Anyway back while DotA-Allstars website existed there was a really good guide about using your hero to its fullest potential. Now website is gone, but I have memorized some stuff i read years ago. Author is Total Newbie with an edit and update by me.
This guide aims to help players of any skill level get most of theirs heroes. Basically doing everything you can in given situation. It will discuss things such as proper skill usage, optimal chasing and survival tactics and many more stuff. In every game you will find situations where you can use this techniques and its in every players interest to make most of this situations. It makes logical sense to do everything you can to ensure no marginal deaths or escapes happen. You will no longer need to bang your head to your keyboard if they do happen, knowing that you have done everything possible.
A lot of these tactics are overlooked by a lot of players, but its foolish to dismiss them as useless as little things add up over time and make big difference witch can make or break a game.
''Information is power'', this can be applied in DotA as in real life. The more you know the better your strategies and plans will be. There are to kinds of information, explicit and implicit. Explicit refers to all things a player may know at any given time in game, hero stats (ms,range, stats...), spell damage, cooldowns, mana costs, spawn times of creeps, game mechanic etc... Implicit information refers to things you have to pay attention during a game to figure them out, such as skill builds, play style, skill level, tendencies etc... For example if you see Pudge move to the side you can assume he will try to hook you, or if u see WR using arrow on level 1 to farm you know she wont have windrun to escape. It's good to check your opponents inventory from time to time, because items such as guinso, eul or meka, can screw up your plans or even a simple TP scroll. Sometimes you don't have time to click a hero in heat of the battle, so you can guess some items, ofc you can't guess items such as bracers, wraiths etc... But you can see if they have any damage block based on damage you deal to them, or if they have BoT or PT or phase boots. Some items such as radi or vlads are easier to spot. More you know the better you are. If you can tell approximate cd, mana cost and damage of level 2 magic missile you probably have a lot of these information in your head.
Implicit information requires in game observations.
The shift button is amazing one indeed. By holding down shift you can queue commands for your hero to do one after another. This applies to move, attack, spells. But some spells have long animation like CM or Furion, its best not to use it for this kind of spells. Its better to manually cast spell and move to cancel animation so you save some time. If you have explicit knowledge you will know what these spell are. Why is using shift important? Here are some situations in witch it can decide if you live or die.
You order your hero to eat a tree, hold shift and make a move command after, your hero will eat a tree and immediately move forward, it will look like he is eating tree while moving. Using this technique you will make sure distance between you are your chaser does not get any shorter. During early game heal from one tango can decide if you will survive. Using this method you will make sure distance is same between you and the chaser (If same or nearly same MS), so if his spell is just cooling down, he will not be able to get in range to cast it.
Cyclone, Purge and Hex
So you are chasing your enemy and you have one of the items above. Hold down shift cast items on their hero an issue a move command forward. Right when your hero gets in cast range of the item cyclone/purge/hex/etc will come out and your hero will keep on moving forward ensuring you don't lose any time, this allows you to get extra hits maximizing the damage you deal.
This can also be used when you are getting chased, issue a move forward, shift cast item on your chaser and then shift move forward again to make sure distance is kept while you cast the item. This can give u valuable time witch can make the difference if your chaser will catch up or not, especially against fast heroes like Spectre, BS, WR etc...
In case of Sand King its well known by almost all players that you can shift queue your ulty with dagger. But if you don't have dagger you will have to use your burrow strike + ulty combo, to make sure you don't stop your own channeling after you stun and use ulty, hold shift and issue a move command where you thing opponents will run, that way you will make sure you don't self stop your ultimate.
With Pudge after you hook and dismember + rot someone, hold shift and issue a move command where you think they will run to make sure you use full disable time and damage of your ultimate.
For Rhasta, you can queue your disables. While you shackle your target hold down shift and cast voodoo on him, this way as soon shackle end he will be hexed to make sure he doesn't blink or use any spells.
Also with Bane, while holding someone in your grip, press shift then Brain Sap them, that way as soon as grip ends you will sap them, giving them no chance to react.
Picking up runes
In those cases when you are being chased and you come across a rune while you are being chased, queuing a move command after you take/bottle rune will enable you to keep a distance between you and your chasers. I have seen countless times people who came across a haste rune and stopped for a split second to get in and died from a storm bolt casted by Sven who got in casting range in that split second.
Teleporting to towers
Its well known that you can time a shift TP + attack command to deny tower as soon as you tped. Imagine now 3 heroes are attacking tower, you can try to TP deny it but you will most likely die in the process, now assume u are playing SA, instead of just TP + attack, you can shift TP + smoke + deny + move your self outside of harms way. Be creative add extra commands, such as echo slam, hex, cyclone, manta...
