Dota, which stands for Defense of the Ancients, is one of the most popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games in the world. As a MOBA game, Dota pits two teams of 5 players against each other with the goal of destroying the opposing team’s Ancient structure, which is heavily guarded at the center of each team’s base.
Matches of Dota are fast-paced, intense battles that blend elements of real-time strategy, role-playing, and warfare games. Multiple players, each controlling an individual “hero” character with various abilities, ally with teammates to outmaneuver and overpower their opponents through various combat tactics across an expansive fantasy battlefield.
With its high degree of complexity, near-endless hero combinations, constantly evolving metagame, massive international tournament prize pools, and a community numbering in the tens of millions, Dota has rightfully cemented itself as one of the landmark videogames of the 21st century.
What is Dota?
Dota is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) videogame developed and published by Valve. MOBAs blend elements of real-time strategy, role-playing, and warfare games, with matches pitting two teams of 5 players against each other.
Each player controls an individual “hero” character, selected from a diverse roster (currently at over 100 unique heroes), each with various special abilities and characteristics. Over the course of a single 30-60 minute match, player-controlled hero characters ally with computer-controlled units, known as “creeps”, to engage in skirmishes and larger battles with the opposing team.
The ultimate goal is to penetrate the enemy team’s heavily fortified base and destroy their Ancient structure. Matches require great teamwork, communication, situational awareness, and strategic decision-making in order to claim victory.
With its inception as a Warcraft 3 mod in the early 2000s, explosive rise in popularity over the late 2000s/early 2010s, record-setting tournament prize pools, and a monumentally influential impact on an entire genre of games, Dota can deservedly be considered one of the most important videogames ever created.
The history of Dota
The origins of Dota can be traced back to a custom map created for the 2002 real-time strategy game Warcraft 3, entitled “Defense of the Ancients” (and thus spawning the Dota acronym). The map, designed by anonymous developer “Eul”, established the formula that later Dota variants and MOBAs would follow.
Upon Eul ceasing development in 2004, other mapmakers took up the helm to produce sequels, most notably “DotA Allstars” by Steve “Guinsoo” Feak and later “DotA Allstars” by Abdul “IceFrog” Ismail. IceFrog’s variant quickly became the most popular, laying the groundwork for Dota’s explosion into one of the world’s most played videogames.
Valve officially brought on IceFrog in 2009 and licensed the property from Blizzard Entertainment (creators of Warcraft 3) in 2010. After 2 years of closed beta testing, Valve launched the official standalone sequel “Dota 2” in 2013. Garnering widespread critical acclaim and enormous popularity across Asia and Europe, Dota 2 was considered an early centerpiece of the esports revolution in gaming.
Today Dota remains one of the titans of both the esports world and the MOBA genre it originated, retaining a thriving international playerbase and commanding multi-million dollar tournament prize pools to this day. Its community encompasses tens of millions of passionate fans worldwide.
Objectives of the game
The overall objective of Dota is to work with your team to destroy the opposing team’s heavily defended Ancient structure, located in the heart of the enemy team’s base. Teams must balance both offensive destruction and defensive fortification of their own base in order to achieve victory.
Matches play out across an expansive square battlefield, which features three main lanes (top, middle, bottom) connecting each team’s base. Waves of computer-controlled melee and ranged creep units spawn from each base and advance towards the other side via these three lanes.
Player-controlled hero characters battle alongside and against these creeps to gain gold and experience points in order to purchase items and gain access to more powerful abilities. By coordinating with their team, players seize opportune moments to assault enemy defenses, push into their base, and ultimately destroy their Ancient.
The path to victory requires constantly evaluating the balance between farming for gold/experience in the lanes vs. actively ganking/teamfighting, proper timing of critical objectives like Roshan and tower pushes, and outmaneuvering the enemy through proper vision control via wards and controlled aggression/retreats. Successfully balancing all these dynamics as a team is the key to destroying the enemy Ancient first.
The different types of heroes
Dota heroes generally fill one of three categories based on their primary attribute, which dictates the type of damage they output and receive:
Strength Heroes: Deal physical damage, can take a lot of physical punishment thanks to their naturally higher health pools and armor. Tend to fill core tank and initiator roles.
Agility Heroes: Deal physical damage, dish out higher sustained auto-attack damage later on thanks to their agility stat scaling their attack speed and damage output. Tend to fill core carry and DPS roles.
Intelligence Heroes: Deal magical damage, can blow up enemies quickly with their burst spell damage output, but are generally more fragile. Tend to fill support, nuker, and magical DPS roles.
However, many heroes blend these attributes or take on niche specialty roles like pushing, jungling, roaming, escaping, durability, crowd control, sustaining, and more. Successfully drafting a hero composition with synergistic ability combinations can heavily swing the tide of battle in your team’s favor.
