Players often talk about high ground advantage in Dota, but very few actually fully understand how important it is and how much it can change the battle. Today, we would like to have a look through the advantages higher ground gives you and overview some of the common mistakes players make when they are in an advantageous position.
There are several main benefits to high ground, which all players are well aware of. There is the vision advantage: the enemy doesn’t see you uphill, while you can see them clearly. There is an auto-attack advantage: ranged heroes miss when attacking from a lower ground, and there is a positioning advantage: ramps leading to high ground tend to be quite narrow and typically require the enemy team to stack up when they are the aggressor.
Depending on where you are on the map, there can be additional benefits to it as well. When defending your base high ground, you get a lot of protective structures around you and a decently strong aura on top of it. You can also rejoin the fight much faster through buyback or by healing in the fountain.
Higher elevations in jungle can give you even stronger vision advantage through outposts, and, potentially, through wards: it is very common and useful for most teams to deward high ground positions and plant their own wards.
All of the above is incredibly important when playing Dota and all of it is frequently misused by players of all levels.
Dewarding is very rewarding right now, and there are very few reasons for supports not to have a Sentry Ward or two in their backpack at all times. Going for a smoke gank? Get a Sentry with your Smoke of Deceit and have it in an active inventory slot. Holding base? Make sure to check for usual wards in your own base. These tiny blue things win games.
Not having Sentries and not making sure you actually have a vision advantage is only one of many mistakes, however. Creep waves are also a source of vision for the enemy team and when holding high ground on your base you should, theoretically, try to outpush the wave before it gets to the ramp. However, when it comes to practice, things might be a little bit different.
Clearing a wave on a position four Lina, for example, is easy enough with her one-two combo, but it always has to be done smartly. Once the enemy creeps are on the high ground, you know they have vision on you, so your positioning should reflect that. It is great if you can prevent the enemy creep wave from reaching your ramp, but it isn’t always possible. If the moment is already gone and creeps are in your base, it is a mistake to try and force them out on any squishy hero.
In games like Counter-Strike, being behind the enemy is a massive advantage that will most likely lead to a victory if an engagement is started: you get several free shots to the back. In Dota, your “back” is your squishiest heroes, typically supports. Don’t turn your “back” to the enemy unnecessarily and that means that when outpushing the waves on your base, it should mostly be done by position three frontliners or other tanky cores.
Similarly, when holding any other high ground and anticipating an enemy attack, your supports shouldn’t be the ones holding one of the entrances: you need either tanky heroes or heroes with disables to greet the opponent, if they try to breach.
The central position in a jungle triangle is always occupied by supports with saves in professional matches and you don’t need to be Puppey to do the same in your games: you just have to communicate with your team about that. Same goes for base defenses: supports, once the enemy wave is close enough, always rotate closer to their T4 towers, they don’t just stand near T3 and tank the aggression.
It might look like we are solely blaming supports for these mistakes, but it is not the case: the responsibility is shared among all members of the team. If you are a tanky frontline character and not on the actual frontline, you are making as much of a mistake as a support who is out of position.
There is also a problem of “we have to do something” mentality, but it is a rather broad topic we might discuss some time later. For now, just accept the fact that sometimes doing nothing with your team is better than doing the correct thing alone.
The ever-increasing level of play in both professional and pub scenes really highlights the advantages of high ground, even to a point where whole mechanics had to be scrapped. It is most apparent in jungle triangle areas, where Shrines stood previously; Shrines are gone, but the triangles are still the safest areas to farm for their teams and one of the hardest points on the map to breach.
We hope this article helped newer players better understand why the map and the positioning in Dota are so important and how to use your advantages to their full effect. Do not hesitate to leave your own map-specific tips in the comment section below: we always appreciate the community’s feedback.