What does backdoor technically mean in strategy games like DotA or League of Legends? Is it an accepted tactic or there are some rules that forbid it?

  • It should be noted for LoL that many players frown upon "backdooring" because they feel it's not a fair fight (personal experience from pushing the crap out of teams with Master Yi). Oftentimes an unbalanced creep push will be called backdooring because everyone else is fighting elsewhere, although this is a misnomer, as a real backdoor requires that no creeps be present.
    – zzzzBov
    Aug 31, 2011 at 17:26
  • It should also be noted for LoL that you can only kill subsequent buildings by having destroyed a building before it. The recent patch has removed turrets destroyed from the scoreboard, despite the fact that the only way to win is by killing turrets and that any character kills are incidental to good pushing strategy. I once won a match where my team went 10-53 because the other team couldn't kill a single turret, but could kill other heros.
    – zzzzBov
    Aug 31, 2011 at 17:31
  • Since when are DotA/LoL games called "strategy games"? I don't mean this in a rude way. I just thought they were part of their own genre, like "Team Action RPG" or similar. Those games, while they do include tactics/strategy, are based around the premise of personal character advancement (RPG) in a team-based setting. It seems strange to call them strategy just because they were originally built using the RTS engines of Starcraft & Warcraft III. Aug 31, 2011 at 17:51
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    ... Seriously? Attacking the enemy where his defenses are weakest is considered "cheating" now? Sep 1, 2011 at 4:55

6 Answers 6


Backdooring typically refers to the act of taking out an enemies base tower or inhibitor/barracks while the enemy team is slow to respond to your presence, unaware of your advances on their base (due to poor map vision coverage), or otherwise occupied with fighting or pushing on their own.

Generally speaking, in League of Legends, a backdoor will occur while one team is pushing on 5v4, while the last remaining member of the defending team goes to take out towers. Strong backdoor champions include Master Yi (due to his high autoattack damage, steroid skills, and high mobility), Twisted Fate (long range ultimate), Pantheon (long range ultimate), or any other character that excels in dealing auto-attack damage and pushing.

Backdooring is not explicitly disallowed, nor is it a core part of gameplay (meaning you wont see a backdoor happen every game). However, as a rule of thumb, it's generally looked down upon by people in mid to low ELO brackets. You generally wont see it happen as much in higher level play as the enemy will be much more attentive of problem characters like that and wont give them the chance to do so. It's a perfectly legitimate tactic, just difficult to pull off in higher levels of play.

It should be noted that you should not be confusing "backdooring" with "split pushing". Split pushing is when the offensive team attempts to take down two or more towers simultaneously through the use of a single lane distraction. For example, a team may send 3 players to a single lane to push on the tower. The defending team overcompensates and sends all 5 to defend said tower and hopefully secure a few kills. Meanwhile, the other 2 offensive players have full potential to go and destroy another lane's tower.

In both cases, you can utilize long range ultimate characters like Pantheon, Twisted Fate, Nocturne, Shen or Karthus to dissuade or completely stop split pushing / backdooring. Additionally, the summoner spells Teleport and Fortify are great for preventing these tactics. It's not uncommon to have at least one person running Teleport on a team, and in Draft matches (where you have the ability to see the enemy team during champion select), it's often wise to have one character take Fortify if you identify their team as a push team.

  • How can the enemy team be "unaware of your presence" ? They have minimaps (not to mention a loud voice yelling YOUR TOWERS ARE UNDER ATTACK).
    – Decency
    Aug 31, 2011 at 13:27
  • @Decency What I mean is that, again regarding lower to mid level play, they will not be aware of your advance towards the base. Generally in higher level play, there is a large amount of map vision due to lots of ward placement and smart use of CV (in LoL). I'll rephrase.
    – TheQ
    Aug 31, 2011 at 13:34
  • @Decency I should also note that a lot of this applies to LoL, as HoN/DotA have a VASTY different meta-game, and based on your answer, is what I'm assuming you're answering with regards to.
    – TheQ
    Aug 31, 2011 at 13:52
  • I've played LoL enough, the mechanics in this regard are the same except most players don't take the Teleport or Fortification spells and towers die incredibly fast in lategame so backdooring is far easier.
    – Decency
    Aug 31, 2011 at 13:57
  • I'd like to point out that every hero you listed has high mobility in some way, so I'd assume that that would be a good characteristic for a backdooring hero to have :)
    – RCIX
    Aug 31, 2011 at 14:51

A backdoor is when a single hero goes to attack enemy base while allied minions and enemies aren't there.

