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Dota 101 – Map Control

While playing Dota 2, one the first thing you will notice is that the map is actually pretty fudging big. Let’s talk about that.

The map is big enough that fights break out that you can’t really join, Roshan gets taken before you can respond and your towers get ratted before your teleport scroll is even off cooldown. Nonetheless, being able to control this massive map is an essential skill to learn on the mountain trail to become a decent Dota player.

Pushing Lanes

We have already talked about this in an earlier installment of Dota 101 about objectives, but pushing lanes is probably the most essential part of establishing map control. This means that whenever you have to choose between farming creeps in the jungle, or on the lane, you should probably choose the lather.

Making sure your creeps are pushing in lanes means your opponents have to respond to these creeps creeping up to their towers. Causing them to be in your vision, and when you where your opponents are, you also know where they are not. And when you know where they are not, this allows you to take control of these areas. But dear Mr Writerman I hear you ask, how do I take control of these areas? Well my lovely readerperson, that is were our old friend vision comes in.


Another tool we have told you about in Dota 101: Warding is indeed the humble observer ward. While towers can provide you vision and control of big parts of the map, these only cover up to a maximum of fifty percent of the map, and tend to be very defensive. When you want to take control of an area that previously your opponents kept a tight grip on, wards are the answer. Simply sneak in some of these lovely yellow lads and suddenly you will know everything that happens in the given area.

Next up make sure you and your team stay in the general vicinity of this aggressive ward you placed, and wait until you can activate your trap card. As inevitably some of your opponents will walk back in that area that they understood to be theirs, only to be sent to the shadowrealm as you punish their pot of greed when they walk into your full five man squad.


Furthermore it is important to make your opponents feel like they are in constant danger when they get anywhere close to your objectives. To enforce this sense of dread, you can make use of the great speed “Boots of Travel” provide to your hero. Having a hero on your team that is fast and has a disable will make your opponents fear any area close to your towers or creeps even.

Whenever you see a glimpse of that enemy hero appear on the minimap, you just beeline into that direction and attempt to catch them. Something that will either result in a successful gank providing with a nice financial pick me up, or them escaping but reinforcing it into their brain that they are not to get anywhere close to your objectives, or they will meet the horns.

The dead lane

One thing you should be aware of though, is that you can only control so much of the map at the same time and that when you stretch yourself too thin, you are bound to get punished for it. A good concept to showcase this phenomenon is that of the dead lane. Once coined by Brian “BSJ” Canavan this often describes your safe lane after the ten minute mark, but can really be any lane. Because of the size of Dota 2’s map it is often hard to control all the three lanes.

While mid lane is always in reach due to its central location of the map, the side lanes are a whole different story. Often your team is really only able to control one of these side lines if the game is even, meaning that the other lane becomes a dead lane. As in going there would probably result in your death. With the big pressure duo offlanes pose when they get levels, it’s often these same offlanes that teams are able to control once the ten minute mark ticks over, and most people start having their ultimate abilities.

Looking at it, map control is a very immaterial concept. It’s all about predicting your opponent’s movements and judging their ability to catch you to figure out what area is under whose control. And when that is all a little bit too much there is at least one area you know that is always under your control, and that is your fountain. Although I would not recommend hanging out there too much if you want to win the game.

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