Thread: Thinking Like the Better Player

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  1. #1

    Thinking Like the Better Player

    Warning: This is a pile of text. I'll try to pretty it up later on.

    Hi, I'm North2 and I've been playing DotA and HoN for a very, very long time. Throughout the years, many people have asked me how to get better at the game. While I can teach as much as I can about the technical aspects to players, I've come to realize that it is really the attitude and approach of most players that are hindering them from becoming better.

    Keep in mind that I'm no pro and probably never will be. I currently don't have the passion or skill to become a pro, but I do like to believe that I have a firm grasp on how to get better at HoN.

    I present this guide to you, focused on teaching people how to become Better Players.


    1) Contemplate on What YOU Can Do Better

    I'll start here since everything pretty much comes back around to this. Almost everyone I know that are stuck below 1700 PSR blames everyone but themselves. Here's food for thought: The only constant in every game you play is YOURSELF.

    A guy I know told me, "How was I supposed to win that game? I went 17-4 with Pyro! I started out 11-0!" I just tell him that I would have gone 26-0. No matter how good you do, there's always a way to do even better.

    "But, I'm stuck in 1500s because people leave in every game I play!" "How can I win when they're all so bad?" "We have no teamwork at all! What am I supposed to do?" So what? Do you think everyone else doesn't have their misfortunes? Do you think you're born under some unlucky star? What this means is you just have to...

    2) Deal With It

    Yea, that's right. Many players are too busy complaining to find a solution. "I got a 0-10 Scout in my team!" Carry that dead weight. "Someone in my team left!" Slaughter the opponent 4v5.

    Stop Blaming. Excuses are useless. Too much crying, not enough trying. Too much trying, not enough doing. It's the simple truth, deal with it.

    The other thing about blaming for losses is that it's a pessimistic view on the situation. This leads me to the next step...

    3) Think Positive

    Instead of blaming other people or things for losses, you should start looking for reasons why you didn't win. "We lost because of Scout!" can easily be replaced with, "We didn't win because of Scout!" Many people will argue that it means the same exact thing. However, the psychological effects of just looking at it from a different angle are astounding.

    First off, blaming on losses is the thought process of a loser. It's like you were expecting to lose, and now you can show off the reason why you lost. Start thinking like a WINNER. Expect to win every game. If you don't win, you can do better next time so you do.

    Many players scratch off their losses on the biggest reason that they lost, like "Well,it's clear that we lost because our :chro:Chronos stuck our entire team i
    n his Chronosphere!" That's it, and that's all they learned from the game: Avoid your teammate's Chronospheres. Grats, bro. A 50-minute game to learn a single sentence. Nobody likes to think too deep into reasons that they lost.

    Instead, the same player can look at the same exact game and be like, "Well, we didn't win because of :chro:Chronos. But we could have also had wards for vision so it's easier for him to use his Chronosphere. We also could have jumped them when we saw them in the woods, instead of falling back until they disappeared in the fog and they jumped us 20 seconds later." Compared to 'losing', it's a lot easier to accept and improve upon 'not winning'. Don't get me wrong, it's technically the same thing. But hey, if it's the same thing, then why not look at it from a better perspective?

    (Side Note: When I'm talking to other people, I typically don't say things like , "I can't believe we didn't win!" I do use the L word. It's shorter, it gets the point across better to other people, and it sounds less fruity. Admittedly, I do sound like some preppy frat boy when I'm writing this guide. However, when I look back on my games I make sure to always look for ways that I could have won the game. This is clearly different from looking for ways that I could have avoided losing the game)

    Thinking positively also allows you to get better as a player, which leads me to the last step:

    4) Improve

    Never think about what went wrong. Always think about what could have gone better.

    Thinking about what went wrong is a quick road to mediocrity. You'll just end up with a huge list of things to not do, when what really needs to be done is for you to do things better. In physical terms, it'd be like looking for ways to avoid being a 1500 PSR player, instead of looking for ways to become a 1900 PSR player.

