Hotkeys – how to select & optimise them.

After writing my “Advanced solo mid guide” I’ve received a lot of questions about hotkeys. People wanted to know how to choose them, which settings are the best and what hotkeys I use myself. To answer all of them, here’s a short guide to choosing your hotkeys:

As I said previously, I’m a big fan of optimising and making your play more efficient. But how can you be efficient when you keep missclicking spells and items or not hitting hotkeys that are too spread out? Yes, you can’t.

I’ll state this clear: i will NOT tell you what hotkeys you should use, if you feel comfortable with legacy hotkeys where spells have their own hotkeys scattered all over the keyboard, go for it. I WILL tell you though some general rules you could follow, and how I discovered my ideal combination.

To start off, there are 4 most common hotkey settings:

4. Legacy

As you can see you can manually select your favorite hotkey setting from the list in DotA 2 options:

If you’re not a DotA veteran, I strongly suggest using the 1, 2 or 3 combination. Legacy hotkeys are for people that are so used to hotkeys from W3 DotA that it would be simply too hard for them to convert to any of above combinations.

Now, to the more advanced things:
Most of the people set their hotkeys to their hero spells and inventory, and that’s it.

In my opinion, if you want to play better and waste less time, you SHOULD have hotkeys for:

1. Quickbuy – allows you to buy an item that you “shift queued” instantly. Insanely useful when waiting for important items like bottle.
2. Purchase sticky – In your settings you can select one item that can be bought after pressing this hotkey. The most useful one is probably tp scroll.
3. Control groups – at least 3
4. Courier, all courier commands – tick “mirror hero hotkeys” in your settings
5. “Missing” – message to allies, really useful in pubs
6. Binded camera position hotkeys (rune spots)
7. Scoreboard – for constantly checking enemy levels
8. Shop – no further explanation needed
9. Show names/hero icons on minimap (default alt)
10. Commands: stop, hold position, move
11. Glyph

Other general hotkey rules:

  1. Have hotkey for EVERY inventory slot. As you progress in skill as a player you’ll notice that situations where you have 6 active items in your inventory are really common and not having one of them binded proves to be a serious disadvantage.
  2. Avoid using alt or ctrl+hotkey for inventory hotkeys, this makes things really hard when trying to play heroes like tinker effectively.
  3. Start putting items into the same slot every game. That way you’ll never have to look at your inventory before casting a tp scroll or magic wand. For me TP is always at G and wand at E.
  4. Do not put items that require extremely fast reaction on slots that are somehow harder to access and/or require you to change position of your hard before using. Example: blink dagger is way more effective on “Q” than on “Space”.
  5. If you think you have all your hotkeys mastered and there’s nothing you can improve on – turn on “Shop always uses hotkeys” setting on. Memorizing all the shop hotkeys brings your mechanics to a next level, allowing you to do flashy plays like upgrading the courier with 2 button as someone dives to kill it.
  6. Do NOT be afraid of changing your hotkeys to something more efficient. For example I’ve always had my hero on “1” and courier on “2”. Then, when i decided to play meepo my control groups could only start from “3”. That made me missmicro a lot by accidentally selecting the courier. I decided to change the hotkey to ” ` “, it took me well over 3 weeks of missclicking and never getting my items delivered but when I learned it, it helped my play immensely. Think of it as of performing a somersault. If you fall on the ground first time doing it, it doesnt mean you shouldn’t do this at all. It’s just a matter of practice.

When changing hotkeys you know you’re gonna fail a lot, but what matters is the final result – you playing faster and more effectively.

For those unfamiliar with camera binding, the commands are:

Top Rune

// Top Rune

bind “F4” “dota_camera_set_lookatpos -2287 1817”

Bottom Rune

// Bot Rune

bind “F5” “dota_camera_set_lookatpos 2990 -2400″

This site may change ” <- this symbol to ″<- this and the command won’t work. Make sure you change your quotation marks back to normal before you put these commands into console.

What hotkeys do I use?

I started playing DotA quite a few years ago so I used to use legacy hotkeys. I weren’t really comfortable with them on some of the heroes so I installed “W3 keys” – a program that would allow you to change your hotkeys to any custom combination. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve chosen ZXCV and I’m happy with them.

My hotkeys:

Spells: ZXCV, D and F for additional spells. Autocast modifier: Alt+spell hotkey

Inventory: Q, W, E, G, Space, Mouse4

Quickbuy: F1

Purchase sticky: F2

Take items from stash: F3

Enemy missing: F4

Runespot top: F5

Runespot bot: F6

Select courier: `  [courier actions set to use ZXCVDF too]

Select hero: 1

Control groups: 2, 3, 4, 5

Scoreboard: 6

Shop: N

Commands: Attack move – A, Move – R, Hold position – U, Stop – S

Glyph: L

That’s it for today. I hope my post answered at least some of your questions : )

I would also like to thank everyone commenting and reading my guide to solo mid. The amount of positive feedback I received – both from pro and casual players is overwhelming.


4 comments on “Hotkeys – how to select & optimise them.

  1. Excellent article. I’m the guy on Reddit who suggested you self-publish. You did a good job.

  2. kosme19 says:

    nice article do you still play dota 1? i havealso a good hotkey check on this

  3. firas says:

    ty u helped me alot

  4. Varun Ganesh says:

    Thanks bro for writing this! I thought i was the only one using zxcv for abilities and even tried to change it to qwer and failed miserably. I am so used to zxcv-df that now that I’ve read your article, I’m not gonna change. Thanks again

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