Dota 2 Beginner Guide – The Ultimate Guideline for New Players
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For a new player Dota 2 can be overwhelming:
This well-structured introduction will make your life easier and provides you with all the necessary essentials to start your Dota 2 career today.
Chapter 1: About Dota 2
Dota had a long way to reach its climax and to become what it is today.
Moreover, let’s clarify how Dota 2 is played and how you can use the main controls to confirm optimal starting conditions.
The Birth of Dota 2:
From Icefrog to Valve
Here comes the first surprise: Dota 2 is not a copy of League of Legends, it has its roots in Warcraft 3 in 2004! With the Warcraft 3 World Editor, players were able to create custom maps:
Icefrog is the name of one of the main inventors of Dota 1: Defense of the Ancients and the most famous guy behind the scenes.
The game was addicting and evolving fast, the map creators realized an extreme hype and a fast-growing userbase – a new era was born, the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). It is a complete movement, in MOBA’s you typically play only one hero and its summons in a fast-paced game but are not responsible for buildings or larger armies.
In 2013 Icefrog joined Valve and Dota 2 has been launched. Since then, the game has evolved A LOT – and it is better than it has ever been before!
How is Dota 2 played? What is it about?
In Dota 2, two teams with 5 players on each side fight against each other in a battle arena. This battle arena is a map which is divided into the Radiant and the Dire side, seperated by a river in the middle.
The map has three lanes, the top lane, midlane and bottom lane and the 5 players can choose any line-up they want, like in soccer.
Teams can play defensive or offensive and a million tactical strategies are possible.
Every player can choose between over 115 Dota 2 heroes and over 100 items, which ensures unique matches and clashes every single time, even if the game mode and starting conditions are always the same. This is the main reason why it is playable forever and not limited (like single-player games).
Dota 2 has a high competitive esport scene and Valve is hosting a yearly world competition which is called the Dota 2 International, for these events enourmous prize pools get generated through the Dota 2 community.
Checkout the Dota 2 Glossary:
Do you know the meaning of “imba”, “tilted” or “ez” which are used in the ingame chat?
In Dota 2 tons of shortcuts, acronyms and special words are used that describe specific scenarios, heroes or situations.
Checkout the Glossary to find the full Dota 2 Vocabulary!
View Dota 2 Glossary
How to install and play Dota 2?
The online game Dota 2 is 100% playable for free.
If you spend money in Dota 2 it’s just for comsmetic stuff or for meta-games, but you never pay for a better performance or easier games.
To install Dota 2, you need to download the Steam client – once you have created your account and are logged in, browse the “games library” and search for Dota 2.
The installation process is a no-brainer, just make sure to have about 20 GB space and that your computer is matching the minimum system requirements.
Basic Dota Controls:
Setting up your control keys is important to be any good in Dota 2.
The main layout is super simple: You have 4 spells and to use them press the keys Q, W, E, R. The fourth spell is always your ultimate on the key R.
Most Important Keys:
|QWER||Release your spells 1-4.|
|ALT+Clicking on the Ground||Mark the ground, a tower or hero with a ping sound, your allies will be informed on the minimap. You can also hold the mouse and move into a direction to report enemy wards.|
|A||It’s super important to learn to A-click on the ground. Like that your hero will move there and attack the nearest target.|
|S||Always be ready to stop. Through the S-key you will be better in last-hitting, farming and reacting to any kind of situation.|
You can change all of the keys in the settings and also consider using quick casts (quick casts get automatically released on click to the destination of the mouse cursor – this saves time and the extra click).
Chapter 2: Dota 2 Gameplay Basics
Dota 2 Map Guide
The map is where the combat is happening! Split into the Radiant and Dire side, the Dota 2 map with all of its small characteristics has a lot to offer. The map is changing over the years and with every new update, it’s key to get to know every new tree, path and creep spot.
The Sides and Lanes:
It’s like evil vs. good, but it’s random on which side you will start.
Both sides have the same conditions to win the match (about 50%) but they appear to have differences on how the side can be played. In the middle of the map is the raging river with Roshan inside his cave – both teams have the same chances to bring Roshan down.
Each lane has three towers, which have to be taken down before the vital barracks can be destroyed. In the base you can find the main shop, in the jungle, the secret shop and dependent on the map version also side shop exists. To be able to stay on the lane for a long time to get more experience points, use the courier to send items from the base to your hero.
The five Dota 2 positions, which are normally split into Carry, Midlaner, Offlaner, Semisupport/Roamer and Hardsupport can now choose a strategical line-up for the three given lanes and the jungle.
