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DOTA 2 Support Guide

DOTA 2 Support Guide by Sheldon

Understanding and executing your role: Support
Table of content
1. Introduction
2. Thoughts on the role of the support
2.1 Definition of a support
2.2 List of possible support heroes
2.3 Justification of the list
2.4 Conclusion
3. Playing the support
3.1 Drafting the support
3.2 Earlygame as the support
3.2.1 How to creeppull
3.3 Midgame as the support
3.4 Lategame as the support
3.5 Fighting as the support
3.6 Items for the support
3.7 Conclusion
4. Replay
5. Final words

1. Introduction
The role of the support seems to be a very bad and unthankful role to many new players because supports never get the shiny items, good scores or the fame at the end of the game.
But think about it for a while, not all of your wins were with you having a great score and good items, right?

Kills and items don’t mean anything, they are just means to an end. And if you now hopefully found out that you can also win if you don’t have the biggest score and the best items out of your team, you might find it interesting to see how to play this style as a hero role.

This hero role is of course the role of the support, who technically doesn’t need anything but Boots to win the game with his team. It requires a bit of skill to play with only Boots and your hero’s abilities, but if your team is not completely retarded you will be able to win the lane, make big plays and win the game in your own way.

In this guide I am going to explain the thought process behind what your job is, how you do your job and what benefits your team has from having good supports.

2. Thoughts on the role of the support
The name says everything, you support your team. This means your job is to make sure they can do their job.
How do I make sure my team does their job if I can’t contribute in fights because I don’t have any items? Remember, you’re job is to make sure your team can do their job, not do take a part of their job and do it yourself! You are not there to deal the damage or to push towers, but to make sure your team can do so.

A noticeable difference between the supports and other hero roles is obviously the hero’s inventory. A support will always have fewer items than anyone else.

If you reflect this observation onto a game, you will find that supports are most effective in the early stages of the game.

Why is this you might ask? Well, almost every hero, be it a carry, ganker or pusher, needs some items to really be able to do his job. This is why a hard carry can’t carry from minute zero, but needs to farm, or why a pusher can’t select a lane and just push it down right in the beginning.
You as the support don’t need any items, but can start supporting your team from the start of the game.

The enemy won’t have any items on their carries, gankers and pushers in the early stages of the game, so you are pretty even compared to them in this phase. This is why you are most effective earlygame, but fall off later.

This strength in the earlygame is what makes your play a deciding factor of the entire game. The later stages of the game depend on the earlier stages of the game, and if your team finishes earlygame with an advantage your play brought them, they will start into midgame with this advantage!
If your team however has no supports and starts midgame with a disadvantage, you will probably lose as the enemy will increase the lead further and further, all based on the disadvantage from earlygame, where your team didn’t have a support.

2.1 Definition of a support
As worked out in the previous section, the support is a hero who focuses not on fulfilling a special task, like pushing or ganking, but makes sure his teammates can fulfill their tasks, which would also include pushing and ganking.

Your work will mostly not be recognized, because you work in a passive way to make your team win!
Through all the stages of the game, your team comes first, you come second. Many players pick support heroes in pubs, but try to farm for example a Bloodstone on a Shadow Shaman, and hurt their team more than they are helping.

As the support hero is not getting a lot of items, he has to have a skillset which allows him to still contribute to a game even without items. Disables for example are great supportive skills, because you can have one from minute zero, whereas for example a Nature’s Prophet has to farm at least 20 minutes to finish a Scythe of Vise and get a disable himself (not to mention how useful disables are to get a kill or save a teammate).

Damage spells are also great, because you can contribute a lot to an earlygame kill with for example 250 instant damage, where your carry only has his autoattack damage.
Any healing spells are awesome, because your team will directly profit from them, same goes for auras.

Ideally, a supporter doesn’t become completely useless in the mid- and lategame as far as fights are concerned, so good teamfight ultimates or pushing abilities are an aspect of a support’s skillset as well.

Conclusion: Any hero who does not require farm, but can still help his team with his skills will be a good support hero. This hero will always have the team as the first priority, and put his own hero into the background.
2.2 List of possible support heroes
2.3 Justification of the list

I’ll shortly explain why these heroes can play focus less on items and support their team with their skillset. Note that I left out the junglers Chen, Enchantress and Enigma, because they normally focus on farming and not on supporting a hero in the sense this word is commonly used.
Earthshaker: Fissure saves lives in lane, and his teamfight capability is based on his Echo Slam, not on items.
Sven: can be played as a support, although very popular carry today. Storm Hammer and Warcry are great supportive skills.

