Dota 2 Coaching Session – Shadow Fiend, Part 2 (real game)

The second part to my coaching session with N9.blackshatan, the first part can be found here.

In this part, I played an unranked matchmaking game against real players while he watched and gave advice. It was a bit hard, since the coaching mode seems bugged and I could see things he drew if my screen was on that part of the map already, but I couldn’t see any pings, and I couldn’t see his drawings on the minimap. But we tried.

Match ID: 3206363143

He started by telling me that he likes to build (after getting bottle, and brown boots) Ring of Aquila, Power Treads, Dragon Lance, then either Shadow Blade or BKB. After that, it depends on the game.

The game started off pretty badly. There were no  bans, but they randomed Leshrac, and we had a random for Tinker, who fortunately repicked to Crystal Maiden (as I said I was going mid). Next they picked Huskar, and I locked in Shadow Fiend, but shatan said Huskar is one of the harder mids for SF to face in mid lane because he takes almost no damage to raze and SF doesn’t do very well at manfighting him if he just runs at me.

Our team then proceeded to pick Drow, Anti-Mage and Phantom Lancer. I was cringing a little on the inside, because I could just feel him thinking, “WTF scrub tier is this – what are these picks?!” He even said, “What the Hell, Anti-Mage?”

Their team was rounded off by Clockwerk, Nyx and Lifestealer.

He recommended going Dragon Lance -> BKB. And Hurricane Pike is good against Clockwerk.

He suggested I put tango, bottle and brown boots in my quick buy, as Faerie fire wasn’t going to cut it against Huskar. So I shipped myself some tangos after picking up the bounty rune.

I did a good block, and it was in my favour.

But I got low pretty quickly and the lane pushed into the Dire tower. He said to leave to pick up the rune / bounty rune because it wasn’t safe for me to stand so close to Huskar when I was so low, so I might as well be doing something else. It wasn’t that bad for me, as I only ended up missing that wave, even though I walked all the way around to the bounty rune and back to lane. Because I razed the wave, my creep wave was going to go into his tower and die to it without killing much of his wave. Then his next wave would meet mine, and Id’ be back by then.

Unfortunately, I made a mistake, and let Huskar get too many hits off on me while I was focused on the creeps, and ended up dying for it.

The mistake I made was that I should be hitting a creep and moving back, instead of just hitting the creeps and standing there. Another piece of advice he gave me was if I teleport (TP) back to lane and the creeps are close, I can get a free raze off, because I’m still regening mana from the fountain. And I can bottle while channeling TP, to get even more regen after teleporting.

He jumps me again, but this time I’m in a better situation HP / mana-wise and I have double damage bottled. But I choke and fail to pop DD, and we both end up killing each other (though he died first).

He does it again, and this time I die first. Shatan says that against Huskar, I want to spend as little time in the lane as possible. He’s a hero-killer and doesn’t do that much against towers. He doesn’t farm creeps well, only heroes. The more time I spend in lane (feeding kills), the worse it is for me. He recommends double razing the wave, then farming the jungle. I will get stronger whenever he leaves the lane, and if he does, I should smash their towers.

If he does jump me while I’m out, I should just TP out right away.

Huskar went to gank and push bot, so I took mid tower, and Shatan told me to keep pushing. He said if I saw three heroes in one lane, I should be fine to push a tower. It’s only when I don’t see Clockwerk (because I need to fear his hook) or Nyx, that I need to start going home. I should also position myself so that I’m on the opposite side of where they are. So if they’re all at bot lane, I should position myself to the opposite side of the game.

So in this screenshot, I can see Huskar is bottom (because of the ward), so I should be on the left side of mid lane.

In this screenshot, I probably should have been standing closer to the red X, because I should have known he would be near the top (probably having used the shrine), and I would see him coming if he was going to gank me from the bottom because of the ward. If I’m there, I can see him coming and run into the fog. As it’s nighttime, I will have less time to react, so I need to think about where he can attack from. (I ended up dying here.)