This is like playing a card game, or playing with probabilities:
Dependent on the heroes that will meet on a lane, one side is favored or both are rather equally strong. Good picks and a good captain (the player who makes the picks in -cm mode) can decide a lot to have a lane that is determined to be stronger. This is about countering heroes and calculating the gameplan.
Runes in Dota 2:
In Dota two kind of runes are available on the map: bounty runes and action or power-up runes.
Bounty runes appear on the exact same position every single time in a five minute interval. Bounties give extra gold to everyone in the team, independent from the player who picks it up. With every interval the gold amount increases. In long games the bounties can reach extreme amounts of gold.
The power-up runes randomly appear on one of the two river positions in a two minute interval. Power-up runes have six types of runes: The Invisibility Rune, Illusion Rune, Double Damage Rune, Arcane Rune, Haste Rune, and Regeneration Rune.
To get more infos and tips about runes in Dota 2, checkout this guide.
Jungle, Creeps and Roshan:
On the Dota 2 map the jungle is between the lanes and is an extra area to creep and get more xp.
In the jungle, neutral creeps spots spawn in an interval of one minute. The first neutral creeps spawn at the 1-minute mark. Creep spots can be blocked if a ward is placed or a hero is too near but also can be doubled by the method of stacking and pulling.
In the river cave is the strongest neutral creep: Roshan the Immortal. He is extremely powerful and normally you need the full team to bring him down. Taking down Roshan takes time and the enemy team should prevent this and react fast. When Roshan is taken down, crucial items are dropped like the Aegis of the Immortal, which revives one hero instantly. Later on more items get dropped like Cheese, Refresher Shard or Aghanims Blessing. Read more about Roshan here.
Buildings and Shops:
In Dota every team has a lot of buildings inside the base and towers (and shrines) outside the base. The main building is the one that needs to protected or the game is lost, but to do so a complete lane and the two last base towers have to be taken down.
The towers next to the base get stronger with each one (the armor and damage goes up). To protect buildings a team can use the Glyph of Fortification, which lasts 7 seconds and makes all buildings and creeps invulnerable. The countdown of the glyph is 6 minutes, but it refreshes if a first-tier tower falls.
The shops in Dota 2 are your local dealer for all of the great items you need to equip on your hero. You can choose the base shop, the secret shop in the jungle or dependent on the map version, the side shop on the outer lanes.
Dota 2 Item Guide for Beginners:
Items are essential in Dota 2 to make your hero stronger and to intensify the benefits of a hero.
Dota 2 Item Basics:
Your hero in Dota 2 can equip six items, while the teleport scroll and one neutral item nowadays got an extra slot. In addition to that you got a backpack of three item slots that you can carry with you but which are not active. Info: If you switch one item to an active slot it needs a few seconds before it is useable.
In the base you also have a stash with six more slots, which you can take when coming home or if you use the courier.
Items can be bought with the money that you earn in a Dota 2 match, but can also be looted in the jungle or dropped by Roshan.
How to buy Items from all Shops in Dota 2:
To buy items in Dota 2 you always need to go to a shop. Simply safe the shop hotkey on a suitable key, I saved in on F4, and on F3 the courier brings over the items to me, that’s one example for a quick item setup.
It’s important to know that you can only buy the items from the base shop at anytime or anywhere on the map. The items then get dropped into the base or the courier.
But if you want to buy something from the secret or side shop you need to move your hero or the courier into the range of that shop – only then you can buy those items.
Items can be consumables to regenerate your health and mana, add stats attributes or even enable special passive or active abilities. While the basic items are single plain ones, combined with recipes, new bigger items can be created.
Which Items should you Buy for your Hero?:
When a new game starts, the recommended items are a mix of consumables and stats items that can be upgraded for items that you need later. For example, good starting items are some tangos, a healing potion, 1-2 clarities, a circlet, and a magic stick.
Every hero in Dota is unique and because of that, every hero should build different items. As a beginner it’s a great coice to choose the recommended items of the main guide inside the shop.
To find these recommended items, open the shop and find them on the left side.
You can change the recommended items to your needs and replace them once you are experiencing specific items that you like for that hero. Do this for all of your favorite heroes to be faster and get better in Dota 2.
Dota 2 Hero Guide for Beginners:
The hero is your main unit, that needs to get as strong as possible in every single match. In Dota three types of heroes exist: Strength, Agility and Intelligence. In total over 115 heroes are playable right now and new heroes join the arena over the years!
