Lethal's Guide to Becoming a Lethal Striker

Lethal's Guide to Becoming a Lethal Striker
Part 1: Fundamental Mentality & Roles

How does one acquire the skills necessary to become an elite Striker, you might ask? It is no simple task to learn how to play a new game at a highly competitive level, but I am writing this guide with you in mind. My goal is to equip you with a minimum of the basic skills necessary to contribute to your team at any position, at any level of play, and in any phase of the game. Specifically, this guide will cover the most fundamental skills of overall gameplay and the skills necessary to play in the field. I hope you find this guide helpful on your journey of becoming the world number one!


First Thing’s First: Understand the Game

The first thing you need to understand about DotA Strikers is the purpose of the game itself. It may sound obvious, but the goal of each and every game is to score more goals than your opponent, until the game is won (whether that be to 11 or 13). It sounds simple, but there are a myriad of ways to go about accomplishing the team’s goal. Let me stress, “the team’s goal”. Strikers is not an individual game, nor should you attempt to play it as such. Pass the ball around to your teammates early and often. Don’t be afraid to pass it backwards as long as your team is ready. Most of all, ask the more experienced players questions and be receptive to the responses.

The game is typically played 4v4, and each team divides its players into specific, crucial roles to maximize their chances of success. Certain heroes typically lend themselves to being specific roles, so before just choosing your favorite, ask the best player on your team or your captain what role the team needs you to play. He will say one of four things…

Mobility: The primary ball carrier of the team is the mobility hero. The mobility hero is tasked with winning the faceoff, keeping possession of the ball (not turning it over), and making smart passes to his teammates. The hero for this role is almost always Anti-Mage with Super Sprint or Io with the Pull ability, since they are the two most mobile heroes. However, Invoker (Powershot) can also serve this function in a more limited sense. The Mobility hero should be positioned in a place where he is always open for a pass if he doesn’t have the ball, and should always put himself in a position where he has at least one open pass if he has possession.

Offense: The team’s primary scorer needs to be an excellent shooter and great at positioning himself in a place where he can receive the ball from his teammates. The two heroes most likely to perform this role are Earthshaker (Slam) and Slark (Jump), due to their ability to shoot above or around the goalkeeper. This doesn’t mean the offensive player is the only one who can score, but in a highly competitive game it’s likely that the opposing keeper will be skilled enough to save almost all of the other shots taken without using the team’s offensive ability. The offensive hero shouldn’t be positioned all the way back near his own goal defending, and instead should be ahead or at least parallel to the Mobility hero.

Defense: The team’s primary defender must be an excellent passer, must understand when to take risks and when not to, and needs to have enough foresight to see opposing offensive plays unfolding. Heroes suited for this role are Io (Pull), Bloodseeker (Tackle), Queen of Pain (Blink), and Puck (Swap). These heroes have the ability to move quickly to either steal the ball directly or into a different position in an attempt to disrupt opposing offenses. The defender should almost always stay positioned behind the Mobility hero, but come up enough to support him if he needs to pass it back.

Goalkeeper: The team’s goalkeeper, or GK, needs to have extremely fast reactions, a cool head, and the ability to see shooting angles opening up before they’re capitalized. Making the safe is only half the battle in Strikers. A GK must also pass the ball out after they’ve saved it, which often means tossing it out to the sides. Trying to squeeze a pass over the middle is almost always a bad idea, especially if the team you’re playing against is pressing yours. Be patient and wait while your Mobility hero gets open. In the worst case scenario, you should simply pass it towards the corner of the field and allow your teammates to pass the ball right back to you to reset. The best heroes to GK with are Enigma (Black Hole), Earthshaker (Slam), and Bloodseeker (Tackle). These heroes have very different abilities, but each is capable of either altering the shot’s trajectory or moving fast enough to save it directly (as in the case of Bloodseeker).


Part 2: Fundamentals of Attacking Play

Now that you’ve got the roles down, it’s time to learn the basics. The E key is sprint. If you’re like most players, you should use it less often than you do. Sprinting is most effective when you need to get past the opposing player, not for running fast while no one is nearby. The W key is pass. If you use it often and intelligently, you will become everyone’s favorite player. The Q (and sometimes R) key is your ability. Knowing how and when to use this varies with the hero itself, and often comes over games and games of experience. There will be other, more specific guides to deal with specific heroes, so I will skip over it here.

Before you start mashing QWER, you need to know how to perform well as a teammate and execute a specific strategy. This task can be complicated, but to get you started, let’s go over the more basic yet vital skills you’ll need to actually assist your team, rather than being wasted space (or worse, a hindrance).

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Let’s examine this pyramid of DotA Strikers skill. In order to master the basic skills and being on your way to becoming an elite Striker, you’ll first need to start at the base of this pyramid and work your way up. While all of these skills don’t necessarily need to be learned in this particular order, it should serve as a valuable baseline for assessing your skill level and determining where you could improve. Remember, these are merely the basic skills you need to be an elite Striker. There are more complicated skills--such as hero-specific and situational skills--that will be discussed in other guides.

