Getting into Esports: Dota 2
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October 29, 2019

Getting into Esports: Dota 2

Dota 2 is one of the hottest eSports in the world right now with The International 2019 (TI) boasting a prize pool of over $30 million. The Dota Pro Circuit 2019-2020 will begin at DOTA Summit 11 on Nov 7.

The Dota Pro Circuit is the perfect time for anyone with an interest in the game to start spectating. The circuit will allow newcomers to watch teams compete from the bottom qualifiers for a spot in next year’s TI.

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What is Dota 2?

Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) with over 10 million active players each month. The game is played from a top down perspective within a virtual map.

Matches are fought between two teams, consisting of 5 players each, called the Radiant and Dire. Each team controls a base that houses a large structure called an “Ancient”.

To achieve victory, a team must invade their opponent’s base and destroy their Ancient.

How do Heroes work?

Heroes are unique characters picked and controlled by a player. Currently there are over 110 different Heroes to pick from on the Dota 2 roster. Each one possesses special abilities that grow stronger over the course of a match.

Every skill set gives each character a different set of strengths and weaknesses. These characteristics are used to determine which heroes work well together.

A team composition is when a full group of synergistic heroes are picked for a map.

Team compositions are always created with a specific purpose and play style in mind. Their success often depends on how well a team can execute their strategies. Heroes are picked at the start of every match during the Hero Draft phase.

In addition to picking their own Hero, this phase allows players to ban a specific Heroes from being picked by either team. These bans help to balance matches and allow teams to deny their opponents a preferred team composition.

Understanding the Map

Each team spawns in a base located on opposite corners of the map. In order to reach an opponent’s Ancient, players must follow one of 3 large pathways that connect both bases. These pathways are referred to as the top lane, middle lane, and bottom lane.

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Each team possesses four tiers of towers that guard each lane. These towers are defensive structures that launch unavoidable attacks at enemies within its radius. Tier 1 and tier 2 towers are the weakest and protect each lane’s front line.

Tier 3 towers are placed at the entrance to a team’s base to deny entry into spawn. Finally, two T4 towers guard each team’s Ancient as a final line of defense. In order to destroy these towers, players have to spend time leveling the abilities of their Heroes.

What is Farming and Why is it Necessary?

In Dota 2 first 15 minutes of a match is referred to as the laning phase.

Every 30 seconds team allied structures called Barracks spawn waves of small NPC minions called “creeps”. These creeps continue down a lane until they find an enemy to attack.


Improving a Hero’s abilities is primarily accomplished by farming enemy creeps. Each creep supplies a small amount of gold and experience when killed.

Experience is used to level heroes, granting them higher skills and stats. Meanwhile the gold can be taken back to spawn and used to buy various items providing a vast catalog of buffs.

Alongside creep farming, many teams work together during the laning phase to take out enemy heroes. Hero kills grant large sums of gold and experience, and also have the double benefit of ruining your enemy’s lane phase.

Neutral areas called Jungles are located between the 3 lanes. Jungles provide extra farmable creeps for either team to farm.

However, due to their neutral nature, these creeps are a risky, contested resource. Located near the center of the map, the final available resource on the map is a boss-like NPC named Roshan.

His high health pool requires a group effort to deplete. The rewards for killing Roshan include gold, experience, and an item which can revive a dead hero once.

No hero in Dota performs well in every situation. The heroes are categorized into top, middle, or bottom lane characters. These labels highlight the lane that is most suited for each characters abilities.

Exceptional early game Heroes can gain early leads on their opponents, yet can falter to make an impact during the late game. Other Heroes struggle immensely when starting out and become devastating powerhouses later in the game. For this reason every decision you make, no matter how early in the game, affects the match’s outcome.

Late-game Progression

Following the lane phase, the latter half of a match generally contains only leveled Heroes. The team that scaled their team composition the hardest will be left with the upper hand.

This advantage is used to converge onto the same lane and make a push for their opponent’s spawn. Heroes are now strong enough to take down every tier of tower that blocks their lane.

Attacking teams will prioritize the destruction of enemy Barracks. Doing so allows them to spawn high powered versions of their creeps to assist their invasion. At this point multiple 5v5 team fights ensue until either team’s Ancient falls.

Although gameplay at the professional level seems highly technical and daunting, the basics of Dota 2 are easy to pick up with a bit of practice. A game like Dota 2 is very straightforward and can easily cater to strategy and playing style from the novice player all the way up to the seasoned veteran.

The only limitations for players is their time spent playing, and their creativity.

Written by Jash Rai

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