Dota 2 MMR Guide: Climbing up the Ranks

Here in our Dota 2 MMR guide, we’ll teach you all about the harsh realities of climbing the ladder and equip you with everything you need to make the treacherous trek. 

Dota 2 is an extremely difficult game to master. It doesn’t take just hundreds of hours to familiarize yourself with the game, but thousands. Yes, you read that right, THOUSANDS. And, you could easily have been playing the game for thousands of hours, and still find yourself stuck with a measly Guardian (or even worse, Herald) medal with no signs of climbing out of the trenches anytime soon.

But, don’t worry, that’s what our Dota 2 MMR guide is for.

Mind you, this isn’t just some generic guide containing tips like “taking breaks while losing”, “not tilting” or just downright telling you to “git gud”. While we probably will tell you that at some point, we’ll also talk about the finer things in Dota 2, things that you would’ve otherwise not have bothered to notice or work on if we didn’t point them out.

Having said that, have fun reading our Dota 2 MMR guide, and good luck making the climb!

1. Be Nice

Dota 2 MMR Guide

In Dota 2, being nice is 100% worth as it leads to significantly improved match quality and faster queue times across all medals.

In both ranked and unranked games, match quality and the players you end up getting teamed up with isn’t just decided by your medal. Two huge factors unbeknownst to most are your hidden behaviour score and account flags.

In the case of the former, the better your behaviour score is, the more likely you’ll get matched with other players with high behaviour scores. Valve has yet to release info regarding how the behaviour score is calculated, but we do know that abandons, reports and commends play key roles and that there are six grades possible: Normal (which was formerly labelled as B, B+, A, and A+), C+, C, C-, D, and F, with F being the lowest.

In the case of the latter, your account flags are represented using an integer value. Most players either have a 0,1 or 3. Not much is known about this except that if you have values of 7 or 10, you’re put in a special pool of players, referred to as the shadow pool, and that you can only play against other players in the said pool.

Both matchmaking time and match quality are heavily affected by the values on your behaviour score and account flags: the higher your behaviour score (or if you have a 0,1, or 3 account value), the faster you’ll find matches.

With the difference in games played with players on the opposite end of the behaviour spectrum and those with normal behaviour scores night and day, playing nice is a great start if you want to climb up the MMR ranks.

2. Accept that You Suck

Dota 2 MMR Guide

Here in our Dota 2 MMR guide, we don’t mince words, so we’re not joking when we say that you’re probably not as good as you think you are. (Valve)

There’s a reason why arguably the most famous beginner’s guide in Dota 2 is titled: “Welcome to DOTA, you suck”, because for the most part, it is true. And, if you’re a complete newb to the game, I’d recommend going through that guide first (and its second version) because, even though it’s slightly outdated, much of the basics that Kevin ‘Purge‘ Godec on the guide will end up coming in useful even after thousands of hours poured into the game.

Moving on, accepting that you’re downright awful at this game is the first step to improvement. So, if you’re stuck at Ancient, Legend, Archon, or whatever, it’s because you deserve to be there, the sooner you realize that YOU are the only consistent factor in both your wins and losses, the easier it’ll be for you to make the climb.

Remember, you may be better in some aspects of the game compared to your retard teammates, but the reason you’re matched up with or against them is that you’re bad in other aspects of the game as well. It all evens out in the end.

By tuning down your ego and making you face the reality that you’re not as good as you think you are, you’ll hopefully be more open to learning as to why you suck and what you can do to improve.

Note: It is in the best interests of our Dota 2 MMR guide to recommend enabling the strict solo match-making option.

3. Always Play for the Team

Dota 2 MMR Guide

In a game like Dota 2, every little thing you do has an impact on your chances of winning, and it’s completely up to you whether or not your impact on the game will be negative or positive.

As much as most players would like to disagree, Valve’s matchmaking algorithm works perfectly as far as giving ten equally skilled players an even chance of winning the game.

