MatchUp: League of Legends vs Dota 2

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With our new MatchUp feature we’ll be taking some of yours and our favourite games and putting them up against each other to compare both their similarities and their differences. Every time a new game comes out people are quick to call it a clone of some other game with a similar theme, genre or gameplay style, with our new MatchUp we’ll be able to see just how closely these games really compare.

The information will come to you in a written article and a simplified infographic for an overview of what we found. Once we’ve done our MatchUp then let us know what you think, and if you have any games you think need the MatchUp treatment then leave a message in our comments!

For our first match up in this new feature we are taking a look at two giants in the MOBA genre: League of Legends (LoL) and DOTA 2. The rivalry between these two is endless, some similarities in genre and gameplay is easy to see why a comparison between them both is always made, for better or worse. We took a look at what both games offer in so far as features, the things that unite them and the things that divide them as well is taking a look at some stats, facts and figures away from the actual game itself.

The main premise of the game, for those unaware, is players working together as a team in PVP (though AI Bot matches are available, but hardly the main gameplay mode), choosing from a variety of different playable characters each with their own skills and abilities and playing in a “base destroying” competitive battle.

Due to this it on the make sense to first and foremost have a look at what characters are available for each of these titles. For the total number of playable characters there is very little between them, DOTA2 boasting a huge 107 “Heroes” whilst League of Legends just takes the lead with 118 “Champions”. That said in LoL players only get 10 free champions to play from that rotates each week, unless they have purchased extra champions using cash or in game currency, whereas DOTA2 has all their heroes unlocked and playable from the beginning.

As far as game maps go once more LoL appears to offer up more with four different battle maps available in comparison to DOTA2’s single map. The different maps in LoL, however, also equate to completely different game modes and map layouts, offering up something different from the classic 3 lane MOBA combat. DOTA2 promotes itself as having 11 Game Modes, but for the purpose of this article and the need to differentiate between Game Modes and a variation on the rules to picking your character (a feature both MOBAs have) then we’ve separated the two terms. “Picks” determine how a character can be picked depending on the chosen setting (or Game Mode for DOTA2), which restricts pick order, available characters, and many other different features that really do change the strategy around. So, whilst on paper it seems one-sided with the LoL 4 game modes vs DOTA2’s 1 game mode the difference between the two when it comes to “Pick” variants is much bigger and League of Legends has 4 different Pick options in comparison to DOTA2’s much bigger 11 options.

There’s plenty that makes these two games similar, towers, minions, camps, jungles, fog of war but there’s also plenty to separate them, albeit considerably more subtler and whilst on the surface to gameplay might seem very similar (particularly to those players who aren’t more advanced in both games) the fact is that both games are extremely different in terms of the required strategy needed to be a successful player.

So which game is most successful? Well if going off sheer numbers and then League of Legends, which has 67 million players per month playing the game and 7.5 million players playing at the same peak time every day is massively more than the 700k daily peak time players that DOTA2 pulls in. That said players never struggle to find the game on DOTA2 and many from both camps will admit that the learning curve for DOTA2 is higher than that of LoL, but both appeal to different players.

Regardless, League of Legends is the most played game in the world and between it and DOTA2 have really helped to push eSports into a much more mainstream era. The online eSports games that had biggest overall prize fund pool from their main tournaments in 2013 go to DOTA2 in first place ($2,874,407 for The International 201) and then League of Legends at number 2 ($2,050,000 for LoL Season 3 World Championship). There’s huge money in these games and this genre in general, not just for the developers but for the professional players that have helped turn computer gaming into a spectator sport as hundreds and thousands tune in to watch live games or head to huge arenas to watch the games happen live.