What “Griefing” Is and How It’s Done in DotA 2

Samuel Sullivan

Griefing your team in a video game is the equivalent of a two-year-old having a tantrum because they didn't get the ice cream flavor they wanted.

What is a Griefer?

The definition of a griefer is an online game player who intentionally spoils the game for other players.

Defense of the Ancients 2 (DotA 2), the popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), is notorious for toxic players who grief. DotA 2 has tried to eliminate toxicity and combat grief by implementing features to combat them, but the toxicity has survived. There is a player reporting system with punishments ranging from a timeout to sending players to low-priority matchmaking. If DotA 2 sends you to low priority matchmaking, you have to win a set number of games working with and against other players who were punished by the reporting system. I have been placed in low priority once, and you will just have to take my word for how horrible it was.

Griefing can be subtle, or it can be incredibly dramatic. Just as every player has it within their power to be positive, every player also has the power to grief their team whenever they choose.

The Top Ten Ways to Grief Your Team

10. Picking a hero that you have never played before

In DotA 2, there are currently 120 heroes. Some heroes are more difficult to use than others, but they all have a learning curb. Typically more experienced players can play many heroes well, but new players often can only play a select few well. If you want to try a hero for the first time, you should try to practice the new hero in an unranked game. However, if you are impatient, you will play a ranked game and choose a hero you have never played before and more than likely grief your team because you are just bad at the hero due to inexperience. It is not likely that your teammates will report you for this type of grief.

9. Last picking a hero that is countered by the other team

Some players have decided before the game what hero they will pick no matter what the other team picks. In DotA 2, certain heroes counter or do exceptionally well against certain other heroes. If a player has the last pick, they can see four of the five enemy heroes, giving them the advantage to pick a hero that will do well. However, some people with the last pick will pick their favorite hero even if all four heroes they can see are a terrible matchup. Their teammates will often plead with them not to pick the countered hero, but those teammates will usually be ignored. Some players genuinely do not know which heroes counter their hero, so this type of grief may also go unreported.

8. Buying useless items

Players earn gold as each game progresses. Players use their gold to buy items for their heroes that help their team win the game. Unfortunately, not all items are good in every game. A player who builds greedy or selfish items can hurt their team. When a player in a support role buys greedy items, it can easily ruin a game. When a player in a carry role buys the wrong items, it can be just as game losing. This can seem innocent to the naked eye, but do not be mistaken; it is a form of grief. Depending on how savvy the other players on the team are, a player buying useless items may or may not be reported.

7. Abandoning the game after "first blood"

If a player abandons a game before "first blood" or the first hero kill of the game, the game does not count, and all the players can leave without penalty. If a player abandons the game after first blood, the rest of the game is played four versus five. This is not lower on the list because when you abandon your teammates receive more gold, although most of the time, the extra gold is nowhere near enough to achieve victory. This and the remaining six forms of griefing will almost certainly result in being reported.

6. Going away from keyboard (AFK)

Every moment you are AFK, the other team is likely gaining an advantage. If there is a mid-game emergency, you have the power to pause the game. But, your opponents can unpause after 30 seconds. If your emergency persists past your team's pauses, you will be considered AFK. Occasionally people are understanding, but most of the time, you will earn yourself a report. Sometimes people purposely go AFK if they are frustrated with what is going on in the game. They do not abandon in the hopes they will not be reported and further grief their team, who does not benefit from the extra gold if they did abandon.

5. Endlessly pinging a teammate

When a player does not like the way you play, they usually are not afraid to let you know. If a player makes a mistake, they are usually aware, but it can annoy their teammates. Sometimes if a player is frustrated enough, they will start to ping their teammate endlessly. Pinging is a feature of DotA 2 that allows your team to communicate something on the map quickly. It makes a sound and lights up the spot on the map you click, letting your teammates know to beware of an area or where you plan to go next. It is a great feature when used correctly, but endless pinging gets annoying very fast.

4. Verbally abusing a teammate

Verbal abuse is, unfortunately, a common practice in DotA 2. In some ways, this should top the list because it can be hateful and directed at a specific person. However, because players can ignore other players, it is only number four. You can mute the audio or text of any other player at any time. If someone is abusive, do not give them the benefit of the doubt. Mute the abuser immediately and report them at the end of the game.

3. Buying all the wards and placing them to hurt the team

Now the most fun forms of grief. In DotA 2, wards give your team vision to scout enemies. They are an essential part of the game. Some griefers decide to buy all the wards and put them in places that actively hurt the team. They use them to block neutral creep camps your team controls that the team relies on for some of its gold. This form of grief can go unnoticed by teammates for a minute or two, and it can even be a mystery of who the griefer on the team is at first.

2. Breaking your items

This takes going AFK to the next level and definitively tells your team you are not coming back to the game. When you break your items, you purposely disassemble and destroy your items by placing them on the ground and attacking them. You do this until there is nothing left in your inventory. This, of course, nullifies the gold you have earned to that point in the game rendering your hero useless. Most of the time, players who do this follow it up by going AFK, having made their ceremonial statement, there is nothing left for them to do.

1. Intentionally feeding

The number one rank goes to the classic and most egregious intentional feeding. This is where a player purposely walks their hero toward the enemy allowing the enemy to kill them. Once they respawn, they repeat. This is especially game-losing because not only do you grief your team, you help the other team in the process. Sometimes, people will threaten to feed to get their teammates to do something, but when they actually do it, they guarantee a report from their whole team and often some people on the other team.


Although griefers have been ruining games since the inception of DotA 2, I recommend that you do not give up if you have a griefer on your team. I have witnessed teams win while dealing with every form of grief. Just as if you ignore a whining two-year-old, they will realize their tantrum is not getting them the attention they want, and they will calm down if you ignore a griefer and play your best, there is a chance they will decide to try.

Remember, DotA 2 allows you to report the players who grief your games, so report them. After the game, you can avoid them, so you never have to play with them again. Lastly, do not let a griefer ruin your day. Take a deep breath and remember that DotA 2 is just a game.

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