Having said that, the best way to tilt the scales towards your favour is to have more impact. And, no, we’re not just talking about going mid or playing the hard carry. Instead, we’re talking about the other aspects of the game, namely, drafting, game play, and itemization.

To score an imaginary A in all these three aspects, all five members of your team should be on the same page when it comes to playing for each other. But, given the random nature of matchmaking, you might want to start worrying about yourself first and if what you’re doing is putting your team in the best position to succeed.

In drafts, as a general rule of thumb, always pick at least one support first and if possible, let mid pick last, to minimize the possibility of counter-picking and allow your team to set up your drafts properly. Meanwhile, focusing on staying relevant while reducing your negative impact all throughout the game — buying tons of Observer Wards for vision as a position five support and buying Glimmer Cape to save your cores or picking your spots and farming on the safer places on the map as a core — can do wonders for your team.

Remember, every little thing you do that helps your team secure a win, regardless of role, adds up in the long run.

4. Learn When and How to Call Shots

Dota 2 MMR Guide

Kuro ‘Kuroky’ Salehi Takhasomi is widely regarded as one of the best captains and shot-callers in all of Dota 2. (Team Liquid)

It’s a given that you’re going to do a lot of shot-calling in your games. This includes everything from making rotations, doing smoke ganks, going rosh, and pulling back from what could’ve been an ill-advised team fight.

If you want to be impactful, three things you’ll always want to look out for are: respawn timers, buybacks, and cooldowns on key spells and items.

Knowing if and when an ult is up or if an opponent has buyback can help you make the decision between proceeding to push up high ground and onto the Tier 3 towers or going back to take Roshan. On that note, don’t try to force Roshan if your team doesn’t have enough damage to take it down in time before the enemy team can respond.

When it comes to taking objectives around the map, always go for the sure thing. Instead of pushing your luck and trying to push high ground after taking out a Tier 3 tower, why not go for the Shrines instead?

There’s a difference between playing to win and overextending. The latter is a mistake a lot of teams, even the best ones, make, and is often a result of a breakdown in shot calling or communication within the team.

When calling shots, keep it short, precise, and positive. You’d be surprised as to how much more receptive your carry will be if you said “Go back. No vision. All missing” instead of just saying “Go back, dickhead.”

Lastly, try not to take it too personally if the people on your team don’t respond to your calls, because, for all we know, you could’ve made the wrong call.

5. Watch Replays


As much as we’d love to cover everything in our Dota 2 MMR guide, we can’t, but you can do the next best thing and head on over to or to learn how to play specific heroes in particular roles.

In either of those sites, you’ll find replays of high-MMR players playing a particular hero in a ranked match setting. Make sure that you watch ranked matches and not pro games. Although pro matches are great and all, especially for entertainment, the circumstances are just far too different and hard to replicate in a pub setting.

Anyway, after finding out which players are the best at spamming a particular hero, download a replay or two and watch the replay from the player’s perspective. Check their itemization, skill use, and the tactics they used in the lane. Turn on the Fog of War so you can better understand his decision making from his point of view so you can better understand what he’s doing differently from you and how you can apply it to yourself and your games.

Try to learn what high-MMR players do when they lose in the lane and find themselves on the backfoot. Even if they end up losing the game, you’ll gain invaluable insight into what pro-level players do to try to make a comeback and stay relevant.

Do the same every time you win the game or lose. Remember, there’s always something to learn in every game of Dota 2 you play.

It will take dozens if not hundreds of high-level pub replays and painful losses for you to finally start scratching the surface but given enough time and effort, you’ll be able to better understand how to improve your odds of winning down the line.

6. PMA


PMA, or better known as Positive Mental Attitude, is crucial to making this soul-numbing climb and perhaps the biggest takeaway from our Dota 2 MMR guide.

