In this article, we’ll answer two important questions.
You get matched with players close to your rank.
With each win/loss, you get a fixed amount of points based on your final placement in the lobby. To reach a new rank you need to reach a certain threshold amount of points (as seen below):
Once you reach a new rank, you cannot fall to the previous one. All of this will reset with the new season when everyone gets a new start.
Because you receive and constant amount of points regardless of your opponents and because you cannot fall below your rank, climbing from Upstart to Big Boss is doable even if you are not the biggest Dota Underlords expert simply by spamming a lot of games (needless to say, if you are good at the game you’ll just do it much faster).
If you manage to become Lord, however, there is a separate ELO formula which determines your MMR gain based on your opponents, so climbing the Lord Leaderboards is quite different and more challenging.
With the basics out of the way, here are some of the most important skills I believe you need to have to climb the ranks successfully and efficiently:
These are the ranks where most people are still grasping basic concepts about the game. This means that getting ahead of anyone is quite easy if you are willing to read/watch a bit.
In order to climb, you need to be top 4 in as many games as possible. Since a lot of people are still struggling with basic concepts, they would have bad builds/comps. This means it’s quite easy to beat them simply by having a competent army comp:
This means first and foremost reading about what the different Alliances give you. Once you do, you can start applying these three basic concepts:
The backbone of your army is the frontline. You should start every game by thinking about what heroes with what Alliance bonuses help your army survive. It helps if you prioritize these heroes and Alliances at the beginning of the game.
The most commonly used frontline Alliances are: Warrior, Knight, Scrappy, Elusive, Brawny
After knowing where your tankiness comes from, you need to decide where your damage will come from. That’s why most traditional army comps consist of two main Alliances – one which gives a survivability bonus, and one which is more offensive. E.g. Warriors + Hunters, Warriors + Mages, Knights + Dragons, Elusive + Assassins, etc.
The most commonly used damage-dealing “backline” Alliances are: Hunter, Mage, Assassins, Heartless, Demon Hunters
The reason why you usually start with the Frontline before the Backline is because it’s a safer option (a non-upgraded army of squishy damage dealers can easily get run-over). Most frontline Alliances can function well on their own (i.e. just buying all the Knights you see can make a strong comp). While Backline Alliances can also be successful on their own, it’s more difficult to make them work like that and it requires more experience. That said, as you become better at the game you will learn when you can ignore this rule of thumb.
Once you have your core army composition ready, you will have little space to add more heroes. This makes Alliance bonuses that require few heroes very valuable in the late game. For example, if you are running Warriors and you have Pudge, you need just one other Heartless hero to unlock the (2) Heartless armor reduction bonus. This makes it a very slot-efficient improvement to your army, but at the same time, it’s very powerful and can improve the DPS of your Warriors significantly.
Commonly used splash-Alliance bonuses are Heartless, Warlock, Troll, Blood-Bound, Demon, Demon Hunter, Dragon, Scaled, Druid
Try to learn to play just a few strategies well as a start. For example, you can try to stick to a (3) Warrior opening and from it build either (3) Warriors + Hunters or (6) Warriors + Splash Alliances based on what the game gives you. Once you master that strat and win consistently with it, move on to another one. The knowledge you learn from one strat is often transferable.
If you just try to play what the game gives you at this level you will most likely get confused and lose because playing everything in the game requires a fair amount of knowledge you likely lack at this point.
Example: a great example of a simple but powerful Warrior + Hunter mid-game comp. Because of the Alliances of the units, you also get Heartless from Pudge and Drow and Brawny from Jugg, Axe, and Beastmaster as secondary bonuses.
At the end of the game, in a lobby, the top positions are most often the players who have managed to generate the most gold. This is because you need a lot of gold to buy levels (for a larger army and more Alliances) and upgrades (to roll-down the shop and buy the actual heroes).
This means that a very important concept to grasp is to save up gold even when it costs you rounds and some health.
Don’t spend gold to reroll the shop in the early-mid game. Instead, try to accumulate a bank of 50 gold and only spend excess gold above the 50g threshold.
Besides people with weak comps, at this level, some people don’t care about their rank, so they are more likely to leave the game before they are eliminated (hence occupying the bottom placement in the lobby). This means that you will get “free” round wins every once in a while. Consequently, even if you are playing greedily you won’t get punished hard.
