Disclaimer before you read further: I am in no means anyone special in the Dota 2 world. I am merely average at the game at best. This is just the declaration of love and sorrows of a man who loves playing support.
I came into the Dota 2 world out of spite just so I could sneer at it when my friend threw me a beta key a long time ago and demanded I played with him. We started working together on something non-gaming related and so he made it our way of having a ‘team-bonding activity.’ I was no stranger to Dota, but I had an ignorant hate for the community and that obviously affected the way I played. Careless. Blasé. Thoughtless. I was worst than those who would yell at noobies or blamed others instead of their own misgivings: I had no belief in success.
This changed dramatically when we finally did win a match. I was playing Chaos Knight in lane while supporting a Dragon Knight whilst my friend was middle with Viper. We were losing drastically as usual; the lanes were pushed in, our courier wasn’t upgraded to flying, I had only an Armlet of Mordiggian to my name, I had a piggie bank of money just waiting to be lost on death, etc etc. The list of horrible plays were high for my old noobie self. But one magical moment, one sweet half-baked team fight in our favor gave us the power to push on down the middle and take the game. I recall the shrill yells from my friend as he watches on from the dead screen, pinging furiously to take down their Ancient. It was… exciting. It made me feel alive. I understood why Dota was so fun.
During my time playing with my friend I had randomly chosen heroes constantly so I could understand who I should play or who I should avoid; with my friend at my side to tell me what skill to put points into during level up, items to pick up, right moments to engage fights and the like, I was developing myself slowly; albeit, extremely slow. I soon started picking up on supports. I was not an aggressive player at first and they were ideal for me. Setting up kills, feeling like I contributed to the team without needing to be the fantastic rampage machine I expected myself to be. And thus, 3 paragraphs in, is the purpose of this piece. To say how amazing being a support is!
A support’s job is never done from beginning to end. You buy the courier and wards for the team, you protect your precious carry from being harassed, apply pressure on the enemy team by denying and attacking them just slightly, you make sure the team has good map awareness by placing wards, you pull when lanes are too far pushed or stack to give a mountain of gold for your team, etc etc. There are so much that the support offers to the team that essentially makes them the support beams for the structure that is your team. In the meta, you’re in position 4/5, and that means that you’re not expected to get much gold. A selfless act for the greater good, and you should always feel aloof when your carry goes toe-to-toe with the enemy team’s carry and beats them. You can wipe that tear from your eye and smile like the proud parent that you are. You nurtured them. You were an outstanding support.
But do you know what? You won’t have an amazing game as a support. When you’re in a low bracket like I am, you’re going to run into so many issues even when you’re playing as best as you can. You can ward up the map like a Christmas tree, but you can’t stop your teammates from not noticing an oncoming gank, you can stun and aggro the enemy to allow your dying carry to escape, and they’ll think it’s a good time to go back in and die with you, you can get cussed and yelled at for having no items when you’ve been purchasing wards, dusts and smokes. You’re the butt of the team, the scapegoat. When life gives your team lemons, your teammates will scream at you for not having a good K/D and force feed you those lemons. But don’t be salty. Stuff some sugar down with those lemons and make lemonade. Drink to the sweet victory of being the better player and person by not indulging in the hate fueled rage. Play your hardest, give it your all, the really good players will commend you and think highly of you because guess what? You’re a support!
Some of the most feared heroes in Dota are surprisingly the supports. My absolute favourite is Witch Doctor. He’s got it all; stuns to drive people mad, heals to make your friends come in for a cuddle party, a damage-over-time that stings like the bittersweet symphonies of hell and finally a stick in the ground that sends waves and waves of hell at foolish enemies who seek to stand there and tackle your bestie Mr. Carry. Here’s the fun part of why the Witch Doctor is so loathed. You’ve got two troublesome and menacing fellas coming in to say hi to you up close. When they get to speaking distance, toss out your stun. While the stun bounces between the two, activate your heal and toss out your DOT for some fun, and then, throw out that ultimate stick of doom and watch the two of them melt as they scream and scramble away from the ol’ doctor. They managed to run away? I guess they’ll live for today. Or not. Thank you DOT damage for that final tick of insane damage. Even an apple can’t keep this Doctor away. Supports aren’t just useless heroes that place wards down and are done, they’re there to give you hell and set up easy clean kills for their precious carry. There are loads of them that will easily change the tide of battle including Tidehunter, Crystal Maiden, Disruptor and Dazzle!
As I mentioned above, I am a nobody. I just happen to really enjoy playing support, a rarity in its own, but I do love playing it. There are dozens of amazing players who are primarily support. If you get a chance to, watch the qualifier matches or look up these people on YouTube: KuroKy, ChuaN, Fear and Puppey. There are obviously a load more, but these names come across as some of the most revered and feared support players. One of the best things you can learn from these guys is the stressed importance of ‘positioning’. Eddie Murphy said it best when it came to stopping a man from cheating. “You have to be there. Where? There. Anywhere.” Be there before a team fight happens. Be there as soon as you see an ally in trouble with a teleport. Be there at the back and wreck the enemy’s day.
Being a support has its ups and downs. You can learn a lot from watching the pros play and you can imitate as much as you want, but it all depends on the team. As far as it goes, Dota is a team game. A carry is as good as a support makes him but a support is only as good as what the team is as well. The hallmarks to an extraordinary victory for a team will always have the amazing support hiding in the shadows clapping for themselves. But today, I want us to not be overshadowed anymore, let us stand and be proud. Support players rock and they’re the best role in ANY MOBA let alone Dota!