Master of the UI - Part 2

First things first - a little Glossary:

Turn Rate - time it takes a hero to change the direction he/she faces. The usual value for all heroes is 0.5-0.6 corresponding to 188/157 ms respectively. Detailed explanation can be found here

Cast/Backswing Animation - the time it takes a hero to cast a spell (during which it can be cancelled/interrupted) and the time the cosmetic animation after a cast is going on. While first cannot be sped up and is a necessary condition for casting a spell, the second one is purely cosmetic and should be avoided by issuing a command right after the cast animation is finished and the spell is used. More here

Ability Queuing - issuing a command with the Shift (default) button pressed will queue the next command right after the previous one is performed. Be vary, though, that if you queue a command after a skill with a Backswing animation, it will be performed fully, losing quite a lot of time. Items have no backswing animation.


Previously, we have discussed how the UI can (and should) be used to your advantage, going over such things like Quick Buy, Ability Learn and other miscellaneous improvements to the human-machine interaction. Today we will have a look at some more advanced techniques that some of the people might be unaware of.

Some of you could have read my rant on our forums and are aware of the problems a lot of the CIS players are experiencing. Long story short - I have recently moved from an area with an average ping of 35ms to an area, where I am lucky to have 135ms latency.

That has forced me to use a lot more of the features available in Dota to stay on the same level. Interestingly, after getting used to the ping and finding ways of improving my gameplay, even with a higher latency, I have managed to climb from ~4.1k to ~4.3k Solo MMR. So here are the things some of you could do to improve your general gameplay:

Shift Your Skill(s)

There is absolutely no reason to disregard the ability to queue several commands. While most of you probably already use queuing to get an advantage while using channeling abilities, like Sand King Sand King's Epicenter Epicenter + Blink Dagger Blink Dagger, I am a still a frequent witness to some really sub-optimal plays in pubs that could have been made more efficient using queuing.

Tango Tango

What a lot of people do not realize, is that the turn rate is a very important characteristic. From using your skills to juking, this characteristic should be incorporated into the thought process, to eliminate wasting considerable amounts of time.

It is even more crucial, when it comes to using Tango Tango while escaping. At early levels, the additional ~7 HP regeneration can change the outcome of a small skirmish. Moreover, Tangos can be used to create pathways for juking.

It is the case, that using Tango on a tree usually results in the hero turning around to face the enemy right after. In case you are running away as an average hero, turning back and forward again will lose you ~0.3 seconds. Add your reaction time and ping to it and realize that without queuing an action after eating a tree you can lose as much as 0.5 seconds!

Develop a habit of shift-clicking a command after every time you are using a Tango - at some point it will become very natural and will occasionally save your life.

Town Portal Scroll Town Portal Scroll and Boots of Travel Boots of Travel

Queuing your skills and/or Blink Dagger Blink Dagger after teleport is a very common technique among the players, especially if you are defending the tower you are teleporting to, as it is likely there are several enemies around it.

Several things to note - after the teleport you will be facing the same direction you were facing during it. While casting it, your hero will change the direction he is facing to the tower/creep he is telepoting to. While seemingly irrelevant, knowing this can help preventing being caught out by a surprise instant disable.

Be vary of this if you are playing Puck Puck for example, and teleporting to a tower with an enemy team nearby. In an interval between you teleporting and you blinking to silence/stun the enemies, there is a small window of opportunity for an enemy disable, if you are facing the wrong direction.

Queuing your skill in succession to blink will allow you to save yourself from some embarrassing consequences and make sure you made absolute maximum to increase your effectiveness and probability of success.

From theory to practice:

On the images below you can see two Pucks, both teleporting from the middle lane to help defending bottom from enemies (red circle). There is absolutely no difference in teleport time in either case, however, it will be harder to catch Puck#1 off-guard, since the angle he has to turn is much lower (~0.05s), than of Puck#2 (~0.11s).

So, in the first case nothing, except for 0 cast animation disabling spells (e.g. Dragon Tail Dragon Tail, Cold Snap Cold Snap, point-blank Burrowstrike Burrowstrike etc.) and disabling items (e.g. Scythe of Vyse Scythe of Vyse, Orchid Malevolence Orchid Malevolence etc.) will be able to prevent the blink initiation.

