There’s plenty of Dota 2 guides out there that will teach you everything from improving at certain heroes to learning how to farm efficiently, but drafting guides are few and far between.
Drafting is certainly a skill that’s been neglected by many players, or rather there just isn’t any decent places to learn it from.
Even worse, some people think it’s a strategy reserved for pro teams.
The good news for you my friend, you’ve stumbled upon the right place. This guide will show you how to increase your MMR without increasing your in-game skills.
I was stuck in the 4K bracket for a long time actually. After being frustrated for a little while, I decided to try-hard and counter pick the enemy heroes in every game I play.
I was able to climb from 4.1K to 5K MMR in a few weeks.
The following guide will detail exactly how I did it.
Since this is a comprehensive drafting guide, you will absolutely NEED to learn how to play several heroes. It’s advised that you focus on one hero at a time. But don’t worry, even if you apply just a quarter of this drafting guide into your arsenal, your win rate will certainly increase.
The goal is to get to where you can out-draft your enemy’s team consistently. Because if you can manage to do that, a lot of your games will be won from the pick phase alone.
Top Tier Heroes For You to Abuse
Now, by ‘top tier heroes’ I don’t mean what heroes are currently in the meta. Instead, I mean the heroes that are literally unplayable against if the enemy doesn’t have specific counters.
Those heroes are: Huskar, Broodmother and Chaos Knight.
I can’t stress how broken these heroes are under the right circumstances.
You will see instant boosts in your MMR just by learning these three heroes, and most importantly, when to pick them.
I want to emphasize that this is NOT a hero guide. It is a drafting guide. Look up a couple hero guides to have a basic understanding of how the hero works.
After you do that, I find that the best way to learn how to play these heroes is by going on Dotabuff and seeing how the top 10-15 players utilize that hero. Note their item builds and watch a couple of their replays. Finally, add in some trial and error into the mix and you’ll be on your way.
Huskar – When your enemy lacks physical damage
Anytime the enemy team lacks HARD physical damage Huskar is a great pickup.
He’s particularly good against carries such as Gyrocopter, Ember Spirit, Spectre, Luna, Weaver and any core nukers (such as Zeus and Leshrac).
If their position 1 carry is any of the above heroes and they don’t have any of the counters mentioned later on, then definitely pick Huskar.
Also, the best situations to pick Huskar is when you know you are up against a solo offlaner that is also a melee hero.
Huskar is not the strongest during the laning stage, but he absolutely destroys melee heroes like Clockwerk, Tidehunter, Earth Spirit and Timbersaw. Be cautious about some of these heroes, since if you pair them up with a strong lane partner, they can still destroy you in lane.
If you are up against a solo off-laner, then picking Huskar is perfectly fine against carries like Anti-Mage, Phantom Assassin, Lone Druid, Templar Assassin, Slark, Lifestealer and most physical DPS carries since he’s able to out-farm these heroes and get his timing early on.
Playing against a Lina is also perfectly fine if you get your farm up (having a Satanic will mitigate a lot of the damage from her).
Also heroes that combo well with Huskar are: Omniknight, Dazzle and Oracle. Dazzle is particularly good in lane since he can grave you for 5 seconds and you’ll be destroying the enemy on 1 HP.
Omniknight is amazing later on since he can give you a free BKB, something Huskar absolutely craves for more than other heroes. Also free physical immunity is great when the enemy has a lot of physical damage, so having an Omni-Knight can change the way you draft Huskar.
When NOT to pick Huskar
If the enemy has a strong offlane and also a strong physical DPS carry (mentioned above), then it’s best not to pick Huskar and get something else.
You can still win under these conditions, but the goal of this guide is to have the upper hand after the draft phase in order to push the rest of the game in your favor.
Furthermore, you should avoid picking Huskar against these heroes: Ursa, Ancient Apparition, Slardar, and even Legion Commander (I find Legion hard to deal with personally).
Ursa can rip Huskar to shreds with just a blink dagger.
Legion also has his timings too early on for Huskar to deal with (unlike other physical damage heroes like AM or PA who need at least 3 items) – you are forced to get a BKB or he will kill you with Blade Mail.
