What is Dota 2 Esports?

what is dota 2

Dota 2 esports has been going strong for well over a decade now, with the first International taking place in 2011, kicking off a legacy of esports supremacy. It’s now one of the biggest esports titles in the world – but how exactly does it work?

What is Dota 2?

Before we get to the nitty gritty of Dota 2 esports, it’s important to highlight what exactly Dota 2 is and how it works. 

Dota 2 is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game, where two teams of five players go head to head to take down the other’s capital building, known as the Ancient – hence the name, Defence of the Ancients. The two teams are split into two factions, Dire and Radiant. 

The Dota 2 map.

As simple as the final goal sounds, there is a lot of depth to the game. The map is divided into three lanes, each with three towers (which shoot at nearby enemies) split down the lane, as well as two Barracks buildings, which when destroyed upgrade the enemy creeps. 

Speaking of creeps, these are AI-controlled units that appear around the map. Each team gets waves of friendly creeps which spawn every 30 seconds and travel down each lane. The map is also full of neutral creeps which can be attacked and killed by either team – when a creep is killed it provides gold to the player that slayed it and experience to all nearby allies. 

Players each control one unique hero from a pool of 124 heroes. Every hero has unique skills and abilities, giving it specific strengths and weaknesses. Heroes can use the gold they earn to buy items, which can improve stats, grant unique effects, or be consumed. Killing enemy heroes also grants gold and experience to those involved, much more than a single creep kill. 

Heroes are split into many different roles, although things can be simplified into positions. These are numbered from one to five, which generally marks how much gold they need to succeed. 

Position 1 heroes are the “carries” of the team – these are generally heroes that become more powerful later in the game and spend most of their time generating gold to unlock powerful items and reach their full potential.

Position 2 heroes are the “mid laners” – they play in the middle lane on the map and are generally all-rounders. This means they are generally strong throughout the whole game and usually take on the playmaker role in the game while waiting for their position 1 to reach their full power. 

Position 3 heroes are known as “offlaners” – these are independent and usually tough heroes which face the enemy carry in lane. Their goal is to stay alive, soak up pressure, and slow down the enemy. 

Position 4 & 5 heroes are the supports of the team. They usually leave the creeps to their allies and operate on very little gold. These are generally heroes with powerful spells that don’t need much else to be impactful and work on supporting allies, as well as providing utility through their spells or items like Wards (a static consumable that can be placed to provide vision in a large area).

Generally, position 5 heroes stay with their carry player and protect them during the laning phase, while position 4 heroes are more flexible and roam around the map, helping the team with objectives or simply providing assistance if anyone runs into trouble. 

These are just the basics and overall, there’s a ton to Dota 2! The best way to learn more is to tune into events or player streams and check out the action. 

What is Dota 2 Esports?

Now that we’ve covered the basics of Dota 2, it’s time to move on to esports. Dota 2 esports – this is the pinnacle of competitive Dota 2 action where the best players compete against each other in tournaments and leagues.

Esports doesn’t just cover the best of the best, there are many players who compete in esports events at different levels, although most are still far above the average player in skill level. Generally, Dota 2 esports is split into tiers – tier 1 is the best of the best, this includes tournament winners and teams that consistently play at the biggest tournaments. 

Tier 2 is lower-level professional players, such as teams on the lower end of the biggest leagues, or even semi-professional players. Tier 3 and below is generally up-and-comers, some players here may be semi-professional, or just competing at a high level, but don’t match up to the better players. 

How Does Dota 2 Esports Work?

On a base level, Dota 2 esports functions just like any Dota game – two teams go in, and one team comes out victorious. However, it’s a lot more complex than that when you really look into it. 

Dota 2 features many tournaments and leagues to which teams of players must either be invited to (usually based on some sort of ranking by tournament results) or qualify to through a qualifier tournament. 

This is where esports teams come in. Players join teams to play with the same five players, building strategies, synergy, and maximizing their chances to win a game by building a team that can work together well. 

These teams then participate in events, battling against other teams. There are different event formats, but the most common is teams starting out in a group stage (for example a 16-team tournament may start out with teams being split into 4 groups of 4), then moving onto a playoff bracket. 

Many different events take place throughout the year, both online and in-person, some are part of a larger league or event, for example, the Dota 2 competitive circuit leads up to The International, while others are standalone events. 

The set of The International 2019.

Dota 2 Pro Circuit & Biggest Tournaments

The Dota 2 pro circuit generally lasts from around the start of the year to July or August. It features three leagues (known as tours) and is played on a regional basis, with a total of six regions: North America, South America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, China, and South-East Asia. 

Each tour also acts as a qualifier for a Major. This is a LAN event that features the best 18 teams of the previous tour (generally the top few placing teams of each region). Both regional tours and Majors allow teams to earn DPC points, which are used as a ranking to determine invites for Dota 2’s largest tournament, The International

There are also other one-off tournaments that take place throughout the year. These don’t give DPC points but have large prize pools. Generally, a few teams are invited to these based on popularity, while others are able to qualify through a qualifier event. 

Some of the biggest of these events include the ESL One events, DreamLeague, and Riyadh Masters