In the second case, there is a multitude of spells like Rubick Rubick's Telekinesis Telekinesis that can be used to disrupt your plans, since the turn time for Puck#2 is ~0.11 seconds, any hero with a <0.1 cast time can at least prevent the usage of Blink Dagger Blink Dagger.

Speaking of preventing the initiation:

If in this situation you are the Rubick Rubick and you see Puck Puck teleporting to you across the map (you should notice the TP color and see whether you see the teleporting hero on the map), you can issue a command on him across the map BEFORE the end of the teleport , winning some time and effectively casting your spell as the enemy hero arrives and you turn to face him. Or you could position yourself in a way that you face the newly arrived hero to immediately disable him, if you feel like your fingers are fast enough. Either way, you are more likely to catch some poorly performed Teleport+Blink or Teleport+Skill combo.

Blink Dagger Blink Dagger

And to finish off, I will talk about typical Blink initiation mistakes on heroes like Magnus Magnus or Axe Axe.

A lot of times, when I am playing heroes with instant disable (Rubick Rubick, Dragon Knight Dragon Knight, Skywrath Mage Skywrath Mage, Lion Lion etc.) I manage to turn the tides of battle, by not allowing enemy initiator to cast his spell after blinking. What are the common mistakes they occasionally do?

  • They Blink-in in front of me!

Giving the cast animation on, for example, Reverse Polarity Reverse Polarity, that is 0.2 seconds more than Rubick Rubick's Telekinesis Telekinesis, it is rather easy to lift him before he finishes the cast. With some proper training, that is (that only works if you are facing him when he blinked-in).

Moreover, if you see Magnus when he is about to Blink-in, you can predict what he has in mind and issue a command, for him to blink-in directly into a trap - since your command is already issued and he blinked-in in front of you, you will have quite a bit of an edge.

  • They don't Queue their ability!

That one is similarly important. Rubick Rubick has a cast time of 0.1 seconds, outcasting Magnus Magnus by 0.2 seconds.

So, in order to be successful 100% of the time you need to squeeze out an absolute maximum when trying to catch the enemy team off-guard. And you can't allow yourself to have ping tamper with your initiation.

So, if you Blink to initiate, try to blink behind the enemy, giving yourself some time for your cast animation, while the enemy heroes are spending time turning to face you. And to queue the abilities just issue a move command on the ground 100-150 units away from you in the direction of the enemy and the rapidly click Blink Dagger Blink Dagger and your initiation skill while holding the Shift button.

Here is a comparison chart for Magnus Queuing his abilities, for the one who does not, and Rubick, trying to respond to a blinked-in (time 0 on the chart) threat (HRT=human response time, average ping of 35ms for both players):

As you can see, there can be a huge difference between Queuing your spells and not. And blinking in front of the enemy and behind him. In this particular case the difference would be between a successful Reverse Polarity, possibly catching several enemies, and a sad, dead Magnus Magnus.

Now imagine what happens when you have a higher ping!

Now a more visual explanation of the concept in a Lion Lion (0 ms cast time on Hex) vs. Magnus Magnus (300 ms cast time on Reverse Polarity) initiation battle:

If Magnus blinked in behind me it would take me 188 ms to turn around, as well as ~135 ms of ping to issue a command, making this play literally impossible. And that is if I had 0 ms response time, unheard of in human beings.

I agree that most people play on a much better connection and are located a little bit closer to the servers, so the next section is explaining why it is crucial to maximize your effectiveness even if you and your enemies are in a low-ping area.

Some number crunching.

In my case, I am playing with 135ms ping against ~35ms ping players. It means that no matter what I do, I will be losing 0.1s to everyone on the enemy team, if I don't Queue my abilities. If I do, however, I am effectively playing with 0ms ping at the times when it matters - something that has occurred to me only recently.

By the same logic, a player that queues his abilities on a 35ms ping will have a 0.035 sec. advantage over the one who does not (e.g. cast time for the Lion who does not is not 0.3s, but rather 0.335s).


