Dota 2 Basics Part 1: Know Your Role [Hero roles & Examples]


Hero dynamics and how each role plays its own part in winning you games.

With TI6 well concluded and our upcoming Red Bull Coliseum DoTA 2 Tournament, we here at Red Bull E-Sports Zone (RBEZ) thought that this would be a good time to give any newcomers to the DoTA scene a quick guide to the game. Let’s start with the basics - exploring the many roles that heroes play in Dota 2, many of which overlap with one another to create a multi-layered experience that's unique to each player’s individual style and the key to creating a basic strategy.


  1. Carry

The Carry is the hero on the team with the most potential to deal damage as the game progresses. They, as they put it, “Carry” the team on their shoulders later in the game to victory, making them extremely valuable in the late game scramble. Generally, most carries are weak at the beginning, but scale well with a little farming and the right selection of items when compared to other heroes. A “hard” carry is a carry that is harder to strengthen to maximum potential with low amounts of farming, but when are given the chance to amass gold and items, will “out-carry” almost all other carries late game with equal farm.

Some such heroes are: Alchemist, Lifestealer, Slark, Phantom Assassin, Outworld Devourer and Storm Spirit.

  1. Disabler

The Disablers are indispensable in fights with their ability to reliably “crowd control” or CC a single target or an area with stun-like effects or slows. For the most part, supports are generally the main source of CC as compared to Carries, who tend to lack or only pack weak disables.

Some such heroes are: Earthshaker, Sand King, Naga Siren, Venomancer and Crystal Maiden

  1. Initiator

An Initiator is the hero that sets the tone for any engagement with the enemy team. They will, in general, have very strong area of effect abilities that deal damage, disables, or even affect the positioning of the opposing team. Most of these heroes rely on high mobility items to reposition themselves at the right spot to do maximum damage as the rest of the team secure the kills, making the initiator a valuable and versatile role. Such mobility items include a Blink Dagger and/or a Force Staff.

Examples of Initiators are: Tidehunter, Clockwerk, Faceless Void, Vengeful Spirit and Puck.

  1. Jungler

These heroes are most effective early in the game as they can free up farm for the rest of the team by efficiently capturing and holding neutral camps in the jungle. This will allow for two solo lanes to gain both experience and gold. This can however weaken the other lanes and make them susceptible to ganks. Junglers generally are able to convert creeps, summon minions or sustain themselves in the jungle without returning back to base.

Common Junglers are: Axe, Lone Druid, Blood Seeker, Enigma and Chen

  1. Support

Supports are exactly what they sound like - their purpose is to keep their allies alive and give them farm priority to power up for the late game. Generally, supports come with an ability set that allows them to disable heroes or save allies through heals. They play more of an utility role than a damage dealer and will generally sacrifice their hard earned gold on the Animal Courier, various Wards, and Smoke of Deceit. They will also generally babysit the Carry to ensure they farm well, even to the point of sacrificing themselves for the greater good if need be. They also play the most mobile roles on the map early on, trying to help set up kills around the map and ease pressure off from the core farmers.

Some Supports are: Io, Abaddon, Vengeful Spirit, Venomancer, Dazzle, and Keeper of the Light

  1. Durable/Tank

These “Tanks” are the meat shield that protects your squishy supports and carries. They will almost always have a large health pool along with armor, magic resistance and/or health regeneration. They also sometimes have abilities that allow for damage mitigation and/or the ability to disable enemies. Some ways these durable heroes can absorb damage and pseudo force the enemy to focus on them are;

i)   Deploy an area of effect which is detrimental to the enemy team

ii)  Be the first one in the fight in order to draw aggro,

iii) Use abilities to force attacks (Axe and Legion are the only two heroes with this particular ability trait),

iv) Be the only hero in range that can be attacked.

These heroes tend to be strength based, though this is not always the case. Such examples are: Slardar, Huskar, Ursa, Medusa, Ogre Magi and Necrophos.

  1. Nuker

Nukers are as described massive damage dealers whose abilities allow for them to take out an enemy swiftly and efficiently, often in the early to mid game. Whether single target or AoE, the abilities of these nukers are high damage-per-second spells, that either boast low cooldowns or devastating straight up raw magic/pure damage.

Such examples of Nukers are: Lina, Bristleback, Shadow Fiend, Meepo, Leshrac, and Zeus.

  1. Pusher

Pushers are heroes who excel at bringing enemy buildings down quickly and acquiring map control for their team. They force the effective safe area of an enemy Carry to shrink, allowing for more ganks and less income for the enemy. They will generally have abilities that can support your own creep waves, damage multiple enemy creeps, summon minions or deal massive damage to buildings.

Such known pushers are: Tiny, Lycan, Lone Druid, Drow Ranger, Nature’s Prophet, Pugna.

  1. Escape

Escape heroes are generally high mobility or have, as the name suggests, escape mechanisms. These mechanisms allow them to easily reposition themselves into an advantageous or critical spots during teamfights or to escape from imminent death. Beyond pure movement speed, there are also a host of other escape mechanisms such as: invisibility, teleportation and evasion, all of which can turn the tide of battle when used right.

Heroes that fit this criteria are: Spirit Breaker, Earth Spirit, Weaver, Ember Spirit, Queen of Pain and Invoker.

At the end of the day, these are just generalizations - many heroes fit into multiple categories, and one player may not find one role as effective or enjoyable to play as another despite using the same hero. It is generally advised to have a balanced mix of different complementary roles on your team, unless you have a very specific strategy in mind, that is.

Have fun trying out these different roles and play styles to find your own role in the team. Till next time, stay tuned in for more Dota 2 guides with RBEZ.


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