If there is one game that has caught the attention of the public eye, it is certainly Dota 2. The popular game was developed by Valve in cooperation with IceFrog, one of the developers of the original Defense Of The Ancients modification for Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, which was the direct predecessor of this MOBA game.
The game was first published in July 2013 and has since been patched and expanded multiple times, changing both the gameplay and other minor in-game details every time. The game can only be played on Windows, Linux and OS X, with no console versions available.
If you are unfamiliar with MOBA games in general, MOBA stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, and the games are a combination of RTS (real time strategy) and RPG (role playing games), made for team play, where the two teams are pit against each other, with certain goals they must meet in order to win.
In Dota 2, the ultimate goal is the destruction of the opponent’s’ base and ultimately their Ancient, the central building of the camp. In order to do this, the players must first eliminate many other obstacles, which include powerful defense towers and of course the opponent’s heroes and computer controlled creeps, which are spawned in each base.
Like all MOBA games, Dota 2 is highly competitive and strategic, with varying levels of skill possible to attain and in this particular case, millions of people around the world competing against each other in an attempt to learn the game well enough to be able to play it at highly competitive levels.
Dota 2 Gameplay
Dota 2 is probably one of the strategically most complex games currently in existence. In order to reach the levels of elite players, one must understand various gameplay concepts and learn how to apply each in the right time and situation to make the most of each.
The game features over 100 different heroes, and at the start of the match, each of the five players in a team will have to select one of the heroes. These heroes each have their own unique abilities and traits and can perform various roles in the game, depending on those abilities and their statistics.
The Dota2 map is split into two camps in the two opposite corners of the map. These are connected by two lanes that move by the sides of the map and one main lane through the middle of the map. Usually, each of the lanes will see a team send one or two of their heroes into it, with heroes performing different roles, such as Carry or Support and some of the heroes occasionally entering The Jungle in-between the lanes, where they can grind on creeps, earn even more gold and advance faster.
The gameplay comes down to each player leading one hero around the map and killing the opposing creeps, destroying their buildings and earning valuable gold in the process. When enough gold is gained, a player can purchase various in-game items, which vary from barely significant ones to expensive game changers that will see the hero turn into a powerful force.
In addition to gold, the hero also gains experience with every kill he makes, rendering himself more powerful by default and unlocking new abilities. Each hero possesses an Ultimate ability, which is extremely powerful, but can only be activated occasionally and takes a long time to be cast again.
All of these things make for very complex gameplay. Players must not only understand the abilities of their hero and know which items to purchase, but also understand how other heroes might behave on the map, what abilities they potentially have and how to best counter them. A highly strategic gameplay makes Dota 2 an excellent choice for an eSport and this is exactly what has made it the biggest success in the world of eSports to date.
Dota 2 As an eSport
The first time Dota 2 was ever shown to the public was in 2011, during the Gamescon when Valve decided to organize the first tournament in the game at their popular International event. It took two more years for the game to finally be released for play to everyone, and it was made free to play right off the bat, bringing in huge amounts of players straight away.
In 2011, it was Valve who sponsored the entire The International tournament, hoping to present it to the public exactly the way they wanted to. This was a huge success, and the $1 million prize that was awarded that year was nothing compared to what the game would bring in the future.
The International tournament became the game’s yearly championship and has taken place every year since. As the game continued to grow and bring in new players, more and more in-game purchases of cosmetic items meant Valve could re-invest a big portion of that money into The International and in 2016, the tournament saw the best eSports teams compete for an immense $20.000.000, the largest prize pool in an eSports tournament by far.
Dota 2 has become so popular that not only is The International the largest eSports tournament in existence, but tournaments such as The Summit, ESL One and Majors have all become some of the largest in eSports. The game’s popularity is unmatched and if the trend continues, Dota 2 will soon become larger than many mainstream sports out there.
Fans of both RTS and RPG games have made an easy transition into Dota 2 and the game’s popularity has breached all previous records. If someone told us ten years ago that thousands of fans would be cheering on a video games tournament in a huge sports complex, we would think they are pulling our leg, but with Dota 2 this has become a reality.
New updates and patches for the game are continually coming out, making the game better and more balanced, suggesting Dota 2 has a long and perspective future ahead of it. Looking into the years to come, we can only dream of how high the prize pools will become and whether or not eSports will take over as some of the most popular sporting events out there.