The Philosophy of Training in Dota 2

Posted on April 10, 2018

By Thanh Truong

What is the best way to improve as a team in Dota 2? In its current state, most teams practice by playing “scrims”. A scrim in Dota 2 is a practice match, organised beforehand by 2 teams. These matches are played outside of tournaments. These would be akin to exhibition matches in traditional sports except these friendlies are generally played in private lobbies.

The Evil Geniuses get ready for their daily practice.

The difference when it comes to training and practice is the emphasis on these exhibition matches for Dota 2. When one looks at a professional team, they generally practice exclusively through scrims. It’s a huge part of improving their gameplay and implementing their strategy. They may practice their individual skill by playing in public matches outside of training with the team but when it comes to training together, there isn’t much variability. Often prospective teams will ask for advice on how to practice and scrims is always the advice they will get.

So how come this is the case? Training in a lot of other sports encompass a lot of situation-based drilling. You may have a basketballer shooting the hoop continually to drill down the skill , and from different angles as well. Teams in the NFL will have a playbook, with different strategies to memorise and implement in the heat of the game. Players are to study these playbooks, and drill these plays during practice, running them repeatedly until they become second nature. They need to practice the same play, in every different scenario that could come up. Why is this not the case for Dota 2?

Training in Dota 2 is still currently been seen with a holistic view, contrary to the systematic breakup of training athletes in other sports.

Many agree that it is due to Dota 2 having extra element with the drafting phase: Out of 113 heroes in the game, each team picks 5 heroes and bans 5 heroes. The 10 heroes that are picked in the drafting stage determine the strategy implemented in the game. It is a static turn-based strategy phase that the community agrees you cannot improve without playing against other teams.

In most sports, there is a lot of focus on building the individual athlete: cardio, drills, drills, and more drills. There are also a lot of practice matches within the team to build teamwork and implement strategies. Dota 2 assumes that most top players have fleshed out their mechanics to the point where team strategies are more important to work with. Players generally are left to themselves when it comes to improving mechanics. However, the sport is still in its infancy compared to other mainstream sports which have a rich history. Training in Dota 2 is still currently been seen with a holistic view, contrary to the systematic breakup of training athletes in other sports. Perhaps Dota 2 has not yet matured enough where the most effective methods to improve a team have not been tested and experimented.

Originally posted on Aug 8, 2017