History – From DotA to DOTA 2
Valve’s DOTA 2, is one of the largest game titles in the PvP market. It is arguably the biggest title in the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) market with its main competitor being, League of Legends by Riot Games.
DOTA 2 – ‘DOTA’ plain but deep
As the number 2 in the name suggests, DOTA 2 is a sequel to Defence of the Ancients (DotA). The first game was not an official game. The preceding title was a custom game mode created by a man named Eul for the game Warcraft III.
DotA became known as a separate entity from the game it was built on. Some would argue that more people knew about DOTA than Warcraft. By the end of the day, the game is still a mod. Development is limited by resources shared by Blizzard. The map and codes are supported by Blizzard’s World Editor instead of the game engine itself.
From DotA to DotA Allstars
2002 – Aeon of Strife
In July 2002, Blizzard Entertainment released Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. This game came with a ‘world editor’ to allow fans to make their own maps. Other people made their own games instead of just a custom setting. Kyle ‘Eul’ Sommers is one such person and he created Defence of the Ancients.
Defence of the Ancients is a game about two bases connected by three lanes. These lanes are travelled by waves of a.i. controlled units called creeps. Both sides create the creeps of the same power level. Each wave has melee creeps and ranged creeps and they all march towards the enemy base. They will attack any enemies in the way.
Both sides are designed to be equal. Who wins is decided by the players. Each side consists of up to 5 players each controlling a hero as their avatar to move around the world. Each hero has unique strengths and weaknesses dictated by abilities and stats. Players from either side will contest to push the lanes towards the enemy’s side. The goal is to destroy each other’s bases.
Eul admitted that it was not an original idea. He got the concept from Aeon of Strife by Aeon64. This is another custom game created in another Blizzard game, Starcraft. Aeon of Strife has two factions but only one is played by the player while the other is a.i.
In Aeon of Strife, the goal was for up to 5 players to work together to push lanes and destroy the enemy base. The enemy will constantly produce creeps of varying strengths and utilities. A player can play as one of 6 hero characters with unique properties. All players can use the money they earn to produce their own creeps.
Defence of the Ancients adapted Aeon of Strife’s rules with a few differences. Eul’s take on the ‘lane-pushing’ genre has two player-factions against each other. The concept of ‘stronger creeps’ was removed in favour of equal power levels. If left untouched, the lane creeps will not end fighting with no progress. The idea was to make the players become the deciding factor.
Eul added more hero choices. The differences between Starcraft’s Aeon of Strife and Warcraft III’s DotA was the concept of hero-based abilities. Eul took Warcraft’s levelling progression system and upgradable hero skills to make each character play differently as the game progressed.
Blizzard released an enhanced version to Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos titled Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Eul officially made a sequel to his successful creation titled DOTA 2: Thirst for Gamma. Unfortunately, he was unable to even match his first creation. Eul made his code open source then left the modding scene altogether.
2004 – DotA Allstars
A community flourished surrounding Eul’s concept. Many Defence of the Ancient custom maps were published on Battle.net. Different versions took the DotA title but with a special suffix to separate each series from each other.
The most prominent series of maps are the DOTA EX, DOTA DX, DOTA Unforgiven, and DOTA Outland. Each contains original sets of heroes and items.
Two modders by the name of Meian and Ragn0r compiled the most popular heroes and items of each series into one game. They dubbed it DotA Allstars. The title alone continued the entirety of the DOTA fanbase.
DotA Allstars named the two factions Sentinel and Scourge. Eul’s version was Humans versus Orc because those were the only races in Reign of Chaos. Two new races were introduced in The Frozen Throne, the Undead and Night Elves. The Sentinels have good guys and enchanted creatures. Members of the Scourge are either evil or grotesque.
From Fun and Games to eSports
2004 – Productions by Guinsoo
When DotA Allstars reached version 2, Steve ‘Guinsoo’ Feak was made lead developer. The game reached versions 3 and 4 in a span of four months. Guinsoo designed and implemented neutral creeps. The map was littered by camps of monsters that will attack anyone from either faction. This change introduced the concept of ‘jungle’, the area where a hero goes to earn money and experience away from the lanes. The game just became faster and less predictable.
Among the neutral creeps, there is Roshan. This is the strongest neutral creep in the jungle and he grows stronger with time. The longer the match, the stronger he becomes. He is named after Guinsoo’s personal bowling ball. Just like a bowling ball, Roshan is durable and destructive. He has skills that can knock down multiple targets.
Guinsoo also came up with Weapon Upgrades. Upgrades can have the effects of two items but only takes up one slot. Some upgrades will have stronger effects or unique buffs separate from stats. This completely changed late-game for everyone.