There was a moment when I pushed top, and retreated, but managed to get out. He said it was good, because I lured 2 heroes away so my team could pressure other parts of the map.

I tried it again, and ended up dying (not in the screenshot above, I lived that time), but he still said it was an OK death, because Anti-Mage, Phantom Lancer and Drow were farming. He said that it’s something a lot of newer players do as a mistake – spend a lot of time chasing one hero with the entire team, while the enemy team farms freely.

Another important thing he mentioned was remembering who teleported when. So if I pushed top and Lifestealer and Nyx teleported in to defend, I could push bottom with the team knowing at worst, we’d be up against three heroes.

I should also be switching to int treads when razing, but I kept forgetting. I also forget to build Ring of Aquila, but by the time I remembered, I had started building Shadow Blade and didn’t have room for it in my inventory.

At this point, he told me I should start pushing bottom.

I have Shadow Blade, I can see three of their heroes are in middle lane. He said what I want to do is be on the aggressive and dictate the gameplay. If I’m beating down on their tier 3, I have to force them to decide how to react – either they make a commitment to push themselves (in which case I can decide to retreat), or they have to retreat. It seems like such a minor difference, but forcing them to make the first move favours me, because I have more knowledge when I make my decision. I end up teleporting back to defend, but AM (who joined me) sat in the trees. After the enemy team moved away, he resumed the pressure on bottom lane. Better AM than me, because he has a better escape (blink).

We didn’t get to the tier 3, and CM and PL got caught out, so we ended up losing mid rax. He said I should have been less fearful, as they had just popped dust, and it was a perfect chance to ult on top of Clockwerk, but I chose to walk back and do nothing instead and missed the opportunity.

At this point, CM and PL were having a bit of a tiff, and he said he hates it when people sook like this. I said this is pretty normal for this tier of play, and he responded that even at his level, there are people like this. Sad news – seems like it never ends!

I had Dragon Lance, BKB, Treads, Bottle, Shadow Blade and TP, he said it was worth getting Silver Edge to disable Huskar’s passive.

It was really important for me to constantly check their inventories for sentries, as it would tell me whether I’d be able to shadow blade in and get my ult off. I did get a good one off, but it wasn’t enough to save our rax, and we were now down two melee and one ranged rax.

I got pretty low and started to run away, but he told me to turn around. I should try to kite them if possible, because I can outrange them. I said it should be OK for me to let them beat on me while the rest of my team kills them, and he said, “NO! You should make them work for that kill. You don’t need to die.” It sounds so stupid, but I guess I’ve always rationalised my deaths, because that’s what support heroes do. Can’t keep that mindset!

43 minutes in, we go for Rosh. I think he was in shock that it took so long for either team to make a Rosh attempt. Creeps were pushing out top, AM was pushing mid, and he told me to go bottom. Even though we couldn’t really see much, I had buyback, and the risk of my death losing us the game was pretty low, so it was a good gamble.

(This screenshot does not correlate with my above comment about not being able to see much – it was taken from a replay with vision from both teams.)

Clockwerk (light blue) is coming towards me, and I started to head back in fear. Shatan said that was a mistake. Instead, I should have hid in the bushes. With all the other enemy heroes heading towards top, it would just be me and CW. If a fight broke out in the top lane, he would be guaranteed to teleport in to help, which would leave bottom lane free for me to farm and push. By running all the way back to base, by the time I walked back to the lane to help push it, it had taken so long that the fight was over, and I had to worry about them coming to fight me and I didn’t make it to the tier 2 tower.

PL and I picked off two of their heroes, but I was too fearful to keep pushing.

It actually ended up being a mistake, as AM was pushing top rax, so if PL and I had distracted them for long enough, even if we both ended up dying, AM would have finished the rax. Unfortunately, I told PL to get back, and he listened. He said I have to get into the mindset of thinking, “What would happen if I did _______?” and considering the trade-offs. Fortunately, they came back and fought us after they thought AM had retreated, and even though I died, AM finished top rax and PL got bot tier 3.