Omniknight: a heal, a magic immunity, a physical immunity, and a slow aura? Come on, what more would a hard carry want to just jump into a fight and not give a fuck about damage and stuns?
Treant Protector: weird hero with a weird skillset, is best played as a support after his rework. Has got two good heals, a decent teamfight ultimate, and an invisibility for one of his teammates.
Wisp: requires a teammate to make Tether, Overcharge and Relocate really worth using, all of these are great supportive skills.

Sandking: a good stun, and a really good teamfight ultimate for mid- and lategame.
Tidehunter: tanky by nature, has got a slow, a damage reduce for opponents, and a big teamfight ultimate. This guy needs nothing but level 6 to rule a teamfight.

Undying: although very level-dependant, he is one of the strongest and most popular supporters in Patch 6.76. Can steal strength to make himself more tanky, has a heal or nuke depending on his needs, and two beastly teamfight abilities to make him almost overpowered.

Magnus: can be played as a support, although it’s not commonly done. Has a nuke, can Skewer himself in or enemies out of position from level one, and only requires level 6 for his ultimate. The damage increase for the carry also works wonders.

Venomancer: his 50% slow makes him one of the most powerful heroes on level 1, fits very well into lategame with pushing power and a big teamfight damage ultimate.

Vengeful Spirit: a stun, an armor reduction and a percentage based (!) attack damage aura make her a born support. The swap is a great addition and can save lives or create big openings for your team.

Nyx Assassin: commonly played as a ganker in pubs, utilized as a support by professional teams. Has a stun and mana burn early on, can still gank quite well at level 6 even without farm.

Crystal Maiden: one of the best heroes on Level 2, has got a nuke with a slow, an Ensnare and a Mana Regeneration aura to support her team. The big teamfight ultimate supplements a great supportive skillset.

Windrunner: although very level-dependant, she can be played as a support, where a possible two-man disable and a long range nuke as well as general survivability prove useful.
Lina: a stun and two big damage spells make her a great support, who brings a bit less to earlygame than other supports, but is still pretty useful lategame.

Shadow Shaman: a nuke, two disables and a big pushing ultimate work wonders if he fits into your team composition.

Jakiro: four great spells to nuke, disable, attack-slow and damage over time (possibly) multiple people make him one of the most played supports in Patch 6.76.

Ogre Magi: a stun, a slow, an attack- and movespeed-bonus for the carry makes him a good supporter, although he is a bit tricky in lane because he is melee.

Rubick: has got a disable, a nuke, a magic resistance aura (!) to support the carry, can steal awesome spells from the enemy team.

Disruptor: big harassment potential, can Glimpse fleeing enemies close to your carry to secure a kill. He has also got insane teamfight capabilities, which make him a fearsome supporter in the hands of a skilled player.

Keeper of the Light: a big nuke for damage and pushing, free mana for anyone on your team, a mana drain and possible stun on the enemy, a miss-spell on enemies and a recall for one of your teammates? Nuff said.

Bane: two single target disables, an attack damage reduce and a nuke and heal in one spell make him a good support, although he is quite useless in big teamfights.

Lich: Sacrifice is the most overpowered spell in the entire game, period. One quarter of your laning-opponent’s income in gold and experience is gone! Add a nuke, free armor for everyone and a big teamfight ultimate to create a great support hero.

Lion: two stuns, technically infinite Mana through Mana Drain, and a big damage nuke as his ultimate make him a good support hero who can help bringing down even the tankiest heroes.
Witch Doctor: a multiple-target stun, one of the best damage-amplification spells in the game and a heal make him a good support, his ultimate is a nice bonus on top of that.
Warlock: a heal and a big (!) slow for the laning phase and insane teamfight spells for the later stages of the game make him a truly underrated supporter.

Pugna: has an AoE-nuke that also damages towers, Decrepifiy saves lives or secures kills, Nether Ward works wonders in teamfight and Life Drain gives some additional damage and health re-gain.
Dazzle: a slow with a possible stun, a multi-target heal and a temporary invincibility are all great spells, but Weave is completely underrated as it creates a gap of up to 48 (!!!) armor between your team’s and the enemy team’s heroes.