Several heroes were added. The most popular character made by Guinsoo was Juggernaut. For version 5, Guinsoo and his team focused on introducing even more characters.
Guinsoo’s updates completely changed the way people played. There are new things to learn and some tactics need to change. The Map felt wider even though it takes up the same space.
Pendragon and the explosion of the DotA community
While Guinsoo was putting DotA Allstars together, the community was divided. DotA players did not have a place to talk. The game they love is still just a mod, after all. Blizzard’s website has forums regarding Defence of the Ancients, but all of those were made by the community.
Under Guinsoo’s management, Steve ‘Pendragon’ Mescon joined the team as the head of community management. Pendragon designed and published DotA-Allstars.com. The website serves as a channel for the developers to make announcements regarding the state of the game. Fans can also use the forums to chat about the game. Fan-arts were uploaded and saved in the website’s archive. DotA-Allstars.com was the central hub for all things DotA. The developers were also able to track how many visitors they get every day. Turns out, the niche gained over a million fans.
The community started at a total of 30,000 users since the site went live in 2004. Pendragon supported the site himself but staff grew to over a hundred with volunteers.
By patch DotA Allstars 5.84 of the series, DotA competitions were held all over the world. People sponsored their own events for local players. These were done first by computer shops. Before long, schools have recognized DotA as a sport and began holding their own tournaments.
Major Turning Point
The departure of Guinsoo and Pendragon
Guinsoo was approached by two people in 2005, Brandon ‘Ryze’ Beck and Marc ‘Tryndamere’ Merrill, founders of Riot Games. They invited Guinsoo to join their project for League of Legends, a spiritual successor to Defence of the Ancients. The idea was to create a MOBA with its own engine. Guinsoo accepted the offer. He still works at Riot Games to this day.
A game needed more than a developer. A game will have fans and the company needs someone to handle them. Lucky for Riot, Guinsoo knew a guy. Riot contacted Pendragon to handle the community side of the game.
Pendragon wrote a thank you letter to the fans through DotA-Allstars as a farewell. He began to work for Riot in 2009. He also sold the rights to DotA-Allstars.com to Riot Games. The website was then shut down. That left DotA players with no central hub again.
Series 6 with Neichus and IceFrog
Alex ‘Neichus’ Moss was in college around the time he took over as Lead Developer for DotA Allstars. He started the 6th series of Dota with the addition of 13 more heroes and 4 items. He reworked or completed 12 hero concepts. Some heroes were part of the game while others were unable to be included until he made some changes. His concept of the courier was a large influence on the competitive field of DotA. The optimization of the courier is a vital skill valued by professionals even to this day with DOTA 2 eSports
Before Guinsoo was hired by Riot Games, he worked under Neichus. Alex ‘Neichus’ Moss began the 6th series of DotA Allstars. He added 13 more heroes and reworked 12 others in the roster. Four new items were included in the items. His most notable inclusion was the courier, which delivers items from shop to hero. The use of a courier is now an essential skill among players.
Neichus was not as popular as Guinsoo. Some argue that his additions broke the balance settled by Guinsoo’s last patch. IceFrog begged to differ. IceFrog adapted all of Neichus’s concepts to breathe new life to DotA. The game became completely different but just as popular as Guinsoo’s version.
Neichus admitted that he had no formal background in coding, and so he hired IceFrog. Neichus grew weary between his college life and DotA. He gave up and handed the reins to IceFrog.
IceFrog focused less on changing the core mechanics and more on balancing the gameplay as they were. He continued everything Neichus had started and tweaked every hero and items already in the game. He considers abilities, possible team lineups, and weapon builds. He is known to consult professional players before a patch.
The idea was to create a perfect balance. No heroes should be good or bad, each one is created to serve a role. There should be no tricks or combinations anyone can abuse. Eventually, version 6.27 was released in November 2005. IceFrog’s update was regarded as the second competitive version of DotA. This feat made him the most prominent figure in the community.
Even with his fame, IceFrog never revealed his identity to the community. People he worked with decided to keep his face hidden out of respect. Valve also takes measures to keep his privacy.
Since DotA is a game made with Warcraft III resources, Blizzard owns the title ‘Defence of the Ancients’. IceFrog came to Blizzard to pitch a game. He wants DotA to have full publisher support and an independent engine. Blizzard dismissed the idea and told him to just make it again with their upcoming game. They were not confident in a MOBA at the time, especially one made by a non-professional. That exchange disheartened IceFrog and the DotA community as a whole.
DOTA 2 – Under Valve
Valve Corporation learned of IceFrog’s attempt. Project Director Erik Johnson sought DotA Allstar’s lead developer. Valve expresses full interest in developing DotA Allstars into an official franchise. In 2009, IceFrog delighted fans with an announcement. He is now in partnership with Valve as lead developer for DOTA 2.
