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What or Why is DOTA


Several people have asked me, and I know I am not the only one when I saw this, just what the hell this Dota thing is. In thinking of a way too describe it to someone who is not familiar with the MMO, MOBA, or RTS genre of video games, it can be quite challenging. It is easy to tell someone that main objective of the game is to destroy the “enemy teams base,” to put it lightly. However, all Dota players know that while this is the final result of a game, this shows no real meaning of the actual game itself. For example, if someone who had never been exposed to sports asked me to explain the game of football to them, it is easy for me to say that the teams need to score points and the team with the most at the end wins. Simple, right? This does not; however, explain the means of scoring those points. This is a similar situation when explaining the game of Dota. The objective is to destroy the enemy teams ancient, but the real game is how this is achieved. Last hitting, ganking, pulling, pushing, rotating; other than being words that describe someone’s eventful late night, if you told this to a newcomer who is not familiar with the genre, they would be clueless. For the rest of this article I am going to explain how you can describe Dota to an outsider; however, this can be useful for all games of the MOBA genre.

A Mixture of Basketball and Capitalism.

5 v 5

When you first look at Dota you can make a quick comparison to basketball because of the five-on-five aspect. While this may not be the biggest or best comparison, the exact number of players can be pretty impactful. It holds a good balance of teamwork versus individual skill. While the skill and knowledge of one player can have a huge impact on the outcome of a game, no player can win a game solely by themselves. This promotes good communication and teamwork to be able to win, but does not result in a loss because of the actions made by one individual.


This is one of my favorite factors of the game of Dota and a great way to describe the importance of the game to sports heads. This can be something that is overlooked and can really surprise outsiders with just how complex this game is. (Seriously, go tell a friend that doesn’t know anything about it and describe to them that each hero on this fantasy battle field has a position and role assigned to them that is more important than the one they have at work and watch them regress and apologize to you for calling it a kids game) Anyway, the numbers of the positions in Dota are simple, one through five in accordance to farm priority. One being the hard carry, and five being the hard support. This does not mean that the five position can never get last hits or that the one can never pull or stack camps, but for the early parts of the game you generally want each position doing their roles. Switch this over to basketball terms and while the teams center can stand at the arc and shoot 3-pointers and the point guard can go down to get the rebound, you generally want it the other way around. This is also a way to show a non-informed viewer that everyone on the team is doing something different, even though at first glance it may appear to be all the same. While your mid is getting rune control, your support is rotating top for a counter initiation. While your guard is bringing the ball up the court, your forward is getting in position to run the next play.

Strategy v Skill

Mental versus physical is something that is brought up in every sport, but I believe that basketball is the closest comparison to Dota in this aspect. I personally love the games that include the strategy aspect because it offers two different sides of talent, the skilled and the smart. This allows for a broader range of participants as you do not have to have the quickest finger reactions in the world to be good at Dota, nor do you have to be the quickest on the basketball court to be able to play at a high level. Outsmarting your competition, whether it is in the draft or in the game, is normally going to provide your team with a larger advantage than someone who rarely misses a last hit; however, just because the enemy picked a few heroes to counter yours, that does not mean that you are going to lose the game if your mechanics are far superior. The same is very true when discussing basketball. If the team that was more skilled won all the time, then there would be no competition for the team with the best athletes, but if you can outsmart your opponent with different strategies, then you can find a way around it. If you are playing up against a pro mid player with a hero that needs to snowball to win the game, focus on ganking him early and shutting him down before he gets an advantage. If you are playing up against a basketball team that likes to run up and down the court, slow it down and make them play a slower paced game. Even though the odds may be stacked up against them, a well-strategized team can beat a well skilled team.

Team Based Capitalism

This is where things start to get a little complicated to explain. The gold aspect of the game is very important and the team with the higher gold advantage will normally come out victorious. This can be compared to any aspect of life, as we all need our jobs for our income. The key thing about the net worth is that it benefits some positions more than others. It is much more important for a hard carry anti-mage to farm a quick battlefurry than it is for a support crystal maiden to get her aghanim’s scepter, so it can be said that it is more important for the anti-mage to have a higher income; however, the crystal maiden does need some sort of income for further support of the team. If you put this is terms of running a business it may start to make a little more sense. Money that is made from a thriving company is split up between everyone that makes it possible, from the owner all the way down the chain to the grunt workers. As you would expect it, the owner is the one with the highest income, and it only goes down from there. Sure the office workers would like to make more money than the one who is running the company, but if everyone ran their own business in hopes of getting a higher income, there would be nobody left to do the labor which is what keeps the company going. So for a well-maintained company to work, everyone has their own jobs, even if some are getting paid more than the others. The bottom line is that everyone is getting a certain income, and the better the company does as a whole, the more income everyone will get. This unselfishness is what you need in a well-oiled company, and a top tier Dota team. I realize that I may have gotten a little far off topic with this section of the article, but I wanted to make a statement and comparison the best I could. The summed up version of this is that players have to work together to give their team a superior gold income as a whole. It is not possible for two people to farm the same lane to its maximum potential, so players must focus on letting one individual farm to maximum potential to benefit the team as a whole.

You will notice that none of these sections focused solely on the steps to win the game, but rather the composition that makes up the game. I did not talk about killing heroes, taking objectives, or even farming directly. If I were to tell these things to someone who did not know about Dota, these terms would not help my case. Telling a newcomer that you need to last hit creeps to gain gold so you can buy items, makes less sense to them than saying that your team needs to take steps and work together to obtain a higher gold income than the opponent. Instead of telling them WHAT needs to be done, focus on telling them WHY it needs to be done. People will ask what is Dota, but the better question is why is Dota….

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