Leshrac: a stun and a nuke for good fighting capabilities, Diabolic Edict adds a lot to towerpushing and 1v1-fights, Pulse Nova for insane damage output in teamfights.
Ancient Apparition: a possible stun combined with a damage-over-time effect, an attack- and movespeed-slow in an area, bonus damage for your entire team, and a global ultimate with deadly force make him a great support if coupled with the right heroes.

Shadow Demon: uses Disruption to set up kills or save allies, Soul Catcher to amplify damage, Shadow Poison for a bit of damage and vision, and Demonic Purge as the ultimate who makes him a fearsome offensive support.

Visage: a slow, a big nuke and general tankiness make him a good support, but if he uses the Familiars to maximum potential he becomes an unbelievably good teamfight controller.
Please keep in mind that a lot of these heroes can be build and played to fit other roles as well. This list does not mean they are ultimately and only support heroes.

2.4 Conclusion
Support heroes are heroes who always work for the team, and only focus on themselves if they did everything they could for the team and still have resources to spend.

Their job is to create an environment where the rest of the team can do their job, this is achieved for example by warding, denying and harassing the enemy laner and disabling important targets in fights.
Supports are most effective in the earlygame because they don’t need any items to do their job, which is why they are so important. If a team without supports plays against a team with supports (assuming they have the same player skill), the team with supports will always win because they get a better earlygame and can take this advantage to the later stages of the game.

Support heroes define themselves through their skillset, which allows them to work effectively from the beginning on, and usually includes nukes, disables, slows, heals or utility based spells.

3. Playing the support
This part will focus on how to play a support. I will stick to the philosophy that your job is make sure your team can do its job, and explain every decision to make and action to take according to this.
This section is split into every phase of the game, from draft to lategame, and also includes a section on how to creeppull and some more advanced tips on fighting and items you can build.

3.1 Drafting the support 
Every team should consist of three farming heroes, and two heroes who don’t farm, but support the farming heroes. One of these supports can be a jungler, but you always end up with one guy to be purely supporting the team.

There is no clear rule when to pick your supports. Professional teams have no favorite pick order for this, they mostly pick the heroes both teams are fighting to get, and fill up their team with what is missing.

In pub games however, picking your supports first is a good idea, because many players will not recognize them as a big threat but wait for the carries to come up, all with the aim of counterpicking your team. If the game version you are currently playing in has a couple of really strong supports, like Jakiro and Undying in Patch 6.76, you should consider picking for example these two heroes before anything else.

There is a little trick you can apply: If you are not sure what to pick first, get a hero who can play a farming role as well as a supporting role! This will reveal almost nothing and the enemy can’t cross your plans so easily.

Don’t be afraid to pick a support! Nobody can always play hard carry!
Conclusion: You always want to have three farming and two supporting heroes, of which one can be a jungler. There is no clear rule when to pick your supports, but don’t be afraid to go ahead and pick one right in the beginning.

3.2 Earlygame as the support
This is the phase where you shine and where your team needs you the most!
Your team will be farming, and your job is to make sure they can do so (I mentioned this earlier, did I?).

Your priorities are the following, to be executed in the exact same order:
1. Support your team to the best and make sure they can farm! 2. Don’t die! 3. Assist in ganks on your lane or set up kills yourself if you see an opportunity and don’t disrupt your carry’s farm or steal kills. 4. Do creeppulling to deny the enemy experience and gold and to get some on your own.
Let’s assume you are supporting a hard carry on the easy lane.

His three priorities are: 1. Don’t die and don’t get forced out of lane! 2. Get every lasthit possible! 3. Steal the kill if your allies gank your lane.

How do you make sure your carry doesn’t die?
Your carry can die from three things: 1. Bad play 2. Your laning opponents 3. Ganks
You can’t help it if your carry is stupid and dies of bad play, for example if he just runs into your laning opponents or tanks up the creepwave. It’s his own fault, and in my opinions people deserve to die if they get into such a situation by bad play.

When coming into your lane you should do some calculation:
1. How long can my enemy disable my carry? 2. How much nuke damage has he got? 3. How many autoattacks can he get in while my carry is disabled? 4. Could he towerdive my carry?
Calculate these things and try to estimate if your enemy could kill your carry if they turned onto him. Take into account the increase of these things when your enemy levels up to not die at minute 5 because you didn’t calculate properly!

Adjust your play according to your calculation: If the enemy can kill your carry, always stay with him and disable, attack and/or nuke the enemy heroes if they try to get a kill.

If the result of your calculation shows no direct threat by your laning opponents, you can technically leave the lane and do creeppulling, go ganking or do something else.

