The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena esports scene is dominated by the two MOBA goliaths: League of Legends from Riot Games and Valve’s Defense of the Ancients 2. These real-time strategy games are entirely free-to-play sequels to the astonishingly popular Defense of the Ancients mod for Blizzard’s Warcraft III. We’ve already covered LoL here, so in this guide, we’ll focus on DotA 2; taking a behind-the-scenes look at this MOBA and what led to its prominence.
The success of the fan-made DotA game mod caught the eye of Valve Corporation, an American video game developer and publisher known for titles like Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Portal, and Team Fortress (Valve is also the developer of the video game digital distribution service Steam). In 2009, Valve made a move to hire the lead designer of Defense of the Ancients, IceFrog, to remake the mod with a more modern look and feel. The game was released on a free-to-play model, maintained by a Battle Pass subscription and non-game altering enhancements like cosmetics and audio packs. Since its release, DotA 2 has been continuously updated and even made the impressive leap to virtual reality.
Much like League of Legends, DotA2 is a 5v5 clash of two teams who coordinate map and objective control to siege the enemy base and claim victory. Before we dive into the DotA 2 gameplay, we’ll give you a quick rundown of the key differences between the two MOBA giants: League of Legends vs DotA 2.
Both games are highly competitive, but LoL favours accessibility and entertainment above all else. Every League of Legends champion is available for purchase using in-game currency which can be obtained simply by playing. The easiest LoL champions are also the easiest to acquire: limiting the pool when you are just getting started creates a smooth transition that doesn’t overwhelm new players. Cosmetic upgrades, like champion skins and summoner icons, can be purchased for real currency or unlocked through RNG and special events. As a result, League of Legends is a very user-friendly game that makes it easy to explore and enjoy the universe of Runeterra.
DotA 2, on the other hand, stakes its wager on depth to create a far more complex gaming experience. It offers unrestricted access to every hero in the game from the very beginning, multi-step customisation options, and many useable items. The depth of detail shines through each of the over 100 playable DotA 2 characters, known as heroes. League of Legends champions tend to have a standard set of five abilities, with a few exceptions, while DotA 2 heroes crank it up and tune in to their wild side. Many of the heroes have multiple sets of abilities and spells: with so many combat mechanics, no DotA 2 tournament goes without mindblowing plays. Although the game offers tutorial and player vs bots modes, the sheer abundance of choice doesn’t make it easy for novice players, with the game more appealing to dedicated MOBA veterans who thirst for a little more “OOMPH” in their gameplay.
The main objective of DotA 2 is to breach the enemy defences and lay siege to their stronghold. Destroying the most important building of the opponent’s base, the Ancient, is the only way to achieve victory. The DotA 2 map is split into two sections, Radiant and Dire, and has three lanes divided by the river and jungle. Players slay minions (in-game AI units) and enemy heroes to gain experience, gold, and strategic advantage. The mechanics of how to play DotA 2 have many similarities with League but retain that flair of complexity and depth that the original DotA mod once had.
Players can choose one of 119 heroes and work together to coordinate team fights, objective control, and lane dominance. The primary roles of DotA 2 heroes are Core and Support. Cores, or carries, are fairly vulnerable in the early game but their survivability can be enhanced through in-game items. Carries grow stronger as the game progresses and deal absolutely devastating amounts of damage as they carry their team to victory. Supports focus on utility and control. They don’t shine when it comes to dealing damage, but their healing, shielding, crowd control, and team buff abilities excel when it comes to setting up plays or protecting the carries.
Agility heroes gain attack damage and attack speed as their primary attribute increases over the course of the game. They scale well with offensive items and have the highest damage output in the game. These damage dealers are a threat in any lane!
Strength heroes gain attack damage, health, health regeneration, and magic resistance, with every increase of the strength attribute. Most are melee and some often fill the support role as tanks, but their ability to deal damage shouldn’t be overlooked! These resilient heroes strike a balance between aggressive and defensive play, staying relevant throughout all stages of the game.
Intelligence heroes focus on improved spell-casting. The intelligence attribute grants them mana, mana regeneration, attack damage, and spell amplification. They have an immense pool of crowd control abilities and spells that wreak havoc in the mid and early game.
All of the lanes in DotA 2 are direct paths connecting the Ancients of Radiant and Dire. These massive structures are found inside the centre of each team’s base, near the respawn Fountain. Each Ancient is protected by a series of towers running down the lanes and will be invulnerable to damage until the last two towers fall. Teams must protect their base and seek out opportunities to destroy the opposing team’s Ancient in order to win the match.
Aside from striving to gain the most experience and gold to tip the scales in late-game, both teams should keep an eye out for the most formidable monster in DotA 2: Roshan the Immortal. Roshan spawns at the beginning of the match, but very few heroes can take him on alone before late-game. Engaging Roshan is a team decision and can be a decisive turn point of the match. Roshan grows stronger as the game progresses but slaying this beast will award plenty of gold and powerful items!
DotA 2 does not back down when facing the uncertainty around sporting events. While live DotA 2 tournaments have been postponed, this spring’s biggest competitive events – the Electronic Sports League (ESL) – have been split into online leagues.
Check out EnergyBet for top-tier odds on upcoming DotA 2 ESL One Los Angeles 2020 group stage matches in Europe and CIS. As DotA 2 teams around the world brace for their climb to Valve’s The International tournament, we’ll keep you covered and informed every step of the way!
We’ll also continue to post esport guides on EnergyBetWorld, so stay tuned to the site.
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