The LoL vs Dota 2 debate has raged on for the better part of the past decade, and for good reason — as the two premiere MOBAs from Riot and Valve, respectively, these two titles have gone on to dominate the esports scene, helping propel it into the mainstream.
To the untrained eye, both League of Legends and Dota 2 are relatively the same. This should come of as no surprise. Both share a number of similar traits, and were essentially inspired by the same game — Defense of the Ancients, otherwise known as DotA, which was a custom map created for Blizzard’s WarCraft III video game. But, while both titles could indeed be considered similar, there are a number of differences.
Below, we explore the differences between LoL and Dota 2, with a bit more emphasis on how the latter stands out.
LoL vs Dota 2 — General Gameplay Concepts
- In Dota 2, the main structure at the center of each side’s respective base is known as the “Ancient”, not the “Nexus”. Individually controlled units are referred to as “Heroes”, not “Champions”, while the main defensive structures are known as “Towers” and “Barracks” as opposed to “Turrets” and “Inhibitors”.
- Dota 2 will feel clunky for first-time players. This is because of things such as “animation cast points”, “back swings”, “turn rates” and so on. These are all mechanics intended for balancing.
- There’s no “brush” in Dota 2, but there is “fog of war”. All units have their own vision range shared with allied units. Going into trees and high ground severely limit your vision.
- Dota 2 has a boss monster known as the Roshan located in the upper left corner of the map. Inside the cave, your vision is severely limited, which means you’ll want to secure vision around the area first before going in. Killing Roshan grants your team the item known as the Aegis of Immortal, which grants the carrier the ability to respawn 5 seconds after death where they died. Roshan grows stronger after each death, and gives more items as well. The second death gives Cheese in addition to Aegis of the Immortal, while the third death gives Refresher Shard on top of the Aegis of the Immortal and Cheese.
- Every hero in Dota 2 has a counter, whether it’s in the form of another hero, or an item, or simply by playing a certain way.
LoL vs Dota 2 — Controlling the Lane
In League of Legends, there are very few ways an individual can alter the lanes. Meanwhile, in Dota 2, a single player can control the creep in a variety of ways to hamper the enemy’s ability to farm while boosting their own.
The three main methods are:
- Blocking — By “blocking” your creeps, or standing in front of the unit, you can delay their advance. Instead of the creeps meeting at a certain point, you can shift the lanes towards your favour by blocking the creeps and making them meet closer to your tower, or wherever you prefer.
- Denying — In Dota 2, you can “deny” friendly units and attack them. For friendly creeps, you can deny them as soon as their HP falls below the 50% threshold. Each successful deny grants you a little bit of gold and prevents enemy heroes from getting the full experience from the kill (only 30% as opposed to 25%). Many players also use the “deny” mechanic to maintain equilibrium in the lane and make it so that they’re not farming too deep into enemy territory, while also not farming too close to their tower as well.
- Pulling — Because the jungle is less of a lane and more as just a part of the map in Dota 2, attacking “neutral creeps”, which spawns in various camps located around the map is optional. Players also use neutral creeps to tilt lanes towards their favour by drawing them away from their camps into the creep wave. Players can use this to pull a lane back to make it safer to farm, or to make a stronger push in the next wave.
LoL vs Dota 2 — Defensive Structures
- In Dota 2, the way the Towers work is similar to the way Turrets work in that they are defensive structures and can only be destroyed by focusing on the outer areas first. However, unlike in League of Legends, in Dota 2, you can start attacking Tier 4 Towers and the Ancient itself as soon as you destroy the Tier 3 Tower without having to destroy the Barracks first.
- To help players push in waves and destroy enemy structures, a special type of creep known as the Siege Creep spawns every 10th wave (or every five minutes) of the game for the first 30 minutes. These Siege Creep deal a lot more damage to structures and possess high resistance against magic.
- Players can also use Glyph, which is a shared global ability located right next to your map, that grants 100% damage immunity to any allied creep and defensive structure. Anyone on the team can activate it and it has a shared cool down of 300 seconds. The Glyph also refreshes as soon as your first Tier 1 tower falls.
- Similar to allied creeps, players can deny Towers that fall below 10% hp. Doing so will not grant your team any bonus gold or experience points, but it will prevent the enemy team from getting the global gold bonus for destroying it.
LoL vs Dota 2 — The “Jungle”
- Unlike in League of Legends, in Dota 2, the Jungle is not used predominantly as a substitute for a lane. Instead, it acts as a supplement that players use to either pull their lane creeps into to help maintain creep equilibrium, or to farm. Although Jungling was once a viable strategy in Dota 2 in previous matches, subsequent nerfs to the amount of gold and experience granted by neutral creeps have made it difficult if not impossible for a player to catch up in farm by exclusively farming the jungle.
- In Dota 2, the Neutral Creeps spawn at the 1-minute mark and for every minute after that as long as there is nothing obstructing the camp’s spawn box. Obstructions can be another neutral creep, an allied unit, an enemy or allied hero, or an allied or enemy ward.
- It is possible to “stack” Neutral Creep camps in Dota 2. By doing so, a player can accelerate his farm by taking down two Neutral Creep camps instead of one. Players can do this by pulling the Neutral Creep outside of their spawn box just right before the minute mark. If done successfully, an additional set of Neutral Creep will spawn in the camp. There is currently no limit as to how many times a player can do this.
- Supports usually take care of Stacking duties in Dota 2 to save time and to receive some gold as it grants a 35% bonus gold bounty for every Neutral Creep camp successfully stacked and farmed by an allied hero.
- Keep in mind that the Jungle is not yours alone. Enemies can and will try to steal the sacks from you. Make sure to clear the camp as soon as possible.
LoL vs Dota 2 — Which is Easier to Play?
The LoL vs Dota 2 debate usually tilts towards the former’s favour because of how much it is easier to learn as a game. Because it doesn’t contain as many mechanics as Dota 2, it has a lower skill ceiling and is easier to pick up. Not to mention, League of Legends also has a significantly better new player experience compared to Dota 2.
This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to learn how to play Dota 2. It is, but it’ll be harder. To help, Dota 2 has a “demo” mode that you can use to feel everything out. Although, to really get good taste of how the game works, you can try playing with bots for your first few games as you try to acclimate yourself to the game.
Because the learning curve of Dota 2 is quite steep, it is usually a bad idea to play against other players in “Normal Matchmaking” right away. Unless you are playing with someone with significant playing experience coaching you, you’ll want to stick to playing with bots first. Master a few heroes and once you feel comfortable with how the game works, feel free to play against other players. However, keep in mind that you will probably not have a good time for your first dozen or so games. Often, you’ll find yourself matched with players with significantly more experience than you do. This is because the game is still trying to find out who to place you with.
Once you weather this out, you should find yourself matched with players with similar skill levels.
Dota 2 and League of Legends are both complex games. They also each cater to different parts of the MOBA audience. Thus, players should avoid looking at both games as one and the same.
Having said that, anyone who wants to try and learn how to play Dota 2 will benefit from more playing time. Because Dota 2 plays differently from other titles, it’ll take some time to grasp how the game feels. As such, the only way to develop a good feel for the game is to keep on playing.
Click here to check out our guide on how to climb the MMR ranks as a beginner or lower-ranked player.
What do you think separates LoL vs Dota 2? Which of the two premiere MOBA titles do you prefer? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.