Captains Mode: Ultimate Hero Picking Guide

Not having enough time to play a lot of games to be an experienced and effective drafter? This is the right article for you.

In my article, 8 Essentials in Winning a Dota game, having a better leader ranked 2nd to the most important. Leaders are responsible for their team's motivation and strategies. Hero drafting greatly lies on the hands of a Dota Team Captain. Team mates may suggest but leaders should have the larger vision on how the game would flow. They should be able to pick heroes that will give the team great advantage over the opponents.

How can we do this? How can we be trusted leaders when it comes to Captain's mode Dota games? How can we be a Hero Drafting King to lead our team in having the easiest route to victory?

I'd like to start with this simple quote from Einstein, "Imagination is more important than Knowledge."

We all know that Earthshaker has Fissure, enchant, aftershock, echo slam, but it's our imagination that made us decide to buy Kelen's Dagger of Escape. We imagined that in a clash, a surprise attack from Earthshaker have great chances on wiping out the entire opposing team.

This applies greatly in hero picking. You need to have a good imagination. Some good captains played Dota for centuries just to be a good drafter. But, what if you don't? We play Dota for fun. We are not having BS Dota as our course so we don't really have that much time to experience all the Heroes Line up and decide what works best. The shortcut to being a good Drafter is your imagination.

These are the things you need to "IMAGINE"

1. Potentials of Heroes

You need to imagine the things heroes can do to give trouble to a team. You need to conceptualize what they are capable of. Pugna, for example, can push undefended towers quickly because of his Blast. Alchemist, when farmed up, can turn into a very painful and hard to kill beast. You need to know what heroes are capable of because this is where you'll have to imagine the next number - Hero Counters.

2. Hero Counters

Now that you have imagined how those heroes will give you trouble, you should start thinking of what counters you're going to have. You may think of countering Pugna with a Jakiro to defend towers. You may try slardar to reduce Alchemist's armor late game. You may try anything you think would counter certain heroes. Some may be effective, some will fail. What's important is you fail forward because you learned from that error and you're ready to have new plans. I can't teach you how to be an instant Professional Dota Captain, but I'll surely give you the vision how to skip experiencing tons of lost Dota games just to improve.

3. Laning

Laning is very essential. You also need to use your imagination to determine how you're going to win your lanes. In most cases, you need to know how to dominate a lane but sometimes you just need to know how you're going to survive. May it be solo lanes or trilanes, you need to imagine the abilities of your opponent's heroes and take advantage of their weaknesses.

4. How to Kill Early Game?

Why are supports essential in the team? Yes, it's map control and early game dominance. Supports are important because they would give the team more kills early game. They have painful skills at lower levels like disables and nukes. Now, you need to imagine how you're going to kill. You should not just pick 2 supports without thinking how good their combo is.

Here's an example of a good pair of supports
Crystal Maiden + Sven - The slow of CM gives sven more hits on the opponent. Storm bolt and frostbite adds more.
Here's an example of a bad pair of supports
ES + Chen - In ganks, Fissure can block Chen's creeps at times making the prey flee safely.  There are other heroes that have better chemistry with Earthshaker or Chen.  I'm not telling though that they shouldn't be picked.  I saw Chen and Earthshaker picked at the same time by pro players.  They didn't rely on ganks.  They focused on team fights and was successful. 

You need to conceptualize how you're going to kill your preys at early level. If you visualize that it'll be harder to kill with your planned line up, think of a new one. Never just pick randomly. Good opponents would take advantage of your weakness at drafting and they're going to use that against you.

5. The Team Fights

Imagine what you're going to do at team fights. Are your heroes capable of wiping out the entire team? or after 3 kills, all your killing mechanisms are gone? That's why there are combination of nukers and hitters in the team. Nukers alone won't kill all the opponents. Hitters alone would consume more time to kill everyone. But, the most important part is, knowing how your opponents will fight. What are the things they are capable of at team fights? At drafting itself, you need to be prepared for the strategies they're going to execute with their heroes.

Now that you learned the most important key in Drafting, which is imagination, let us learn what should happen in Drafting Phases.

1st Banning Phase

What happens most here is you ban heroes you don't want to see in the game. There are several reasons for banning.

1. Those heroes will disrupt your plans.
2. Those heroes are difficult to counter.
3. Bluffing to use certain heroes.
4. The opposing team is comfortable in using those heroes.

1st Picking Phase

This is where both of the teams will pick 3 heroes in 1-2-2-1 order. I suggest picking good supports 1st because of 2 reasons. 1. Limited good support heroes 2.Goal to counter opponent's carry heroes. If you pick your carry heroes at once, opponents will grab that opportunity to counter your carry heroes. They're going to pick heroes that focuses on the disadvantages of your carries.

I'd like to point out the advantage of having the last 1 pick. This last 1 pick is a treasure. You can pick any carry hero here without any fear. After you pick the certain hero, the next phase is the 2nd ban phase. You can simply ban the heroes that counter that hero you picked.

In this phase you can have a glimpse on how the opposing team would play. You can decide now what kind of play you're going to execute against their plan. In my case, I pick my supports and I pick a carry hero that is difficult to counter or is a counter to my opponents.