    Never think you're not good enough. Always think you're not good enough YET.

    This is something I really can't teach. It has to be believed and understood, so the only thing I can do is just talk about it a little so you can think about it yourself.

    When you think you're not good enough to do something, you set a very debilitating upper limit to yourself. Whether it's conscious or subconscious, thinking about your limits is pointless. I said in the beginning of this guide that I do not have the skill to be a pro, but whether I have what it takes or not have never crossed my mind.

    Equally constraining is to think you're good enough. When you think you're good enough, it prevents you from getting better. This is probably something that comes at a subconscious level among players of all leagues. Even among pros, I firmly believe that thinking you're not good enough yet is the ideal mindset.


    That's all I got. From here on are some common situations to show where people can improve on their approach towards the game.

    A) Calling MIA

    Way back in the DotA days (before Icefrog even), calling MIA (i.e. Mid Mia, Blacksmith Missing bot, etc. etc.) was not something that was expected out of people. It's good when people do call, but it wasn't bad when they don't. It's really how it should be. Calling MIA is undeniably better than not calling mia, but looking at the minimap is better than both. To me, calling MIA is like those stupid warnings on bleach bottles that says something along the lines of, "Don't drink this, you'll die". Sure, it is definitely better to have the warning, but it's really your responsibility to not drink the damn thing. I've seen too many people get ganked and say, "OMG 4 Top where's the MIA!? NOOBS this team so bad!"Then I look back on it, and the first MIA was called, and the second MIA was shown TPing into the tower.

    : Blaming is useless. It'd be nice if the other teammates called MIA, but it's also nice if you looked at the minimap. They're both things to improve on.

    B) Lane Positioning

    When I'm looking for potential in other players, lane positioning is one of the first things I look at.
    I see a lot of 1600ish players who simply have a fundamental error in where they position their heroes in the lane. They get stomped, and they always find a reason to blame it on other things when I can immediately tell that they shouldn't have been standing there.

    The thing about lane positioning is that the problem fixes itself if you have the correct mindset on the game. People who makes endless excuses will never get better at it. People who can at least admit it's their own fault will slowly get better at it. People who are constantly looking to improve will quickly get better at it. The reason is because there's a whole lot of places where your hero shouldn't be, while there's really only one or two spots where your hero should be at any given point.

    Example of Lane Positioning: This is a screencap of Flint and Pestilence going against a solo Chronos and a Legionnaire jungler in bottom lane. I can immediately say that Chronos is given too much breathing room in the screencap. It's lvl1, everyone's in their respective lanes, and a gank from legionnaire is not going to do anything. Give more pressure!

    F1 and P1 (The Yellow Circles)are slightly better positions for Flint and Pestilence, with C1 being where Chronos should be in response to it. This is already a much less comfortable position for Chronos to be in, but he has to move there or else Flint will just shoot at him. From here, Flint can move up to F2 and Pestilence can move to P2 (The Orange Circles), while Chronos can respond by moving to C2. This puts a whole lot of pressure, and Flint can easily try to get a few shots into Chronos. Chronos has the choice of staying around C2 and getting shot or walking out of experience range.

    See? All it takes is a little bit of movement, and all of a sudden Chronos can't even be in experience range. Note that while it may not seem important, the best option for Chronos in response to F2 and P2 is to be around C2 to force them to push Chronos out of experience range. They might even miss a Last Hit in the process. Chronos just needs to make sure to be ready to move down and a little to the right if Flint moves in. If Chronos doesn't even try to come close, then Flint can just walk in the jungle and start harassing Legionnaire too.

    There are not too many players that think things through in their head like this. However, I have noticed that people who are constantly striving to improve eventually just develops good instincts that tell them where they should be. Most crybabies just don't get better because they're too busy blaming other things to hone their own skills AT AN INSTINCTIVE LEVEL.