The different items
Items play a massive role in empowering your heroes to take on steadily stronger enemies as matches drag on, with over 200 different items available offering customization of your hero’s stats, damage output, survivability, mobility, armor, magic resistance, mana regeneration, control abilities, damage procs, and more.
Four main shops offer items sorted by type and tier based on cost. Items combine basic lower tier items into higher tier items, eventually culminating in six overarching categories of ultra-late game luxury items your hero works towards attaining:
Attack Damage Carry Items – Grant pure damage, crit chance, attack speed, armor penetration
Survivability Items – Grant raw health, health regeneration, armor, magic resistance Mobility Items – Grant movement speed, mobility spells, ability to move through units/terrain Utility Items – Grant mana, mana regeneration, cooldown reduction, casting range Main Stat Items – Grant damage, attack speed, armor, health, mana based on primary attribute
Situational Items – Offer spell immunity, surprise initiation, wards, dusts, team buffs
Proper itemization calls not just for meeting your hero’s needs, but tailoring for your team’s needs and countering the opposing hero composition as well.
The different maps
The main default map is set across a square battlefield with two bases located northwest and southeast, featuring:
- Three lanes (top, mid, bot) connecting the bases
- Ancients located deep in the bases
- Towers spaced intermittently across each lane
- Four shrines in each team’s territory
- Elevation changes via hills, cliffs, and high ground terrain
- Various patches of trees/foliage around the map and paths between lanes
Other maps like Captain’s Mode feature subtle layout changes to tower/shrine positions. Temporary event game modes will overhaul the map more dramatically at times as well.
However, all maps maintain the core elements of the three lane setup facilitating creeps/heroes congregating from both sides. Mastering the layout to enable smarter ganks, ambushes, and tower siege opportunities can make or break victory.
How to play the game
Pre-Game Draft: Before matches, teams take turns banning heroes to deny the enemy and picking heroes to build a strong team composition themselves. Strategy and hero counters are paramount here.
Laning Stage: Players spread across the three main lanes controlling their heroes last-hit enemy creeps to earn gold and gather experience by being nearby. Strong lanes can win early skirmishes.
Mid Game: Teams group up to siege enemy towers, secure map objectives like Roshan or Bounty runes, and gank lone enemy heroes. Teams amass gold from kills and towers.
Late Game: Full 5v5 teamfights erupt over critical objectives like Roshan, high ground pushes, or backdoor attempts. Teams leverage their farm and items to wipe enemies and destroy the Ancient. Vision, positioning, and ability usage become razor focused as death timers stretch over a minute – one teamfight often ends the game.
The different roles of heroes
Heroes in Dota are not locked into specific classes, but generally gravitate towards certain teamfight roles based on the nature of their abilities and item dependencies. Understanding these roles is key to drafting strong hero compositions.
Carry – The ‘1’ position expected to reach peak damage potential in the late game thanks to amassing copious gold from creep kills. Typically agility-based to fully leverage physical auto-attack damage with items.
Mid – The ‘2’ position aims for an early-mid game power spike to dominate 1v1 matchups mid lane using high burst damage nukes or mobility to gank side lanes. Typically intelligence or agility heroes that need some farm priority but can roam with runes.
Offlaner – The ‘3’ position semi-carry hero aims for utility, initiation, or tankiness rather than pure damage. They pressure the safelane farming the enemy’s ‘1’ position carry, contesting pulls/farm while avoiding feeding.
Soft Support – The ‘4’ position support focuses less on warding and more on roaming, ganking, teamfighting, and building cost effective utility items that amplify their abilities.
Hard Support – The ‘5’ position ward bitch buys the courier/wards, keeps allies supplied with regeneration, denies themselves farm to enable their cores, and builds cheap saving items to prevent allies from dying. High skill cap role.
Jungler – A niche fallback ‘4’ position, a jungling hero farms neutral camps from minute one, enabling a fourth core at the expense of reduced map presence. Requires specialist self-sustaining jungling heroes.
The different attributes of heroes
All Dota heroes feature a primary attribute that raises their damage while also granting other bonuses intrinsic to that attribute:
Strength – Increases max health and health regen
Agility – Increases armor and attack speed
Intelligence – Increases max mana and magic resistance
Therefore, strength heroes naturally sustain more damage, agility heroes leverage physical auto-attacks more effectively, and intelligence heroes rip with more potent spells.
However, every hero possesses all three attributes in varying ratios. So while their primary attribute and native bonuses may inclination them towards certain roles, you still have room to build off-type bonuses.
Understanding these attributes is key to discerning each hero’s niche capabilities, potential itemization paths, and defensive vulnerabilities to exploit.
The different skills of heroes
Every hero possesses four distinct skill slots that give access to new abilities as you level up your hero. These four skills form the core of each hero’s specialized playstyle and combo potential.
