How to Play Dota 2 – A Beginner’s Guide

Dota 2 is one of the most complex competitive games that you can learn. Most esports are easy to learn but difficult to master. Dota 2 is an exception to this rule, being difficult to learn and almost impossible to master. And that’s because the number of possibilities is enormous. On this beginner’s guide, know how to play Dota 2.

How Dota 2 Works

In Dota 2, the goal is to destroy the enemy Ancient. Just like in RTS games, progress is made at the structural level. You must destroy towers, control the map, and advance toward the enemy base. But the battle itself is carried out by heroes who evolve just like the ones from RPGs.

Dota 2 is a team game, meaning you will need to learn how to cooperate with four other players. If the enemy team does this while you do not, their teamwork will be much better, and the odds of losing the game are high.

Just like in StarCraft 2, you are constantly trying to become stronger than your enemy, scout the opposing team’s movements, and plan accordingly.

There are five players on each team, and each player gets to pick a hero. There are more than 120 options to choose from, and you cannot possibly master every single hero in the game. So the goal is to pick 5-10 characters that are well-suited for one of the five roles and then play them over and over again.

Meanwhile, you should study the other heroes and learn about their abilities, just so you can play better with them (if they’re on your team) or against them (if they’re on the enemy team). Each hero has strengths and weaknesses and is perfect for at least one role.

Dota 2 Roles or Positions

In Dota 2, the amount of gold that can be obtained in any given minute is limited. And most of it, at least at the start of the game, is a potential that cannot be utilized. This means that the five heroes need to figure out how to share the farm. 

Priority is always given to the core heroes: position 1 (carry or safe laner), position 2 (mid or middle laner), and position 3 (tank or offlaner). Each of these heroes goes to a separate lane, with three lanes total. The remaining two heroes are called support heroes, although one of them is not technically support but a roamer.

If you play support heroes, your goal should be to help your carry and midlaner grow as fast as possible and not hinder their progress. If you play core heroes, your goal should be to increase your power through any means possible, which implies farming (killing enemy creeps and neutral creeps from the jungle) as much as possible.

In a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), not every hero can be the star of the show. But every hero needs to contribute to his team’s success. If the enemy heroes do this better than your team, you will almost always lose the game.

How to Play Dota 2

In Dota 2, the opposing team will try to do exactly what you should be doing yourself in relation to it. The goal is to kill enemy creeps, destroy enemy towers, prevent enemy heroes from reaching their full potential, and so on. Whatever keeps your opponent weaker than you is good for your long-term success during a Dota 2 game.

Games usually last 30 – 50 minutes, but they can be lost in the first 15. It all depends on how much gold and experience you manage to accumulate. If you get ahead of the enemy team in the early game, your chances of winning are much higher. But if you fall behind by thousands of gold and experience, you will most likely lose the game.

However, in Dota 2, you should never despair because the game is built in such a way as to allow comebacks. If the weaker side manages to kill several enemy heroes during a fight, that side will gain a lot of gold and experience. 

Having a higher tempo and a gold advantage is very important, but it doesn’t automatically win you games. Ultimately, what you do with your heroes matters the most. If you fight poorly, the enemy team might beat you even if you have a 10K gold advantage.

How to Play Dota 2


The five heroes on your team will need to buy items. And there are hundreds of them. Mastering item builds just one tiny part of Dota 2, but you will need to learn what each item does if you want to succeed.

Items can help you kill an enemy unit faster by giving you damage or attack speed. Or they can improve your survivability by giving you armor, HP, evasion, mana, movement speed, magic resistance, stats, and so on.

The stronger the item, the more expensive it will be. Some items require you to farm for more than 10 minutes to obtain. However, you will be able to buy them gradually because they’re made up of multiple components.

Intelligence heroes will buy items designed for them. Agility and strength-based heroes will do the same. You always need to ask yourself: what do I need more of to win the game? Damage? Attack speed? Magic resistance? Etc.


You cannot destroy enemy towers immediately, but as the game progresses and heroes become stronger, everything else on the map becomes weak relative to them. This means that team fighting becomes the key to winning the mid game and the late game. And to be successful, your carry heroes need to play well.

How to Play Dota 2


A large portion of the game is spent farming or killing creeps. Neutral creeps spawn every minute. Lane creeps spawn twice a minute. The safe lane and the middle lane heroes will farm the most throughout a Dota 2 game, but that doesn’t mean the remaining three heroes shouldn’t farm.

The principle that teams must follow is this: a few strong heroes, supported by a few weaker heroes, will win more often than five equally farmed heroes. In some situations, one hero will win on his own if he’s farmed enough.

In Dota 2, you cannot control your creeps. They will always move toward the enemy Ancient on their lane and attack everything they encounter along the way.

Posted by
William Westerlund

William is an author, editor, and an avid gamer with over 10.000 hours in CS:GO. He also enjoys playing Rust, Dota 2, and TF2 but never became a top 1% player in any of those games.