    Extra Comment
    : Another very common excuse that I hear when people get destroyed in a lane is, "What am I supposed to do? The lane is impossible to be in!" Sorry to say, but chances are you just aren't good enough to handle a difficult lane. In the screencap example, when you look at it in a vacuum it's supposed to be a lane where Chronos can't farm at all considering he's soloing against Flint and Pestilence. Still, I can say with confidence that I can farm in this lane if I was Chronos because my opponents clearly do not know how to play an aggressive lane just by looking at the first 20 seconds of being in the lane. I won't be able to do much to stop their farming though, which is another problem altogether. On that note, I would make sure to clearly inform the importance of ganking my lane to my team.

    Also, if you're good enough you can tell how the lane's probably going to play out within the first 30 seconds of being in the lane. If I see that Flint and Pestilence are aggressive and playing how they should be, then I'll immediately ask for help BEFORE I get destroyed. I won't come begging for help 3 minutes later when I had to use 2 health potions and all my tangos while they both outlevel me.

    Summation: Stop Blaming, Deal With It

    C) Team Communication

    HoN is a team game, and communication is a key component of every team. A good number of people just play a game by themselves, treating other players as little more than NPCs. They would turn all sound off and play with their music on. I don't know if they just don't care or they got tired of listening to all the whiny people in HoN, but communication is severely underestimated by most players.
    It's a very necessary part of the game, and it can be improved upon.

    Obviously, a good place to start would be to start talking. There's in-game voice chat for a reason, and I advise using it. If not, start typing. Lane partner autoattacking? Ask him to stop. Scout looking like he's never played Scout before? Give some suggestions. Mid Missing? Call it.

    Clearness in communication is also something that can be improved by most people. If I see Devourer going from middle lane to top lane with a Haste rune, I take every necessary precaution to get their attention. For whatever reason, just saying "Devourer has haste goin top, get out Top" over the microphone is not enough. People seem to take a good 2 seconds to ascertain what a hasted Devourer means, and by then it's too late. People can argue that it's their fault for not running back immediately after I called it, but it doesn't mean that I can't emphasize the direness of the situation. Nowadays, I yell it out to them, ping Devourer's expected course, and spam b over chat. Sure I'll miss a last hit or two, but it's worth it.

    4) Team Morale/Enjoying the Game

    Being a team game, team spirit is also much more important than people give credit for. It might be that you listened to too many cheesy chants in school or you just don't care about people over the internet, but for the next 50 or so minutes these random people are your teammates so you might as well make it enjoyable for everyone.

    A few games ago, I played a game where our Plague Rider did not know which lane to go at the start of the game. I was about to tell him to go top with Swiftblade since that's a sick lane, when one of our teammates goes, "plague go top idiot".

    ...Really? Why was that last part necessary? What merit is there for anyone to say that? Is it a coincidence that he's also the lowest rated player on our team?

    Now, I will say that the ideal solution would be to say something along the lines of "WTF yo, calm down. Why are you getting so uppity when the game just started? Plague, go top please". As for me personally, I just cannot stand players that are ***holes from the get-go. When I see more of this kind of behavior from these players, the best solution that I've found for myself is to put every blame on that player. I know it's hypocritical and all, but it's a personal thing. It's simply not worth it for me to win a game with that guy in the team without making sure that he will never want to play with me again.

    Continuing with the hypocrisy, I have to mention that there's a lot of people that are too intolerant of noobs. I don't exactly have the right to say this seeing as how I am intolerant of ***holes, but I'm saying it anyways. There are a good number of people who just want to play the game without really striving to get better. That's fine. After all, it's a freaking game. Noobs will be noobs, deal with it. Yelling at noobs for being noobs gets you absolutely nowhere.

    Of course, it's still just a matter of opinion and I'm just throwing my opinion out there. However, at least I've given good thought about it, which is more than what most people can say about themselves. Some people have given really good thought on it and really hate playing with noobs, and I give my respects on their opinions for that. At least think about it a little is all I'm saying - Are you enjoying the game as much as you could be?