Skills generally fall under various overlapping categories:
Nukes – Deal burst magic damage
Stuns – Immobilize enemies
DoTs – Apply damage over time debuffs
Heals – Regenerate health rapidly Buffs – Empower allies stats/damage
Debuffs – Weaken enemies with neg. effects
Wards – Provide vision or detection
Summons – Conjure units or structures
Transformation – Enter enhanced modes Mobility – Blink, leap, or increase move speed AOE – Impact areas of effect
Disables – Silence or root enemies Illusions – Create clone units Invisibility – Vanish from minimap Crowd Control – Grouping effects like slows, pulls, knockbacks
Skill combos form critical hero-to-hero synergies. Landing crowd control sets up high damage nukes. Big teamfight ultimates combine for mass destruction. Heals and buffs empower a carry’s damage potential. Unique mechanics like transformation or invisibility enable surprise ganks.
Mastering both your hero’s skills and their combo potential with allies reveals the true power of Dota.
How to choose the right hero
With over 100 diverse heroes in the pool, settling on one hero to learn can be daunting at first. Keep these tips in mind when choosing your main:
Experiment – Test various Limited Hero pool heroes during your first hours. See whose visual design and skills intrigue you.
Laning Comfort – Do you prefer farming patiently or aggressive trading? Ranged harass or melee brawling? This influences your lane.
Attribute Preference – Strength? Agility? Intelligence? Understanding your favorite attribute’s playstyle strengths is useful.
Combo Potential – Which allies do you regularly play with? Coordinate hero picks with natural synergies in mind.
Unorthodox Heroes – Interested in something funky like Techies or Arc Warden? Prepare for high skill caps but unique play.
Counter Picks – Studying a particular overpowered meta hero to learn its counters can provide great insight.
Stick with just 1-3 heroes at first. Once their skills become second nature through repetition, you can expand your pool or specialize further.
How to play a hero effectively
Truly mastering a hero involves correctly leveraging their entire kit during all phases of the game. Here’s how to play most effectively:
Laning: Last hit creeps efficiently. Utilize spells to control lane equilibrium or harass enemies. Achieve early level power spikes before enemies for kill threat. Take optimal ability build for the matchup.
Farming: Stack jungle camps between lane waves. When laning ends, farm the optimal jungle spots on the map through good creep equilibrium management without showing in risky areas. Know power spike timings where you can pressure towers.
Combos: Initiate with your chosen disable/slow/silence spells. Quickly follow up with nukes while they are immobilized for maximum damage. Use buffs/heals afterwards to sustain allies through the fight.
Objectives: Always carry Teleport Scrolls from minute 3 onward. Use ultimate abilities to enable allies to secure key towers, Roshan attempts, or runes. Maintain constant pressure on objectives after winning fights – do Roshan immediately while enemies are dead rather than farm more.
Itemization: Pick early game cost effective starting items that secure your lane dominance. Know your core items to come online in fights or push timings to dictate the mid game. Maintain optimal late game item slots for maximizing DPS. Purchase BKB to avoid being disabled. Carry detection against invisible heroes.
How to counter different heroes
Hero counters in Dota often arise from targeting specific vulnerable aspects of the enemy hero, then itemizing and drafting skills that exacerbate those weaknesses. Smart counters require appreciating nuances in order to tilt matchups in your favor.
- Weaken passive effects – e.g. Destroy Pudge’s Flesh Heap stacks
- Reduce their primary attribute with items like Veil/Solar Crest/Orb of Corrosion
- Pick disabling gap closers that inhibit their getaway like Storm Spirit or Anti-Mage
- Nullify blink/leaps with Earthspike or Overgrowth
Burst Damage Counters
- Stack magic resistance like Pipe of Insight or Hood of Defiance
- Dispel combos with heroes like Oracle/Abaddon
- Prevent spell combos with silences like Nightstalker/Riki
Illusion & Summon Counters
- Area of effect clearing spells like Sven/Leshrac
- Building Cleave/Battlefury to shred grouped units
- Utilize True Sight wards to disable passives on their real heroes
Healing & Regeneration Counters
- Apply healing reduction with Ancient Apparition/Vessel
- Embrace burst damage to finish kills faster with nukes
- Separate healers like Dazzle/Io from their team
The best counters keep the enemy guessing – a Phantom Lancer diffusal burning Medusa’s mana, a huskar building pure damage against high armor targets, or surprise Orchid pickups against spell spammers demonstrate how deeply understanding niches within niches creates next-level counterplay.
The different types of items
Dota’s massive pool of items can feel overwhelming at first, but they fit within distinct categories that fulfill clear purposes for your hero:
Offensive – Directly enhance your damage output via raw damage, critical strike chances, attack speed, armor reduction, evasion etc.