Leveling & Hero Spells:
Through experience points, that you get for killing creeps, towers, and enemy heroes, your hero levels up. With every new level a new spell is selectable. The experience points that you need for the next level up, increases with the height each level:
The early levels can be reached fast, later levels need much more time. Once you leveled up, it’s up to you which spell points you will select for your hero.
In general, it’s the best way to get at least one spell onto level 4 as fast as possible. With level 7 you can have the first spell on level 4! Under the spell you can quickly see the level, check the image to see that the treants are on level 4.
Dota 2 Hero Talent Trees:
In addition to the normal spells every hero has a talent tree for beeing able to customize the hero even more to the player’s needs.
The talent tree often offers a passive path with more health or armor and an offensive path with more damage output.
The talent tree has four skill points to select, which you get on level 10, 15, 20 and 25. On level 30 you get the full talent tree instantly.
Damage Types and Armor Types:
In Dota 2 it’s all about damage and armor and magic resistance:
To protect your hero it is essential to increase the armor stats to get less damage from normal attacks. The same applies to any spell damage if you increase your magic resistance, which is a percentage value.
The damage classes in Dota 2 have a quite deep calculation, but as a beginner it’s just important to differentiate between pure/attack damage and magic damage that is done by spells.
Dota 2 Game Mode Guide for Beginners:
|All Pick (AP)||All players just pick a hero, but the teams by turns.|
|Turbo||Turbo mode is the same thing as All Pick but the game is faster, everyone gets XP and gold faster and towers are weaker.|
|All Random (AR)||Everyone gets a random hero isntantly.|
|Captains Draft (CD)||The captain chooses heroes out of a pool of 27 heroes and the teams pick and ban by turns.|
|Captains Mode (CM)||The standart mode for competitive Dota and the pro scene. The captain from each side picks and bans by turns.|
|Single Draft (SD)||Everyone picks seperately from a pool of three heroes.|
|Random Draft (RD)||In this mode 50 heros are randomly chose and then everyone has 20 seconds to pick a hero.|
|Least Played (LP)||Works like All Pick, but the mosted picked 40 heroes of each player are removed.|
|Limited Heroes (LH)||LH only has a pool of 20 heroes.|
|Ability Draft (AD)||Everyone can pick 4 abilities.|
|1v1 Solo Mid (SM)||Pure demonstration of skill, two players meet mid.|
|All Random Deathmatch (ARDM)||The team who reaches 45 kills wins the match, everyone gets a random hero on start and a new random hero after every death.|
Chapter 3: Your first Practical Dota 2 Lessons
10 Tips and Tricks for your perfect Dota 2 Start:
The first hours of Dota are just the start of a big journey.
To become a decent player in Dota 2 the start is quite challenging but it’s so worth. With the following tips, life will be easier for you.
Play the Dota 2 Tutorial and try Bot Matches:
When you start Dota 2 for the first time, it’s a great choice to play the tutorial. Here you learn the basic movement, basics about the interface, your hero and your spells. Just complete it and everything will be much easier to understand in your first real matches.
Pick easy Heroes for Beginners and use In-Game Guides:
As a beginner in Dota 2 play the easy heroes first:
Viper or Dragon Knight are the perfect heroes for beginners, the spells do not require superfast reactions, they can be simply used with a direct visible impact. Heroes are suitable for beginners in Dota 2 if the effect of a spell is easy to understand.
Crystal Maiden, Ogre Magi or Shadow Shaman are great heroes for the start. With these you can damage the enemy on the one hand, but also catch/hold them so that your team can eliminate the opponent.
Drow Ranger and Juggernaut are simple carry heroes. Drow is a simple range attacker and Juggernaut does good damage and can easily escape with his Blade Fury.
For any hero that you have picked, build the recommended items. These ingame guides help a lot to understand the hero better and to release the maximum potential. Check out the item tips above for more info.
Find Dota 2 Friends and play with skilled Mates:
In Dota it can help to talk about all of the details with friends, it also allows to play specific combos and tactics when playing with a party. But whenever your friend list is getting bigger, keep their skill in mind.
It’s much better to play with other Dota 2 mates who are skilled and a good play style. From those players you can learn something and will not get stuck on your current Dota 2 rank.
Learn the Laning Phase:
At the beginning of each game, the lane has to be dominated. A simple tip is to have enough sustain: Buy a lot of tangos and eat up to over 75% health for the whole time.