In practice, on these ranks, you want to get to 50g ASAP almost every single game and spend your gold only when you reach a dangerous HP threshold.
this point, your opponents are not great, but they are most definitely adequate
and understand the basics of the game well. This means that just forcing the
one strategy you know and saving up to 50g every game won’t work as often as it
did on the lower ranks. That’s why you need a new set of skills.
You need to know multiple viable builds (to help you out in this regard we have articles like this Dota Underlords Builds Tier List). This way you will not have to force strategies as often and you will be able to adjust adequately based on what the game gives you.
Two-star upgrades dictate the early-game, so buying the upgrades you see in the shop and managing to make an adequate army comp out of them is an important skill at this level.
For example, a two-star Tiny is a good start for a Warrior strat, but it can also be used in Primordial opening into Mages/Assassins. You need to know both builds to be able to decide which one to go for. Moreover, being able to sell the two-cost Tiny in the mid game because you see you’re going in another direction (e.g. you’re getting a lot of Scrappy and you don’t need Tiny in your final comp) is also an important decision you need to be able to make to optimize your chances.
Last but not least, because of the shared hero pool, going for the same build as a lot of the players in the lobby is risky. Knowing more builds will let you switch up the game plan more easily to maximize your chances of getting the important upgrades you need.
In lobbies where your opponents are adequate, you will get a lot less free round wins. This means that playing super greedy every time is simply not an option anymore.
Sometimes you will not be fighting for the first place, but rather to stay in the lobby for longer and get to top 4.
To succeed in that it helps a lot to spend a bit of gold preemptively to make your army stronger and prevent some health loss. It’s OK to stay at 30 gold instead of 50 for a few rounds if you see you need to find upgrades sooner rather than later in order to stop losing rounds and health in the short term.
Moreover, you need to be able to make late-game decisions based on your position in the game. Sometimes getting to lvl10 for your ideal comp is simply not an option with the level of economy and health you have. It might be the right decision to sit on your core comp on lvl8 and spend all extra gold searching for key upgrades to become stronger ASAP. By doing this you are unlikely to be 1st place in the lobby, but you are more likely to survive the mid-late game and edge your way ahead of the bottom four. (Disclaimer: some comps work very well on lvl8 with three-star upgrades, so it might be a viable decision to stay on lvl8 even if you’re not losing.)
Once you reach Big Boss, you are playing against good players who play the game a decent amount. Everyone in your lobbies knows plenty of strategies and can play the economy game pretty well. This means that minor decisions make a much bigger difference at this point and bad judgments or even bad luck can easily lose you games – you can finish dead last with a decent build that would otherwise easily give you top 4 on lower ranks.
Making these minor correct decisions becomes intuition gained through experience, so you’re unlikely to acquire this skill just from reading a single article.
One thing that will help you a lot, however, is to learn to play the meta rather than just the game. With each balance patch the strength of certain strategies shifts and when you are playing against good players it helps a lot to focus on the stronger strats and ignore the ones which are harder to play successfully (versus good players, the edge that meta comps give you is much more important).In a few words, at the time of writing this, the meta is to try to get lvl10 in order to get two-star Ace units, upgraded 4-cost units, and to have space for multiple strong splash-alliances. For example, two to four Warlocks is extremely strong with Disruptor. Troll Warlord + Witch Doctor is very strong and extremely slot-efficient, etc. Because of this, a (6) Warrior opening is arguably the strongest strat right now as it allows you to include multiple splash Alliances and individually strong units.
The current meta demonstrated by Bebe, a Top 1 Lord player and streamer. You can substitute Enigma + Arc Warden with Disruptor + one other Warlock (e.g. Alch) for an even more standard meta comp.
That said, the meta will shift with newly-found strats and new balance patches, so you need to actively try to stay up to date.
If you are a Lord player, you’ve made it! You won’t find useful advice in guides like this one. The reason is simple –information gets to articles like this one slower, and once it does all opponent Lord players are already well aware of it. I.e. it doesn’t give you an advantage over them.
To beat other Lord players, you need to trust your own judgment and intuition in order to find what works before it becomes common knowledge. As a Lord player, you are the one setting the meta – in order to climb, you need to do so before everyone else.
Thanks for reading! I hope you found this guide useful and enjoyable. If you did, you can check out our other Underlords content in our Library! To get a good grasp of the current meta, you can check out our Underlords Best Builds tier list with information about all the most popular strats in the game!