Defensive – Bolster survivability through increased health, health regen, armor, magic resistance, evasion, and damage blocking.
Mobility – Improved movement speed, phasing through units, blink abilities and leaps to traverse terrain faster.
Mana – Solving mana dependency via flat mana, mana regen, cooldown reduction on abilities, and mana restoring actives.
Consumables – Single-use affordances like healing salves, clarities, bottles, regeneration runes, and enhancement runes that offer rapid bursts of restoration in both health and mana.
Wards & Detection – Map vision advantage through observer wards plus disabling invisible heroes using sentry wards and dusts. Detection wins games outright.
Upgrades – Combining cheaper early game items into more powerful late game items that retain the benefits of their components makes net worth management easier.
The different effects of items
Items grant a wide variety of beneficial effects:
Stats – Pure damage, attack speed, armor, health, health regen, mana, mana regen, etc.
Auras – Bestow area of effect passives like armor, life steal, evasion, movement speed, etc to nearby allies.
Actives – Usable abilities that purge effects, grant spell immunity, apply buffs/debuffs, restore health/mana, surprise initiate enemies etc. Actives are the most influential type of effect.
Procs – Chance-based effects that trigger on attack like mini-stuns, lightning damage bursts, applying debuffs, self buffs, splash damage cleaves etc.
Upgrades – Items can combine with other items to create a single brand new item that provides stat boosts and combines some effects of its components.
Passives – Built-in effects like bash chances, critical strikes, magic resistance, movement speed, spell lifesteal, magic immunity etc. Passives scale exceptionally as they have 100% uptime.
Disabled Effects – Some powerful effects deliberately only work against certain enemy types like buildings, creeps, illusions etc. to offset their game-changing strength.
How to build an item set
Given how exponentially item combinations can scale a Dota hero’s capabilities, learning to properly itemize can determine the outcome of matches outright at all levels of play. Follow these principles when planning item builds each game:
Starting Items – Consumables like Tangoes, Salves, Clarities. Value stats boosts from Wraith/Null/Bracer. Solo Killing potential with Blight Stone, Orb of Venom. Lane Sustain with Ring of Regen, Quelling Blade, Stout Shield, Magic Wand.
Early Game – Finish Boots of Speed into tier 2 boots (Power Treads, Arcane Boots, Phase Boots, Tranquil Boots). Choose between Urn of Shadows vs Drums vs Medallion based on hero needs. Work on core weapon damage item (Battle Fury, Maelstrom).
Mid Game – Complete 1-2 critical teamfight items (Blink Dagger, Black King Bar, Aghanim’s Scepter). Supports prioritize Force Staff, Glimmer Cape, Ghost Scepter. Begin chasing luxury bonuses by accumulating net worth into larger items (Scythe of Vyse, Eye of Skadi)
Late Game – Replace lower tier items with higher tier consolidations when reaching full 6 slot capacity. Keep buyback ready. Maintain slots for Teleport Scrolls, Town Portal Scrolls, Boots of Travel, and defensive consumables like Lotus Orb.
Adapt Itemization – No single build reliably works every game. Dynamically counter enemy drafts with items like Heaven’s Halberd, Eul’s Scepter, Silver Edge, Orchid Malevolence, Monkey King Bar
Following intelligent build orders while retaining flexibility against overspecialized enemies separates exceptional item usage from merely good.
How to use items effectively
Merely possessing powerful items alone guarantees nothing – you must leverage them adeptly to affect the tempo of matches.
- Never sit at full health/mana in lane. Chug consumables constantly for sustained lane presence.
- Always carry Teleport Scrolls after the 3 minute mark.
- Use regeneration runes for ganks/fights or transfer via Bottle to allies if needed
- Ensure supports secure Bounty Runes for gold influx every 5 minutes
- Initiate ganks with surprise disables/silences/nukes like Abyssal Blade, Scythe of Vyse
- Apply vessel charges before fights for healing reduction
- Remove disables/debuffs using Eul’s Scepter, Lotus Orb, Black King Bar, Manta Style
Invis & Mobility
- Gank isolated heroes using Shadow Blade, Silver Edge initiation
- Escape doomed fights with Force Staff, Hurricane Pike, Blink Dagger
- Flank with smoke to land teamfight Changing abilities like Ravage/Black Hole undetected
- Group as 5 for tower sieges to benefit ally auras like Assault Cuirass, Vladimir’s Offering
- Build items that upgrade Ring of Basilius/Headdress auras if you have multiple aura carriers
- Create space for invisible aura carriers like Slardar/Vengeful Spirit to properly position around fights
Proper timing, positioning, and sequencing of active effects during the limited durations of skirmishes exponentially multiplies item effectiveness.