Animation canceling, hitting and spacing
You should always animation cancel spells and attacks during early and mid game phases. At this point of the game a single hit can make a difference between a kill and a escape. As game goes on you attack with more damage and with faster rate so this starts to matter less and less.
When ganking someone from behind do not open with stun unless the hero has some spell that can fuck up everything (waveform, windwalk, fissure, imaple...) You should always get couple hits before your target has a chance to respond and then disable them. For spells with very short CD you should cast them asap so they cool down so u can cast them again. In early game those 2 hits can decide if your enemies escape or even turn and kill you.
Also pay attention to spacing between you and your allies, if three heroes decide to gank lion and they all walk in one line its most likely he will imaple them all and escape. Try space yourself so spells such as LSA, fissure, hoof stomp can't hit all of you.
Taking advantage of the terrain
If the enemy managed to get out of the range of your spell don't worry! If your hero has any spell that doesn't need to be targeted to a hero/unit then you still have chance to catch up. Examples of this spells are shockwave, dragon slave, shadow raze, meet hook, burrow strike, impale and so on and so on. On the DotA map there are a lot of corners to turn and due to the shape of these corners the distance of you and your chaser will decrease once they cut the corner. For example take a look at this spot:
The red line shows possible paths that your opponent might take. The yellow line indicate the path you need to take is response of the opponents path. The dotted part of yellow line indicate how you will cast your spell. As you can see, no matter where he runs, the distance between you and him will get shorter. Therefore do not give up when hero gets out of your range. If you see them approaching a corner that they will have to cut, keep chasing and you might get the kill.
Many people break invisibility by casting theirs spell, witch is not an optimal option to make based of what we just discussed. It would always be wise to walk near your hero and get an attack or two, and then use your spell. Lets assume you are playing Venge and u pick up an invis rune, instead of just stunning enemy you can walk up to him get 2 free hits then use stun when he realize what is happening, combined with animation canceling you earned 2+ hits in the start. If you decide not to do it and your target runs away with 1hp go kill yourself.
Also when playing SA, before initiating with smoke hit your target once or twice and then use it. Of course if hero has fast spell such as voodoo make sure you silence him right away.
Getting the maximum of your items
This can be very useful early in the game. While you are healing with your salve drop all +str items to the ground, this way you will drop your maximum hit points and current hit points so you will heal more. Example if u have 400/1000 HP, that is 40% of your max HP, and you heal with salve you will have 800/1000 HP (80%), but if you drop some +str items both of them will become lower, so our calculations are easier lets say your max HP drops to 900, you will still have 40% of your hp that is 360 now. You heal 400 with salve and will have 760/900 with is 84.44% of your max HP, after u get yours +str item you will still have 84.44% of your HP meaning 844/1000. This may not seam like a big deal, but it will help you tank one more hit, and that hit can mean the difference. Instead of dropping your PT just switch them to AGI/INT.
Similarly as with heal with bottle you should do the same, but if you are in the heat of the combat, you don't have time to drop your items so you need to switch Power Treads to AGI, that way your maximum HP and mana will drop, after you use bottle switch back treads. This way you will be getting the very maximum of the item, and you will not have to bang your head to your keyboard because you didn't have 5 mana to cast your raze for double kill.
I see players often wasting magic stick/wand charges, when they have like 1-5 charges or so, instead I like to save charges of my stick/wand to the point when last hit is coming to hit me I would use it to survive. Often players turn back as soon as they fire their last shoot. However this isn't guaranteed to work, as more experienced players will notice your charges.
Also note that there will be times when you will have to use your stick outside of the combat, use your own judgment to decide if you will do so.
When using this item you will be invulnerable for 0.1 second, in that split second you can dodge spell such as magic missile, storm bolt, finger of death or AoE spells such as hoof stomp, impale, burrow strike or even those strong ultimate spells like ravage, echo slam, requiem of souls...
Timing is everything here, and dodging spells such as ones listed above can win a battle or even a game for you.
Another trick with manta is when you are running away from enemies you split using manta then send illusion running forward while your hero and other illusion stand there for 1-2 seconds and then run away/TP. Also if you are strong enough, Drow perhaps, you may attack them and kill them, because they will focus illusion. Not this isn't guaranteed to work, as I said many times use your own judgment when doing so.
Various battle tactics
Creeps can very well decide the outcome of the battle. During early game damage output by three creeps is equal to a hero. Therefore you should always try to fight while having creep advantage. Also when you chase your opponents pay attention if his creeps are coming, if he is faster one creep wave can block him so you grab the kill. But make sure that you are able to do it, he may decide to turn around and try to kill you with the aid of creeps, so think twice!
When ganking someone after you used your spells you can block your enemy with your hero. Also do know, that this can be used in defensive way, if your ally is getting ganked and your spells are on CD or you don't have mana you can block the path of your opponents with your hero. This is dangerous, since they might switch target to you. If u have invisibility (lothar, ww, bottled rune, permanent invisibility..) and they have no true sight go and do it without fear.
