anything. Maybe our ally decided to get an AFK farmer jungler, or a Morphling support (it’s happened to me), or perhaps the enemy mid is an 8k smurf, or simply our team is completely drunk, or, even worse, a bunch of crybabies who give up after 2 deaths. We can’t really do much about any of that besides asking them not to pick that freaking jungler.

There’s mainly one thing we can affect to make our life easier.

Our own attitude.

Let’s face it, we tend to think we’re above all that. Ever heard anyone saying “I screwed up”? Very rarely. What about “my team screwed up” though? All the time.

And again, that doesn’t have to be necessarily wrong. Perhaps you really are a level above them gameplay-wise. But, here’s a simple choice to make: you’ll either feel good about yourself by underestimating others, or you’ll make your life (and games) easier.

If you want the latter, here’s my lessons learnt the hard way.

-Even a simple comment can create tension. Pointing out mistakes, even if you mean well, can be easily misunderstood for a flame. It’s happened to me countless times, and then I had to explain I’m not flaming, I’m simply suggesting. So, be careful of how you express yourself. “Rubick, get a Glimmer Care”, sounds bossy. Try something like “Rubick, I think Glimmer is good on you here”. Or even something humorous, such as, “Professor Rubick, would you like a Glimmer Cape for your collection?”. People will actually listen to you more that way.

And that being said,

-Don’t even consider flaming. It’s the absolute worst thing you can do. No matter how bad your mates are, trash talking will make them play even worse. Playing badly can happen to anyone. Try to help with their game-play, or at least don’t say anything. Or joke around a bit, to break the ice. If, on the other hand, they’re being annoying and rude, there’s not much you can do. Even replying nicely will most likely fail, so all you can do is ignore them. Mute them and don’t answer. I know it can be (extremely) tempting to flame back, but if you want to achieve victory, your best option is silence.

-Don’t overestimate your abilities. We’ve all watched streams of players who can just take mid, win single-handedly and move on to the next +25. Well, you’re most likely not them. You need your team to survive. Communicate with them. Don’t just pick whatever, try to combo up a bit. Even if you don’t want to support someone who’s 1k below you and is (supposedly) a less skilled player, grit your teeth and pick something useful instead of that AFK jungler.

Last but not least:

-Do not give up. Yes, I know it sounds cheesy, but hear this out. If you’re the type that gives up, you’re an even worse impact on your team than “flamers” and “feeders”. Period. 5% chance of winning is better than 0. If you give up and start feeding couriers, you throw away what little hope you have. Yes, perhaps the only way to win, sometimes, is for the opponents to screw up.

So what?

If they do screw up, you get a free win. If they don’t, you get the same result as giving up. Well, even that’s not really true, because if you keep playing, you’ll improve as a player, even if you don’t win.

Knowing how to play with a handicap is also a trait good players possess.

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