Ball Mastery

Ball mastery is the most fundamental skill in Strikers. A team’s reliance on retaining possession of the ball is essential for its success. “Dribbling” in Strikers is not simply walking around with the ball; it includes specific skills, such as avoiding steals, and know-how, such as knowing when to use your mana to sprint and when to conserve it.

First, you should not face your enemy with the ball if you’re anywhere close to him. Obviously, doing so makes it extremely easy for him to steal the ball from you. Practice dribbling near defenders and try to keep the ball away from them as long as possible, since it’s one of the few ways you’ll get better at it. The expert players have developed personal techniques that work for them, such as “faking” passes, spinning, zig-zagging, etc. Watch the best players dribble, experiment, practice, and find out what works best for you.

Second, you should always have a goal in mind while dribbling. Actually, you should always know what you’re attempting to do and the myriad of possible responses to any action you might take, but this is especially so while dribbling. It may become easy for you at some point to avoid defenders while you have possession with the ball. However, if you can only avoid them while dribbling into the corner and trapping yourself, you won’t end up doing your team a whole lot of good. Understand what your teammates are thinking, where they are, and dribble forwards, backwards, or sideways with a purpose of retaining possession or advancing the ball.

Finally, good dribblers know when they shouldn’t dribble at all. There are some situations where it will simply be too tight or too risky to dribble through or at all. If two defenders begin to surround you as you’re running towards your own goal, the chances are that if you try to dribble through them you’ll end up giving up a dangerous 2v1.

Receiving & Passing

You should note that “receiving” comes before passing. That is intentional. In order to be able to make intelligent, accurate, and penetrating passes, you’ll need to understand the dynamics of receiving one. Each individual player has their own unique perspective from which they view the game, and this varies depending on which role or hero they are in any given game, making teamwork complicated at times. It will take time and experience to learn the nuances of working with a team and with specific players as you get better. In the interim, there are some easy things you can do to be a better receiver of passes. For example, as the ball is kicked to you, don’t face an enemy, since that will result in an instant turnover. Position yourself in such a way as to securely acquire the ball while shielding it from the opposing team. If the ball is kicked from far away, you may also need to take the security precaution of trailing back to the ball and making sure you possess it before progressing.

Once you have receiving down, you can start considering in your mind how you would like to receive the ball while in the positon of the player you’re passing to. Place the pass in front of where your teammate is traveling, and make sure you’re close enough for them to receive it without being put under a great deal of pressure from opposing defenders. Try to avoid making passes to teammates when you know a mobility hero could shoot the gap between you, or when the defensive hero could easily use his ability to intercept. When in doubt, make the easy pass. Avoid enemy defenders by bouncing your passes off the fence or by sprinting side to side to get a better angle. Also, keep in mind that since the ball travels from the point directly in front of where your hero is facing, you should know that passing the ball while facing the opposite direction will result in a shorter pass.

Moves (1v1)

When you’re adept enough to be a reliable cog in the offense by dribbling, receiving, and passing, you’ll then need to step up your offensive game enough to get around a single defender. I touched on this briefly in dribbling, but we’ll flesh it out here. As always, have a purpose in mind when getting past an opponent. Keep in mind his tendencies (over the period of the current game, as well as his history if you know it), his hero’s abilities, and his level of skill.

Tendencies: Most players tend to play the ball, meaning that they attempt to steal the ball from your hero directly. This can play to your advantage when they get closer to your hero, because it can open up passing lanes or dribbling room for you if you can juke them out. For example, if you’re a defender at midfield and your mobility hero and offensive hero are both covered near the opposing goal, you’ll need to buy time and wait for them to get open, or perhaps get in a better position yourself. Defenders who play the ball will sometimes mindlessly get closer and closer to you in an attempt to steal the ball. The easiest way to get around them is to backtrack without sprint until they get close enough for you to turn sprint on and wiggle around them, thus putting yourself in a 3v2 (not including the opposing GK). Some players may play the passing lanes, however, and leave you with more room to pass the ball. Typically, trying to force a pass into tight defense is not the right method against these players. Instead, take the room your defender has given you and advance towards him without sprint. At some point, he will be forced (or won’t be able to resist) coming up to defend you on the ball.

Hero abilities: Different hero abilities can make it more or less difficult to get around a defender. Obviously, if you’re a mobility hero and you’re trying to get around a defensive hero, you’ll need to make a predictive and quick move to avoid his ability. In general: you should take caution around defensive heroes and not try to force anything around them. You should understand that mobility heroes can quickly steal the ball from you, and be aware around them. Finally, understand that offensive heroes are much less likely to steal the ball from you, and should use that to your advantage.

