This game originally started as a mod for the popular Warcraft III game but skyrocketed after development company Valve hired one of the first creators. The user behind the mod is only known as Eul and his original goal was to create a map to allow 10 players within one game. The elements of the game were refined as it was passed to another creator and then another, named IceFrog.
IceFrog works with Valve, with his name, age and nationality kept a secret, and they eventually released DotA2. eSports DotA leagues quickly sprung up while the game was still in its infancy but as it has evolved so have these tournaments.
DotA2 was the standalone version of the game, which didn’t need an existing Warcraft install to run. The game took four years to develop in Valve and is sold through their Steam Store, which was another aspect to its success. As the Steam Store is so convenient and quick, users were downloading and playing DotA2 in as little as an hour after its release.
Aim of the Game
The name of the game is also its main goal, as the acronym stands for Defence of the Ancients. This is exactly what the players on each team must do; defend their own Ancient base while attempting the Ancient of the opposing team. These teams are made up of five players on each side and they each choose a hero to represent them within the game. There are over 100 of these heroes to select from and working in a team informs players of which are complimentary.
En route to the ancient of the opposing team, players will encounter various enemies; some of which are controlled by the team and some bots. DotA2 also allows players to set their bots to fight and farm, which results in a larger amount of gold and items.
There are three paths that heroes can take to the opposing team’s Ancient and all are fraught with danger. Enemies of all levels lay in wait in these lanes and can damage or kill the hero, in which case they lose levels and gold. This penalises the entire team, as the overall strength and funds are reduced by one player’s death. This makes it essential for players to look out for each other and defend heroes close to death to allow them to regenerate at their own Ancient.
DotA2 is only available through the Steam Store, which is exclusive to PC, Mac and Linux based operating systems. It’s not available to play on any consoles as of yet but the release of the Steam Machine could change this in future.
DotA2 was kicked off by Valve with a series of competitive tournaments to encourage players to take up the new game. The game holds the record for the largest prize pool within an eSports tournament, which was set at $18 million in 2015.
Valve primarily sponsors most of the popular DotA2 tournaments and have been expanding with new ones in recent years. 2015 saw the first Major tournaments, which took place in major cities in summer, autumn and winter. This was a move to cater to the legions of professional players that simply couldn’t qualify for the International.
The International is the biggest eSports DotA2 league in the world and it takes place each August. The 16 teams that compete are personally invited by the developer and are selected through months of scrutiny. This leads to the celebrities of this world being invited to compete and they must dedicate hours through the years to collect a large enough following. When they reach this status it’s just a matter of playing and waiting to be recognised as a competitor by Valve. This tournament is one of the few shown on TV, thanks to a partnership with ESPN, though it is also streamed online.
Alongside these huge leagues there are also amateur competitions, which allow smaller teams to battle against one another. This is where most professional teams start playing before hitting their stride and heading to the big leagues. This eSport more accurately reflects traditional sports, as players must start at the bottom and work their way up through scouting.
How to Bet
When betting on DotA2, most eSports betting outlets only allow players to place their money on the outright winner of the matches. eSports betting sites in the minority may also take bets on the first death, most gold accumulated, most kills and final blows. The more obscure and hard to predict the bet is, the better the odds are.