While using a Blink Dagger to initiate/escape/pretty much anything, try to queue a command you want to do right after it! Even if the command is as simple as moving. Developing good habits is never unwelcome.

While TP-ing to a tower that needs defending queue an ability, to fire it as soon as possible (you can cancel it once you arrive, during the animation, if it is no longer needed). And be mindful of which way you are facing and how long it is going to take you to actually use the ability. Also - if you are teleporting from base, you can usually use a skill "for free", since you will have the lingering fountain buff with extra mana regeneration.

The logic of shift-casting can be applied to every item, since they don't have backswing or cast animation. Queue a move command after using a Force Staff Force Staff on yourself to immediately start running, or queue Light Strike Array Light Strike Array from Lina Lina after using Rod of Atos Rod of Atos to land that perfect stun.

Also note that in almost every case you should only use queuing of abilities after items, but not after your other abilities, since as long as your ping is <510ms, you will lose more time to backswing animation of heroes and their abilities.

Heroes that have no backswing animation are: Invoker Invoker, Io Io, Tiny Tiny, Earth Spirit Earth Spirit and Ursa Ursa. Use this to your advantage!

Closing Comments.

I understand that a lot of it might seem irrelevant/unimportant, but believe me, when you consider each and every factor contributing to the time loss (ping, time to process information, time to react to the information), it can go as high as half a second in certain cases, even for the best players with the fastest fingers. And if you think that 0.5 seconds is not a lot, I suggest you re-read the whole Blog again.

I hope this post has been somewhat useful to you. I have tried my best to explain how to get that time advantage over opponent, resulting in plays that look and feel awesome.

It is your right to disregard a lot of this information if you think doing all of it is really complicated. However, I have to say that after a week or so of forcing yourself to play this way, you get used to it and it starts to pay off. Give it an honest try!

And, as always:

Thank you for reading!

More from The Dotabuff Blog

    good stuff


      "Puck#2 is ~1.1 seconds, any hero with a <0.1 cast time" the ~1.1 should be ~0.11


        ^thx. Fixed)


          Some stuff here just isnt reasonable.

          Just like you said ; Blink has no cast time, this means that unless you issue a command to walk somewhere, queue your blink dagger and RP... It's essentially impossible to queue something after your blink.
          This means that if they see you walking towards them; they can just issue a command on you beforehand (Instant hex, lift, etc.)

          Queueing stuff after blink dagger will never really be possible/give an advantage unless a perfect situation presents itself (Although nighttime will help), since you're giving the opposing team time to react.
          Excluding sandking ofcourse, since his ult is channeling.

          This comment was edited
          glorious socialist revolu...

            Nice article. I hadn't thought about queueing as 0-ping before.

            glorious socialist revolu...

              You can queue things after blink dagger if you queue blink dagger after something else, like a short move action.


                Though thats exactly what I'm saying, your gain is essentially zero, since the amount of time you spent giving the command to walk a bit is about equal to the amount of time you'd give to react if you blink in and straight RP. (Unless you have godawful ping ofcourse.)


                  Queuing is something I have always been aware of but never used. The few times I have tried to do it I have cocked up somehow and Epi-centered an empty space about 1000 units away from where I wanted, or just canceled my spell. I will make an effort to practice after seeing the benefits of it here.

                  This comment was edited

                    u can queue blink when u are channeling something. Like sand king's epicentre for example... After the 2 secs of channeling your ulti starts and u are going to lose 1-2 pulses of damage. Thats where shift-queuing has the BEST utility :)
                    Even tp scroll is a channeling item, so u can shift queue blink into the jungle right after u tp! Tinker comes in mind?


                      You people are just not reading my comment right?


                        Shift+action is huge. Not just for blink dagger but think of a guy jungling and he can shift+A+Click each camp while you are messing with items or courier, watching the minimap to make sure you're safe. Lots of things should be queued up.

                        @ 2DG.

                        Probably on others other than sand king you need others to initiate first on ult or skills before a big shift+blink deal like enigmas ult or others.... Its a huge advantage I already read your post......