Skill level: There are stronger and weaker players, and there always will be. This means that every team has a weakest member, even if that weak member is still pretty good. Your goal as a team is to maximize your opportunity to score goals while minimizing the opposing team’s ability to score goals. Often times, the best way to do this will be to attack the weakest member on a team. In games played at the highest level, it is much easier to do this than at the pub level, but it can still be done at any level. You should be more willing to take risks and attempt to force mistakes when acting specifically against a weaker player. Conversely, you should be less willing to take risks and should always expect perfection from the skilled players.

Speed

The next step in your development as a player is the speed at which you do things. If you’re a new player who has played DotA or other fast-paced games at a high level, this may not be a problem for you. However, the faster you can complete tasks in Strikers, the more effective you will be. This includes clicking fast when passing and dribbling, using hotkey to select spells, and making decisive strategic decisions.

While having a low ping is helpful, it is not necessary to be an effective Strikers player. One of the biggest mistakes I see new players make is hesitating too long before doing anything. For example, a player might want be facing one direction and want to make a pass in another direction. I’ll see new players quickly turn and face the exact opening in the passing lane, which is good, but then they will hesitate for a second or several seconds before deciding it’s open. During that time period, the defense recognizes which direction they’re facing and moves in to intercept the pass, turning the good move into a poor one. You may make more initial mistakes by being decisive if you make the wrong ones, but you will never become a top player if you hesitate before performing actions.

Finishing

If you’ve gotten this far, you have probably had some chances at scoring on goal. Obviously, finishing is an important skill if your team wants to win the game. Knowing which direction to shoot, where to shoot to avoid the posts, and when to shoot are all essential in being able to score consistently. While it’s easier for offensive heroes to score than the other heroes, I will cover shooting in general, which should give you the skills you need to be a threat around goal.

Which direction you should shoot depends on where the goalkeeper is standing and on which direction he is facing in relation to your hero. For example, if you’re in the exact center in front of the opposing goal with a 1v1, you have the most options. As you try to shoot from other angles when the defense forces you to a side, your shooting ability will become more limited. In a 1v1, you should never just run up to GK and shoot at a corner. This may work against awful keepers, but it will not work against the best. Instead, click up and down in such a way as to get your hero to seem like he could shoot at either corner. This will cause the opposing keeper to respond to your movement, and possibly commit to a corner or simply get him spinning in a circle in the center of his goal. To start out, try faking one direction and then shooting at the other corner very quickly to see how the keeper responds. As you get better, you’ll be able to adapt the skills the top players use, such as spinning and post-passing.

At a fundamental level, you should understand how far the ball travels and keep that in mind while shooting. The farther out you shoot from, the more time the keeper will have to react to it and the more likely it is that he will save it. You should also not fire at will if your offensive hero is open (unless you are the offensive hero). Sometimes, it may be best to pass up the shot to give him a higher percentage shot.

Group Attack

When a team plays with absolute cohesion in attack, they are almost impossible to stop. If all three fielders on a team are top players, the ball will simply flow as if all three of the players knows exactly what the others are thinking—because they usually do. The reason that group attack is on the top of the pyramid is because you will need all of the other skills discussed previously to master this phase. This phase is perhaps the most difficult to master, but if you do, you will ascend as one of the top offensive players in Strikers. Performing in this phase effectively requires knowing your role inside and out, and requires you to perform the other skills discussed here at a very high level.

The first thing you should keep in mind is the distance between yourself and your other two teammates in the field. You’ll want to stay within a relatively close distance most of the time so that you can serve as an outlet for a pass. You should also note where the passing lanes for your team are at all times, and where you stand in relation to those lanes. Whoever has the ball on your team should almost always have at least one open pass to make. If not, you will need to quickly move yourselves in such a way as to open up those lanes. At times, the right decision may be to play it back to your defender or even your keeper to reset the offense.

You will also need to keep track of are the cooldowns on the various abilities of your team’s heroes and the opposing team’s heroes. At a minimum, you should know whether or not the opposing team’s defensive hero and goalkeeper are able to use their abilities. If both are on cooldown, it may be the time to take risks and press the attack. If both are off cooldown, and for example your own team’s keeper is on cooldown, it is a good idea to slow down your possession and pass it around, buying your team time and security. Possession management is critical to winning games, since getting 1v1s and 2v1s while the opposing keeper is on cooldown is the most effective way to score.

When advancing the ball, your team should have its primary defender almost always open as a backwards outlet. This is necessary to retain possession and to swing the ball from one end of the field to the other (top to bottom). As you advance closer towards the enemy goal, it may not be feasible for your mobility hero to easily pass the ball directly to your offensive hero to get him a scoring chance. Therefore, it will likely be necessary in high-level games to pass to your defender, who will then be able to make the decision to pass back to the mobility hero after the defense has shifted, or to make a swing/penetration pass to the offensive hero directly.

In general, pass to the open man quickly and stay within your team’s natural effective formation. Don’t be afraid to shoot in a 2v1, but try to make the defenders or goalkeeper commit to covering one side before moving the ball to the opening.


Part 3: Fundamentals of Defensive Play
Coming soon.
Jun 27, 2015
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