How to counter different items
Building items specifically to counter certain problematic enemy hero items can completely swing losing matchups:
- Monkey King Bar ignores evasion from Solar Crest/Butterfly
- Blade Mail reflects incoming spell/attack damage
- Ghost Scepter grants temporary immunity to physical attacks
- Black King Bar grants spell immunity to ignore disables
- Eul’s Scepter instantly dispels silence/stuns on yourself
- Linken’s Sphere blocks targeted single target spells
- Scythe of Vyse hex prevents blink escapes
- Abyssal Blade goes through magic immunity with bash+stun
- Orchid Malevolence silences and amplifies damage
- Ancient Apparition’s Ice Blast prevents ALL healing
- Spirit Vessel applies healing reduction in percentage-based ticks
- Necronomicon’s True Sight reveals invisible healing allies
- Battlefury cleave quickly clears wave illusions
- Monkey King Bar deals bonus damage to summons
- Shiva’s Guard blast slows PL, CK, etc
Simply purchasing the right counter item at the perfect timing can shutdown heroes that would otherwise dominate matches and create sufficient space for your team to control the tempo. The wider your knowledge of item interactions and niche counters extends, the more draft phases and fights swing in your favor.
The different strategies for winning
While the universal victory condition remains destroying the enemy Ancient, various strategic frameworks and playstyles lend themselves towards accomplishing that goal:
- Group as 5 early with tower siege heroes like Jakiro, Shadow Shaman
- Take towers quickly, secure map control, choke enemy jungle
- Force early conflicts and leverage level advantage
- Counter with wave clear and area denial: KotL, Techies blast off
4 Protect 1
- Secure a hyper carry like Medusa/Spectre for your Pos 1
- Sacrifice support farm to ensure your carry free farms
- Delay the game until your carry gets 6 slotted
- Counter with early push and ganks before carry peaks
- Pick mobile heroes with summons/illusions: Nature’s Prophet, Anti-Mage
- Constantly shove out side lanes to pressure multiple towers
- Avoid fights and create space for split push to chip objectives
- Counter with global gank potential: Spectre, Zeus, Nature’s Prophet
Turtle & High Ground Defense
- Pick strong base defense with wave clear like Sniper, Tinker
- Play conservatively, give up some outer towers
- Farm patiently knowing high ground offense is challenging
- Counter with powerful siege heroes that remove base regen: Pugna, Venomancer
- Outfit heroes with initiation and pickoff potential: Spirit Breaker, Riki
- Remain off-map and scan for isolated heroes to pickoff
- Controlvision and play around silence/nuke timings
- Counter with vision and evasive heroes: Puck, Storm Spirit
How to play against different strategies
Adapting your team’s draft and playstyle to counter the perceived enemy strategy makes winning vastly easier. Here’s how to respond:
- Pick wave clear like Jakiro, Kunkka, Magnus to stall tower sieges
- Split the map and avoid straight 5v5s early they will likely win
- Gank them before they deathball down a lane
Vs 4 Protect 1
- Shut down their safe lane hard early with offlane pressure
- Make space invading their jungle to hamper safe farm
- Take favourable engagements before their carry peaks in late game
Vs Split Push
- Pick pickoff heroes that can catch like Spirit Breaker
- Ward aggressively to track rotating split pushers
- Punish deaths by immediately grouping down mid as 5
- Pick siege heroes and tower melters like Huskar, Pugna
- Itemize Spell Immunity like Black King Bar and Aeon Disk
- Smoke gank supports planting high ground wards
- Secure superior vision control with more wards
- Enable a core to split push away from kill zones
- Smoke with allies when moving to avoid pickoffs
Predicting overall gameplans based on hero drafts preemptively equips your team with better counter tactics. Experiment with role reversals too – gank their jungler, split push against turtlers, group siege against split push.
How to adapt your strategy to the situation
The best teams seamlessly transition between multiple possible strategies as matches unfold. Here’s how to dynamically change gears:
Losing Lane Stage
- Avoid further feeds, pull waves closer to your towers
- Have supports gank other lanes to offset the deficit
- Consider lane swaps if the matchup remains impossible
- Analyze why fights are lost – draft counters? Outplayed?
- Spam clarities, raindrops etc if running out of mana
- Split up and distribute across the map to avoid further full wipes
Losing Map Control
- Smoke gank isolated heroes that are now farming your jungle
- Secure better vision before contesting disputed objectives
- Bring a Teleport Scroll to join your team quicker during dives
Unable to Siege High Ground
- Attempt to pick off any hero that shows in a side lane
- Draw fights around Roshan then reset if going poorly
- Starve them of map resources to force a desperation initiation
- Secure Roshan or stack ancients/jungle for more income
- Coordinate smokes to find instant kill pickoffs
- Push side lanes aggressively to force reactions opening the map
Reading opportunities presented by the enemy’s adjustments opens new attack vectors to outmaneuver their adaptations. Think one step ahead of their pivot to flip losing situations.