How do I prevent my carry from being forced out of lane?
Your carry has to leave the lane if he is harassed into an amount of health points where the enemy could kill him, and doesn’t have any regeneration anymore to heal back up.

If your enemy is harassing your carry, you should stay in lane and harass your enemy back! You have to communicate with your carry, and both give back the hits you took from the enemy, as he doesn’t want to trade one hit on your carry for two hits on him. If he trades a lot of hits with you, you can consider killing him if he dares too much and gets out of position.

This technique can also be used if your enemy is denying a lot of creeps from your carry. Whenever he is going in for a deny, hit him once and back off to not get hit by the creeps. This will result in a lot of health lost for your enemy who eventually has to stop denying because he can’t afford to take damage anymore. If your carry however loses lasthits because he can’t hit them, you can’t do anything but hope the rest of your team will be enough to win the game 4v5.
If your carry runs out of regeneration, give him your tangos and/or salve!

Your carry has to stay in lane at all costs, but you can afford to run back to base if you took too much damage and need to heal. This doesn’t mean you have to buy extra regeneration for you AND your carry in the beginning, though. Just give him a salve and/or tangos if he needs one badly and he will be fine and love you for the rest of the game.

How do I avoid my carry dies to ganks?
Simply put, know when your enemy is ganking, and play defensive during this time. The solution is of course Observer Wards! You can see any enemy moving towards your lane, and back off in time or intercept and kill them.

These wards are useful to your entire team, and should be part of your starting items! If you see your enemy counterwarding, place new wards and counterward the enemy wards yourself!
You need vision, and can’t afford having enemy vision. Check the minimap about every three seconds and check the enemy hero’s inventory every minute for new items and Wards. If you see an enemy hero moving for example through the rune location, check his inventory and memorize the position he could have placed an Observer Ward to counter him with one of your own Sentry Wards.
In high level games it is not uncommon to see Observer Wards as well as Sentry Wards bought from minute one! Step up your game by doing so as well!

If you see an enemy support warding or counterwarding, it is pretty easy to kill him. You can see if he has any backup, and intercept him with two or three heroes if he has none. This gives you a free kill, and an immediate counterward on the enemy, who got 75 gold and six minutes of vision wasted.
I will not explain good warding here because the topic is too big to cover in a subcategory. Check one of the many good warding guides on the internet.

As you now made sure your carry doesn’t die, you can make sure you don’t die yourself and feed gold to the enemy team. If you need to stay in lane, calculate if your enemy can kill you and if your carry could prevent this from happening. Adjust your play according to this.

If you are not in lane but doing creeppulls, ganking or warding, check for missing heroes and play carefully. A ganking enemy will always run into you first if you are not in lane, so be prepared and always check the minimap!

Keep an eye on your lane as well! It is not uncommon for an enemy to leave the lane to intercept your creeppull or kill you when you are placing wards in an area where they have vision.
In most cases, cautious play and good mapawareness will keep you alive.
How can I kill my laning opponents without wasting my carry’s time?

If you go in on a kill, you need to be successful on the first try, because you will waste your carry’s time if you aren’t! Calculate the duration of your disables, your nuke damage, and the autoattack damage you can deal while he is disabled, but take into account a possible turn-around by the enemy. If you come to the conclusion you can kill the enemy, communicate with your carry and initiate if you find a good opening. If your allies gank your lane, assist with your disables and nukes. In both cases there is one simple rule:

Don’t steal the kill if you can avoid it!
An avoidable killsteal would be an enemy which is disabled for one more second with 200hp, with your carry attacking him. Let your carry attack him 3-4 times, and don’t waste your nuke to steal the kill.

An unavoidable killsteal would be if the enemy hero is running away from your melee carry, and you haven’t got any disables left, but only a ranged nuke. Get the kill with it, because a kill on the support is better than an enemy escaping with 50 health points.

Every team needs a courier!

I didn’t put this on the list of priorities because everyone should know this. A courier is absolutely mandatory to any earlygame victory! It is a huge difference between having to leave a lane and get the items in your base or having them delivered by a courier!

As there are ideally two supports in a team, one of you should buy the courier and one of you the wards in the beginning. Communicate with your support and tell him to buy either of one (just as a side note, I often report people who pick supports but don’t buy either courier or wards and steal their carry’s lasthits, because this is equally bad as intentional feeding).