I started working on Skadi, which he said would be good against Lifestealer as I can start to kite him. He also mentioned that the game was starting to turn in our favour, and it was our game to lose.

I said we didn’t deserve to win with such rubbish performance, but he said that was the nature of our hero picks – we wanted the game to go late. We should keep split pushing so we don’t get into a situation where we lose our entire team. That’s how a lot of teams lose – they stick together as five, get wiped, and then lose their base.

Well, I got caught out as I didn’t realise they had another gem, and CM and AM both died with me. So we lost top rax and they had megas. I also left the courier in middle lane for an embarrassingly long time (~20s). I also didn’t know having teleport scroll in your backpack makes it finish its cooldown slower (only ticks once every 2 seconds).

PL gets picked off, AM has no buyback. They push in, and we couldn’t stem the wave and ended up losing.

Some tips from him:

  • if you are losing your lane, it can be good to abandon the lane and farm the jungle. You can let your support come in and soak up XP from the lane if they’re free. There’s no point staying in the lane and getting destroyed. This ended up working out well for me, because once Huskar realised he couldn’t just keep killing me in lane, he left. It did mean he went to pressure other lanes, but I was able to pick off the mid tier 1 tower, and start chipping down the tier 2, reclaiming some of the ground I had lost. Fortunately, Huskar didn’t get too many kills on his wandering journey. A part of me says this is a bit selfish, but that’s the life of a core!
  • focus on the ranged creeps!!!!!
  • stand near the creep wave to make it easier to get creep kills.
  • don’t trade hits with Huskar – the lower he is, the more damage he gets. Just focus on last hits. If he stands back, you can stand close. If he moves in, you move back.
  • level 7 is when Shadow Fiend becomes super powerful and starts to crush towers (4 points in Necromastery for max soul damage).
  • pay attention to the time – the offlane heroes sometimes go for bounty runes, so you can get an opportunistic kill if they’re not careful.
  • don’t linger around if you don’t need to. If you are going to double raze and go to the jungle, then do that. Don’t double raze and question life’s mysteries, then leave.
  • a good player doesn’t sit around waiting for their support to make plays – they make opportunities for the support heroes to make plays. For instance, they can push a tower, forcing the other team to commit resources to defend – this leaves the other lanes under-resourced, so the support heroes will have an opportunity to make a move on the remaining hero. You end up opening up two parts of the map with one action. He said he often likes to push a tower, TP away to the opposite side, Shadow Blade in, and pick off the poor remaining hero.
  • if you get an illusion rune, use them like wards. Place them so you can see if the enemy hero approaches you while you’re farming the jungle or whatever else you’re doing.
  • if you see heroes on the map, push the opposite lane
  • SF is really good at clearing lanes, so you are able to double-raze, go farm the jungle or pick up runes, return, and not really miss out on much gold or XP.
I just found it incredible how much more he was seeing even though we were both seeing the same thing. He would see a glimpse of a couple of heroes briefly moving in and out of fog on the minimap, and his mind can process who it was and where they were likely to be going. He is really good at keeping track which heroes have items: TP scrolls, sentries, gem, dust, wards, what kind of boots, BKB usages.
He was watching me farm, watching Huskar’s movements, watching the minimap, tracking ultimates, tracking item progression, tracking rune pick-ups, and who knows how much more while I was just trying to kill those damned range creeps!
It’s funny – nothing he mentioned was particularly mind-blowing. It all makes sense if you think about it, but they’re just things that never really occurred to me. Positioning, taking advantage of heroes being away, looking at your lane match-up and not forcing yourself to stay out of stubbornness, trade-offs, risk assessments. I do those things at some level, but not to the point where it feels like second-nature, like it does to him, and I think that’s always going to be a big barrier for my improvement. Until those things are just muscle memory, I am going to be devoting too much brain processing power trying to do those things at the cost of other things.
I think the biggest improvements are going to come from improving my positioning, so break time, then more practice!
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