How to make smart decisions
Mapping intentions several minutes in advance and anticipating required actions from both teams grants valuable foresight. Use these thought processes:
5 Minute Mark
- Will bounty runes be contested? Who defends/invades?
- Does our team or do they need to defend/take impending tower?
- Are ultimates & item timings ready for teamfights?
10 Minute Mark
- If Roshan spawns, can we take safely or will they contest?
- Do we have sufficient map vision around next objectives?
- Can their heroes kill anyone isolated with current levels/items?
15 Minute Mark
- Should we force a 5v5 teamfight now or avoid until later?
- Who splits to cut next incoming creep wave to bait opponents elsewhere?
- Does the scaling favor late game insurance heroes like Spectre?
20 Minute Mark
- Are critical teamfight ultimate abilities on cooldown?
- Does either team cheese Roshan for an aegis advantage?
- Can their heroes safely farm our side of map or should we invade their jungle?
25+ Minute Mark
- How do we breach high ground defenses if they turtle base?
- Is defending tier 3 towers possible or give up for barracks trade?
- Who hides across the map ready to backdoor while teams distracted?
Planning macro-level movements using wider inferences about item/level power spikes sets up successful executions. Think for both teams.
How to win the game
The following checklist represents a blueprint to convert incremental advantages into decisive victories:
- Dictate the Tempo – Secure first Roshan, first Tower, earliest peaks during fights, fastest jungle farm between skirmishes etc. Make moves faster than their response time.
- Choke Resources – Capture enemy shrines. Ward their jungle to hunt. Steal stacking camps. Take away their income sources.
- Focus Objectives – Rush down towers immediately after fights rather than useless jungle farming.
- Leverage Powerspikes – Crush fights during your hero/item timings (Black King Bar, big ultimates at level 6/11/16 etc). Don’t take fair fights – manipulate an advantage first.
- Retain Momentum – Recycle wipe advantages into immediate next steps: secure Roshan, swap lanes for towers, gank heroes showing elsewhere to deny their farm. Keep the pressure up rather than letting the enemy breathe. Gain more each move.
- Ward Flanks – Use vision to ambush retreating heroes, catch split pushers overextended, or break high ground sieges safely. Vision wins games.
- Bait and Outplay – Fake weakness by split pushing alone to lure teleports into a countergank. Hide AOE ultimates with fog to bait. Taunt them into traps. Embrace calculated risks that play to the edges of your heroes capabilities through superior ability usage.
Wear down enemies through relentless pressure, exploiting every edge your draft affords through impeccable coordination. Compound each small gain into building victory momentum.
The different mechanics of the game
Once basics like last hitting, ganking, and teamfighting sharpen with experience – next-level concepts and mechanics dramatically expand gameplay mastery:
- Controlling lane equilibrium via aggro pulling, timely auto attacking
- Stack and pulling jungle camps for farm or denying complete creep waves
- Using abilities to cut, drag or otherwise redirect creep movements and aggro
- Uphill misses grant 25% evasion forcing close-range fights
- Chokepoints, trees, ramps to manipulate pathing
- Cliff usage for safety or fountain hooks
- Spawn every 2 minutes at set locations
- Double Damage boosts right click damage
- Haste vastly accelerates movement speed
- Regeneration rapidly heals health & mana over time
- Invisibility grants total stealth on minimap
- Arcane Rune refreshes spell & item cooldowns
- Strong boss that drops powerful buff Aegis of Immortal
- Requires smoking and proper vision setup for safe kills
- Pull neutral camps away precisely before next spawn
- Double+ camp value creating endless farm potential
How to use the terrain to your advantage
Battlefield terrain often determines victory in narrow engagements – learn to leverage these quirks:
Fog of War
- Hide in trees and high ground for guaranteed spell effects
- Break channeling abilities as enemies lose vision
- Limit enemy surround potential in tight spaces
- Place AOE abilities like Macropyre, Ice Path to maximize area lacking maneuverability
- Attacking high ground from low ground incurs 25% miss chance
- Certain mobility abilities like Force Staff cannot travel uphill
- Provide fogged cover for sudden initiation
- Stop pathing via Tangos or abilities like Timbersaw/Monkey King
- Heal rapidly while invulnerable when standing on top
- Teleport to your team’s shrine for quick map reaction
Leveraging uneven terrain that limits visibility and mobility contrasts sharply with flat empty jungle. Map intricacies introduce more opportunity to outplay opponents.
