Photo: By Helena Kristiansson for ESL
‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast
I consider the captain or the leader to be the most important piece in any Dota2 squad. However the term itself is loaded as it can mean a variety of different things. On top of that, teams often have more than one leader (best example being Fly, Seb, and n0tail when all three played for OG). As that’s the case, I wanted to break down the different roles that I think a captain in Dota2 fulfills.
1 – Drafter
The drafter is the role that people most commonly associate with the great captain. Leaders like Puppey and PPD have become legendary for their incredible ability to draft. What’s interesting about the drafting roles is that I think there are two misperceptions that occur. The first is that the leader did 100% of the drafting. While plenty of them do (xiao8 for EHOME comes to mind), it it often the case that the each of the players has their own ideas and relays the to the captain. In that sense, drafters are given too much credit.
The other perception is that it’s a democractic process and the drafter is just the guy who clicks buttons. From what I’ve read/watched, it seems to me that the captain is the guy with the final say on the draft. He is the filter that picks out the best ideas from all of the players and minds to finalize the draft.
One last thing to note is that while the captain is often the drafter (as the captains in general have the most knowledge about the game), it’s not always the case as we see with Solo in VP.
2 – Emotional leader
All competitive games have an emotional aspect to them. That is why we we’ve had so many dramatic roster shuffles, kicks, and revenge stories throughout the years as players are unable to detach their emotion from the game. As that’s the case, having an emotional leader can be critical in a team’s success as they can modulate the emotions on the team.
Sometimes they can amp up their team and that energy can make them perform better (rOtk and Seb come to mind). Other times they can calm them down and have them mentally focus (as far as I know, KuroKy is a master at this).
3 – Cultural leader
The cultural leader is related to the emotional role, but does a different function. This type of leader sets the tone for the entire team. They are the ones who end up deciding the team atmosphere, practice regime, and attitude they take towards tournaments.
The two best examples I know of are KuroKy and PPD. In the case of KuroKy, he sets an example through his individual play and calm demeanor. He is someone that everybody respects and because of that, his teammates naturally follows his lead in how they conduct themselves in the competition of Dota.
PPD back on his EG days was more of a dictator. He demanded excellence of himself and expected no less from his teammates. As that was the case, there were constant rumors that EG were always infighting, but when push came to shove, they always pushed all of the outside problems aside and performed in the game.
4 – Strategist
The strategist is related to the drafting role, but is different enough that I think it deserved its own category. The strategist is the guy who is able to recognize the win conditions of the team and then structure the team around that idea. PPD is the best example of this as in 2014 he essentially changed the meta through strategizing around RTZ being the superstar carry mid laner.
While there are other roles the captain can inhabit, these are the four main ones I wanted to go over in this blog. Keep these in mind when thinking about Dota2 teams as I think in-game leaders are the most pivotal players in the Dota2 scene.