In Dota 2, a defining characteristic of the way you play any given Hero in any given game is which role you are playing for your team. These roles define how you approach the game, which aspects you focus on, how you cooperate with your teammates, and many more intangibles. Often the roles are blurred (especially in lower-level pub games) and one Hero can take on several roles during the course of a game. The roles are as follows: Carry, Support, Mid, Jungler, Offlaner. Each individual Hero is specifically designed to play certain roles, generally one or two.
Firstly, we will cover the role of Carry. Players choosing the Carry role have one major focus throughout the whole game: to amass vast amounts of gold and experience. The idea behind the name Carry is that the player taking on the role of Carry is responsible for “carrying” the team to victory once they have become powerful enough. The only way to achieve this is in Dota 2 is through purchasing items using gold, and gaining levels using experience. The process of accruing gold and XP is called “farming” in Dota 2. A Carry player should be farming constantly throughout the duration of the game. Heroes designed for the Carry role often have “scaling” abilities which “scale” well going into the later part of the game. Scaling in the context of Dota 2 refers to abilities which are not restricted by a specific number, for example a set amount of damage on a nuke. Scaling abilities become much more powerful with the correct items, and most importantly this is relative to the strength of Heroes in the later phases of the game. Carries are often weak in the early game, however, and opposing teams should take advantage of this to minimise their impact in the late game.
Next is the role of Support. Support players are responsible for performing crucial tasks which support the whole team at a strategic level, such as purchasing and placing wards for vision, purchasing and upgrading the Courier, and babysitting the Carry in the early game. As such, players choosing to play Support must have a strong grasp of the flow of the game, as they must place wards appropriately according to what is happening at the current stage of the game. Support Heroes tend to be strong in the early game and fall off later due to the lack of scaling abilities, and also do not need large amounts of farm to be effective. The impact of a good Support player is often overlooked in low level pub games, as it is not as obvious as a farmed Carry. Low level players often fail to realise that the Carry one-shotting the entire enemy team was only able to reach this point with the help of effective Support play.