How to ward and deward
Vision wins games in Dota – denying enemy vision secures monumental advantages. Here are warding fundamentals:
- Provide 1800 unit vision radius for 7 minutes
- Unlike Sentries provide persistent ground vision of common paths
- Detect invisible enemy heroes and wards in a smaller 800 unit radius
- Unlike Observers only grant True Sight for 4 minutes
- Use True Sight from Sentries or certain heroes/items to remove enemy wards
- Critical for securing Roshan control, safe jungle farm, and hidden initiation
- Place Observers overlooking critical map chokepoints
- Especially around Roshan/secret shops/ancient areas
Cliffs & High Ground
- Use elevations to cover more ground without easily dewardable spots
- Provides inherent vision advantage against enemies below
- Vary ward spots and refresh periodically to keep opponents guessing
- Preplaced common wards often get instantly removed
Vision and denial thereof enables monumental turnaround plays – no amount of mechanical skill matches the importance of proper warding fundamentals.
How to smoke gank
Smokes provide powerful initiation potential:
- Makes you fully invisible until coming close to enemy heroes/towers
- Unlike regular invisibility, smokes aren’t revealed by True Sight
- Cannot be seen on the minimap by enemies while smoked
- Allows flanking even when enemies are already guarding an area
- Coordinate with allies to roam as 2-4 heroes under smoke effect
- Quickly jump lone farming heroes before they can react
- Transition into quick structure sieges if no heroes visible
Proper smoke usage frequently converts an otherwise passive laning stage into monumental turnaround teamfight victories that permanently tilt momentum if leveraged wisely afterwards.
How to teamfight
The chaotic mess of Dota 2 teamfights can seem intractable to new players but structured ability sequencing rapidly improves results:
- Lead with long range disables and silences before the enemy can react
- Pickoff isolated heroes to quickly gain a numbers advantage
- Focus fire the highest value enemy hero – usually enemy position 1-2 carries
- Quickly bursting fragile heroes wins fights outright
- Layer stuns, roots, and slows to lock down targets preventing reaction
- Deny enemies both escape potential and ability to counter
- Use healing spells, glimmers, force staffs after disables end to sustain health pools
- Disrupt overfocus fire onto one hero with saves
- Between disabling effects, quickly determine next steps
- Cleanup remaining low heroes, reset positioning, choose new targets
- If fights start swinging against you, quickly coordinate retreat pings
- Escape and reset rather than trickling deaths
Cultivating disciplined ability cascades separates controlled intentional teamfights from chaotic ability spam.
The history of Dota esports
Dota’s origins as a custom map mod birthed a grassroots competitive scene long before developer Valve formalized tournaments. Some notable milestones:
Warcraft 3 Era
- Local LAN tournaments form in the mid 2000s across Europe and Asia
- Few international tournaments except Blizzcon feature Dota
- MYM Pride minor tour wins cement European prominence
- Asian powerhouses like KingSurf emerge
The International Debut
- Valve hosts the first official Dota 2 tournament in Cologne 2011
- $1.6 million prize pool shocks esports world used to paltry five figure prizes
- Ukrainian team Na’Vi with Dendi seize fame by winning the first TI
- Chinese teams like LGD, iG, DK dominate 2012-2013 tournament circuit
- Alliance ends the reign in 2013 via “The Million Dollar Dream Coil”
- EG 2014-2015 era around Sumail’s debut
- OG miracle run winning four Majors and TI8 with ana and Topson
- Team Liquid’s sustained success from TI7-TI9 with MATUMBAMAN and Miracle-
- Current yearly structure: DPC Tour spanning multiple Majors feeding into annual TI
- Top Prize regularly exceeds $15 million+ as community crowdfunds prize pool
- Dota peaked at over 800k concurrent players in early 2020s
From niche custom map to premier esport enjoyed by millions worldwide with record-smashing prize pools, Dota’s competitive scene carries immense history.
The different professional leagues
Dota Pro Circuit (DPC)
- Year long tour of 3 Regional Leagues and 3 Majors
- Top 12 teams per league qualify for next Major
- Top points earning teams proceed to TI
China: China region only
SEA: SEA region only
- International LANs featuring best regional teams
- Occur winter, spring, and summer seasons
- Beyond DPC points, award ~$500k prize pools
- Massive August LAN and conclusion of the DPC season
- 18-20 best teams worldwide qualify
- Crowdfunded prizepool exceeds $30 million+
While third party tournaments occur, Valve’s structured DPC and TI format focuses the year around consistent seasons and events involving all top teams worldwide.
