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Dota 101: Teamfighting – Part 1 – Initiation

With such a giant map and so many objectives around, sometimes we forget that Dota 2 is actually a five versus five team game.

However, once the teamfights start breaking out this suddenly becomes very clear. As you will need to pull out all the stops to make sure it’s you who comes out on top.

A three stage process

During the laning stage things are simple and easy to oversee, just a few people and a simple objective makes one feel carefree. Yet, you might feel differently when the feared team fight becomes a reality. Once the fencing starts commencing, you might be very unprepared for the pain your opponents are dispensing. Therefore we will attempt to prepare you for this inevitable fate, so you know how to be more than mere bait.

Most teamfights can be divided up in three different stages.

  • initiation
  • clash
  • chase

In the first phase teams are performing their own version of the nutcracker when dancing around each other. When an angle of attack has been found, one of their initiators will thrust themselves forward in an attempt to quickly eliminate one of their enemies. Following is a clash of spells as everybody will start pressing their buttons hoping to pump out every last bit of damage they possess.

Once a volley has been fired there will generally be one team that has achieved mathematical superiority by having more heroes left on the field. The outnumbered heroes will try to cut loses and attempt to escape their opponents wrath, while being chased by a myriad of TP interrupting abilities. In this first part we will focus on that classical dance at the start. We will learn how initiate and start a teamfight

Win conditions

Because of the importance of targeting the right hero at the start of the fight, the way you initiate a fight is crucial. The little ballet performance teams will perform right before a teamfight breaks out is exactly because of this reason. Before the fight you want to look at your team’s winning condition, and try to communicate this with your team while attempting to execute this win condition. What this is means that you need to identify what hero is most dangerous to your team, and how you can take this hero out.

An example of this could be your opponents having a really strong Templar Assassin on their side that you want to take out first. But if they also have an Oracle or Winter Wyvern who could provide counter initiation with their saves. In that case your win condition might entail stunning these heroes at same time that you attempt to take out the TA, all to prevent them from turning the fight with their saves

Or maybe your win condition is more centered around your own combo. For another example you can have a Mars Phoenix combo on your side and you want to isolate two heroes inside an arena with an egg to the side. By executing this combo in this way you will have taken out two heroes right away, causing the rest of the fight to turn into a three vs five battle in your favour.

Mathematical advantages

Now that we know that it is important to be aware of your win condition when initiating a fight, we are going to learn about one the most universal win conditions for a teamfight, Math. Now, I see you are already very stressed out because I am mentioning that word. Before you start reliving all those terrible memories about Ms. Scotswitski back in high school, i’ll say that this is easy math. All you need to know is that five is a higher number than four, three, two or one. What I’m trying to tell you here is that outnumbering your opponents is one of the easiest ways to secure yourself a favourable teamfight.

Simply by making sure you put constant pressure on the map by constantly pushing lanes you will eventually find yourself in a situation where you and the enemy team are participating in the dance of death, trying to get an angle of initiation. But eventually one of your opponents will teleport back to defend the pressure a creep wave might be putting upon structures, giving you the perfect opportunity. Now you can jump in with your full five man force against the enemy. And because of your mathematical advantage due to five being a higher number than four, you will have a very good shot at winning the fight.

No silver bullet

Teamfighting is a very hard, and mechanically demanding part of Dota 2. There are an incredible amount of different factors to contribute towards a successful teamfight. Like everything in Dota 2, there is no silver bullet that will grant you all the answers. Nonetheless, just making sure you understand what you want to achieve in a teamfight ahead of time, and creating a mathematical advantage can give you a giant leg up against your opponents. Next time we will be exploring how we can actually turn this advantage into a won teamfight, as we will be talking about what to do when the clash actually happens, and you actually have to press those buttons.

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