The upgraded courier is the first thing a support should buy from the gold he gets. Usually the support who reaches the 220 gold first upgrades the courier, and the other support buys the next set of wards.
Always have a courier from the beginning on, and upgrade it as soon as possible!

3.2.1 How to creeppull
Creeppulling is your fourth priority, and should be done if your carry is safe on lane, doesn’t get harassed, isn’t denied too many creeps and your wards are up and not counterwarded.
All the things listed above serve mainly your team, and creeppulling serves you and your team equally. This is why it is your lowest priority and shouldn’t be done when your carry could die while you are occupied.

Creeppulling basically means pulling the neutral pullcamp into your lane when your creeps are passing, and thus draw your creeps off their regular path and into the jungle, where they fight with the neutrals.

The timing for this is every time the clock hits 16 or 46 seconds!

Attack the creeps once and run towards your lane. Your creeps will now follow the neutrals into the jungle and fight. They will do the dirty work for you, serving you free lasthits on the neutrals.
What effect does this have on the lane, provided your entire creepwave dies?
1. Your enemy misses out an entire creepwave of experience and gold, putting them in a big disadvantage if done repeatedly.
2. As your creepwave is fighting the neutrals and not the enemy creepwave, the enemy creeps will push forward until your next creepwave arrives. This results in the creepline being closer to your tower. Usually, one single creeppull is enough to pull the creepline from under the enemy tower right in front of your own tower.
2.1 Your carry will be less gankable in this position compared to being really far out.
3. You get free lasthits on the neutrals and thus a bit of farm as the support
How do I get my entire creepwave to die?

The easiest way to make this happen is by doing nothing to the fight between creeps and neutrals. I see a lot of people pulling the neutrals, but attacking them afterwards and thus helping their creeps to win. This results in about half the creepwave surviving and returning to lane with a delay. You will now have one and a half creepwaves fighting one enemy creepwave.
The result: You push!

Don’t attack the neutrals, but rather start denying your own creeps from 50% health points on. Only get the lasthits on the neutrals!

This is still not enough to make the neutrals win the fight, and the magic thing you need to do is stack the creepcamp!

This technique essentially doubles the creepcamp. If you pull a stacked creepcamp into your lane, you will have one creepwave fighting two neutralcamps, which makes the neutrals win for sure, provided you don’t deal additional damage to them.

To understand stacking you need to understand how creepcamps work:
There are five creepcamps per jungle, one small-camp, two middle-camps and one large-camp (also referred to as easy, medium and hard camps). Each creepcamp spawns every minute on the minute, meaning whenever the clock hits the zero-second-mark.

The creepcamp won’t spawn if there are any units in the area of the creepcamp!
Every neutralcamp has got a defined area, referred to as the spawn area. This area is different for every creepcamp, and you have to learn them by trying out. If there is any unit in the spawn area of a certain camp at the zero-second-mark, the creepcamp won’t spawn. This includes heroes, creeps, wards (who are often used to block a certain camp) and last but not least the neutral creeps themselves.

If you want to spawn a second creepcamp and thus stack it, you need to remove the neutrals from their spawn area at X:00!

This is done by attacking the neutrals at around X:54 and running away from the creepcamp. When leaving their camp, neutral creeps follow you for six seconds until they turn around and return to their camp. If you attack at X:54 and run away, the creeps will follow you until X:00 and thus have the biggest distance to their creepcamp at this point.

If you did this correctly, you will find a stacked creepcamp you can pull into your lane and get an entire creepwave killed.

Conclusion: Always stack before you pull, never attack the neutrals apart from getting the lasthits on them. Only do creeppulling if there is nothing more you can do for your carry and your wards are up.

3.3 Midgame as the support
If you did everything correctly in the earlygame, your team will be in a good position for the midgame. Your hard carry will be farming the jungle, and your team will group up to gank, push or teamfight, depending on what the lineup is built for.

Your priorities for midgame are the following:
1. Allow your carry free farming! 2. Help your team accomplish the goals for midgame, be it ganking, pushing or teamfighting! 3. Don’t die if you can avoid it!
How can I make sure my carry is freefarming?
First of all, your carry must desire to farm, if he decides to join you and fight without items there is nothing more you can do but scream at him to go to the jungle and farm (only if he needs more items of course).

If he is farming the jungle and the adjacent lanes, there are two things which can disrupt his farm:

1. The enemy team 2. Your team
Your enemy team will try to disrupt your carries farm, and in process gank your jungle repeatedly. Always have wards up to be warned of this, and countergank them. If a teamfight in inevitable, gather your team and defend your territory.