Just trough a better regeneration you can force the enemy back and get more creeps. Like that you get more gold and more XP because you don’t have to go back.
Protect all Towers and Defend your Base:
Don’t just care for your own lane, in Dota 2 winning is much harder if you lost more towers compared to the enemy. Whenever enemies are pushing a lane, try to help and use your teleport if you think you could successfully defend that area.
On the other hand always calculate if you are not losing too much time or farm for it, as the carry in the team, not helping but farming might be an option!
Be a good Teamplayer & Be someone People can count on:
It’s up to you how close your playstyle will be, to the playstyle the majority wants to see from you. If you are doing basic things good (what people expect) then you will earn trust and encouragement. For the opposite you will earn doubts and hate.
In general, it’s enough to be successful, but if you fail or feed inside a match and you are not spending enough for wards, not building the right items and farming too much instead of helping others, then the team will not count on you.
Try to learn great teamplay and understand what is needed to win the game.
Do you know every Dota 2 Hero, every Spell and every Item?
Build up your knowledge of Dota 2: Be honest, do you already know all heroes, their spells and all items? If not you are still a beginner, but the time will catapult you forward. In addition to that it’s key to learn the map and every tree and stone in and out as well as all creep spots. Like that, you will have a better understanding of the game and you can react confidently in any upcoming situation.
Develop thick skin against Losing Streaks and Flamers:
As a beginner in Dota 2, you will lose a lot. And it’s normal. Dota 2 is such a hard game and has a big hurdle to get over until real enjoyment is even possible.
The learning phase is quite interesting and challenging, but it can also be extremely disappointing. On your stony path, flamers will try to get you down: They will call you noob, retard and looser. On top of a lost match, you will face rejection and abomination – this can be so frustrating, but keep your head up and try to get better!
As a Beginner don’t always play Support Heroes:
A lot of new players tend to play support heroes over and over again.
On the first look support, heroes have a smaller impact on the game compared to a carry or semi carry hero. But especially as a beginner you should test every Dota 2 role as much as you can. Only through testing, you will find out, which hero roles you are good at.
Step up your game through Pro Streams and Guides:
If I look at my friend list there are no more beginners right now, but I can see one fact that is hurting a lot: I would say about 40% of my Dota 2 friends, never changed their MMR compared to the first rank. They got that rank, tried to get better but never made a step forward in YEARS.
Why is that?
They think they are improving, but they are not. To get better try to get more input from outside through streams from Dota 2 pros or through our Dota 2 guide list. Choose some of the guides where you are weak at – and start improving!
Chapter 4: Understanding the
Dota 2 Game Mechanics
Now let’s check the ingame mechanics of Dota 2 matches.
Understanding what matters in a match to simply win it is essential: Learn these basics and you will love Dota 2 soon.
The Dota 2 Positions and Roles:
|1||Carry||Safelane||Farming items, scaling fast and carrying the game.|
|2||Mid Core||Midlane||Dominating the Midlane, highest responsibility to keep the moral up and boost the team.|
|3||Offlaner||Offlane||Countering the enemy safelane, denying creeps, scaling to a semi core.|
|4||Semi-Support||Offlane, Roaming or Jungle||High mobility, high flexibility, ganker.|
|5||Main-Support||Safelane||Giving the carry a good time, keeping his back, stacking, pulling & warding.|
For more details and characteristics read the full Dota 2 positioning guide.
Behaviour in Dota 2:
If you decide to siege the enemy base and to get towers down, it’s called pushing.
This can be done alone or as a team. A requirement to make the towers and buildings vulnerable is to have creep waves with you and if one or two catapults are with you, sieging is much more efficient.
Fact is, if you push you are exposing yourself, the enemy knows exactly where you are and can prepare a counter-attack. While pushing, you force the enemy into an action, so be always prepared for the engagement! Another option is split-pushing on different lanes, to force the enemy into a decision, they probably can’t defend both sides.
For farming the amount of gold per minute is meant, the GPM. With more last hits on creeps, the GPM increases fast. Keep it up over a long time to have a consistent income. Tip: Early farming can scale up extremely later on, the most efficient farming is in the first minutes.
A gank or gang is the planned lockdown of a hero. A combo of spells of more than one hero is centralized onto one enemy hero to get him. The enemy needs to be surprised, if he knows what is going on you will run into a trap.
Through ganging a lane can be supported, because in a 1v1 or 2v2 situation, often kills can’t be made, but if one ganger joins the party you gain high kill potential.
