Playing On Tilt
Dota games can be won or lost in the first ten minutes, and it’s not always about which team is snowballing. It all depends on the team who tilts first. Go gank the midlaner, all-chat taunt them (e.g. gg, easy mid), and watch the recriminations tear apart the enemy team’s chemistry, which was already fragile to begin with, considering everyone is a stranger.
The report feature and low priority exists primarily as a deterrent to our reflexive tendencies to tilt when the game goes sour. It’s there for players who, after a poor start, resign to feeding couriers, walking their own hero into enemy towers, or spend more time flaming teammates than playing the game. Anyone who plays or watches Dota knows that it’s a game that has its peaks and valleys. Poor starts can be disadvantageous, but there are always opportunities to turn it around. So why do people give up so early?
Everyone Is A Pro
No one is the perfect Dota player, especially in a pub game, but the expectation is there. That’s the fascinating thing about esports. It’s that great play is so easily accessible, via stream, replays, or in game, and at least in Dota it seems physically feasible to do. I’ll never dunk a basketball like Lebron, but I can pull off the same juke I just watched Arteezy do.
That’s how finger pointing begins when mistakes inevitably occur over the course of a Dota game. Something happened that shouldn’t have happened, and it wouldn’t have, if you were a better player, like me. There are only a handful of players who can say that. Most of the time, it comes from people who aren’t as good as they think they are.
Playing a Dota game is a continuing battle with expectation vs reality. The expectation is that a pub MMR game somehow should emulate what a professional Dota game looks like, and yet the reality is that it is nothing like it. From the get go, it’s a game with 10 strangers who have their own ideas of how to play, which most of the time doesn’t involve picking support heroes.
A pub game instead feels more like a free for all, where each player plays their own game in a silo, each with their own ideas of what they will do throughout the game. The issue is that individual success and team success is intertwined, and when one of those fails, very rarely will players blame themselves.
Your Team Is Against You
It’s not your fault that your mid-laner is oblivious, your carry is unable to last-hit, or your support player is never in the right place in the right time. Things happen in Dota that are completely out of your control, yet it’s these situations where team chemistry completely dissolves.
Most players are amateurs, in the strict sense of the word. They don’t make a living playing Dota, nor are they playing, living, and breathing the game everyday of their lives. But when they feel like they’re the only competent person on a team with terrible players, they lose trust in their team’s ability to turn a game around. Sure, this game can still be won, but just not with this team.
Players who resign early after a disadvantageous start fail to realize that the other team is just as bad. Our teammates are just as imperfect as their teammates. Everyone makes mistakes. Instead of dwelling on them, the rational choice would be to figure out what went wrong and see what steps you and your team can make to fix it.
The Game Is Against You
Yes, Lina is essentially immortal now starting at level 10, with her -30 reduction in respawn rate. Dota has always had its share of imbalances, and the rotation of meta heroes is what has kept the game interesting over the years. Sometimes a loss in the lane can just be chalked up to a bad matchup, so it doesn’t have to be the sole reason why a game is going to be won or loss. Just thank Volvo and move on.
What pub players can take from watching professional Dota is how the most successful teams have been able to adapt. First of all, that means being humble and open enough to accept new strategies. Metas constantly change, not just from patch to patch, but even through the course of a LAN. Even the best players are able to realize there isn’t one way to play the game.
It’s frustrating, and frankly a waste of mental effort, to be constantly criticizing teammates for subpar play, when that’s actually par for the course. Pub games aren’t pro games, and they don’t have to be. Most of the time, people just want to play their favorite hero. If that’s the expectation, then we'd spend less time tilting and more time actually enjoying a game of Dota.