Hello Everyone !
Many things happened since the last article, fortunately. The team’s results are very satisfying, as you may have noticed. The practice is going really well, the atmosphere is great, and we are all looking forward to what we can demonstrate in the upcoming weeks. The highlight of this week was of course the very controversial ending of our match versus Alliance in the StarSeries season VII. A few words on that topic…Do not blame the admins’ decision, as they made sure beforehand that both team were completely fine with it. One thing you have to know is that the SLTV staff is, if not the fairest, one of the fairest staff in the whole scene as they always make sure their decisions make sense when it comes to the in-game part. Their deep game understanding is a real guarantee in that matter.
The crash was of course very unfortunate. To be brutally honest I think we deserved to win that game, as everyone could see we controlled the game completely from the very beginning, putting huge amount of pressure on Alliance. But well, when you face the strongest team in the world, one slight mistake and suddenly what was a stomp in your favor turns into a very close game with them having the better late-game. This is what makes them so strong; even one mistake is too much. Moreover, the last fight was clearly in our favor, as they had no buybacks and our position and spell casting was about to give us a clear win. In the end it doesn’t really matter that the game is going to be replayed. Indeed, Alliance is clearly a way stronger team than what we are the moment, the comparison isn’t even relevant. But we were able to pressure them, and to maybe take a game from them, which isn’t a surprise at all for us. We know that the potential is here for us to compete with the very top on a regular basis. So we are already looking forward to the next game, and will try to repeat the performance, and not only once.
Now that this is sorted out, I can finally jump into today’s topic, which will be ‘The Support role’. As you probably guessed, this topic is immensely large, in particular for me. Nevertheless, I will try to structure it through different articles, but in that one I would just like to highlight or deny general facts about the support role in competitive DotA. I will not fall into the very standard trap that compares the different roles and rank them. Every role is brutally crucial in DotA, the support is as important as the carry, the individuals shouldn’t prevail on the team, etc etc.
The difference between tier-1 teams comes mainly from their support players:
On that part, you can really trust my experience, and share your questions to any tier-1 player. We basically all played in different rosters, tried different players, build different teams, some were successful, some weren’t. And the conclusion is almost always the same: ‘the support duo’ didn’t work out, or the support players weren’t skilled enough, or even the team chemistry just wasn’t there. Do not get me wrong, I am not comparing support players with core players, all roles require the same amount of skill, game understanding and experience. This conclusion is actually very frustrating when you try to build a team, but it explains itself. I’ll give the main reasons :
– Let us assume that I want to break into competitive DotA. I’m skilled and have good in-game sense. In order for me to succeed, I need to find a way to shine and attract other players’ attention. I can choose between two type of roles, the ‘Cores’, they are given the farm and the experience, and they end up having more impact than the other heroes on the game. The second role is the support role, where the major part of the action is actually in the in-game calls, or little details like warding, positioning or spell execution, best case scenario being a low amount of death and decent assisting. (Please note that a good support is not necessarily a support that never dies, that is completely false. A good support is a support that dies only for good reasons). I will obviously choose the ‘Core’ option, and that is completely natural.
We all experienced the painful match-making games where the team coordination just isn’t there, and playing support suddenly feels like a waste of time. Well, players naturally tend to play core. The consequence of that is that finding an excellent solo mid, carry or offlane is actually very easy at a pro level, because they simply outnumber the support players. But finding an excellent support player, whose game understanding & skill can compete with the top support players, is insanely hard.
– The second main reason why supports are crucial factor in pro games is that they are responsible for the early game action in most cases. When two very strong teams face each others, the early game rotation is decisive. Indeed, the strongest teams are also the one to do the least amount of mistakes. So when they secure an advantage early on thanks to their support’s rotation, they usually rarely drop it. This can end up with a very one-sided game. A quick and quite standard example would be : Offlaners are woods, Mid-laners are both playing well on their lane, and carries are barely missing a creepkill. Team A’s supports decide to rotate mid and get the firstblood on the opponent’s laner, whereas Team B’s supports failed their rotation few mins ago. This can be decisive, and all came down to the supports and their decision-making.
Those are two reasons I could easily think of, there are many others obviously. The cores basically reward the support players for their early game plays by carrying them through the mid-late game. The supports somehow ‘create’ the conditions of the core’s success and well-being during the game.
The role is also very ungrateful; this doesn’t need to be explained. If a teamfight happens, and a team crushes the other one thanks to good warding/vision or to a clutch swap/nightmare (or anything else), what will be seen and remembered at the end of the day is the naix crushing the enemies and getting a rampage. The hero pool is wider for support players, and every game is completely different. One game requite passivity and intense stacking, the other requires early game rotation and aggressiveness. Sometimes the support has a 3k gold net worth in 5 mins, and sometimes he can afford boots at the 12’. Playing support is about being able to read, LIVE, what particular turn the game is taking, and being able to ADAPT to it. This is precisely why support players are, in 99% of the cases, also the in-game leaders.
If I happen, for instance, to watch an Alliance replay, I will 90% of the time follow Akke & EGM. And it should be useless to mention that I watch it as a team captain, and not as a support player. I’m not interested into the mechanics, but into Alliance’s decision making. And it doesn’t matter if it is actually made by the supports, what matters is that it is readable in their movement, and only there. They set the pace for the game. This is valid in early game, of course, but not only. But that would be too long to describe.
In the next article I will describe in further details the support role, the positioning, the attitude required and some specifics to know in order to play an ‘efficient’ support. What should you aim for? How to achieve it? If, as a support player, ending up with a positive score do not necessarily mean that I did well (and vice versa of course), then how can I know whether I played a good game or not?
I’ll try to answer those questions in the next writing, this one aimed to give you guys an idea of my opinion on the very large ‘support topic’. I hope you enjoyed your read.
Please always remember that this is nothing but the opinion of a professional DotA2 player! Feel free to drop your comments.
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