DOTA 2: A Beginners’ Guide

November 27

  • Dota 2 is the second most popular MOBA game in the world after League of Legends, and has developed substantially over the last 10 years. Today, this competitive video game is one of the pillars of esports and has a player base of 10 million.
  • This short guide on how to play Dota 2 will take you through the basics of what it means to play and why it’s such a challenging and rewarding experience.

What is Dota 2

Dota 2 is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA, type of game, which means that it’s a mixture of two types of games: RPG and RTS. It’s an RPG because it involves heroes and many of the elements of RPG games, like experience, items, skills, gold, talents, etc. And it’s an RTS because it’s played in the real-time strategy format. You need to make quick decisions, respond to attacks, plan your own offensive, take objectives on the map, and so on. Think Warcraft 3 plus Diablo 3 and you will get a better picture of what Dota 2 really is.


How To Play Dota 2 – Ultimate Dota 2 Beginner’s Guide

Of course, you won’t fully appreciate Dota 2 until you’ve played it for a while. The thing that makes it so addictive is the mixture of complexity, replayability, and freedom. In this game, you can be as creative as you want to be. Many of the heroes are highly sophisticated and the better you get at playing them, the higher your impact will be on each of your games.


The Basics of Dota 2

Learning how to play Dota 2 is far from easy, but the process goes a lot faster if you have some RPG and RTS experience. In terms of its basic game structure, two teams of five players each compete on one unique map (you don’t need to learn an entire map pool like in Overwatch or CS:GO, which allows teams to focus on game play, such as heroes and items). The ultimate goal of the game is to destroy the enemy team’s Ancient, which is the core structure of each team’s base. When the Ancient dies, the game ends and victory is gained by the team whose Ancient is still alive.

Prior to each game, the two teams get to choose heroes from a list of over 100 options. Each hero is unique and can be played in one or more roles within a team. These roles separate into two categories: core (midlaner, offlaner, and carry) and support (roamer and support). Most heroes excel at one particular role and are not well-suited for the opposite one. For example, you can’t play Templar Assassin (midlaner) as a support. She would have almost nothing to offer to your team from this role, simply because she is built to be a right-click damage dealer and is heavily item-dependent.

After the 10 players have picked their heroes – ideally two supports and three cores per team – the match begins. The map is divided into two sides and consists of structures, three lanes, and a large forest portion called the jungle.

By this time, the players have used their initial gold to buy some items and consumables and have gone to their lanes. The Radiant-side offlaner goes top or to the left of his base, the midlaner goes to the middle lane, and the other three players usually go together to the safe lane. Of course, this isn’t always the case; in Dota 2, there are no fixed rules and it’s all about gaining an advantage.

Watch for lane creeps, which spawn every 30 seconds and attack everything that stands in their way. Their behavior is simple, though, and can be eliminated easily. Go down the lane, attack all enemies along the way, and then all enemy structures when no other enemies are around. On each lane, there are three sets of towers, nine in total on each side of the map until you get to the barracks. If the barracks are destroyed, stronger lane creeps will spawn every 30 seconds, giving the opposing team (the one that destroyed a barracks) a significant lane advantage.


How the game evolves

When learning how to play Dota 2, notice the evolution of each game. Initially, you start with almost nothing: very little gold and a level 1 hero. But as you gain gold and experience by killing enemy creeps and heroes, you advance in level and can buy more powerful items from the shop. The maximum level you can reach is 30 and the maximum number of item slots you can fill is six, plus the one reserved for Teleportation Scrolls.


In Dota 2, heroes evolve very rapidly and some of them get really strong. The key is to grow faster than your enemies in level and gold, so that you can buy better items and impose your own rhythm on the game. At the professional level, you will often see teams trying to gain a small advantage and then snowball out of control.

The Roshan

This guide would be incomplete without a description of the Roshan. A very special creep, resides in in a pit in the river that splits the map into two halves, known as Roshan, the Immortal, the big bad monster who, unlike most other creeps which are quite weak and serve as food for heroes, is incredibly powerful, and will decimate most heroes in a one-on-one fight. He starts off with a whopping 6,000 points of health—which is way more than what most heroes and even entire teams can chew in the early game. What’s more, Roshan grows even stronger as time goes by, gaining additional maximum health, armor, and attack damage every minute.

Going for Roshan is a tactical decision that must be made very carefully with your teammates. One mistake can get punished heavily if the enemy team is attentive and quick to react.

Of course, all that trouble doesn’t come without any benefits. Killing Roshan is actually one of the most rewarding tasks in the game, thanks to how much gold and experience you get out of the ordeal. The most important reward, however, is the Aegis of the Immortal: a token dropped by Roshan on death. The Aegis lasts five minutes after being picked up, and cannot be dropped or sold otherwise.

Should a hero die with the Aegis in their inventory, the hero consumes the item, and comes back to life on the same spot five seconds after. The resurrected hero has full health and mana upon rising from the dead, giving them the ability to retaliate right after.