    As for me, there's plenty of nice people out there that just aren't good at the game, and I'd much rather have a well-to-do 1600 PSR player than a 1750 PSR prick in my team.

    5) Micro

    In case you don't know, Micro is basically how well you control your unit(s). It's naturally the first thing I look at when gauging the skill level of players. Unlike Lane Positioning, Micro is not as subtle for the most part. When someone messes up or pulls a clutch move, it's usually pretty clear. Experience plays a big part in improving your micro, so naturally the best way to get better at Micro is to play more.

    However, I have noticed that a vast majority of players do not get better because they do not know what to look for. It's when Micro gets to the finer details that I can see the potential of the player. For the purpose of explaining this point, I'll start by introducing the two common excuses I see with micro.

    "I'm Too Lazy": Laziness shows its ugly head for anyone who doesn't actively prevent it from happening. Again, thinking positive is the key here: Instead of thinking about not being lazy, think about being active. When you think about not being lazy, you're thinking about things that you shouldn't be doing. As I've stated before, that is a road to mediocrity. Always look for the one best option instead of trying to avoid all the other suboptimal options.

    "You're So Lucky": I hear this a lot. Example: Arachna goes in for a gank on Soulstealer, gets the guy to one hit left, but then the killing blow misses as Soulstealer goes over to higher ground. "He's so lucky it missed him!" Ok, he was lucky. However, you could have also come from up top. Or you could have orbwalked better so he can't even make it over the hill. Or you could have hit him before putting your ult on him for that extra hit that ended up being needed.

    In almost all cases that I hear people say, "He's so lucky!", I can spot at least one way that they could have prevented it from happening in the first place. It was just sloppy play, but a lot of players just blame it all on luck and shrug it off. The lesson here is to contemplate on what YOU can do better. If you ever catch yourself crediting luck for anything, take a very good look at what just happened.

    Now, let's say you did it perfectly down to the microscopic level and he still barely got away because the last hit missed. Even then, blaming it on luck is POINTLESS since there's absolutely nothing you can do to prevent it because, well, it's luck. I can personally think of a couple of situations where I believe I did everything right but luck was just not on my side at the end. However, I won't leave it on a note of "He got lucky". I'll just leave it as, "Well, I can't see anything I could have done better right now. Maybe I'll see a better way when I get better." There's been plenty of occasions in the past where I did indeed find a better way to do it later on, when at the time I thought it was impossible.

    6) Ganking

    <<<Coming Soon>>>

    [More Examples Coming(I think)]

    Guide is still a work in progress.
    Last edited by North2; 11-18-2010 at 11:05 AM.

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Loving it so far
    Adding videos/replays or gifs to demonstrate gameplay elements that you're discussing would be nice.
    Just my two cents

    Gw otherwise

  4. #4
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    Remove the UI by pressing F12 when you're taking screenshots, it would be much less cluttered.

    Looks like a pretty solid guide.
    I have returned

  5. #5
    I think you're making solid points here, and a lot of people should read it.

    There is one thing about blaming though. Sometimes it can help to tell someone else why he messed up so that he doesn't do it again. This is true for players that aren't as skilled as the average in your team, but want to do their best nonetheless. For example, if you're the hard carry being babysitted, and the babysitter autoattacks, telling him to stop it or to harrass the enemy might work. You will then have a much better laning phase than when you'd 'suck it up' and ignore his bad play.
    There's no "I" in team. There's a "me" though, if you jumble it up.

  6. #6
    Remove the UI by pressing F12 when you're taking screenshots, it would be much less cluttered.

    Looks like a pretty solid guide.
    Never knew about pressing F12 lol, thx.

    I think you're making solid points here, and a lot of people should read it.

    There is one thing about blaming though. Sometimes it can help to tell someone else why he messed up so that he doesn't do it again. This is true for players that aren't as skilled as the average in your team, but want to do their best nonetheless. For example, if you're the hard carry being babysitted, and the babysitter autoattacks, telling him to stop it or to harrass the enemy might work. You will then have a much better laning phase than when you'd 'suck it up' and ignore his bad play.
    That is very different from blaming. That's part of dealing with it. Blaming would be when you don't say anything to him at all, he continues to autoattack, and then you lose and blame him for everything.