Experience and level ups
In order to use your hero to its full potential, you need to maximize all the benefits your hero receive in the game. Things such as creeps kills and gaining as much exp as possible. Remember to stay in range of all creeps and hero kills to gain all the exp. It sounds easy in theory but in practice i don't see it too often that players go to gain exp from hero kill. To be more accurate when they are being chased and they are near death, and allies save them, people don't turn back to gain exp from the kill, they just keep running away in fear. But if enemy is disabled or you are in fog or outside the range its perfectly safe to turn back to gain as much as possible XP. I seen countless cases when players use theirs ulty + gale with Veno and just let hero go, instead of follow to gain exp. Sometimes is dangerous to chase for xp, but there are scenarios where its perfectly safe, and missing that exp can hurt your game, same goes with Doom. Use your own judgment when to chase and when to let your target.
Also pay attention to your XP bar, there will be times when its nearly full and during fight some creeps may die and give you a level, boosting your stats including HP and mana. During early game this level up will enable you to tank one more hit or cast your spell. Whether you are going toe-to-toe with a hero or chasing behind his tower look at your XP bar, because a level up may decide if u will survive or die. Try to factor this into your calculations when you fight battles instead of relying on luck. Example of this can be seen in Demon the movie when he kills sand king to gain level 6 and use ulty to escape viper.
There will be times also where you will level up in the heat of the battle. Do know that you don't have to stick to original skill build and that sometimes. For example if you are playing Rhasta and you went shackles/fork/fork/shackles up to level 4 then you kill a hero another comes from behind, you have 150 hp and one point to invest in your spells, instead of learning fork, skill voodoo and hex him. This way you will maximize your chances of survival.
Proper spacing is an art. The ability to constantly position yourself in advantageous way is a very valuable asset. Proper spacing allows your to minimize damage taken while maximizing your potential to tank as much as possible damage. For example staying outside of the attack range of an enemy hero minimize the damage you take. Timing your escape so you run outside theirs range 1 hit from death is pushing the limits of your hero. If you have haste rune this becomes much easier to do. This can heavily be abused with heroes with slow and high movement speeds, such as Bristleback, Viper, Drow and Bat. With BB just slow them and spray and let radiation burn then run away from them then again come and slow.
Also during team fights be sure to position your self so you can deal maximum damage while taking the minimum from enemies. Be sure to stay separated so one spell such as vacuum, echo slam, impale wont hit all of you. With, for example Pugna, make sure you put your ward somewhere hidden in the back, since it can deal tons of damage, and putting it in the open will get it destroyed, and significantly lowering your damage output.
With Silencer make sure you are back so you don't get jumped before you use global silence, time your ultimate to stop black hole or RoS, you won't be able to do so if you are in front and get chain disabled.
Dealing with heroes who can kill themselves
Heroes like Abbadon, Pudge, Bane, BS can kill themselves with theirs own skills when theirs HP become low enough. All smart players will try to deny you gold and XP by killing themselves. When chasing heroes like these you must time your attack and spells, instead of mindlessly watching your hero attack them. Save your finishing nuke or stun after theirs HP is low enough. For example you play Void and you are chasing Pudge with 90hp, your ulty is on CD, but you have your time walk. You decide to time walk and slow him. If you hit him once, most likely Pudge will turn on rot and commit suicide. What you need to do in this situation is fake an attack, meaning just after you time walk over him, start attack and press ''s'', most likely Pudge will turn on rot and then his hp will be low enough to kill him in one blow.
During the course of this guide, I know i said many things such as ''this can be the deciding factor if blah blah blah'' It may not seam like a big deal and most of the times it won't. However it doesn't hurt to keep in mind these tactics and to always use them. That way, you will never have to look back on the situation and ask yourself ''What if i did something different back there? Could I have survived that situation?''
DotA is very dynamic game that requires you to make many decisions in the spur of the moment. The amount of time you have to make your actions is very limited so make sure you take the most out of it.
If you see a player doing all this in game you can assume that they are very experienced and are decent players. Knowing how to utilize your hero to its full potential is basic foundation for getting better at this game. A lot of other concepts like mind games, risk taking and being a team player, develop on these basic concepts. It also depends on your own ability and courage to push your hero to the limits.
Thank you for reading.
To Total Newbie for writing something like this years ago on DA site.
And to GG.net Gosu Crew for theirs feedback and help.
Images from playdota.com. Image in terrain section made by me.
16.01.2011 - Written the initial version
17.01.2011 - Added extra sections
18.01.2011 - Added using your items section; Updated spacing section;Added some images; Fixed some typos; Posted on Strategy Section