If you noticed that the focus of the entire Dota 2 MMR guide is on you because that’s true. Again, you are the only consistent factor in all of your wins and losses, and how you react in a particular moment in every game can mean the difference between winning a game. This includes maintaining a positive attitude and NOT flaming your teammates.

In general, when playing Dota 2, winning isn’t always about which team does all of the right things, but rather, which team ends up making the most mistakes. It’s a very small distinction, but a huge difference-maker once you understand the mere simple fact that tilted opponents are more likely to make mistakes. And no, that’s not an endorsement to redirect your flaming to opponents instead, because that’s an idea that will most likely backfire.

Your focus should always be on winning until the very end regardless of how big of a deficit your team is facing. Never give up. Continue fighting. If you lose, skip the post-game blaming part, and try to stretch before queuing up for the next game. Also, if a particular teammate is flaming you hard and your team lost, try not to queue again immediately. Chances are, you’ll meet him again and he or she will make your living hell.

Lastly, do make use of the mute function. It doesn’t matter if it’s an enemy or an ally. If he or she is toxic, mute them, and proceed to work with the rest of the non-toxic teammates to try and win the game.

Optional Tips

Get Dota Plus

At $3.99 a month, the Dota Plus subscription is literally cheap enough for even children to buy, but yet has tons of uses if you’re willing to use the features to improve.

Knowing where you stand compared to players of similar skill, especially on particular heroes at specific points of the game, can go a long way in showing you areas that you need to work on to become a better player and make the climb.

Not to mention that Valve added the Ranked Roles feature to the Dota Plus subscription service recently, so you can help significantly improve the chances of you queuing up with players who won’t fight over lanes. Although Divine or higher-tier players would probably not agree that the feature is that useful, they also have the benefit of playing in a bracket where most players are already good enough to know which roles they are most comfortable playing at.

Dealing with Boosters

It is the reality of the nature of Dota 2 that you’ll encounter smurfs or boosters across all brackets.

Given that fact, the best thing we can tell you in our Dota 2 MMR guide about what to do about smurfs and boosters is to learn how to play with or against them.

To find out if you’re playing against or with a smurf, check their profile. Any account who has ranked up three or more levels in a short period of time, mostly by playing either Meepo, Invoker, Clinz or Arc Warden, is most likely a smurf. As such, if the smurf is on the other team, banning snowball heroes should be your first priority. But, if the smurf happens to get their hands on the hero they want, don’t try to take it as a challenge, because you’ll most likely end up losing. Instead, play a hero that can ruin the smurf’s laning phase — Skywrath Mage and Undying come to mind — and prevent the smurf from snowballing.

If you’re successful, the smurf will retreat to the jungle, and while the smurf will not farm as fast, he will still farm faster than most of your teammates just because of how much more efficient he is. So, as soon as you see the smurf leave the lane, ward the jungle, and chase him.

Of course, even if you do this, you’ll probably still end up losing the game. But, at the very least, it won’t be as big of a stomp.

Lastly, if your teammates are smurfing, just do your best to enable him or her. Do not fight for lanes against the smurf. Every camp is his. Every lane is his. Let him win you the game and thank him for the +25 MMR.

Final Thoughts

The main gist of our Dota 2 MMR guide is to play on, try to learn from every game, and focus on improving yourself. In doing so, you’ll definitely climb up way higher than you ever did before. But, mind you, it will take a lot of time.

It’s not totally unrealistic to jump a rank only once every week or two or jump a medal every few months. However, if you keep at it, you’ll get to where you want, whether it be Divine 1 or Immortal someday.

Lastly, do remember that Dota 2 is just a game, and it doesn’t matter if you read our Dota 2 MMR guide or another guide, because if you don’t have the time or motivation to play Dota 2 anymore, then accept the fact and quit trying hard. There are plenty of other things you can do in real life and so many more games that you can play.

What do you think of our Dota 2 MMR guide? What other things do you believe players should do to make the MMR climb? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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