Offensive and defensive support heroes in DOTA 2

DOTA 2 is a much more challenging game where five players form a team and play different positions. One of these positions is the support whose responsibility is to keep watch of allied teammates wherever they are and buy items that will benefit the entire team. 

To fulfil this role properly, supports sometimes need to participate aggressively in team fights or purchase items that will boost their defensive stats and/or abilities to better buff their teammates. These strategies make supports be classified as either offensive or defensive.

Offensive supports

Offensive supports in DOTA 2 are usually the meta-relevant ones who can help the carry fight back during ganks and unexpected skirmishes. These supports dish out high damage but also dispel debuffs and/or buff up teammates. The survivability of offensive support heroes is enough for them to be called bruisers as well. Offensive support heroes are just as reliable in the frontlines as an offlaner who takes part in team fights. If you are interested in knowing which heroes are suited for this role, here are five suggestions:

  • Dark Willow is most reliable in zoning enemies out using her first ability, Bramble Maze, and in roaming through her second ability, Shadow Realm. She can also cast crowd control abilities which are good for extending combos or disengaging. Adding to her offensive capabilities is her pet wisp Jex who can either harass enemies continuously or force them to retreat by being too intimidating.
  • Io is a hero who specialises in teleportation and giving buffs and HP regeneration to teammates. It is one of the hardest heroes to learn in DOTA 2 but if you manage to get the hang of it, Io will prove to be extremely useful in team fights as it can also fight back through Spirits and Overcharge. Its teleportation ability is what makes Io difficult to master as it can be done to either back teammates up, disengage, or heal allies in the base.
  • Lion is a squishy hero to be considered a support, but he helps his teammates using his crowd control ability Earth Spike and his second ability Hex which turns enemies into a harmless frog. If the carry doesn’t have enough damage yet, Lion can use his ultimate Finger of Death to deal the killing blow. His Mana Drain, meanwhile, reassures you that Lion will always have enough resources for his abilities.
  • Elder Titan is a powerful disabler who can deal both physical and magic damage with the help of his Astral Spirit. He can further beat opponents down with his third ability, Natural Order, which lowers the armour and magic defence of nearby enemies. This hero can also dish out HP-based damage through his ultimate, Earth Splitter.
  • Ogre Magi is the one best suited for the offensive support role. An expert in crowd control, burst damage, and buffs, you could never go wrong with picking him as your support hero. His Bloodlust and Fire Shield combo benefit nearby teammates by boosting movement speed and attack speed while minimising risks in team fights and dealing poke damage.

Defensive supports

Defensive supports in DOTA 2 focus more on being tougher than the rest of the heroes in the battlefield as they are expected to soak in most of the opponents’ attacks. These heroes also specialise in buffing allies and/or debuffing enemies during team fights as well as giving them shields or damage reduction effects. 

Defensive support heroes also purchase items that benefit the entire team, such as wards and gold and experience boosters. If you are interested in knowing which heroes are suited for this role, here are five suggestions:

  • Tidehunter is an incredibly tough hero who specialises in dispelling and blocking enemy attacks. His third ability Anchor Smash also gives damage reduction aside from the usual damage towards enemies. His ultimate, Ravage, enables Tidehunter to stun enemies caught in his far-reaching tentacles, making him a reliable tank in team fights.
  • Witch Doctor specialises in healing allies while cursing enemies. His Voodoo Restoration helps his teammates last longer in team fights as long as he has mana to spend while his Maledict serves as a backup damage dealer during team fights. When it comes to crowd control, meanwhile, Witch Doctor shines best when using his Paralysing Cask.
  • Oracle is probably one of the best DOTA 2 heroes in terms of buffing and debuffing. Using his first ability Fortune’s End, Oracle can strip enemies of whatever is boosting their stats in addition to the rooting effect it gives. Meanwhile, Fate’s Edict grants 100% magic resistance to whoever is caught in it. His ultimate, False Promise, enables Oracle to manipulate an ally’s HP, delaying any damage or healing effects for later. Anyone affected by this ability is then free to go all out in team fights.
  • Keeper of the Light is a popular support hero who uses light to blind enemies or reveal their location. His debuffing ability is Solar Bind which slows opponents down and reduces their magic resistance. Meanwhile, his Chakra Magic provides a mana regeneration for himself and his allies while also reducing the cooldown timers of unavailable abilities.
  • Abaddon is a hero who specialises in healing and shielding his allies through his Mist Coil and Aphotic Shield. Meanwhile, he can also do some crowd control with his third ability, Curse of Avernus, slowing and potentially silencing enemies that were struck by his sword. Of course, Abaddon has an ability that will benefit himself to make him last longer in team fights: Borrowed Time converts the damage he will take into healing while also dispelling all debuffs on him.

Whatever category of support you use, proper timing and synergy should always be your top priority before starting a match. Make sure you study the abilities of the support hero you wish to use to maximise their potential instead of just splashing them in any lineup. Keep watch of the items you purchase as well to benefit your teammates in the long run.