5 Differences between Pub and Pro Players

Recently it’s becoming a trend for pro teams to pick up players from the MMR leaderboards. However, these freshly-scouted pub players may not always fit in easily with the rest of the team at first – that’s when you realize there are some disparities between high-MMR pub stars and seasoned pro players.

Let’s examine the key differences.



You must’ve seen pro players shouting to teammates during LAN (offline) tournaments.

Back back back! There are too many of ‘em!
Tinker’s taking stacks, smoke and go to their jungle now!
Take the tower they’re all dead!
Weaver has Linken’s! Invoker’s got BKB!
Ward top so we can push!
But you don’t often see this much communication in pub games.

In ranked games, pub players who actively use their in-game voice chat to communicate with teammates are a rare find, especially on the SEA server.

This could be due to several reasons:

• Language barrier
• Uncomfortable speaking to strangers
• Just can’t be bothered to spend so much effort to win a single game
• You can outskill your opponents and win without having to rely on your team
• Less pressure to win

In competitive games however, when everyone’s skill levels are more or less on par, the smallest piece of extra information about the enemy team might just make or break the game. Also, every mistake gets punished heavily, so every single command has to be communicated to the team in an efficient manner and swiftly executed.

That’s when communication becomes of utmost importance.



When watching pro games we might take 5-man pushes for granted, but in pub games you’d often be hard-pressed to gather your teammates at one spot to push a tower.

*Furious pings*
Jugg, stick please!
*More furious pings*

Pub players would tend to do things on their own whenever possible – solo ganking, farming and pushing out lanes alone, even taking objectives alone if they find an opening. They tend to factor out teammates, i.e. assume they’re incompetent, and just go ahead and play their own game. The prevalence of this solo mindset has also come to define the playstyle of most ranked games nowadays.

With pro players however, there’s much more usage of team items such as Smoke of Deceit or Gem of True Sight. Rotations, ganks and pushes usually involve the entire team as well.


When in doubt, pro players would trust their teammates to save, cover or cooperate with them, so they tend to work together ; whereas pub players would generally trust themselves more than teammates.


Sometimes, winning is everything. Pro players understand what’s at stake and they will do everything they can think of in order to win. They have their eyes on the prize and are determined to get to that podium finish.


That will to win is the single driving force for most pro players to stay on track even during the most difficult times. Be it continuous training, replay-watching, theorycrafting, scrim after scrim or getting back on their feet after a painful defeat, all these require a great deal of tenacity, mental strength and perseverance.

Pub players might not be as driven to put in the hard work where necessary, because they lack the thirst and desire to win – some just play the game to relax or enjoy the thrill of owning in the game. The mentality makes all the difference.


Which also explains why pub players generally tend to rage, whine and complain more than pro players.



While a pro player might opt for items like Pipe of Insight or Mekansm for an easy team push, a pub player might prioritize solo-ganking and escape items such as Dagon, Moon Shard or Shadow Blade.

Whenever there are invisible heroes on the opponent’s team, it’s a given for pro players to purchase detection items such as Sentry Wards or Dust of Appearance, yet in pub games you can never take that for granted.


It’s also uncommon for pub players to purchase Sentry Wards to deward the opponent team, though practically essential in pro games for gaining map control.


As mentioned before, pub players would rather trust themselves to outskill opponents, than rely on teammates to win the game. Hence certain hero choices are popular amongst high-MMR pub players.


Common heroes pub players try to win ranked games with:

• Meepo
• Invoker
• Tinker
• Storm Spirit
• Naga Siren
• Morphling

Most of these are complex heroes that require a fairly high skill level to play or master, and thus with these you have higher chances of out-skilling the opponents. Some require a long time to farm up, but once you have certain key items you can easily dominate the game with your hero alone. With this mindset they also tend to favor picking core heroes over support heroes.

Pro players who’re experienced in Captain’s Mode games however, would care more about synergies between heroes. They have a better understanding of how heroes fit in lineups, and in turn the overall strategies, strengths and advantages that each individual hero can bring to the team play.

The Dazzle-Huskar combo, popularized by Mineski during one of the earlier patches.

The Pudge-Chen combo with which TI3 Na`vi made an epic comeback by making use of a loophole in the game.

There’s definitely a mountain of a barrier to overcome before a pub player can become a pro player. You’ll need the communication skills, cooperative mindset, determination, insights and decision-making abilities before you can truly fit in with a pro team.

Think you got what it takes?