With the start of the Dota 2’s “The International” competition this week, some of you might be tempted to check out the “dark side” of the MOBA genre, the game that “should not be named.” I am here to be the enabler, to peer pressure you this week. With the preliminary pool play out of the way and the meat and potatoes of the tournament starting today, if you ever wanted to get a peek into what the future of League of Legends may potentially hold, this is your weekend to tune in. As an avid League player, I feel playing around 400 games of DOTA 2 has made me a better player in League, while offering some interesting experiences that are distinctly DOTA (Rubick anyone?).
Dota 2, on first play after being a League veteran, will feel incredibly sluggish due to numerous in-game mechanics that I will spare you the insanely complex analysis in this article (turn-speed, much slower projectile/animation speeds, etc.). Additionally, the lack of summoner spells, namely Flash, will make League veterans feel less mobile and less flexible early game. Higher mana costs and longer duration CC spells are also common, leading to Dota requiring more coordination for using spells in lane because there really isn’t such a thing as “harass with spells” in Dota. The point being, if you are stuck on a slower, less mobile champion/hero, you need to think more about your basic lane presence and your mechanics. You will start to ask yourself questions like “Can I time that last hit properly?” or “Is this too far up without a ward?” while playing Dota, and when you come back to League, they will be fresh in your mind. Relearning the fundamentals of the MOBA genre in a different game makes you really examine your mechanics and thought process more in-depth.
As a former fighting game amateur player, I can say from experience that playing multiple games of the same genre is helpful to your overall individual play. Practicing similar games in different engines with different rules forces you to really think about how you can best play the game to your personal advantage. For instance, auto-attack harass from supports in League is a fairly crucial aspect that many lesser to average skilled players don’t really understand the potential value or impact it plays. Personally, I greatly undervalued auto-attack harass until I went to play Dota. Simply right-clicking on a melee hero in lane with a ranged auto-attacker makes their life miserable, if not impossible, in laning phase. Noticing this, I came back to League and saw an improvement in my auto-attack harassment in both solo and duo lanes. Playing a different game, hopefully, will also remove the mindset of “wow how do I counter that?” from many players. In order to get better at a game, whether new or old, you have to leave the mentality of “omg that’s so op” at the door and adapt to your situation at hand.
Games, games, games; what is the Dota meta?
For a person who plays League and only League, of course there will be a lot of confusion when it comes to how Dota team comps make their lanes work. Standard Carry/Support duo lanes are but one of the possibilities in Dota, with “aggressive” or “safe” tri-lanes being a fairly normal occurrence. The reason lanes in Dota can be so varied comes from one major difference between League and Dota: the jungle. There is no need for a mandatory jungler in Dota since there are no real buff camps or an early game objective like Dragon to control (although there are Runes, which is a completely different concept and more of an aspect of mid lane and support play than anything else). In Dota, the jungle is a more versatile and a less static method of generating gold for your team, allowing three people in a lane to maintain competitive experience with a two person lane if the proper techniques are applied. Playing a game that is of the same genre, but much further along in it’s own meta is always an interesting thing to delve into and experience.
To briefly explain the Dota meta, instead of assigned positions, there is assigned gold incomes, from 1-5. 1 being the hardest carry of your team, akin to an AD carry but not always ranged, and 5 being your basic ward and utility item carrying support. To put it in League terms, your AD would be a 1, Top or Mid would swap between 2-3, Jungler would be 4 and Support would be 5. However, since gold acquisition in Dota is so much different, you could potentially have the 1+4+5 lane together while the 2 and 3 solo, or the 1 and 5 could lane while the 2+4 lane and the 3 jungles. The combinations are pretty elastic and flexible, which brings me to my point. In the last few months, we’ve seen the meta shift to the early tower push in 1v3 situations, which opens up the map a lot earlier and gets rid of the standard 1-1-2 with a jungler on the map set-up that we’ve seen so much since season 1 worlds. With this strategy likely dead in 3.10 due to the tower changes, it could open up new possibilities for team comps. Since towers are harder to push down early, putting a high sustain, high wave clear champion bottom like Cho’Gath could allow something like a double jungle to see play in competitive League.
As a semi-professional MvC2 player, I can tell you the meta grew and changed so much over it’s 10+ years as a featured fighting game that if you took a break from it for 3 years you wouldn’t even recognize it. Even league for instance: a few years ago a common top lane matchup would be something like Malzahar vs. Twisted Fate while mid lane consisted of Ashe vs. Katarina and bottom was Sona + Shen vs Garen+Taric. The evolution of the league meta has already been happening, many of us just haven’t noticed how drastic the changes have actually been.
So at the end of the day, you’re not destroying Riot by watching the International this weekend and picking up a little DOTA in your life. You may learn something that helps you in league, or you downright just might be entertained by it. But with no League of Legends to watch this weekend, if you’re bored you might as well check out what all the noise is about and why people so ardently devote themselves to another MOBA that isn’t League of Legends. You may even pick up on how many of League’s current design team thinks about how they make their new champions different from Dota, since people like Guinsoo and Morello were part of the original fundamental crowd designing the original Dota.
Besides, even if you don’t pick up on anything else, who wouldn’t want to see OPPA SCARRA or TSM DISBAND in LCS Twitch chat ?