Understanding the Gameplan and Gamephases:
The most games in Dota 2 have similar sequences: The most games are won at the minute 30-40 mark or it will take longer about 60 minutes.
A typical Dota 2 match is splitted into three game phases:
- The early game (minute 0-15)
- The mid game (minute 15-30)
- The late game (minute 30+)
This is just an estimation, fact is in every single game it’s different: The early game can be shorter so that the mid game starts faster.
As long as the starting layout of the lanes is maintained you can call it early game. After the laning phase, the distribution of the heroes, the ganks and movement will deviate more and more until the mid-game is reached. In the mid-game, it’s about farming and split pushing. When one team feels strong they can try the first tactical maneuvers as a full team.
The late game is finally reached when the carries accomplished their goals: They have the required items now and scaled so big that they can outperform any other hero in the game. In the late-game, the team fights will decide which side gonna take the lead.
Great Usage of TP-Scrolls in Dota 2:
Teleports have a high fuctionallity in Dota 2 and can be used smart but also embarissingly bad.
The teleport scroll can be used to fasten the presence on one specific lane or to teleport (defensively) back home.
Examples for great TP-Scroll Usage:
Understanding the Power
of Vision and Wards in Dota 2:
Wards win games, that’s for sure. Placing wards can give your team good vision and a lot of information. This information can decide so much, you always know where the enemy is moving to and you know where they are warding. That’s the perfect way to deward the enemy wards with dewards.
To get good at warding in Dota 2 read the complete ward guide.
Like that you can increase your win potential tremendously!
Chapter 5: How to Improve your Dota 2 Playstyle
You made it! You are now familiar with the Dota 2 basics!
This game as a lot more to offer and to learn. To be prepared for ranked matches and to perform well, here are a few top recommendations to kickstart your career.
At first, it’s good to get your first Dota 2 rank and to keep it.
What is hard about
Dota 2 for Beginners?
The hardest thing for a new Dota 2 player is to reach an acceptable stage of skill (where his teammates will not blame him). Dota 2 has one of the hardest entrances to the game.
The main reason for this is, that the typical Dota player is pressured to win – it’s all about winning, even on the cost of having fun.
For a Dota 2 player gaming isn’t fun – winning is fun!As a consequence of this, Dota 2 players hate everyone who ruin their winning potential.
New players will definitely ruin games since they have to learn a lot – and that is the moment of the first contact with hateful Dota 2 teammates. Once you calibrated your Dota 2 account and got a suitable rank, things will get a bit better, but to reach that point, you will need to play about 100 hours of Dota 2 on average.
As you get better in Dota 2, you will learn that it’s smart to care about your own playstyle and to improve it, instead of analyzing others.
Dota 2 is a supercomplex game and the multidimensional aspects that come together are far away from an easy casual game.
If you decide to learn Dota, welcome on board, my friend!
Now it’s up to you how high you want to climb.
Your focus can be a high rank – but your focus could also be having fun.
What you should know about the Dota 2 Matchmaking System:
New players in Dota 2 need to reach the first milestone to even be able to play ranked. In my Dota smurf guide I pointed out what is needed for a matchmaking-ready Dota 2 account. In the latest known case (which can change over time) a new player needs to play 100 hours unranked matches and is then qualified to calibrate.
Calibration means to play 10 games for each MMR role before you get a final rank.
This rank describes your skill level, or you could also say it describes how much impact you have on winning a ranked match.
The ranks are calculated through an algorithm and the value behind the ranks is the MMR, which stands for Match Making Rating. A typical won match gives you +25 MMR and a lose -25 MMR, but the amount can change dependent on the fairness of the game.
To read more about this, checkout my detailled guide about understanding MMR.
Beginner Tips and Tricks
to become a Better Dota 2 Player:
- A great first goal for beginners in Dota 2 is, to get good with 3-5 heroes.
Start feeling comfortable with them and check which heroes are performing better. Sometimes we like heroes, but we only have a win rate of 30%. Then other heroes might be a better option. With 3-5 heroes you will gain enough flexibility to be a valuable player in most matchups.
- When you have calibrated your rank for the first time, this is your baseline or starting point. From now on the first rank up can be your number one target: It is okay if it takes months, but one day you will achieve it. Try to rank up for the first time!
- To get better in Dota and to make the right decisions, consume all of the Dota2Freaks guides, they will help you to improve your skill!
Thank you for reading. Sorry if it was a bit long, but Dota 2 has so much information and new players and even advanced players need to put the pieces together. I hope it was helpful for you if you have a feedback comment below.