How do we get better in Dota? It’s not always about just putting in the hours. You can log in thousands of hours and still hit the same MMR wall. To improve, players can stalk Twitch streams of pros, dissect TI matches, read blog posts, and extract tips from those areas. But with such vast resources to pull from, getting better can be somewhat aimless and hopelessly optimistic, as if going through the motions can eventually correlate to MMR gains. At Dotabuff, we have continued to add tools to help direct players seeking to improve their game, from hero guides played by top players to Plus data on all esports matches. Most recently, we released a new, Plus feature that allows players to compare matches to each other, opening up new ways to track progress and improve your game.
While studying tactics and practicing mechanics can teach how to improve, the compare match feature offers measurable data for you to set goals and refine your fundamentals. You can get feedback on if you’re on the right or wrong path. There’s no doubt more to the mid lane than last hitting well, or more to playing support than placing wards, but these are fundamental skills that often enough separates skill brackets between players. It's all the small things that add up, and we have the tools to count them now.
Currently, you can compare Farm, Combat, Kills, Objectives, Vision, Abilities, and Items. Each tab has its own appeal depending on the role you play and what you want to improve on. Safe laners may want to take a closer look at their farm rate in the early to mid game. Support players can at a glance see the rate they’re buying, placing, and destroying wards. What you can do is not only find holes in your game but to create a practice regimen with targeted goals.
Plan to increase your average, 10 minute CS as a safelaner by the end of the week. Be more conscientous about dewarding and placing wards and see how it trends across your matches by the end of the month. Be more assertive when initiating in team fights and watch how that reflects in your total Combat damage.
It’s about practicing smarter and improving faster, by thinking about specific ways you can improve from game to game and setting a path on how to get there. Too often players practice in the form of just relentless play—hours and hours playing a single hero until everything slowly clicks into place, unless it doesn’t. Comparing matches lets you set measurable goals for improvement, which goes beyond just seeing if your MMR rises from game to game.
The filter is a powerful tool to help define and refine your goals. Start with a broad stroke: what role do you want to get better at? With the match page, some of the more useful filters will be the ones for Hero, Role, Lane, and Occupants. For core players, what you’ll notice from the match pages of pros is the consistency of their CS. There may be a few outlier blowouts here and there, but pros have a way of finding farm despite the circumstances.
You can then get more specific, for example, if you wanted to see how your farm looks as a safelane, carry (Role Filter) in a tri-lane (Occupants Filter). Or whether you tend to buy more wards when you’re in a stack (Party Size filter) compared to when you’re in solo queue.
One fault of comparing your own play between matches is that you lose the context of what happened in those matches. Who were those 9 other players, and how could that have affected your play? What if there were unfavorable matchups that influenced your stats unfavorably?
Every match you play will be beset by circumstances beyond your control. And while we've written posts about communication, how to be better teammates, and how to influence those intangible factors that make up Dota, the game is also about self improvement. Watch pros play pub games, where they often face increased pressure because of their prestige. They adapt and find ways to get early CS, regardless of unfavorable matchups.
After a loss, there's the usual debriefing period about where it all went wrong. The pertinent fact isn't that it was someone else's fault, but what you could have done better. It’s easier, and less frustrating, to focus on yourself. If you're conscientious about how you performed, and how you can get better, it doesn't matter if you win or lose.