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Dota 101: All about ganking

Today in our Dota 101 series we’re going to be looking at a crucial element of the game, namely ganking.

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There are many terms one would use in the world of Dota 2, but never in the real world. Unless you are an old time mobster who likes to gank the contents of cash registers that is. Most people would use the verb ganking to describe the act of surprisingly ganging up on outnumbered opponents. When playing Dota this often means trying to secure a kill on a lone hero. While this might seem like a simple feat, the reality is a lot more complicated.


If you want to kill somebody, it would treat you well to know where this somebody is. Just like if you would go to the supermarket to pick up that bag of milk your partner has already messaged you about multiple different times throughout the day. Knowing where to find the milk or opponent’s hero is half the battle in having the constant pinging stop. Not only is vision important for localising your target, it is also essential in determining the amount of potential backup your target might have.

For you might be able to see that juicy Phantom Assassin in the bottom lane and decide to blaze forward with your firefly and flaming lasso. But if you are not sure their nyx assassin is doing something somewhere else, that spiked carapace could be a nasty cock-block


Sure, you can see the target, you are right next to the milk rack and you are about to make your move on Mordred. Ye as you reach out for the milk, it falls down on the floor and bursts open while Mordred is gone in the blink of an eye. Everything is a bit of blur, as you can’t understand what went wrong. You were so close yet so far at the same time. 

When you find your target vulnerable and alone it is essential that you possess the necessary disable to lock it down. Many heroes that you would want to gank in an attempt to slow down their progress towards ascension into the farmed carry pantheon, are also slippery as a bag of  milk on the floor. Phantom Assassin’s Blink Strike, Weaver’s Shuckuchi and Faceless Void’s time walk are just a few abilities I can name that will make you curse like Gorden Ramsey’s new apprentice. To prevent this, make sure the heroes in your little gank squad possess the ability to lock down your target with some proper stuns and silences. So don’t take the cute Warlock in the corner, but instead the approachable Shadow Shaman from High School


While you were driving to the supermarket six open bridges made it so that by the time you got there it was already closed and you used all that gass and time for nothing. This is just like how it feels when you see Luna farming all on her own and ping your team to go out and gank her. Only for it take ten seconds for them to even comprehend what you are saying by putting it through google translate, fifteen more for them to make up their mind and decide to come and help, eight seconds more for their heroes to walk to the place you pinged, and finally six more seconds for your smoke to come off cooldown out of your backpack.

At this point you hear a massive roar and notice that your opponents have just gotten themselves a free Roshan with complementary aegis to boot for that same Luna. You don’t need to be canadian to see that this is not the way your ganks should be going. Therefore speed is of the essence when setting up a gank. Make that decision and just go, don’t wait until the bagged cows come home.


When it really comes down to it, deciding to gank somebody is always a risk. Just like in life whoever, taking risks is just a necessary part of the experience. Just make sure you keep in mind the many factors like vision, disable and speed. If you assess the risks properly and use the right tools for the job any gank can be successful. While if you end up not being successful, the only thing you can do is try to learn from the experience so you don’t make the same mistake again next time. Therefore I now only go out with people that despise milk just like me, and you should watch your replays to see how next you CAN get that anti-mage before he blinks away.

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Image credit: Valve / Dota 2