Supporting in DotA 2 pubs is not the most glamorous way to play, but it can be extremely effective when climbing MMR and enjoying the game.
We have all had games that start with fights over who buys the courier. Then someone caves and drops one in the Fountain, allowing it to sit there until First Blood. Meanwhile, the other mid already has a bottle, your offlaner is hiding in the trees waiting for the Shrine to be up, and your safe kaner keeps dying to get to the Side Shop.
Overall, it’s a pretty abysmal start to any game. This all stems from a vast majority of players wanting to pick core heroes and just trying to carry games. DotA is a team game, though it sometimes doesn’t feel that way. Playing the support role can give you a tangible leg up on a team that chooses not to draft at least one.
Supporting in pubs has incredibly high impact
There is so much going on during any given game. Every role is complex, coming with unique wrinkles in movement, play-style, farm pattern, item timings and teamfight participation. The list goes on. As a support, you have to be aware of all of this while also deciding how to best utilize your role. It becomes both an extremely challenging and rewarding task. Just buying wards and having vision down on the map can teach you something new each game. A well-executed early smoke can boost morale.
While these things seem trivial from an individual perspective, they can make or break a game. For example, pushing high-ground without any wards is the easiest way to throw away a lead. When playing against a team who is warding ganks becomes so much harder without counter-wards or smokes. The main knock against supporting is it’s “just not as fun”. Agree to disagree there. Nothing is more fun than winning games.
Supports that feel like Cores
The current meta is also allowing for a lot of heroes to be played in the 4 position while still having the ability to get kills. Heroes like Spirit Breaker and Earthshaker have insane win-rates. Both heroes are also a dream to play as a support due to their lack of early item dependence. Spirit Breaker can be anywhere on the map at any time thanks to his Charge of Darkness. Earthshaker can sit in trees and provide initiation from a distance while staying off the map. Both of these heroes benefit from early rotations, becoming a serious issue for the other team after 2-3 items have been farmed up, all the while boosting the performance of their kills by dominating lanes with early kills or pressure. While these heroes can be played as offlaners, they thrive as aggressive supports.
Currently, Witch Doctor is a traditional support hero that can have a significant impact on a game. If you were to craft the dream support toolkit it would probably end up pretty close to Witch Doctor, as he has a stun, heal and huge damage potential, not to mention one of the coolest Aghanim’s Scepter upgrades in the game.
Overall, Witch Doctor’s ultimate is a very powerful teamfight ability. Most important is that it deals physical damage and carries a true strike mechanic, making it a great counter to heroes with high evasion like Phantom Assassin. Every so often you’ll start channeling your Death Ward and the enemy will pop a Black King Bar charge while they take 150 damage per second anyway. One of the more satisfying feelings out there.
Playing support may not be the most glamorous thing to do in DotA 2. But its impact on games is hard to argue. Having a good support in a game can make even the closest loss enjoyable. Supporting is also so different than the other roles that you learn much more about the game, making for a better experience for your whole team.
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