Valve can’t use ‘Defence of the Ancients’ for copyrights reasons. The community was okay with that. Valve and IceFrog coined ‘DOTA’ as a word on its own. It’s no longer a shortcut. It is a word that holds its own identity recognized by everyone.
Using Valve’s Source Engine, IceFrog had many ways to recreate DotA. They made new models for each hero and the map was built from the ground up. DOTA 2 was made playable in Alpha in 2010 with Steam as the official distributor. Playable Beta became available in 2011 along with the message that Valve will host a tournament with $1.6 million prize money. This tournament was officially called ‘The International’. Shortened to TI.
DOTA 2 was still incomplete. Valve and IceFrog planned to port every character from DotA to DOTA. Many heroes were still in development for a year, even during TI2. Even so, Valve sponsored small online events. Teams were invited for the next grand event based on popularity.
DOTA 2 always boasts having the biggest prize pot in eSports every year. This made the game grow rapidly among gamers. In 2015, the pot money grew to over 30 million USD. With all DotA Allstars heroes ported in DOTA 2, the game was completed just in time for TI5.
DOTA 2 received a massive success using Valve’s Source Engine. In 2016, the game was transferred to the all-new Source Engine 2. The new game engine gave IceFrog more editing freedom. DOTA 2’s graphics were improved immensely. Heroes and the world became even more beautiful. The new engine also brought a new user interface.
The community of DOTA grew massively from when it was still just a mod. The presence of developers who care deeply for the game resonates with veterans and newcomers alike. The community and the game have grown and will keep growing for years to come. New heroes have arrived and new features were implemented that were previously impossible when relying on an unsupported, age-old game. IceFrog and Valve brought Defence of the Ancients to a level that the small community, including the creator, Eul, did not expect, but was truly proud to see.
List of Heroes released per series
Below are lists of all known heroes as they were introduced in DotA Allstars. The tables contain their original full names in Allstars parallel to how they are commonly referred to in DOTA 2. Many heroes kept their name and titles, though most players know each of them only by either one.
Heroes available on DotA Allstars v0.60
|DotA Allstars Name||DOTA 2 name|
|Akasha, the Queen of Pain||Queen of Pain|
|Anub’arak, the Nerubian Assassin||Nyx Assassin|
|Chen, the Holy Knight||Chen|
|Dark Terror, the Faceless Void||Faceless Void|
|Furion, the Nature’s Prophet||Nature’s Prophet|
|Kel’Thuzad, the Lich||Lich|
|Krobelus, the Death Prophet||Death Prophet|
|Lesale Dethbringer, the Venomancer||Venomancer|
|Lina Inverse, the Slayer||Slayer|
|Lion, the Demon Witch||Lion|
|Lucifer, the Doom Bringer||Doom|
|Magnus, the Magnataur||Magnus|
|Nortrom, the Silencer||Silencer|
|Ostarion, the Wraith King||Wraith King|
|Pugna, the Oblivion||Oblivion|
|Razor, the Lightning Revenant||Razor|
|Rhasta, the Shadow Shaman||Shadow Shaman|
|Rikimaru, the Stealth Assassin||Riki|
|Rylai Crestfall, the Crystal Maiden||Crystal Maiden|
|Shendelzare Silkwood, the Vengeful Spirit||Vengeful Spirit|
|Slardar, the Slithereen Guard||Slardar|
|Sven, the Rogue Knight||Sven|
|Traxex, the Drow Ranger||Drow Ranger|
|Viper, the Netherdrake||Viper|
|Visage, the Necro’lic||Visage|
Series 2 Heroes
|DotA Allstars Name||DOTA 2 name|
|Anti-Mage, the Magina||Anti-Mage|
|Banehallow, the Lycanthrope||Lycan|
|Clinkz, the Bone Fletcher||Clinkz|
|Davion, the Dragon Knight||Dragon Knight|
|Kardel Sharpeye, the Dwarven Sniper||Sniper|
