The difference between casual play and ranked matches in Dota 2 is immense because of the attitude and approach of players.
The main thing that sets everything apart in these matches is the fight for matchmaking rating (MMR).
MMR is a direct reflection of a gamer’s skill in Dota 2. The more wins they accumulate, the higher their MMR. With each win or loss, a gamer’s MMR will fluctuate by 25 points. In turn, you will also be set up against gamers in the same MMR tier as yourself when playing ranked matches, which means the competition is always on the same level.
MMR is one of the most hotly contested topics in the Dota 2 community and something even pro gamers are constantly tuned into improving.
If you are looking to find out how you can improve your ranking, read on for some helpful tips with inputs from some of India’s top Dota 2 gamers.
1. Improve your skills not your MMR
Since MMR is a reflection of your skills, it makes most sense to focus on getting better in the game rather than your rating.
“Instead of climbing MMR, I focus on overcoming each bracket,” says Ganesha ‘Anx1e8y’ Manjunath. “I believe that players in each bracket make some very common mistakes. If you can avoid the same mistakes as the others, you can become better and climb up the rankings. This stays true till very high up in the rankings in my opinion.”
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2. Understand the bracket system
This brings us to tip No 2 about MMR brackets. They are a basic grading system that rank gamers into tiers based on their MMR. Below is the current bracket system.
Herald: 0 to 720 MMR
Guardian: 840 to 1560 MMR
Crusader: 1680 to 2400 MMR
Archon: 2520 to 3240 MMR
Legend: 3360 to 4080 MMR
Ancient: 4200 to 4920 MMR
Divine: 5040 to 5760 MMR
Immortal: 6000+ MMR
The higher you go, the lower the gap between brackets. For example, the difference between a player in the 6k bracket and the 7k bracket is that the one in 7k can do the same things three seconds faster, explains Anx1et8y. If you are in a lower bracket, some common mistakes to avoid are being tunnel-visioned on your hero, not being able to use the mini map correctly, refusing to adjust your gameplay and approach based on the opponents, and not understanding hero matchups.
It can be very easy to get lost in the pursuit of MMR. Gamers who believe they should be in higher brackets can often turn on their teammates, blaming them for losses and for being held back. It’s best to support your teammates even when the results aren’t favourable; constantly deriding your teammates will harm their confidence, which will only lead to further losses. Remember: teamwork makes the dream work.
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4. Pay attention to specifics when learning skills
Dota 2 is an incredibly complex and vast game with many variables that effect each match. The more you play, the more you will be able to internalize these variables to make them a natural part of your gameplay. For example, when you are learning a new hero, you have to focus on last hitting, best areas of the map for that hero, items to equip, and how the enemy can cause you harm. Staying tuned in while learning new aspects of the game can improve your learning curve so you get better at the game faster.
5. Play regularly but be smart about time management
At a rank higher than Ancient, it is near impossible to grind MMR without playing 15+ games a week. From the Immortal rank onwards, most people you encounter will be professional players and semi-professional players who are playing the game for at least five-six hours every day. But you still need to be efficient with your approach.
“If you are playing 12 games a day and always losing the last four, it’s better to just play eight games and devote the rest of your time in understanding your mistakes,” says Krish ‘Moon’ Gupta, one of India’s most well-recognized Dota 2 players who is over 8K MMR and ranked 130 on the SEA leaderboards.
The ranked experience can be a stressful one. You’ll often encounter situations where you or your teammates are not at your best, or the enemy team can do no wrong, or you could just be in an unwinnable situation through most of the match. Most gamers have a win rate close to 50% through their Dota careers, so they lose as many games as they win.
“If a game goes out of hand and I know that it’s impossible to win, I use it to experiment and have fun. I accept that the game is lost and focus on trying some new experimental stuff. If it ends up working then it's a bonus, but if it doesn’t I have already accepted my fate so I don’t end up tilting” says Anx1et8y.
7. Learn from watching the best
Dota 2 is a game where watching players play is just as important as playing. Whether streamers, content creators, pro players, or even opponents and teammates who dominate in games, try and learn from anyone performing well. A great place to start would be watching the games of OG, two-time winners of The International, the biggest Dota 2 tournament in the world.
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8. Watch your own games to identify mistakes
The game has a very comprehensive replay system where you can watch games from the player’s perspective, right down to mouse movement and vision. Use this to analyze games and learn from them, including times when you might have made mistakes. If you had a bad loss, go over the replay and write down the mistakes. Work on the mistakes and avoid them in future matches. Over time, it will help improve your performances, which will eventually show in your MMR.