Alright, so this blog might make me sound like more of a bitter husk than I already am, but I’m hoping some people will read this and we can discuss it on Discord. There are exceptions to the points I’m going to list, but I firmly believe that what I’ve written below is true in most cases.
Full Disclosure: 98% of my ~1300 games have been as a support.
Why you shouldn’t pick supports mains first round (or second round, in most cases):
Look at the past 10 or so inhouses in the results channel. As one would expect, cores have the most networth and far more items than the players on their team with lower farm priority. Welcome to DotA! I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a fed core can dominate these games. We’ve all been against a core that takes 4+ people to kill and will likely take a few of your teammates down with them. The map and objective pressure a fed core exerts is horrifying and you have to coordinate your team if you want to stand a chance at turning the game around. If *they* coordinate with their team and get help quickly when you try and smoke gank, your chances of getting a lot out of that fight decreases significantly.
Further, if you look at some of the support stat lines in the inhouse games, they just don’t exert as much pressure. We’ve all been up against an enemy Riki that ruins our games, snipes our courier, and ends up with an early basher. I’m sure you’ve also played against the Lion that seems to have perfect wards (and earth spikes) that always catch you out. Both of these scenarios suck. You feel powerless in your own jungle and you lose out on farm because of it. Still, it’s important to remember who will be abusing the vision that the Lion provided & the space Riki created. Nine times out of ten it will be a core that waltzes into your jungle and blows you up. (Looking at you, million bloodstone charge Storm Spirit).
I am not bashing or undervaluing support players. They are a crucial component of the team and can enable their cores to reach even greater kill-streaks. However, if that person only plays 4/5, you’re losing out on the chance to get an awesome core on your side.
EU draft does change things up — in other leagues you might see captains at the bottom of the round 2 pick order grab a lower ranked player (usually a support) so that they can pick much earlier in the third round. Being a lower pick captain means that you likely already can play core, so picking a known support isn’t a bad option. However, a lot of thought needs to be put into this. You need to make sure you know the draft pool and what your team comp looks like at the moment you decide to draft that star support player.
On the importance of not mindlessly friend-drafting:
Last season we saw an interesting phenomena in LD2L. A small group of players near the top of the allowed medal threshold were bypassed in earlier rounds for players that were hundreds of mmr lower. We didn’t have the wonderful inhouse league last season. You had to look at the dotabuff of that unknown Legend player and decide if their 61% Windranger win rate was worth the risk of getting a rager (or worse). Opting for people you know isn’t the best way to compose a great LD2L team. You’re passing up unknown players that are going to (rightfully) be recognized mid-season when everyone finds out that their Windranger is a problem. Worse still, you’re going to have to play against the people you passed up.
I think that having friends on your team is great. I’m not advocating that anyone puts relationships to the side and solely drafts based on MMR/role. However, I do think it’s important to research the player pool ahead of draft day and ensure that you have the best players you can get for each role in the game and round of the draft. Seriously, take a chance on the new guy that you never played an inhouse with. We were all new once and our captains were forced to take a chance. I’m rather glad that mine did.