As the reader may have noticed, Valve has recently reformed the way that the pick phase in unranked is conducted. The new “All Draft” mode involves the ban phase from Ranked All-Pick, where players may nominate heroes against which they do not want to play, and the server randomly picks from those nominated. Then the teams alternate selections from the remaining hero pool, losing money as a team if a hero is not picked. This brings a level of team composition strategy to unranked pubs, eliminating the “furiously spam click Invoker at exactly 0:00” scenarios that plagued unranked previously.
On the heels of my success with the Tread Switching: The Liberace Method article, I have decided to delve into the intricacies of hero selection in all-draft, which I will refer to as “drafting.” As a new concern to those of us who prefer the purity and elegance of unranked play, I will lay out some basic draft considerations and then run through the draft of a sample lineup that in my opinion will be successful.
There are some basic concepts to Dota2 drafting that will help you create a lineup that will allow your team to win games.
1. Hero balance – You generally want a good mix of heroes in your lineup in terms of farm capability. There is only so much farm on the map, and certain heroes do more with that farm than others; similarly, some heroes need farm while others don’t. You want two or maybe three core heroes who can really use quite a bit of farm (I’m assuming we’re not playing at Liquid.gh levels of efficiency here), one or two more who can use some, and then a support or two who can survive with very little.
2. Draft order – The order in which you select your heroes matters as well. You don’t want to “give away” too much if what you want to do, so picking heroes who don’t tell you much – let’s say Mirana, who can play any position, or Ogre Magi, who’s useful in a variety of drafts – are good early picks. You don’t want to pick a very niche hero like Huskar first, because the other team could pick Huskar counters and make your game no fun (you’re picking Huskar – your goal is to make their game no fun).
3. Enabling your overall strategy – Certain strategies require certain drafts, and so you want to pick heroes that enable that strategy. If you want to play Naga, for example, you might not take other heroes who require lots of farm (see point 1), and moreover, you may want to ban or pick for your own team heroes who can effectively deal with durable illusion spam, like Lion.
For the purposes of this article, let us assume that there will be two bans, which is fairly common for all-draft games.
The first ban will be Witch Doctor. Someone always nominates some random hero, and then that hero gets banned. You’re sitting there on the pick screen going through the heroes you hate and maybe those who hard counter your preferred choice, and then you see “Witch Doctor has been nominated for banning.” “Who bans Witch Doctor?” you think, but the bans are announced and the answer to that question turns out to be: someone in your game. Alchemist, Lone Druid, Lina, and a variety of other nominees manage through, but no one’s playing Witch Doctor tonight.
The second ban is Slark.
For a first pick, you want to make sure that you don’t reveal too much, and you don’t pigeonhole your draft into playing a strategy made suboptimal by the opponents’ (and your teammates’) subsequent picks. Decent supports can be picked here, and our first pick will be Pudge. Pudge can create pressure all over the map and create lots of space for you and your allies. Some people may think he’s going to be your mid hero, which adds an element of uncertainty to what you’re planning to do. He fulfills all the requirements for a good first pick. Our Pudge will roam as our position 4.
Your second pick will be Juggernaut. You were lucky to get Juggernaut for a second pick – since he just had an arcana released, he is in high demand, but you were able to select him to help your teammate unlock the orange form of his Bladeform Legacy. Juggernaut can only be played as a farming core (sorry LanM), but he can go mid or safelane. What’s more, he has very few “counters” and can play a variety of styles, including coming online early for teamfights, and can group up and push with Healing Ward.
For the third pick we show our hand a bit, with Invoker. Usually chosen before the third round, we are able to land him. Invoker is only played mid, but like our other two picks, can be played in a variety of styles depending on how the rest of the draft phase progresses. He has also had a very high rate of success in the Dota2 Asian Championships, so assuming that our teammate has been watching that event and can execute on the level of SumaiL or Miracle-, we’ll be in an even better spot. Our selection of Invoker means that he will play as our 2-position, and our safelane farming core will be Juggernaut.
Our fourth pick will shore up our offlane, which requires that a hero have the ability to stay alive in a potentially dangerous position, and potentially scale with some farm if in a good place to find some. We select Phantom Assassin, because she can farm from a great distance with Stifling Dagger, and will be able to escape danger with Blink Strike. Phantom Assassin can also come online with very few items – really only Phase Boots, Aquila, and a Blightstone – so she can contribute throughout the game. Remember: PA was picked as a support just a few patches ago; here, she will be our position 3 offlaner.
For our final pick, we have our core positions selected, and one roaming support. The best option is someone who will help the Juggernaut lane, potentially set up some kills, and be in a position to survive buying wards and smokes with what meager income he or she is allowed. Shadow Demon can work here, as can Dazzle. But it’s Twenty-Serpentine, WLDers! When our opponents think “zig,” we “zag.” Our fifth pick is Sniper. Our opponents will have no idea what our lanes will be, which creates a strategic advantage right from Strategy Time. Our Sniper will start in the jungle – having taken Take Aim as his first level skill, creeps will have to walk farther to hit him and he will be able to kill nearly an entire camp before healing up at the shrine. Between using both shrines, he can farm three or possibly even four camps before heading back to the fountain to heal. And Sniper can scale better than Shadow Demon, which means we will have a huge advantage going into the late game. Position 5 jungle Sniper is the pick that ties the entire draft together.
So there is a relatively foolproof method to drafting successfully in the new unranked All-Draft. If you can get three of your friends together, and then either SumaiL or Miracle-, you should have no problem executing this draft and cruising to that sweet, sweet unranked Dota2 victory screen.
Happy April Fool’s Day, Everyone!