Example would be : A team fight is taking place near blue base, one of the five blue heroes avoids the fight to go and attack red towers while red team is occupied with the team fight !

In LOL, good heroes for backdoor are Master Yi, Twisted fate (because of his ult enabling him to back in 2 seconds), Udyr, or any hero dealing good auto-attack damage and that can survive long enough to tower shots.

  • Backdoor can be more than just a single champion. An entire team can backdoor a turret. It's backdooring as long as minions aren't there to tank.
    – Delphy
    Aug 31, 2011 at 16:49
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    Given @Delphy's addendum, this is the correct answer. Sep 1, 2011 at 15:11

Backdoor is when you start attacking enemy tower without your creep wave near that tower. Proof of that is the following.

Backdoor protection in dota 2

From official dota 2 in-game tip

When no enemy creeps are near, Towers and Barracks have Backdoor Protection, which lessens the damage they take and allows them to restore their health.

From wiki:

   All buildings except for the Tier 1 Towers possess the passive
   ability backdoor protection. 

   Backdoor protection activates when there
   are no nearby enemy creeps, and causes the building to take 25%
   damage from illusions and 75% damage from other units. If a
   backdoor-protected building is damaged by an enemy, it will
   regenerate the lost health at a rate of 90 HP per second. It is still
   possible to destroy protected buildings with sufficiently high

   Backdoor protection will not regenerate damage dealt by
   friendly units. On the Tier 2 Towers, backdoor protection is
   independent for each tower. The faction base applies backdoor
   protection as one single unit, e.g. if there are enemy creeps near
   one Tier 3 Tower, all the other Tier 3 towers and barracks will drop
   their backdoor protection as well.

Legality of backdooring along with some other rules depends on the host and the type of the tournament.On official Dota 2 International tournament there were no additional rules against backdooring(except the in-game backdoor protection passive),while on some smaller tournaments there are strict rules about it.

Backdooring was seen in dota 1 as a game guideline(fairplay) not as a major rule.The idea in dota was to help your creeps advance and push towers,rather than heroes just charging towers,and Icefrog wanted to point it out first by game rules later by backdoor protection.

But if Icefrog wanted to make backdooring a serious rule he could simply make it impossible to backdoor,instead he made it just a bit harder to accomplish(especially solo) or in early/midgame.

In public games there are no specific rules about using backdoor,it is only matter of fair play to avoid using it and keep the game fair.On tournaments there could spectator as a referee that follows specific rules and keeps game in line.

  • 4
    This is the definition I've always used, although we don't make distinctions between major and minor. Backdooring is also never illegal or "unfair", and any rules that make it illegal are clearly not real competitive rules. +1 for correct definition but -1 for extra incorrect information, so no vote from me. Aug 31, 2011 at 13:04
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    @Decency That's ridiculous, just another excellent reason to avoid those games at all cost. Aug 31, 2011 at 16:16
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    @Decency That's a ridiculous example, but even then I would not agree to ban it. I would simply find a different game to play, one that isn't broken and that doesn't require players to mend it to make it worth playing. LoL is worth playing as-is, and there's no reason to "ban" anything. The concept of "banning" a part of a game that is built into the game is completely ridiculous to me. Aug 31, 2011 at 18:42
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    It doesn't make any sense to me that this would be frowned upon. LoL has only one victory condition: kill the final nexus. If you lose because someone killed your final nexus while you weren't there, you deserve to lose. You damn well should have been guarding it once those last two towers went down. Sep 1, 2011 at 13:38
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    This is the correct definition of backdooring - when you attack and enemy tower without the presence of your own creeps. This used to be massively frowned upon in dota, until the frog king added backdoor protection regeneration to towers, making it much harder. If you can back door a tower in dota now, it's fair game. Aug 12, 2013 at 15:09

This is not the official terminology, but I see backdoor as way to take down the enemy base without going there by normal walking.

