Why You Should Be Watching Dota 2 Right Now

watchdota2_1“Oh god,” you’re thinking, “not Dota again, why do people keep talking about Dota?” but bear with me because I think this is important.

You probably know what Dota is at this point, or you’ve at least got a rough idea; it’s a MOBA/ARTS/Dotalike/Wizard ‘em Up, technically it’s the MOBA, the one that started the whole sorry affair back when it was a Warcraft III mod. You likely have friends or family that play it, because over 11 million people do every month, and you’ve probably seen crazy stories about $18 million tournament prize pools, but unless you actually play it you’ve probably never really watched it.

You should watch it. “But I don’t play Dota, why would I watch it?” you say, without thinking things through. How many of you watch sports? Football, Rugby, Cricket, Tennis, Touring Cars, Formula 1, Darts, Curling, etc? Now how many of you are anything other than dreadful at doing any of them yourselves? How many of you don’t do any sporting activities at all? You don’t have to be good at something, or even participate in it, to enjoy watching it.


“But Dota is too complicated for me to understand,” you say, clearly not having learnt anything from the previous paragraph. Sure, Dota is complicated; so are Cricket, Rugby, Hockey, and Snooker when you look at them in detail, but at a basic level you can still understand what’s happening; maybe the men are trying to get the ball to the other end of the field, maybe they’re trying to hit the ball a long way with a bat and then run a bit, or maybe they’re trying to destroy a building at the other end of the map. Lots of confusing but apparently exciting things happen in between, and the more you watch the more you begin to understand them.

watchdota2_3Valve have designed Dota 2 to be a very good spectator experience, whether you’re watching it in the game client (available free on Steam) or, to a slightly lesser extent, on Twitch, and while understanding why it’s a big thing that the yellow man riding a bat has bought a small curved dagger nine minutes into the game will take you some time, when he uses it to surprise an opposing player, grab them with a flaming lasso and drag them back to the rest of his team you can still tell that something significant has just happened.

So, that covers the fact that you can watch Dota, but why should you being doing it right now? Well, in a few short weeks it’s the Shanghai Major, one of four annual tournaments put on by Valve with all the top teams in attendance and a $3m prize pool. $3m might not sound much compared to last year’s International but it’s still ten times the average big tournament prize pool. The meta-game (a catch-all term for the heroes, items and strategies that are popular with pro teams) right now, combined with some surprising team performances and the resurgence of under-performing fan-favourite team Alliance have resulted in the most competitive Dota scene for a long time. There are at least eight teams that could reasonably claim to be the best in the world and they’re all going to be at the Major.


Previous Valve-run tournaments have produced some amazing stories: TI3 was all about the rivalry between Alliance & Na’vi, with the winner coming down to decisions made in the last few minutes of the fifth game in a best of five grand final series. TI5 was about Chinese team CDEC and their run from wildcard qualifiers all the way through to the grand finals where they were ultimately defeated by American team Evil Geniuses. Most recently, the Frankfurt major gave us the incredible journey of OG, a newly-formed team made up of a mixture of Dota veterans and newly-discovered players, who confounded all expectations by knocking out some of the biggest teams in the world and going on to win the tournament in style.

watchdota2_5Like other sports, Dota has some great personalities in both players and casters/analysts, it has great narratives and rivalries, it has heroes and villains, and it has comebacks and throws. The Shanghai Major group stages run from the 25th to the 28th of February, with main even starting on 2nd of March (See their website for the full schedule). Games are typically 30-45 minutes long and will be fully commentated in a number of different languages, so give it a go, watch a few games during the Major and just maybe you’ll find it’s something you really enjoy.

Last five articles by Adam B


There are no comments, yet.

Why don’t you be the first? Come on, you know you want to!

Leave a Comment