Always have wards up to provide freefarm to your carry, and intercept the enemy team if they try to gank your carry!

The second thing that can disrupt a carry’s farm is his team! There is nothing more annoying for a hard carry to find empty creepcamps on his route through the jungle, which have been cleaned out by his own team! If you desperately need some farm on all your heroes and can’t find it anywhere else, communicate with your carry if he is willing to split his farm. If he is a nice guy and thinking logically he will do so, and you should clean out one entire jungle as 5 and let your carry farm alone again the next minute.

Always be with your team and help them ganking, pushing, fighting, whatever!
Your team needs your contribution to win the game, so always be with them and actively search for whatever helps you win. Usually a team is built for a certain purpose, and your team will play this style to win the game.

How do I play in a ganking lineup?
To play gank, you need to find targets to gank. Offensive wards are the best tools for this, especially if placed for example in the enemy jungle. Counterward the enemy so they can’t see your ganks coming, and buy Smoke of Deceit for your team if you are not able to counterward the enemy and your ganks don’t result in kills.

In fights, use your spells in the most effective way to get kills for your team and to save your teammates from death. Chain-disable the gank target, use a nuke if you feel the damage is required, but never steal the kill.

If your ganking target will die for sure, and you see enemy backup coming in, use your disable(s) to stop their movement before they can attack you or turn around to flee from you. This will most likely net your team more kills, which they wouldn’t have gotten if you didn’t pay attention and used your disable efficiently.

Continue ganking with your team until your carry joins you. Ideally you should have taken a further advantage from every kill you got during the midgame, so you can now start to end the game. This will be further explained in part 3.5.

How do I play in a pushing lineup?
Your team will mainly be pushing towers during midgame, and the enemy will be forced to react to this at some point. This will result in teamfights around towers, but your team doesn’t want to take the teamfight, as they are not built for it.

You want to kill the tower and get out, so use your spells to scare away the enemy team! Use any good pushing ability you have on the tower, and scare away anyone coming to defend with your other spells. If you see an enemy moving way out of position, use a disable and signal your team to kill him. These will most likely result in an uncontested tower, as the enemy team will be even more scared now, and will most likely not want to fight 4v5.

Repeat this process with all outer towers and wait for your carry to farm up. If you don’t have a hard carry but only a semicarry, you need to apply this strategy to a base tower, but be careful as you will be in a chokepoint and can easily be killed!

How do I play in a teamfight lineup?
Your lineup is built for big teamfights, but if you can’t find these fights, you are in a pretty bad spot. To force a teamfight you act similar to a pushing lineup, and start to push a tower in order to force a reaction.

No matter if there is any reaction, you are in a good spot, because you can just take a free tower if there is none. If there is a reaction however, you have got your teamfight. If the enemy assembles their heroes behind the tower to defend it, you dive the tower and initiate the teamfight. Use your disables and nukes on appropriate targets, and help your team win the fight. Take the tower as a bonus, and repeat these steps somewhere else.

You still need to keep wards up to let your carry freefarm, and to see enemy movement. Another good strategy is to stay in the enemy jungle and farm it, forcing a reaction. Assist your team in these big fights, which is often done by just throwing in one or two spells.

Ideally you want to have an advantage in all aspects at the end of midgame: a farmed carry, all enemy outer towers killed, more gold and experience than the opponent. This is when your hard carry joins you and you proceed to end the game.

3.4 Lategame as the support
At this stage your hard carry will join you, and you should proceed to end the game. Your activities don’t change much from midgame and you can still apply the same strategies as in midgame, but you need to be very cautious when you push the base towers and barracks.
Always have wards up and adjust them according to the game situation!

If you are not able to take barracks because the enemy is defending too well, just place wards around their base watching all the paths they could take to leave the base (this requires 4 wards at a time!). Use these wards to punish them if they want to leave their base.

The rest of the time you farm every source of income on the map with your team, which basically puts the nail in the coffin, as you will have an entire map to farm, whereas the enemy has to split three lanes and gets ways less income than you do.

Whenever you killed two or more heroes in lategame, you should attempt a push. The enemy will most likely not be able to defend and can’t hold the barracks.

Remember: Never try to force a push on the ancient after you have only taken one set of barracks! If you fail and the enemy team kills you, they can push down a lane and take a set of barracks on their own, and you won’t have done enough permanent damage.