Dota 2 Ranks

Like any esport, Dota 2 has a ladder that you can climb in order to compete with better and better players. These ranks go from Herald to Immortal and are eight in total. Each of them has five additional subranks, symbolized by stars. Every time you win a game, you get around 25 points. Every time you lose a game, you lose around 25 points. And the better you get, the more games you will win at any given rank.



The International or the Dota 2 World Championship first took place in 2011. In an attempt to get everyone’s attention and compete with their archrival (Riot Games), Valve decided to blow everything out of proportion and offer a prize pool unheard of at the time: $1.6 million.

This was 10 times bigger than what the biggest esports events had offered up until that point. So it’s pretty obvious that Valve’s marketing team wanted to make a statement: “1 million dollars for winning a video game contest. Who else will offer you that?” And for the next few years, no one did.

Phase two of this masterplan involved community funded prize pools. Each year, Valve went on to create additional in-game content and add it to their Battle Pass. All Battle Pass purchases would boost the prize pool of The International, because 25% of their cost would go directly to this prize. This was a stroke of genius and it led to bigger and bigger TI prizes. The practice first started in 2013 and just look at what has happened since then. Here’s a summary for you:

  • The International 1: $1.6 million
  • The International 2: $1.6 million
  • The International 3: $2.8 million
  • The International 4: $10.9 million
  • The International 5: $18.4 million
  • The International 6: $20.7 million
  • The International 7: $24.7 million
  • The International 8: $25.5 million
  • The International 9: $34.3 million

So one of the most important Dota 2 statistics that people should know in 2020 is this: Dota 2 offered a prize pool of $34.3 million for its world championship in 2019. The competition had 18 teams and even the competitors that finished 13th – 16th made over $500,000.

Only One Team Won The International Twice.

OG are the only DOTA2 Professional Team to have won The International twice (2018 & 2019).

This is one of those Dota 2 statistics that remind people of the complexity of the game. The fact that it took nine years for a team to win TI twice is absolutely incredible. It’s also a testament to the game’s difficulty and complexity. From the outside it might be hard to see, but if you think chess is hard and offers a lot of possibilities, just take a look at Dota. There are over 100 heroes and hundreds of items. And each hero has at least four abilities, eight talents, plus six item slots (excluding the Teleportation Scroll one). And in every Dota 2 game, there are five heroes in each team. So it’s 5 vs. 5. The math on that simply dwarfs anything else.And each hero has at least four abilities, eight talents, plus six item slots (excluding the Teleportation Scroll one). And in every Dota 2 game, there are five heroes in each team. So it’s 5 vs. 5. The math on that simply dwarfs anything else. there are five heroes in each team. So it’s 5 vs. 5. The math on that simply dwarfs anything else.And each hero has at least four abilities, eight talents, plus six item slots (excluding the Teleportation Scroll one). And in every Dota 2 game, there are five heroes in each team. So it’s 5 vs. 5. The math on that simply dwarfs anything else. anything else.And each hero has at least four abilities, eight talents, plus six item slots (excluding the Teleportation Scroll one). And in every Dota 2 game, there are five heroes in each team. So it’s 5 vs. 5. The math on that simply dwarfs anything else.

The Most Played Dota 2 Hero

The most played Dota 2 hero, by far, is Pudge. This hero, known as The Butcher, was initially made popular by Dendi, one of the original Na’Vi players who won the first TI. Pudge has deep roots in what you may call gaming soil. If you played the Diablo series, you probably know a thing or two about The Butcher. Well, that’s practically Pudge, except that pudge can also hook you.


Pudge hero

One fascinating thing about Pudge is that he’s not only the most played hero of all time. He’s also the most played hero pretty much every month. If you take a look at dotabuff you will instantly see just how much people love this hero. Some are good with him, others are terrible, but everybody plays him. Going into 2020, you should expect to see Pudge in around a third of your games.


Game Longevity

On this list of Dota 2 statistics, the longevity of the game is definitely something that you should know about. Dota 2 was officially released in July 2013. However, you could say that the game had already been played by many people for a number of years. So if we take this added period into account, Dota’s longevity is around 10 years. And this longevity is a testament to how good the game actually is. Few titles are played by millions of people 10 years after their release. Fewer still have competitive circuits and tournaments with prize pools of millions of dollars.

Going into 2020, just know that Dota 2 is in good hands. The company that created it, Valve Corporation, is one of the most reputable in the industry and also one of the most successful. With that in mind, you can be pretty certain that if you start playing Dota, this game will not die in the next 10 years.

Player Base

Dota 2 currently has a player base of 10 million. And while things do fluctuate quite a bit, the game’s community is large enough at this point to remain above the 8 million mark even if lots of people decide to give it up. That’s not likely to happen though, because just as some people go, others join. And the number usually stays between 9 – 11 million. But in a worst case scenario, Dota 2 can survive even with a much smaller community of 3-5 million.

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