                          @ 2DG

                          "Though thats exactly what I'm saying, your gain is essentially zero, since the amount of time you spent giving the command to walk a bit is about equal to the amount of time you'd give to react if you blink in and straight RP. (Unless you have godawful ping ofcourse.)"

                          Many times when a character is initiating, he's already going to walk up to blink range right? So if you click to move to blink range, then shift queue your combo, whatever it may be, your character will go to where you said to move, then blink, ability+w/e commands. So instead of you losing time after blinking bc you are trying to press buttons and manually use abilities, you save time by queuing.

                          You don't lose the time from moving unless you walk up to where you want to initiate, stand around, THEN click to move just so you can queue commands.

                          Edit: Basically using shift+commands is most useful for blink initiates where they can't see you prior to your blink.

                          This comment was edited


                            You do realize that unlike screen-wide ultimates like ravage you will essentially need to wait for a good oppertunity to hit multiple heroes with your ultimate, right? (Unless it happens to be a push onto the rax where you're forced to do something, one man RPs are neccessary in those situations I guess.)
                            Any team that isnt horrible will try to stay spread out with a tank on the front taking down the tower when up against a skill like RP, black hole or coil.
                            This will mean that you need to use the oppertunity whenever it presents itself, immediately.
                            You cant afford to queue it while walking unless you want to take the risk of losing a fight on the back of a bad ultimate.

                            This comment was edited
                            Pablo Bush

                              played about 1200 games and after reading this i tried it out. Didn't realise how huge a difference such a simple mechanic can make, and what improvements i am missing out on. Thank you KawaiiSocks


                                2GD, you don't walk far AT ALL. Walk like two steps, anything that just takes enough time to queue up blink+RP. Walk somewhere that takes .2 seconds, they still don't see you doing it and what matters is that your rp goes off immediately after blink, the extra time beforehand is irrelevant, as he's talking about a Rubick turning around to telekinesis you, if you blink behind him it's the time after the blink into the RP that is the issue, nothing about the 'slower' overall initiation


                                  Dude, are you ignoring what I've been saying in my post on purpose?

                                  I NEVER disagreed with the fact that you need to blink behind your opponent, infact I agree with that completely.

                                  Just nevermind... people seem to be completely unwilling to read here.

                                  S.C. COCIUBA-GAMING S.R.L.

                                    Good post, definitely some tricks to be learned here, backed up by numbers and good explanations. On an unrelated note, Dotabuff Blog's current display interface is pretty hard to use. I sometimes find myself wanting to read again some posts, but since I don't remember it's entry number, I have to pretty much guess which one is it. A more organized display would improve readability and make it more appealing to users. Other than that, keep up the good work!


                                      Awesome man! Keep up the good work :)


                                        @2DG, i'm sure he read your comments very well maybe you don't quite remember what you wrote? you said that the saved time after q-blinking is probably not worth it because it will roughly equal the extra time that the queueing takes. while it is true that in the end the total time will be the same, the only time that matters is the one after the blink (they cant move out of range in an instant while instant casts are, well, instant). this time can only be reduced by q-blinking.
                                        also i dont see why you mention the case that they may see you in beforehand. if they do see you, you're in a disadvantage, i can see that. but if you queue or not doesn't matter here unless your casttime is actually lower then theirs, then the queueing still matters a lot actually.
                                        oh and btw we're talking about timing in theory. if you don't have fast enough fingers (like me i guess^^) and have been training to do this dozens or even hundreds of times it may still not be worth it because your thinking process on what to do will just take too long. i think it can be really hard to execute and everybody has to figure it out for himself if he can manage to do it.

                                        This comment was edited

                                          people u must be really brainless...
                                          blink dager has no cast time so q- spelling is completly this to hard to understand?
                                          just look at some replays..


                                            ^ yeah blink dagger 0,0 cast time. so queing blink dagger its not really usefull.

                                            regarding to the blog, nice blog there, and i always using shift eblade>dagon to enemy. Much better then without using shift.

                                            keep it up the nice job !

