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Dota 101 – Supporting (Part 1): Pulling and stacking

Helping out your buddy in Dota 2 might seem simple, but to pull it off properly can be very complicated. Complicated enough that we are going to need more than one article to talk about it.

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What not to do

Before we look at the right way to play support, first we are going to look at the wrong way to play support. A mistake many beginning support players make is playing the passive support. This means that they simply sit next to their cores, waiting for danger to appear. To subsequently attempt to defend them from this danger, so they can go back to passively sitting next to their core.

However this playstyle is often a giant detriment to your core’s ability to play the game properly. Because while you are doing this, there are a lot of duties of the support you are simply forgoing, while simultaneously taking away experience from your core. Duties like controlling creep equilibrium, setting up ganks, harassing the enemy, warding, dewarding and many more things that a support can do to forge a path to victory.

Not that we know what we shouldn’t do, it’s time to get some insight into what we should do. Something that, just like a cooking recipe, once again looks simpler than it is. To start off, the act of playing a support in lane actually differs quite a lot based on what kind of support you play. With the current meta favoring a 2-1-2 setup with a soft support in the offlane and hard support in the safe lane, you need to adapt your playstyle based on this role. Something that is especially important for the hard support, is the act of pulling and stacking.

The basics

If the carry is the soft squishy and delicious inside of an uncooked egg, you are the shell trying to protect this valuable treasure. To achieve this protection you first need to create a safe environment for your kid to grow up in, ideally in a neighborhood close to your tower. Making sure that the creeps meet close to your own tower however, is an art form on its own. To control this so-called “Creep Equilibrium” pulling and stacking is an important duty. If you attack the neutrals in your easy camp at XX:15 or XX:45 and walk down into your lane, you will notice how your creeps will defend you and go out to attack this same easy camp. Allowing you to deny part of the creep wave while farming the neutral camp.

While this way of pulling is a good first step, it will often actually affect your creep equilibrium in a negative way. As you deny only half of your own creep wave, your carry will often be fighting the opponents creep wave under their own tower. Causing the tower’s damage to mess with their ability to last hit, and pushing out the creep wave as you suddenly get a big wave consisting of halve your former wave that didn’t die during the pull, and your freshly spawned wave. Therefore better techniques have been developed to remedy this problem.

Advanced techniques

One way to make sure the full creep wave gets denied is by first stacking the easy camp before pulling into the lane. By leading the creeps outside of the camp’s spawn box during the XX:00 mark the game will detect that the camp is empty, and spawn a new set of creeps. Causing there to be a case of overpopulation in the camp, that will make it so that pulling your creepwave into the camp kills the entire wave. This ensures that you will maintain your favourable creep equilibrium. A big disadvantage of this technique however is the need to set up the stack, making it so that it requires a severe time investment to pull off.

Another technique is the double pull, or pulling through depending on who you ask. This means that as the neutral creeps in the camp start to die, you attack the close-by hard camp to lead those creeps into the easy camp. If you time this correctly you can cause your creeps to defend you from the hard camp’s neutrals. Neutrals that are strong enough to clear your entire creepwave. Something to keep in mind though is that the hard camp is very close to your opponents tower, making it so that it’s easy for them to mess with the creeps, making you unable to manage the pull.

The Puppey Pull

Lastly there is the newer technique of the “Puppey” pull. Popularised by the estonian TI winner, this technique simply requires you to pull the easy camp into your camp two or three seconds later than the standard time. This often causes only one or two of the creeps to follow you into the easy camp, making it way easier for the neutrals to deal with. While simultaneously not really disrupting the lane equilibrium too much making it easy for your carry to keep the creeps close to this tower. Nonetheless it doesn’t deny as many creeps as other kinds of advanced pulls do, making it less efficient if you want to build towards a big exp advantage.

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Image Credit: Valve