Slardar’s armor reduction just gives you a hard time in the early game. Of course, all this can be ignored if you have an Omniknight on your team.
Ancient Apparition screws Huskar over since he doesn’t get any HP regen from Inner Vitality and will die when on low health (which happens to him regularly especially with Armlet).
Broodmother – When the enemy team lacks early game AOE
Broodmother is quite easy to draft. If the enemy doesn’t have much AOE in the laning stage, then pick Brood and you will dominate the lanes and completely take over the game.
How do you tell if the enemy has too much or too little AOE damage?
Broodmother’s Spiderlings have 450 HP each. Will their level 2 spells be enough to clear your spiders (since you’ll be level 5 when they’re level 3 or 4)?
Most of the time, the answer will be no unless they tri-lane, but a lot of tri-lanes still lose to brood.
Take for example a Crystal Maiden: her level 2 AOE nuke does 150 damage, so she’ll need another hero to do 300 damage to the spiders in order to kill them.
If you are against a carry that has no AOE damage, then you are at a HUGE advantage. You can quickly look at this Dotabuff chart in order to see that Brood does best against right-click carries.
The only right click carry to avoid is Sven since he can max cleave and give you a very hard time.
It’s worth mentioning that even though Earthshaker is at the bottom of the list – he is by no means a counter to Brood. No decent Brood player would ever leave their spiderlings with a hero in order for him to echo slam them. During the lane, Earthshaker is basically food for Broodmother.
When NOT to Pick Broodmother
Avoid Broodmother against Axe, Slardar, Bristleback, Timbersaw, Meepo, Legion Commander, Sven, Spirit Breaker and Wisp.
The reasons should be pretty straightforward – they all have AOE to kill spiderlings and Spirit Breaker can gank you very easily with dust.
Wisp will make it impossible for you to split push or control the enemy jungle (since if you try to solo kill somebody farming in the jungle, you’ll find yourself against 3 heroes).
Chaos Knight – When the enemy team lacks late game AOE
Unlike Broodmother, you want to pick Chaos Knight against teams that lack huge AOE damage in the mid to late game.
Playing against a Chaos Knight is borderline impossible if the enemy team lacks AOE – if you ever find yourself in this situation, it’s basically a free win.
Just keep in mind that the only way you’ll lose is if you constantly die and don’t get farmed.
The way I decide whether to pick Chaos Knight is I see if the enemy team has any ‘counter heroes’ and if they don’t, then I’ll most likely choose him.
When not to pick Chaos Knight
Here are the counter heroes: Earthshaker, Sven, Winter Wyvern, Outworld Devourer and Invoker. Avoid picking CK against any of these heroes.
For other AOE heroes such as Lich, Sand King, I just build a BKB whilst focusing on damage for myself (items such as desolator rather than items such as manta/heart).
Just use your ulti and leave your illusions behind so they don’t die to AOE. Run in by yourself with BKB, use reality rift and it will bring all your illusions towards you (and your enemy). Once the enemy kills your illusions, you would’ve killed your target already.
Overall, CK is pretty playable against most AOE damage teams if you do the BKB build, but it’s not ideal.
If you want to guarantee victory – firstly make sure the enemy doesn’t have any of the counter heroes. Next, make sure they don’t have more than ONE hero with a big AOE spell (usually an ultimate).
Standard AOE spells like Lina’s dragon slave don’t count as a big AOE spell. Just consider this: With just Armlet, Treads and Drums, it’ll take about 1000 magic damage to kill your illusions. That should be the gauge on if your enemy has enough AOE damage.
How does this all add up?
By learning these 3 heroes alone and knowing when to draft them, I increased my win rate by about 15-20%. Which is enough to boost your MMR up to new brackets with these drafting skills. Even if your in-game mechanics or skill level don’t change.
Take some time to learn these three hero’s and most importantly when to use them.
Update: In part 2 of this guide, we explore the tier 2 hero list. These are good heroes under the right circumstances, but not unplayable against.