|Luna Moonfang, the Moon rider||Luna|
|Mortred, the Phantom Assassin||Phantom Assassin|
|Nessaj, the Chaos Knight||Chaos Knight|
|Terrorblade, the Soul Keeper||Terrorblade|
Series 3 Heroes
|DotA Allstars Name||DOTA 2 name|
|Medusa, the Gorgon||Medusa|
Series 4 Heroes
|DotA Allstars Name||DOTA 2 name|
|Gondar, the Bounty Hunter||Bounty Hunter|
|Leshrac, the Malicious||Leshrac|
|N’aix, the Lifestealer||Lifestealer|
|Slithice, the Naga Siren||Naga Siren|
|Squee Spleen and Spoon, the Goblin Techies||Techies|
|Yurnero, the Juggernaut||Juggernaut|
|Zeus, Lord of Olympia||Zeus|
Series 5 Heroes
|DotA Allstars Name||DOTA 2 name|
|Aggron Stonebreak, the Ogre Magi||Ogre Magi|
|Atropos, the Bane Elemental||Bane|
|Balanar, the Night Stalker||Night Stalker|
|Black Arachnia, the Broodmother||Broodmother|
|Boush, the Tinker||Tinker|
|Centaur, Warchief||Centaur Warrunnner|
|Crixalis, the Sand King||Sand King|
|Ezalor, the Keeper of, the Light||Keeper of, the Light|
|Jah’rakal, the Troll Warlord||Troll Warlord|
|Leviathan, the Tidehunter||Tidehunter|
|Mangix, the Pandaren Brewmaster||Brewmaster|
|Pudge, the Butcher||Pudge|
|Rooftrellen, the Treant Protector||Treant Protector|
|Rotund’jere, the Necrolyte||Necrophos|
|Syllabear, the Lone Druid||Lone Druid|
|Ulfsaar, the Ursa Warrior||Ursa|
Series 6 Heroes
|DotA Allstars Name||DOTA 2 name|
|Abaddon, the Lord of Avernus||Abaddon|
|Aiushtha / Enchantress||Enchantress|
|Alleria, the Windrunner||Windranger|
|Anub’seran, the Nerubian Weaver||Weaver|
|Aurel Vlaicu, the Gyrocopter||Gyrocopter|
|Auroth, the Winter Wyvern||Auroth, the Winter Wyvern|
|Azgalor, the Pitlord||Underlord|
|Azrwaith, the Phantom Lancer||Phantom Lancer|
|Barathrum, the Spiritbreaker||Spirit Breaker|
|Cairne Bloodhoof, the Tauren Chieftain||Elder Titan|
|Darchow, the Enigma||Enigma|
|Dazzle, the Shadow Priest||Dazzle|
|Demnok Lamnik, the Warlock||Warlock|
|Dirge, the Undying||Undying|
|Dragonus, the Skywrath Mage||Skywrath Mage|
|Eredar, the Shadow Demon||Shadow Demon|
|Harbinger, the Obsidian Destroyer||Outworld Devourer|
|Huskar, the Sacred Warrior||Huskar|
|Icarus, the Phoenix||Phoenix|
|Io, the Guardian Wisp||Io|
|Ish’kafel – Dark Seer||Dark Seer|
|Jakiro, the Twin Head Dragon||Jakiro|
|Jin’zakk, the Batrider||Batrider|
|Kael, the Invoker||Invoker|
|Kaldr, the Ancient Apparition||Ancient Apparition|
|Kaolin, the Earth Spirit||Earth Spirit|
|Kunkka, the Admiral||Kunkka|
|Lanaya, the Templar Assassin||Templar Assassin|
|Lyov, the Bristleback||Bristleback|
|Meepo, the Geomancer||Meepo|
|Mercurial, the Spectre||Spectre|
|Mirana, the Priestess of, the Moon||Mirana|
|Mogul Khan, the Axe||Axe|
|Nerif, the Oracle||Oracle|
|Nevermore, the Shadow Fiend||Shadow Fiend|
|Puck, the Faerie Dragon||Puck|
|Raigor Stonehoof, the Earthshaker||Earthshaker|
|Raijin Thunderkeg, the Storm Spirit||Storm Spirit|
|Rattletrap, the Clockwerk Goblin||Clockwerk|
|Razzil Darkbrew, the Alchemist||Alchemist|
|Rexxar, the Beastmaster||Beastmaster|
|Rizzrak, the Goblin Shredder||Timbersaw|
|Rubick, the Grand Magus||Rubick|
|Slark, the Murloc Nightcrawler||Slark|
|Strygwyr, the Bloodseeker||Bloodseeker|
|Thrall, the Disruptor||Disruptor|
|Tiny, the Stone Giant||Tiny|
|Tresdin, the Legion Commander||Legion Commander|
|Vol’Jin, the Witch Doctor||Witch Doctor|
|Xin, the Ember Spirit||Ember Spirit|
|Ymir, the Tuskarr||Tuskar|
|Zet, the Arc Warden||Arc Warden|
Heroes that debut in DOTA 2
The list below contains heroes that debuted in DOTA 2. Next to each hero is the date in which they were officially released as playable characters in (dd/mm/yyyy) format.
- Monkey King – 12/12/2016
- Dark Willow – 31/10/2017
- Pangolier – 31/10/2017
- Grimstroke – 24/08/2018
- Mars – 5/3/2019