I'm Losing Constantly In Dota 2 And Somehow Still Having Fun

Image: Kotaku

"You are the most useless shitstain of a support I have ever encountered. Please, for the love of God, uninstall."

This isn't even the most remotely abusive line directed at me over the last few weeks as I've been stubbornly journeying through the cesspool that is Dota 2's ranked play. It hasn't been a successful trip, with my matchmaking rating plunging into some truly miserable depths. And despite the losses, and the agony of the people I've encountered, I'm somehow enjoying myself.

It's been said before that learning Dota 2 — or League of Legends, since the two communities and games share so much in common — is one of the worst experiences in gaming.

It's hard not to agree.

A large part of MOBAs is learning How Not To Die. Thing is, you can't really do that until you properly understand distance and spacing. You often have to get hit by an ability before you know what its range, power and effect will be.

You could click on the hero and have a quick read pre-game, of course, but that's useless if you're starting out yourself. And you have to go through most of this process again too if you take a massive break from the game, which is what I did.

New heroes change everything. New items change everything. The map was slightly different. Where you're supposed to place wards so they don't get taken down instantly is slightly different. It's a completely different game, even though everything looks familiar.

It's an exercise in discovery — not just in mechanics, but what I want from games.

That magical, chomping moment.

The more seasoned players among you will probably be wondering why the hell I'm playing Ranked Play in the first place. After all, Normal Match is there for a reason.

In fairness, so are the bots. That's where you should go to practice.

But I grew up playing a lot of StarCraft. And while there was always the option to play unranked matches there, everyone knew — especially in Brood War, and vanilla SC2 — that it was a trial-by-fire kind of game.

You hopped onto the ladder and risked it all. Points on the line. You win, you get the rewards. If you wanted a fiercer challenge that didn't affect your MMR, join a clan or hop into a tournament.

Losing precious points is practice. That's how you learn. That's the mentality.

To me, not playing Ranked Play would be an admission of defeat. And that's simply not on.

Even though I've won 3 out of the last 20 games.

My record of late: a *lot* of losses.

A friend of mine likes to regularly ask me if I've downloaded Dwarf Fortress yet. I picked up the management sim ages ago, although it isn't and won't ever be a game I actively play. It's not my type of simulator. I don't have the right type of mentality for it.

That's how a lot of people seem to feel about Dota 2 in general, that you need to think a certain way. Or be wired a certain way, to at least weather the torrent of abuse and scum you'll quickly encounter.

The chat in the main lobby alone is off the rails.

Image: Kotaku

Image: Kotaku
Image: Kotaku

For the count, I've lost 15 out of my last 20 games. I've tried to maintain some sort of consistency throughout: largely picking supports, or using the useful Dota Picker website to gauge what heroes might be the most practical.

After all, I don't enjoy losing. I had two Grandmaster accounts in Starcraft 2. I spent some time overseas playing Counter-Strike 1.6. I've spent over a decade playing games competitively. I'm not the kind of player who enjoys deliberately watching their MMR sink into the earth.

But I've broken through that barrier. Losses no longer hurt; sledges against my soul, dead grandmother, impotent body and alleged lack of awareness no longer sting.

And it's not as if I'm not learning, refusing to help, or improving. Originally, I only used to play support because I thought that was the simplest role to understand. Buy wards all the time. Make sure your carry and cores don't die — or at least that you die first. Assist in every team fight imaginable. Deward if necessary. Don't. Last. Hit.

It's ... not going well. But, weirdly, it's fun. Losing is somehow fun. And going through the entire process, trying to unpack little objectives — how can I win this battle, how can I push the team forward — is weirdly soothing.


    Strangely, I'm having the exact same experience. I used to play a fair bit (started in 2013 I think) and then I'd 'quit' the game for extended periods, 3 months the first time, 6 months the second time, maybe more on my next purge.

    Every time I come back its around TI time, which is what draws me back in, and every time I come back I'm less phased by the raging that goes on.

    I went on a streak this week too where I lost 17 out of 20 games. Watched my precious High Skill rank that I'd worked so hard to get to slip away as I lost nearly 500 MMR.

      Woah, complete opposite here - I climbed back into the high skill rank by winning 17/20 of my ranked games this week - I must be stealing your mmr ;)

      Ofc, I find that wins and losses always come in streaks, so generally I go back to just playing all pick for a bit if I feel like I'm in a slump in ranked.

    But I grew up playing a lot of StarCraft. And while there was always the option to play unranked matches there, everyone knew — especially in Brood War, and vanilla SC2 — that it was a trial-by-fire kind of game.
    You hopped onto the ladder and risked it all. Points on the line. You win, you get the rewards. If you wanted a fiercer challenge that didn’t affect your MMR, join a clan or hop into a tournament.

    I don't want to get on your back too much since I get where you're coming from but in Starcraft the risk was on you and you alone. You put yourself on the line. In team based multiplayer you're putting other people's enjoyment on the line. It's a pretty big fuck you to the other players to jump on and say 'my ego won't let me practice in normal mode, so I'm going to push my way onto the field and handicap the team while I learn to play'.
    I'm not saying you have to take the game ultra seriously and it's fine that you don't know everything right out the gate, but the purpose of ranked play is to give serious players an arena to face off in. After all you wouldn't skip practice and learn the rules of basketball mid-match. Especially not if the team was made up of strangers.

