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Rat Dota, a much maligned yet incredibly effective hit and run strategy in Dota2, doesn't exist in League of Legends. Why not?

Matt Fischman, Blogger

July 12, 2014

5 Min Read

First, go ahead and read Phillipa Warr’s excellent article on Rat Dota, scrub logic, and e-sports camera work, then come back.
 

As an avid League of Legends player who has only dabbled in Dota, I began to wonder why this strategy doesn’t exist in League. While split pushing comes and goes in the meta-game, there is no notion of “Rat League” as it exists in Dota, where fighting can be mostly eschewed in favor of pushing and applying global map pressure. And why not? Sieging, Team Fighting, Ganks, Skirmishing and Turtling all exist in both games, but the Rat style is unique to Dota. The answer, I think, is that Riot’s design team has smartly tuned and patched problematic heroes, favoring a different style of split pushing that avoids the frustration inherent in both playing against and spectating the Rat style.

 

Global Mobility
 

Let’s take a look at the Dota champion Nature’s Prophet

 

Examining his kit we can see he’s a pushing hero, capable of clearing minion waves very quickly with his ultimate, as well as having strong ganks due to his reliable CC and global teleportation ability. But on closer inspection, something curious pops out: the cooldown on Nature’s Prophet’s Teleport ability scales down to twenty seconds at max rank. This means that every twenty seconds, Nature’s Prophet can teleport anywhere on the map, and apply huge amounts of siege pressure. He is perfect for the Rat style, able to harass his enemies with constant hit and run tactics.
 

Nothing like this exists in League of Legends. To see why, let’s take a look a League hero with a similiar teleport ability: Twisted Fate

 

Twisted Fate’s key ability is his ultimate: Destiny.  A global reveal of enemy positions, followed by a 5500 range teleport that roughly covers the distance from mid lane to a side lane. Further, the cooldown at max rank is two minutes! The range cap ensures that Twisted Fate has to position himself carefully on the map in order to make plays, and the long cooldown removes any possibility to play in a Rat style. Once Twisted Fate has used Destiny, it opens a huge window of opportunity for the enemy team to capitalize on the cooldown. The global pressure from Twisted Fate’s ultimate is therefore surrounded by interesting gameplay.
 

It’s interesting to note that Riot has been gradually nerfing global mobility spells since launch. In these patch notes from 2009, Twisted Fate’s ultimate cooldown was nerfed from thirty to forty seconds at max rank. The original thirty second cooldown on Destiny, which is much more in line with Nature’s Prophet’s Teleport, has been hit over many patches to where it sits today at a full two minutes. Other heroes in League with teleport spells have either similar range caps, or even longer cooldowns.
 

These differences may seem subtle, but I think they’re incredibly smart. Split pushing as a strategy still exists in League of Legends, but it is mostly focused on heroes with strong dueling abilities who can kill or force back single defenders. More importantly, split pushing in League is not effective when behind. This quote from Phillipa’s article is very telling:

“Sure, it makes a lot of people angry from the way we win but I think the fact you’re able to come back from such a huge loss in the game just shows we’re better. If it was so easy to do, why doesn’t every team play the way we do sometimes?”
 

It seems that the ability to get in and get back out, due to the incredibly short cooldown on the global teleport, is what allows a Dota team to execute the Rat style when behind in terms of vision control and minion pressure. In League, split pushing with no vision and poor minion wave placement will quickly lead to death, increasing the enemy advantage.

 

I find the differences between these two games in terms of design philosophy, tuning, and balancing to be incredibly fascinating, and I look forward to seeing how they evolve as the genre continues to grow.

 

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