Thursday, April 19, 2012

Playing From Behind

We've all had games where things go terribly wrong right from the start. All your lanes get crushed, mistakes are made, and you get ganked multiple times. The enemy team is playing with great teamwork and coordiantion while yours is playing like noobs. Before you know it, the score is 2-14 and all your outer towers are down while you haven't even touched the enemy's. Despair starts to set in and you want to sit in your fountain so the game ends faster.

This might happen more to some people than others, but nonetheless WILL happen at some point in a players career.

These situations are a blessing in disguise. I feel that fighting with your back against the wall is one of the best ways to grow as a player. Facing huge amounts of pressure and trying to overcome the odds will teach you things about the game that you would never realize if you simply gave up. And if you do happen to turn a game around, it's one of the most satisfying moments you can have playing DotA.

So how do we go about fighting our way back up the slippery slope?
The first and most important thing is to get back your confidence. As cheesy as it sounds, it's true. You need to convince yourself that you and your teammates can pull yourselves together and go on to win despite all odds.
Even if you feel like things are hopeless, the reality is that the game isn't over till it's over and winning is ALWAYS POSSIBLE FROM ANY SITUATION. Sure, the chance to win might rely more on enemies making mistakes rather than you actually doing anything, but at least you can play in such a way that maximizes their chances of screwing up.
Being in a weak position can actually be advantageous in that it may cause your opponents to play more carelessly as they think they've already won the game. This leads to them making mistakes that slowly and slowly give you the advantage.
In DotA, the outcome of a game is never certain at any point in the game until the end; just like playing the lottery. But if you don't try at all, you won't have that small probability on your side that you might pull off a win.

Okay, now that we've got our confidence back, what's the next step?
STOP DYING. Minimizing deaths will stop the gap between you and your opponents from getting bigger. If you haven't been dying, great! But you have to be really cautious and not die unecessary deaths as the enemy is probably going to try and kill any heroes in sight at this point. Understand that you are in the position and need to play defensively. Do not take any risks unless they look heavily in your favor. Put up defensive wards when you can and use them to avoid any confrontations as you'll most likely lose.

Now you need to START FARMING. Actually, minimizing deaths and maximizing farm are going to be done together rather than one after the other. You really want to focus on farming up to close the gold and level gap. At the same time, you want to farm safely. Use wards to your advantage so you know when to b. DO NOT GET GREEDY. If you see a 5 man gank coming, do not stick around to get that 1 last creep kill. Get out of there fast.
Don't be tempted to gank lone heroes. Chances are, back up will quickly arrive and you'll end up with a 5 for 1 trade which does nothing to help you.
Take it slow and safely catch up to your enemies.

DO NOT attempt to start teamfights that are away from your tower. The other team is already stronger than you so you will need every advantage you can get.

It's important to know when you are TRULY stronger than your opponents. Don't get overconfident just because you win a series of teamfights. They might have just been playing poorly because they got cocky. The next teamfight, they might start focusing and playing for reals which results in all your hard work going down the drain. Make sure you analyze the situation carefully to determine if you can really start taking control of the game again.

These things alone are no guarantee of winning the game but it's your best shot. Play conservatively and take chances when you have a clear advantage.

If you're playing with some randoms on your team who won't listen to you, it's probably going to be 10 times harder to turn the game around. Your best bet is telling your teammates to "play safe guys" and following the STOP DYING START FARMING method. If you're lucky, you will eventually be able to carry your team to victory.

Regardless of a win or loss, the important part of playing from behind is that you get A LOT better. If you get used to playing optimally at a disadvantage, imagine how you'll play when you are given an advantage.

While it'd be nice to just be extremely good at DotA and never get into sticky situations, the fact is that mistakes will happen eventually and you're going to be in an inferior position. Part of being a good player is having the ability to play out of these positions.

Dota 2 Match ID: 12806921
My team is playing on the Dire side and consists of 5 friends. We have an extremely poor early game where all our lanes lose and our opponents have way more farm and levels. The replay showcases how safe play and a series of successful teamfights can slowly catch you up to the opponents and eventually lead you to take the win.

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