    Last edited 26/09/16 2:06 pm

      I get what you mean, but how the games play out aren't a result of extreme ineptitude on my part or anything like that. And you have to remember it's not like there are TI-worthy players with MMRs of 1600-1700 that are having their careers hampered because I'm just tramping in getting to know the game. We're all equally as crap as one another, and while my individual record of late has been all one way (down) it's not because I'm not actively doing everything I can to win.

      It's the kind of impression you'd take away if you hadn't seen the games, which is fair enough. Nobody wants someone to come in and screw it up for everyone else, and I'm definitely not that.

        For starters what give them the right to expect everyone on his team to be really good.

        You also has to know most of these players are just taking their loss on you. It is not justified. Dont you take it lying down.

        Dont you take those people seriously. While the concept of what you are doing has certain merit but it will not work out every time. Support is arguably harder than carry. It all depends on how you want to play the game and whether the rest of the team is up to it . That is true in a few different ways and not just one.

        I believe to start you should just try to play your hero well without trying to fill a particular role., think about items. Maybe by some wards but think about when and where to put them. This entire game is just a huge micro battle compared to Starcraft 2 but it is also a team game of 5v5 which SC isnt even remotely.

        From the way you say you are playing, you are definitely not living up to your potential. You have to think about how you will be useful for the team. You still need money. If carry cannot win against you for last hits its their fault not yours.

        Most of the dota players are just stuck up with an inflexible concept of the game and cannot adapt to the actual game. They dont actually understand it either. They are only there for their reflexes. Those that lash out are just arrogant assholes.

        But they are there in sc as well, you just have to play team games. You probably wouldnt get it as much as dota but some of them can be worse. General chat in SC has never been even remotely clean. My impression has always been if you can survive general chat, you can survive ANYWHERE!

        Fair enough. Like I said I get where you're coming from and I agree with the idea of not getting hung up on winning, I just think it's important to take a second to remember that there are other people playing with us. It's easy to forget that we're potentially wasting other people's free time when so many of the games we play are single player time wasters. I'm there all night but if someone has kids they might only get a few matches.

      except you get exactly the same shit even if you play normal games...its the type of players...and the thing is they are actually just idiots that dont know any better.

    Playing supports in the trench is a tough gig... I'm convinced that there is no better example of the Dunning-Kruger effect than in the trench between 1k and 3k. Players at this level have played enough to feel they have a good grasp of the game, but not enough to understand how much they don't know.

    I mean, take warding as an example. At 2k, you know the support is meant to buy wards, so you buy wards whenever they are off cooldown, and place them in all the usual ward spots. Once you get to 3-4k, you realize that just placing wards in the usual spots is a good way to get dewarded, so you start to place them in some more obscure spots. At 5k, you start to get good at guessing where the wards are, so you start to see some really weird ward locations. If you watch a pro game, you will see some apparently bizarre warding - but it winds up being incredibly effective, because its such a weird spot that it never gets dewarded.

    Now, the 2k support player - he doesn't know about the intricacies of ward battles and the vision game. Worse - the core/carry player at 2k doesn't even know half as much as the support... he just gets mad that he doesn't have vision and got ganked for the 15th time while he was solo-pushing the enemies t2 with no backup. He doesn't know enough about the game to know what he doesn't know.

    Or, as Shakespeare put it, 'A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool'

      Oh god I know of this trench you speak of,.... I'm sitting just below 2.3k and it's a struggle to get a coherent team together.

      @Alexwalker if you want to improve I recommend you watching the video on youtube by Purge "Welcome to dota, you suck" it's a really good basic guide on what to do when throughout a game (he does coaching etc on his channel too which can be rather amusing) but it's a good play to start out to get you off the losing streak :)

      Best of luck

        lol I recommended those videos to him after his last Dota article. Seriously can't recommend them enough to new players, they are great.

          Yeah, I've been through that. Might give it another watch though when I get a bit of spare time. It does help that the losing streak doesn't bother me though.

        You cant escape the trenches, no matter what you MMR is

          Hey there im a almost 3k player on hidden mmr and 1,3 in actual mmr. If u start the game with a support or u want to play supp for fun then try picking high impact hero like cm(even 2k player dont know how to stop her ult lol) ogre magi(good stun high hp regen high hp). Next up,if u want to pick a carry just pick alch and go mid(watch pro player play) the item is soulring rad bot manta octa then depends on the game i personally like AC and shiva for team item. I really like alch as a carry and i won almost all of my game with him

    Yeah its a tough game with a tough community, but I think it's that challenge that really keeps me.coming back for more.

    My usual go-to explanation of why MOBAs are toxic is that it requires utmost teamwork and communication among the people with the least social skills, aka nerds. The difference from something like say CSGO is that you cant really ace 1v5 in MOBAs.
    Then people would start pointing fingers, and when they do so they would forget to look at their own mistakes and/or how to actually win the match.

    The situation is much better in higher ranks, where people trust each others more from the get go. But when someone starts raging without being constructive, it's almost a guaranteed game over.

      Yep, 500 MMR games are more fun because no one knows what's going on lol. Usually win a game by fluke because the other team is worse than mine.

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