If you have a plan on using a combo that you have thought before, you should never give your opponent a hint that you're going to execute that combo. Remember to always deceive your enemies. Banning and picking heroes that won't reveal that plan is good at this phase.

2nd Banning Phase

Most people take this for granted but this is my favorite phase in drafting. This is where you are to ban 2 heroes after the 1st picking phase. Now, what happens here is I look at my opponent's 3 heroes. I will determine what are the missing pieces that will make their line up a solid one, then I'll ban the heroes that will fill the holes. If the opponents picked 3 carry heroes at the first phase, I take that advantage to ban strong supports that will make the game easier for them. They'll be left no choice but to pick the weaker support heroes left.

I also use this phase to eliminate the heroes that will counter my picked heroes. Like, when I picked Tinker in the 1st Picking Phase, I'd ban Night Stalker or Puck in the 2nd Banning Phase.

You can also ban heroes like what you did on 1st banning phase.

2nd Picking Phase

This is the phase where you are to pick your last 2 heroes in 1-1-1-1 pattern. In this phase you should choose what your first pick is. In case you are the last one to pick, you have the advantage of giving a surprise pick for the opponent. In case you are not the last drafter, you should be prepared on what the opponent may pick. Your line up should now be complete. You should decide what solo heroes you're going to have and what would be the heroes for trilane. The heroes you're going to pick now should complement the 1st 3 heroes picked. Their skills should have a smooth flow for team fights. For example you have picked ES venge WR at your first picking phase. You shouldn't pick another melee hero because your trilane has an Earthshaker. It'll be a hard life having 2 melee heroes at your trilane. You may pick a melee hero for mid lane but not for trilane because you'll be having a passive trilane which is prone to harassment. 2 melee heroes in a trilane also means an easy farming lane for the ranged opponent carry hero.


Kinds of Hero Drafting
1. Hero Countering Based
2. Complimenting a hero played good by a team mate with a good combo
3. Creating a combo for the team to execute
4. All of the above

Note: No. 4 is the best. Combining all of these kinds will surely guarantee a solid Hero Line up for your team.

Reasons for Banning
1. Plans not to be disrupted
2. Can't play that hero well
3. Hard to Counter heroes
4. Opponents love it
5. Bluffing

Imagination is the Key

Things to be visualized before or while drafting
1. Potentials of Heroes
2. Hero Counters
3. Laning
4. Killing Early
5. Team Fights

Things to remember at Drafting Phases
1st Banning Phase: Reasons for banning
1st Picking Phase: Pick flexible heroes first. Be ready to counter.
2nd Banning Phase: Ban heroes that will strengthen the opponent's line up. Ban heroes that will counter your previous heroes picked.
2nd Picking Phase: Compliment heroes with the previous picks. Continue with your counters.

Professional Dota Replays are everywhere. There are a lot of websites giving you these but copying their play styles won't give you any chance of beating them. To understand the game thoroughly and to have original game styles are the factors that will make you have a successful team.
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Anonymous said...

Now im ready to be captain!! 1st Blood

Jack Rodriguez said...

glad to hear that! ^_^

Anonymous said...

Thanks captain jack!

Jack Rodriguez said...

you're welcome ^^

Anonymous said...

appeal :)

nando said...

wow.. now i'm ready to be a captain in my team..
thx for sharing..
visit my blog..

Anonymous said...

nice guide sir jak...

Jack Rodriguez said...

thanks! remember to follow us at our facebook fan page by simply clicking the like button. I use it for updates. Thanks for your warm appreciation. You inspire me to work harder.

Anonymous said...

Nice guides

Anonymous said...

Captain na ako. Hahaha :D

Jack Rodriguez said...

It's a great pleasure for me whenever I inspire people to develop their games as well as personalities.

Anonymous said...

Imagination is the Key< i like this line :D

smyl salcedo said...

`nyz msg for d team captz..dy shud read ds knd of advice.. [PaPi]-smile3 :)

Anonymous said...

`nys guide for us team captz..oL d captz shud read ds knd of advice..2 thumbz up..;)

Jack Rodriguez said...

Thanks! Captains should really possess this trait, imagination. Don't forget to like our facebook fan page to be informed of new articles.

Anonymous said...

grabe asteg naman to.. :D
^^.. tnx sa nagshare..Keep up the
Good work

Jack Rodriguez said...

you're welcome!

Anas Faris said...

Very nice post. I hope you can post more on this - captain stuffs and team strategies

Anonymous said...

nice.. i apply all the rules to myself.. thanks for the blog. :)

Anonymous said...


Gideon said...


Gideon said...

Thanks man ! hope we'll win this match ! Not a captain but yea surely tell the captain what ive read ;)

jed nelson said...

Id learn a lot sir jack, we use to play DOTA for fun, neglecting such that strategies, so whenever we played as a team against strangers, were always defeated, now I read your blog, my perpective to the game now change, I will used to play dota now with imagination. thanks! more power sir. -salute-

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I lost a bet game bec. of poor picking heroes.

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