                                            TRUST THE PROCESS

                                              great post


                                                Q-in after a blink dagger may work against stand-still enemies. Otherwise, you will be walking towards the fight and q-in your dagger/skills only to blink-spell in empty space.

                                                POWERFUL MAGI

                                                  I'm on your level man. If you have enough time to queue up a couple seconds of walking into a blink-combo, then the people you're playing against likely have really bad positioning. Like you said, initiating is a split second decision, there's no time to queue up with walking when it's go time.

                                                  Yoichi Isagi | Blue Lock

                                                    I suppose a 144hz monitor & gaming mouse would have a HUGE league over one that has a standard mouse & 60 hz monitor?


                                                      and disabling items (e.g. Scythe of Vyse Scythe of Vyse, Orchid Malevolence etc.) will be able to prevent the blink initiation.

                                                      Orchid Malevolence

                                                      Preventing blink initiation

                                                      Very informative


                                                        So much hate...))

                                                        So, ok.

                                                        1. Blink Dagger initiation should not be queued, since it has 0,0 cast time/backswing?

                                                        The fact that it has 0 backswing is exactly the reason it should be queued. There will be no time between the end of blink and start of the cast.

                                                        EDIT: Please don't queue after the casts with backswing animations. The animation will eat a lot of time.

                                                        2. You have to make a split second decision when blinking in to initiate, since it is a "moment" that can go away really fast (enemy positioning), hence there is no time to go messy with queuing it.

                                                        Completely agree with the first part. Completely disagree with the second one.

                                                        You _Have_ time before blinking in. Be it turn time (100ms not enough to press one button while holding shift? - 90 degree turn) or your own ping. In each case, shift-quing will be better, you just have to do it fast enough. It is not useful each time, but there are situations where you absolutely need it. Especially if you are on a high ping. (blink-in + ping + spell is always worse than blink-in + spell)

                                                        3. Orchid Malevolence - Preventing Blink Initiation - Very Informative. - Sarcasm?

                                                        Next time you jump-in as Magnus or Enigma into a perfect 5-man RP/BH and eat a silence into your face during the 0.3s of your cast time, please re-read what I have spend a lot of time writing)

                                                        This comment was edited

                                                          Ursa does have cast time animation on Overpower.


                                                            ^read better.

                                                            Heroes that have no BACKSWING animation are: Invoker, Io, Tiny, Earth Spirit and Ursa.

                                                            ursa has 0.3 cast anim and 0 backswing.

                                                            This comment was edited

                                                              I have just fond this article and its a good read.
                                                              I am a horrible player compared to you but I think your timing is not 100% correct.
                                                              When I use Blink+Ult and i am sure I will get to the point where i want to be I immediately press ult after blink, so there would only be the 0,05 sec of Human response since both commands go out next to each other. here is what I mean (with an example of a mentioned 135ms Ping and 0,05 sec od Human response):

                                                              0 sec: I send the blink command out
                                                              0,05 sec: I send the RP command out
                                                              0,135 sec: I blink in
                                                              0,185 sec: I start rupture.
                                                              0,485 sec Rupture hits.

                                                              Your timeline would suggest you instantly check where you land after blinking and then send out the command (which probably would take too long in a high class match)
                                                              amirite? or not?


                                                                nitpicking a bit... vary and wary are two different things.

                                                                Be vary of this if you are playing... in this line it should be wary and not vary.
                                                                vary means multiple options or outcomes, wary means to be cautious.

                                                                sorry for the comment cause this mistake was also in one of your other blogs. just want to help.



                                                                  The theory is more that there is a ping delay for your second command. It may be 86ms after you blink before your ult command reaches the server. The idea by queuing is that the two commands have already been sent and are ready to execute instantly as both were transmitted to the server already. This way you avoid the delay from your ping.


                                                                    @ Squeakers

                                                                    I understand the theory, still my argument is that you wont give the second command when your hero has blinked but rather right after the blink command. that way the delay between the animations is not affected by the ping.

                                                                    6.83 Scrub

                                                                      Small thing, 3rd paragraph, Ability queueing:
                                                                      "Be vary, though, that if you queue a command after a skill with a Backswing animation, ", the vary should be wary.