    It's still only part of dealing with it though. Some people will just not listen and continue to autoattack. There's still many ways to alleviate the situation. You just have to keep a flexible mind instead of wasting time trying to convince him to stop when he didn't the first 4 times. The most notable example that I remember doing a few times was buying Ward of Revelation to destroy the enemy ward that's stopping my creep pull, double stacking it and then sending 3 waves of my creeps into it. The opposing heroes had no way of safely stealing the double stack either, since we can just jump them and they'd die (my autoattacking Plague Rider teammate was at least harassing well).

    "Communication" sounds like a good topic for my next example.
    Last edited by North2; 11-01-2010 at 08:33 PM.

  7. #7
    This really helps me! Every time im pissed off because of a game then i will look at this post

  8. #8
    Great post, looking forward to additions and improvements.

  9. #9
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  10. #10
    if this had a "like" button i would spam it <3 loving this and will share it with niggas on my friendlist!
    This guy is hugging you. Feel like hugging back??? =))))))
    Save hon, Luv eachother, No homo! <3 <3

  11. #11
    The only problem is that bad player are not bad...other are they wont come and look for your guide. i asked my friend, whos a terrible noob (patatepile) to read your guide...he came to me in rage and telling I DONT NEED THIS F*&***** GUIDE I ONLY LOST BECAUSE I PLAY WIOHT BADDIES AND NOOBS. That guy is freakin 0.3KDR and 1100-1200 psr...and in his mind, he isnt the problem...others are. For my part, i agree with everthing you wrote. Very good. Gotta hate 1750 player who call idiot and stupid everyone from the first minute. I ban em right away, ask for a remake in case it would passs. I usualy win with em since i dont have a big ego...but god i hate em. Jew ballz

  12. #12
    I am a tremendous fan of this guide, and wish that more people would read it. S2 has done a pretty great job with this game, and I wish that we as a community would respect each other and ourselves more. I hope that we see a greater occurrence of the sort of positive thinking that you suggest in our community as a whole.

    I might also suggest that this guide might be moved out of "Guides" into the slightly less underwhelming than before strategy article section, as it provides more general strategic and psychological advice.

    Thank you again for this post.

  13. #13
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    sometimes i wonder how far we'll ever get in trying to educate people in something so elusive as positivity. it fosters so much more potential than negativity, but people just seem to be impossible when it comes to grasping it.

  14. #14

    Re: Thinking Like the Better Player

    +1 to this guide. I feel like everyone who plays this game needs to realize they aren't on honcast and there is no prize if you win.

    Sent from my X10a using Tapatalk

  15. #15
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    This guide makes me want to stop being a douchebag. c;
    But we'll see...

  16. #16
    Thanks for writing this. As a 1600 solo pubber this is the kind of guide that helps =)

  17. #17
    Thanks for this guide. I personally find that blamers are best met with excruciating politeness-- lots of "please" and "thank you"... and maybe the occasional "would you kindly" just for shits 'n giggles.

    "Thank you for the criticism. I'll do my best to X. Would you please help me out by doing Y?"

    A syrupy statement like that will de-escalate the situation and get the blamer back on track. After the game you can ban the morons, but when the team needs focus civility is a sound strategy, I've found. It can take an iron will when the person is a real jackass, but if your focus is improving your game who cares about their behavior anyway? At least that's what I tell myself.

  18. #18
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    Good guide. But you should implant the point loki made about telling your lane partner if he's doing obvious mistakes that can be fixed. In a polite way ofc.

  19. #19
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    When I flame my team, I usually apologize after it. The best apology line would be: Don't go emo when I flame you, just ignore me and play the game.

    It has never worked, for some reason..

  20. #20
    One of the best guides I've crossed upon. Great work.

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