The different tournaments
Beyond the DPC and TI, third party organizers host other competitive events:
ESL & Dreamleague
- Third party leagues often tied into DPC points
- Additional opportunities for teams to play officials
- Additional global tournament before TI
- Chance for teams to gain DPC points towards TI qualification or seeding
Pro Circuit Qualifiers
- Direct TI qualification tournaments after DPC season ends
- Last chance for teams that just missed DPC qualifications
Regional Leagues Qualifiers
- How teams secure seeding in DPC Regional Leagues each season
- Earn signing rights to represent major esports organizations
Third Party LANs
- Independent tournaments like Summit, Captain’s Draft 4.0
- Lack DPC points but offer hardware, prizepool, and warmup games
Various global and regional competitions supplement the core DPC, expanding the professional calendar.
How to watch Dota esports
Viewing professional Dota offers endless matchup insights:
- Official Streams – Commentary and analyst panels on official The International channels or organization channels like ESL, BTS, BeyondTheSummit etc
- Team Perspectives – Pro player directly streams broadcasting team screens showing their voice comms
- Replays – Download past tournament replays to study from player perspectives at your own pace
- Stats Sites – Track deep game stats on Stratz, track advanced metrics like wards placed/min on sites like datDota, compare head to head records, study draft frequencies
- Fantasy Leagues – Select and track star players to win digital rewards like new chat wheel lines and cosmetics based on their official tournament performances
Passionate fans absorb every ounce of high level gameplay, stats, and behind the scenes team insight across various formats. Engaging as both entertainment and learning material guarantees Pay2Win Dota skills!
How to bet on Dota esports
Trying your luck predicting matches offers engagement watching esports:
- Major sites like GG.bet let you wager real money on pro games
- Use odds and team records to attempt gaining payouts
In Game Predictions
- Compendiums for events like The International let you wager incremental digital currency on outcomes and player milestones each day
- Draft professional players and earn fantasy points based on a wide variety of statistical metrics
- Compete against friends or total player base for glory
- Bracket style predictions of match outcomes round to round
- Test your match analysis skills on upsets
While obviously risky, responsible betting drives viewer engagement and retention by investing people into matches based on potential payouts rather than just passive viewership.
The future of Dota
As one of the highest prize pool esports ever created with no signs of slowing down, Dota 2 will continue thriving for the foreseeable future.
Valve plans to release Dota 2 on mobile platforms within the next few years as well, bringing core gameplay to smartphones and tablets without compromising depth. Given immense mobile saturation across less developed nations where PC bang culture thrives like SEA, expanding accessibility grows the playerbase more worldwide.
The professional scene equally looks poised to keep attracting lucrative sponsorships from major corporations givenstellar viewer metrics and year round structured tournaments. Top players and casters continue securing million dollar salaries and cementing Dota further in mainstream gaming culture as fans follow beloved superstars. Emerging regions like South America are rapidly closing the skill gap as well, increasing upset potential that keeps tournament storylines exciting.
With steady gameplay innovations, balance changes, and seasonal content drops adding variety, Dota 2 demonstrates how a decade old game can resist stagnation and boredom via carefully nourishing the playerbase reliant on its perpetual enjoyment.
What makes Dota so special
Several key qualities make Dota forever captivating to both play and watch:
Endless Depth – With 116 unique heroes, 221 items, terrain intricacies, macro strategy perspectives, mechanical skill caps, and infinite draft+lane combinations, mastering every facet of high level Dota verges on impossible. Yet there is always some new detail that can push your gameplay further.
Comeback Potential – Dota offers high ground base defenses, scaling power curves across roles uniquely preventing inevitability. Teams can and have won TI finals off a single late game teamfight following massive gold deficit comebacks. No lead is ever fully safe which keeps tension peaking all game.
Non-Stop Updates – IceFrog’s balance team releases sweeping patch shakeups multiple times per year ensuring fresh ever-evolving metas rather than allowing stagnant optimal play. This affords creativity in playstyles, heroes, builds, and positions unlike stale esports divisions.
Competitive Spirit– The intrinsic drive to outsmart your opponents, execute abilities perfectly in split second teamfights, and tryhard complex decision making forges tremendous personal joy in improving yourself while stomping enemies.
Why you should play Dota
If the above details sparked any intrigue, carve out space for this timeless classic that pays endless dividends in enjoyment and lasting bonds:
Community – Enormous playerbase guarantees friends to connect with, amateur tournaments to compete in, niche memes to enjoy. External hobbies beyond the game emerge easily.
Free Game – Zero pay barriers to entry unlike paid games. All core gameplay content comes free, with optional cosmetics as desired.
Mental Stimulation – Mastering mechanical ability sequences, complex economic balancing, strategic map movements creates immense sense of personal accomplishment and satisfaction in how you choose to outplay enemies.
Alt Game Modes – When fatigued of regular games, enjoy myriad custom game types like Pudge Wars, 10 v 10, ability drafts etc that let you blow off steam trying silly abilities.
So gather some friends, pick appealing heroes, and let a burgeoning addiction to this world class title pull you down a rabbit hole of genuinely amazing gameplay experiences! An enthusiastic