So in this definition you are backdooring when:

  • You use an ultimate to teleport to the enemy base
  • You use the teleport skill to jump on a ward in the enemy base.

Thus, you avoid any kind of detection the enemy could have place to control the map. This would better suit the original meaning of the word. Note that even with that definition, I find it a perfectly legal way of playing. At the end, this is war and you want to win no matter what.

To go to the real definition, you can see here that it is when the enemy (one or more) attack one of your structure without support of their minions.

Backdooring has been endorsed as a acceptable tactic by Riot. And by the way, when you attack a tower without the support of your minions, turrets take only half damage from champions. So the rule is: if you can sustain the damage, you can backdoor.

Many players tend to reject that technique because of BDing being forbidden on the time of DotA (due to imbalance in some heroes capabilities). But as far as LoL is concerned backdooring is not a banable technique.


The definition of backdooring has changed over time.

The original usage was the act of attacking towers that were not the most exterior. For example, I would attack your base towers, barracks, or throne while you still had a complete set of outer towers standing. Changes in game mechanics have since made this impossible: you now must kill the most exterior tower in a lane, then the next tower, before moving on to the base tower in that lane.

IceFrog currently refers to backdooring as beginning an attack on towers without allied creeps present. Because he felt this was a problem, he has implemented extra defenses for towers when this occurs: they will take less damage and regenerate quickly to the health they were at prior to the backdooring attempt, if not killed off completely.

Backdooring in competitive play has in the past been explicitly banned in some tournaments, but rarely if at all in DotA since the above change was implemented. In HoN, it is still common for tournaments to ban backdooring base towers and Barracks, because neither the above change nor something which would address the problem have been added to the game.

Backdooring is thus, in high-level DotA, considered an acceptable tactic, typically countered through the use of TP scrolls and/or the structure fortification ability. Backdooring in HoN is still rarely seen but can be problematic. Opinion is split on whether this is acceptable or counterable. I do not know what the stance of LoL players is on the issue.

  • It's not an issue to LoL players. It's a fair tactic. Anyone who complains about backdooring clearly isn't a competitive player. See here for a real competitive mindset. Aug 31, 2011 at 16:33
  • This is a discussion about game design- Sirlin's comments are about gameplay and are thus irrelevant. Just because players complain about something doesn't mean they won't use it to the best of their ability, they just feel the game can be improved. It's like if Rock-Paper-Scissors also had dynamite which beats everything. Players will still use dynamite every turn, but that doesn't mean they can't or shouldn't complain about it being stupid.
    – Decency
    Aug 31, 2011 at 18:27
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    If you're discussing game-design you're on the wrong site. Aug 31, 2011 at 18:43
  • I merely answered the second question he asked as well. As soon as you talk about whether tactics are "accepted" you're moving into the realm of game design, not strategy. "Fair" and "accepted" are very different.
    – Decency
    Aug 31, 2011 at 20:12
  • You're seriously saying that LoL players consider the tactic of attacking an enemy where their defenses are weakest "unfair" to the point where the game mechanics need to be changed to prevent it? Thanks, I was wondering what games not to play this month. Sep 1, 2011 at 5:08

Backdooring means "attacking an enemy tower without the presence of allied minions" that is all it is. The number of allies or enemies present is irrelevant.

As for rules and "acceptance". Different games deal with it in different ways. DotA used to give towers regeneration if no minions were present so that you couldnt chip away at towers. LoL gives towers added armor and magic resist to make them tougher. These are the "in-game" mechanics to balance backdooring. For individual tournaments they may impliment different rules regarding the tactic. That being said, you need to kill towers to get to the enemy nexus so why not take one out when you have the opportunity? It is part of the game and the designers have addressed the matter in a manner they deem sufficient.

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