By now, it’s become increasingly common knowledge that certain players like to race through video games to see who can complete them the fastest. A small niche of players even hold records for speedrunning MOBAs.
The first Super Mario Bros. has been beaten in under five minutes. Dishonored 2, which came out earlier this month, has already been completed in nearly half an hour. But games like League of Legends have records as well. Someone beat a match against five bots solo in just 6:07. And last week, a player by the name of Mekarazium defeated Dota 2's Roshan in just 1:33.
In Dota 2, teams compete to see who can destroy the other’s base first. In order to do this they kill enemies, as well as other players, for experience and gold, level up, and buy powerful items. On this road to getting more powerful and trying to push in on the enemy team, players fight over a particular creature on the map called Roshan. Computer-controlled and hostile to both teams, killing the beast nets the players who did it not only a bounty of gold and experience, but also an extra life.
When Roshan is killed it drops an item called the Aegis. Whoever holds the Aegis is automatically revived when they die. This grants a huge advantage to the team who controls it, giving them in essence an extra person on the team for as long as the item lasts (the Aegis will eventually disappear, used or not, signalling that Roshan has respawned and can be killed again).
So Mekarazium set out to see how quickly it was possible to beat Roshan. Booting up an empty game he selected Ursa, a bear who’s attacks stack damage early on making it possible to kill the beast at level 1. In a normal game, players will try to get a few more levels and a particular item before trying to kill Roshan because 1.) it’s very hard and 2.) if the enemy team spots what you’re doing you’re as good as dead.
But Mekarazium wanted to show that it was theoretically possible to do it at the very start of the game. Using only healing salves and hit and run techniques, he was able to do just that, killing Roshan with just a bit of life left scarcely 90 seconds into the match. The fastest time previously was more than double, and utilized a completely different strategy.
When I asked Mekarazium if this strategy would work in a real game, the TL;DR version of his answer was simpy “No.” He’s played Dota 2 for thousands of hour and doesn’t think it’s viable at his level of play. At the same time, by showing that it’s actually possible to do, Mekarazium hopes that other players down the skill ladder will take note and thing of the game differently. Too many players simply look at what character builds and tactics the pros use, and then try to emulate them no matter what the circumstance, he told me.
Anyone who’s played the game for any length of time knows exactly what he’s talking about, with random players in public matches trying to execute high level plays despite having none of the other necessary pieces in place. Instead, Mekarazium wants to see people approach the game with a more open mind and think in terms of things they can know and control, like how quickly one hero scales compared to another during a match, and how to gauge who has the advantage 1v1 match-ups in the game’s early phase.
Pushing against the limits of how quickly Roshan can be killed is simply a way of illustrating this more empirical approach to playing Dota 2.