Roles are very important in MOBAs, and there are various ways to describe them. In DOTA 2, there are the common terms used to describe various roles that MOBA players are familiar with. However, there’s also a numbering system that pops up from time to time that beginners may not be familiar with. Upon reading on it further though, people realize that it’s not that hard to understand at all; it’s actually quite simple and ingenious.
The 1-5 system originated in China, where DotA seemed to be played religiously. It has formed the basis for the system that most DotA teams use these days to structure their roster. The concept is very simple, the lower number has higher priority in farming gold and experience. Therefore, 1 needs the most gold and experience, and 5 needs it the least.
This does not denote the importance of the role since all of them are equally important in DOTA 2. However, there are some roles that are more item-dependent than others, and that’s what this system is for. Also remember that these definitions are not strictly followed to the letter, but are merely guidelines that outline basic fundamentals of the game.
The most item-dependent of the time, the 1 position needs to farm gold the most as a result. When successful in getting all the items needed, they deal the most damage later on in the game. They can also serve as initiators of team fights, so they have to become the greatest threat to the opposing team. This position is usually accompanied by a support during laning, which is good for protection against harassment.
Examples: Juggernaut, Anti-Mage, Tidehunter
This position farms wherever the 1 player isn’t since both of you need a lot of gold and experience to succeed. This position tends to be in the mid-lane, whether solo or with a support. He may also off-lane, although the mid-lane is usually a bit too important to abandon most of the time.
This position tends to be best for semi-carries and they get access to top and bottom in case he’s needed. This map control makes him a threat in the early and mid stages of the game.
Once the late game starts coming around, this position takes on a more supportive role, but is still crucial in team fights by contributing additional DPS to take out the opposing team.
Examples: Queen of Pain, Rubick, Lina, Silencer
The one who works the suicide lane (top for Radiant, bottom for Dire) fits this category. They are also escape heroes, equipped with one or more escape abilities to get out of being damaged that would lead to a gank for the enemy, which makes them perfect for the suicide lane.
They can also farm reasonably well despite sometimes being forced out of lane, which adds to their effectiveness as off-laners. Also, the heroes that best fit this position tend to have abilities that help them be effective in the mid-game, even if they don’t have a lot of gold.
Examples: Puck, Windranger, Dark Seer
One of the support positions on the team that work the jungle, killing neutrals for buffs, experience, and gold. This allows for two solo lanes, which are left for the other positions.
A lot of the items that the 4 position acquire are wards, smoke, dust, and so on whenever the one in the 5 position can’t afford them. This is crucial since having a jungler means more susceptibility to ganks and more weakness on the side lanes.
Because of this, the 4 player must be able to leave the jungle and help out allies under threat whenever possible.
Examples: Chen, Enchantress, Enigma, Lifestealer
The least item-dependent of the team, the 5 position is more about bolstering allies and fulfilling other roles to help out the team. They typically buy only boots and a wand for the most part, then get wards, courier, dust, and smoke whenever possible.
They usually accompany the 1 position during the start of the game since the carry tends to be weak and squishy during this time. Since the 5 position doesn’t need that much gold, he can just leave the carry to do the farming while being there to back him up just in case.
Examples: Crystal Maiden, Ancient Apparition, Omniknight