Never try to go anywhere alone, because you are an easy target at this stage of the game, and your weakness is what the enemy can feast on to get back into the game if they kill you repeatedly.

3.5 Fighting as the support
This is where the most mistakes happen, and why many supports end up feeding. As the supporter, you really need to think about what you do, because everything you do can make or break the fight for your team.

Your job in fights is to get your spells off on important targets. Take a look at the enemy’s inventories and try to estimate who will deal the most damage or have the biggest impact in the fight.
When your team initiates, you should follow the carries choice of targets and disable this hero. Try to hit as many people as possible with AoE-abilities, and constantly check your positioning to make sure you don’t die. I won’t explain good positioning here as it is really difficult to explain, but I might create a guide on it in the future.

If you are the one to be initiated on while your team is around, you need to make a decision:
If you think you can escape, use a disable on the hero(es) (if necessary) and RUN! Bait the enemies into your team, where you turn around and initiate the fight. Disable and nuke the targets your team is focusing, and do your best to win the fight.

If you are sure you will die anyways, use all the spells you can get off. Disable a target your team can focus down quickly, throw out your nukes and maybe even use a big teamfight ultimate if you are quick enough. If your team comes in at the right time they can turn the fight around and get a lot of kills on their own, while only trading for a support hero who got all his spells of anyways.
Try to always have a teammate with you while you are moving around the map, and never go into unsafe area on your own! Even if you are sure you will die, stay calm and use as many spells as you can and help winning the fight.

You always want to take a further advantage from any fight you win!

If you killed two enemies in a gank or won a big teamfight, you want to beat them when they’re down by taking a tower or maybe killing Roshan! You can also use this time to counterward with the goal of increasing your mapcontrol, push out any lanes to occupy the enemy when they respawn or just farm their jungle to annoy them and get more gold.

If you win a fight, always try to take a further advantage from the time the enemy is dead!

3.6 Items for the support
The support is naturally getting way less gold than farming heroes, and he has to make sure he spends the gold in the most efficient way. Your team still goes first in this aspect, and I will list and explain all items you can safely buy on a support hero without hurting your team more than helping it.

The core items for any support hero are the following:
These items are the least you want to have. Boots of Speed give you a mandatory movespeed bonus, Magic Stick can help you survive more fights than you can think of, and Town Portal Scroll is needed to move around the map and assist in fights.

Apart from this, you need to constantly be able to afford these items whenever they are required:
Wards are obviously important, and it is your job to buy and place them. Smoke of Deceit may be required if your enemy is warding really well and you need to force a fight. Dust of Appearance is important to detect invisible heroes and should be bought by you, as your carry needs to spend the money on damage. It is his job to deal the damage, and your job to allow him to deal the damage.
If you get any additional gold, you can spend it on items serving two different purposes!

1. Helping your team! 2. Making you more survivable!
Some of the items I am going to list now are working for both purposes and should thus be the preferred choice for you. This does not mean you should buy these items before anything else though. If you see the desperate need for an item which only helps your team but doesn’t make you more survivable, buy it!

Items you can buy to help your team are the following:
Arcane Boots are the most common support boots. They provide you with a bigger manapool as well as the ability to restore your allies mana. As everybody loves free mana, everybody will love you if you provide them with it.

Ring of Basilius is a very good pushing item, as it provides a +2 armor aura to surrounding creeps and heroes if toggled on. If you want to buy an item to help your team, chose this if you desperately need something to push, and can use the mana regeneration.

Eul’s Scepter of Divinity provides you with really good intelligence, mana regeneration and movespeed. The active tornado-ability can be very helpful in fights, but you should only consider this item if you are really rich and don’t need physical survivability.

Orb of Venom can be bought in some cases to assist your team with an additional slow. Only buy this on melee heroes and if you will actually be able to apply the slow, for example in ganks, but not if you are playing a teamfight lineup and would have to run into five opponents to apply the slow.
Items you can buy to make yourself more survivable are the following:

Power Treads are the second choice of Boots I recommend for supports. They provide you with good health points as the ability to tread-switch. Buy these if you are not reliant on a lot of mana and your team isn’t either.

Bracers are cheap and cost-efficient items you can buy to make yourself more survivable if you need to. You will often see a support stack more than one Bracer to maximize his health for really low costs.

Cloak is a good choice if you need to resist spell damage. This item is great even if you don’t upgrade it, and is commonly seen in professional games. This does still not mean you can tank a Sandking-Epicentre, but will definitely pay off on the long run.

