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Dota 2 Roles and Where to Start

Dota 2 roles often heavily impact Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBA). A MOBA is a game of matchups and decision-making. In a game of overpowered heroes, you will need the full team’s cooperation to win.

From setting up for someone’s spell, or starting the fight by eliminating a key enemy, these decisions come and go in the game at a breakneck pace. However, a game of Dota can only work by having a goal the team can play towards.

In said plan, every player has a purpose to fill, and this is different for the next player. One has to charge in and absorb punishment, stay behind and augment the team with their spells, or stay next to the frontline to unleash punishment. 

These purposes have many names, but they are defined as positions, ranging from 1 to 5 in order of farming priority at any given time. Each of their goals is defined from the beginning, and the choices of hero matter when playing a certain role. There are plenty of ways to approach the roles, but knowing the core goals of each can make any player improve and climb MMR faster.

Carry

Often the centerpiece to a team’s success, carry or Position 1 has the highest farming priority. It is also often scaling with gold and item progression. Carry players focus on amassing gold by getting the last hits in the lane or in the jungle. This process is better known colloquially as “farming.”

Furthermore, to enable the carry to farm, their team will go out into the map and distract the enemy. Sometimes, it is in places farthest from the farming carry. This concept of play is called “space creation.” 

Good quality for any position 1 player is knowing how to calculate risk. There are plenty of times in a game when a decision can snowball into a bad situation and into a loss. With carry players, whose job is to strong-arm their team to victory, this will influence their decisions and will likely be a cause for mistakes. As the game transitions to later stages carry players will sometimes be given the reigns and direct their team around the map.

Mid

The Midlane is a proving ground for mechanical skill and good game sense. Position 2, or Mid, is a role that is played in the middle lane. Due to the nature of this lane, experience and gold progression is faster than on other lanes. As a 1-versus-1 scenario, the objective is to outperform the enemy midlaner by denying them gold and experience and harassing them out of the lane.

The good quality for any position 2 player is confidence. A good mid-player can go through a game by following a safe plan, but a great mid-player takes the all-in plays and utilize their farm and exp advantage and snowball off of it. Prominent mid-players create opportunities and space around the map and serve as the shot-caller during the middle stages of the game.

Offlane

An offlaner’s life is difficult, as the core hero with the traditionally least farming priority. Position 3 players are a group of players that play the difficult role of shutting down the enemy position 1 in the early game, as well as being the magnet for enemy aggression in the laning phase. Players tasked to create space for their team and help set the fights throughout the game, the offlaner is found to be one of the better Dota 2 roles.

Good quality for any position 3 is to be mischievous. Hear out the explanation for this, as successful offlaners tend to have masterful command at making the enemy come to them. Offlaners dish out harassment against the enemy carry and sometimes, their laning partner may not be enough to repel the offlaner. Good offlaners can disrupt a carry, but a great offlaner will get that carry’s team to go after them, resulting in the enemy net worth stagnation, as the farm on the map is now open for the offlaner’s team to take.

Soft Support

A role characterized by off-map plays and frequent playmaking, position 4 can take on plenty of jobs. As one of the support roles, they take on a confrontational and disruptive play style.

It can be executed earlier than position 3. However, they rely on game knowledge to have an edge over their opponents. This means having an idea of what the enemy’s movement and goals are and how to play around it before beating them.

Good quality for any position 4 is empathy. It requires a great deal of overall understanding to be able to play this role well. Good position 4 players have a play method that while ahead, still synergizes well with their team. Great position 4 players play as if they see the entire game from a different set of eyes, often seeing steps ahead before they happen.

Hard Support

Despite how it looks, being a martyr isn’t for this role. As the second support role, position 5 has the least farming priority in the team, and is often effective with little gold and relying on their hero kit instead. Due to this, they are weak in the middle to the late game but are strong in the early game. Making the most of the laning stage to enable the carry is the work of position 5.

A good quality for any position 5 player is a good sense of strategy. While position 4 is more about knowing player behavior, position 5 is about knowing the game plan. Communicating a plan that always changes by the minute is a hallmark of a great position 5. While talking is hard in a fast-paced game like Dota, it offers plenty of options to communicate movement and plans.

Dota 2 is a team game, and working together makes the dream work. These tips are only guidelines and you can play the Dota 2 roles in a way that works for you. Have fun!

Jean Salgados
Jean Salgados
Spent all the years of his college writing for the school newspaper and transitioned to casting Dota 2 games shortly after graduation.
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