Dota 2 features 5v5 hero battles, where killing players, pushing lanes, and killing creeps (the computer-controlled monsters) are paramount. Nearly every hero has four main abilities, be they active or passive; you’ll be able to level each one four times, in the order of your choosing, as you creep closer to the level 25 cap.
Because team synergy is so crucial to victory, you’ll want to pick heroes that complement your teammate’s choices. Knowing your preferred hero’s best roles will make this much easier; when you work better with your team, your chances of winning are that much higher. Here’s the breakdown on the function of each role:
Carry: Carries have a lot riding on their shoulders, as they can make or break a team. If they secure some early kills, or farm up enough gold for high-level items, they’ll dominate the late-game. But if they’re straggling behind, or multiple carries are competing for gold, their potential falls apart.
Disabler: Stuns and silences are the name of the Disabler game. When your opponent can’t move, attack, cast spells, or cry for their mommy, they become sitting ducks for you and your teammates. Having a Disabler on your team is crucial for when you need to shut down an enemy hero quickly, initiate a small skirmish, or get an attacker off your back.
Durable: These heroes can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ – with ample lifesteal, huge health pools, or tons of armor, killing these heroes takes a lot of work. Though they’re by no means invincible, you’ll be dying a lot less frequently if you play smart with a Durable hero.
Escape: Having an Escape ability means you’ll often avoid getting killed in situations that would mean certain death for other heroes. Using this to your advantage is key – the less you die, the better you’ll do.
Initiator: Initiator heroes get the party started - it’ll be your job to wade into teamfights and redirect the damage that would’ve been aimed at your not-so-stout teammates. Being a good Initiator means knowing when to press the advantage and pounce on an enemy, and when to back off from a fight that you can’t possibly win.
Jungler: Jungling is an alternate means of gaining experience: instead of fighting in one of the three lanes, you’ll take to the forests in between them, killing monster camps for gold and experience. These heroes are very self-sufficient, able to fight for extended periods of time without needing to go back and heal.
Lane Support: As a Lane Support, all of your attention should be focused on taking care of your team’s Carry. The two of you should be inseparable, moving and killing as a unit with offensive and defensive capabilities. When your Carry tops the kill/death charts, you can give yourself a pat on the back for getting him or her there.
Nuker: The name says it all: these heroes use their spells in succession to blast enemies, draining their health bars in an instant. Though they might feel like glass cannons, Nukers can ensure that they vaporize enemy heroes to dust before they get a chance to come near.
Pusher: These heroes excel at killing creep waves quickly, and/or whittling down towers and buildings before the enemy can react. Because the ultimate goal is destroying the enemy base, Pushers work great for long games.
Summons: Summoning creatures creates pets that are usually under your control, and will assist you in battle by putting out their own damage or keeping enemies occupied. Once you can use them with minimal effort, you'll be able to use them to their full potential while your hero does its own thing.
Support: Everybody loves having a competent Support on their team – a hero who’ll make life easier for their teammates through healing, map awareness, or both. You won’t be scoring that many kills as a Support, but you will have the satisfaction knowing that you were likely the reason your allies are doing so well.