Ghost Scepter is the supports choice in lategame. If the enemy carry chooses you as the target, you will be guaranteed to live four seconds longer, which can be enough for your team to disable and kill the enemy carry with you surviving.

Magic Wand is the extension of the Magic Stick, which belongs to your core build. As you probably started with some Ironwood Branches, it makes sense to upgrade the Magic Stick and get yourself a bit more survivability in fights during early- and midgame.

These items serve only the purpose they are listed for. There are many more items a support can buy, and these all serve the purpose to help your team, all while making you more survivable!
Mekansm is the ultimate support item! It makes you very survivable and allows you to heal your team every 45 seconds. People love this, because all your fights and pushes will get a lot more punch just by having a 250hp heal and a +2 armor effect.

Although not including a heal, a Buckler alone will make you pretty tanky with +5 armor. In a pushing lineup this is preferably bought over Bracers or even Power Treads, because you can also give +2 armor to surrounding creeps.

Drum of Endurance is built from a Bracer, and can be considered in almost any situation. Especially teamfight lineups profit from this, as you can give up to 15% bonus attackspeed and movespeed to your team with this item.

Force Staff doesn’t make you more survivable in the sense of more stats, but in the sense of mobility. With this item you can get yourself into a good position and out of a bad position. This works for teammates as well, making it a really good support item.

Medallion of Courage is seen very rarely, but a really good item. It provides you with a lot of armor and the ability to make any enemy very squishy for a short duration with an equally short cooldown. Buy this if you are staying with a semicarry or ganker all the time.

Urn of Shadows is a good item for any lineup, but really damn good when playing a ganking style. Every kill you get is converted into a heal for your team, and the boost in strength and a bit of mana regeneration make this item perfect for supports.

Veil of Discord provides good armor, regeneration and intelligence. The ability to amplify magical damage in an area makes this item really worth the gold in teamfight lineups. Don’t be afraid to use it in small engagements as well, the short cooldown of 30 seconds make the Veil a really powerful item.
Necronomicon is a really powerful pushing item that provides a good mix of stats as well as the ability to summon two necro-warriors. These two guys are really good for pushing as well as for teamfights, where their manaburn works wonders. Although it is really underused, don’t be afraid to pick one up!

Rod of Atos is the least used item in the entire game, despite its really good stats. The active is the point, where other items score, but for a support hero the stats are worth the bad active effect of the item itself. Build this if you need the stats and can make use of a good slow.

Pipe of Insight can work wonders in teamfights and pushes, but it is really expensive. Only buy this if you are really rich, and communicate with your team so nobody else builds one. It doesn’t give you any direct health increase, but the 30% (!) magic resistance should give you an edge in fights.
Vladimir’s Offering is a VERY situational item for a support, as he has to stand close to the carry if he wants to profit from the auras. This will not always be possible, so chose wisely if you can always stay in the big fights or should go for a different item which makes you safer. If you however decide for Vlad’s and can survive in big fights, your carry will profit from a lot of percentage based auras.
Always decide for an item the situation requires, and never trust builds blindly! All other items than these are rejected in a normal game, only build more expensive items if you are really rich and can afford to not have one of the items listed here!

3.7 Conclusion
The role of the support requires disciplined and humble play to be successful. If you manage to play a good support, the game will in most cases be a win for you, and your team will be thankful to you.
Always stay with a teammate if possible, and try to not die too much despite your lack in gold and experience. Your contribution to fights will be little, but sometimes game breaking, as one little disable can turn the tides of battle.

All your actions you take and items you buy should primarily have a use for your team, and if possible never work for you only. Provide your team with all good effects of your items to maximize their potential.

If you played a good support and managed to give your team and especially laning partner a good start, you can carry this advantage through until you end the game (believe me, fighting when you are ahead is so much more relaxed).

4. Replay
I decided to include a replay in this guide to give an example of how to play a support. I played this game together with “Eureka!” who is on the Tiny, while I am playing the Jakiro. Just be warned, you will see me miss a lot of Ice Paths, but eventually my good warding and overall teamwork pays off.
And yes, this Riki was really damn bad …

5. Final words
I hope I could explain every aspect of good support play sufficiently and encourage you to play this role more often. As you now might play support a bit better, I also hope you have a bit more fun with playing DotA.

If you liked this guide or have got any questions, feel free to leave me some feedback or positive criticism so I can improve my further guides!

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