League of Legends vs Dota 2: Which MOBA Game is Better?

The League of Legends vs Dota 2 argument has been one of the most long-standing arguments in gaming history with a huge chunk of players from both sides going at it whenever a personality from either side goes at it online. To start it off, the argument topic is purely subjective because games appeal to the taste of the person. However, we’ll look at both appeals of these games objectively so that you can decide at the end of the article which MOBA game do you think is better in your opinion.

History of The League of Legends vs Dota 2 Debate

There’s no question that the original Warcraft III’s Defense of the Ancients custom mod (or DotA 1) was the reason why the MOBA genre is so popular today. However, DotA was never an actual game by itself since it was a mere mod that used a large portion of design from existing Warcraft models. In order for the game to move forward, IceFrog (Dota 1’s and Dota 2’s lead developer) got accepted a request from Valve to create a standalone game which is the Dota 2 we know today.

League of Legends Monkey King, Wukong
The staff-wielding Monkey King!

Before Dota 2 was created, the need for a standalone MOBA game was already in great demand. Steve “Guinsoo” Feak (one of the three original Dota developers alongside IceFrog) got in touch with Riot Games to help develop League of Legends. The game rapidly became a hit across the globe and a lot of Dota 1 loyalists became upset about this development. A large portion of the Dota 1 community embraced the game since they would be able to play a standalone version of the game they loved.

Dota 2's Monkey King hero
The staff-wielding Monkey King… but in Dota 2!

League of Legends was a huge success and the playerbase grew exponentially. Unfortunately, the Dota loyalists didn’t acknowledge this game because it simply wasn’t the same MOBA game they’ve grown up to love. Those loyalists flocked to Dota 2 because it took almost everything that wasn’t copyrighted by Blizzard and slapped it onto a new platform. While both games originated from the same minds that created the popular Warcraft Mod, the players didn’t see eye to eye and thus began the League of Legends vs Dota 2 debate.

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League of Legends vs Dota 2 Comparisons

Both LoL and Dota 2 took a large portion from the original Dota mod to create the games they are today. Keep in mind that neither game took 100% of the elements from the original since the mod took character models, names, and other elements that belonged to Blizzard Entertainment. It’s also important to note that Blizzard did not create Dota which is why Dota 2 didn’t retain the character names, classes, and designs that belonged to the Warcraft Universe.

Once the two games have broken off from the original Dota series, this is when the comparison really starts. While Dota 2 is definitely the closest in terms of design and gameplay to Dota 1, we will be comparing Dota 2 (in its current form) to LoL since both games are essential descendants of the original Dota 1 game since they were both created by the Dota 1 developers. Here are some points of debate to help you see which is better between League of Legends vs Dota 2.

1. Game Design

League of Legends during its early stages was as dark and dreary as the original Dota series but after Riot Games decided that they’d rework the Summoner’s Rift, the game had a lighter feel towards it. The characters also have a unique design and each champion don’t feel like they were randomly placed inside since the game has established the relationships between these characters.

A segment of the Summoner's Rift map
Looking smooth!

Dota 2 decided to take the entirety of Dota 1 but had to remove the elements that were copyrighted by Blizzard. This made the transition of the characters difficult making the design of each character unique but had no correlation to each other. The map has stayed true to the original Dota Series and has taken a sharper feel which is definitely more engaging and beautiful especially since most terrain is interactable.

2. Gameplay & Difficulty

There is no doubt that Dota 2 is the harder game between the two. However, the argument that Dota is the better game because the gameplay is harder is completely confusing. If that were the case, Ghosts n’ Goblins would definitely be the best game of all-time but I’m sure most of you haven’t even heard of that name. Of course, if the argument on who the superior gamer would be then it would hands down go to the player that could play games of all difficulties with ease.

Dota 2's Invoker hero
Who’s up for a challenge?

League of Legends is a lot easier and Riot Games has made it their goal to make the game even easier to understand. Being the easier game isn’t necessarily an insult as it promotes new players to join. The reason why League of Legends became THE most successful MOBA game is because it allowed players from all skill-groups to play the game without stressing out on a lot of in-game knowledge.

3. World-building & Lore

League of Legends broke away from the Warcraft universe and has created its own universe called Runeterra. Riot Games has developed the storylines and lore of the game using comics, trailers, and origin stories on their website. Today, the Runeterra universe is cohesive and has a rich background similar to that of World of Warcraft or Warhammer. Each character has a story to tell and they are all somewhat related to other champions in the game.

League of Legends official page for Runeterra Universe
A vast universe to be discovered!

Dota 2 has a story, contrary to the belief of many. They’ve begun creating comic series and short stories. The biggest problem is that the characters were knockoffs from Warcraft characters so they had to reinvent the entire background. Valve has done a great job to connect the heroes’ lore so that most of them would have an origin story but a lot of them seems forced. Most heroes in the game don’t even belong in the same timeline which adds to the confusion.

4. Playerbase & Fanbase

Let’s not kid ourselves. When it comes to the fanbase of League of Legends vs Dota 2, both games have a division that’s just entirely toxic. Both games have people that are passionate about the game and have as much love towards playing it as another person from the other side. Of course, League of Legends has a significantly higher number of players and fans than Dota 2 because of its large playerbase.

Dota 2 TI9 Tournament Crowd and Stage
Passionate esports fans are everywhere!

League of Legends has almost 1.5x the amount of players than Dota 2 because it’s a lot more welcoming and easier to understand for players trying to get into MOBA games. League of Legends dominates the numbers in every graph available. Dota 2 continues to be hindered by a toxic supremacist community but if you’re counting on this game dying any time soon, you’ll have to wait a lot longer since it hasn’t reach a decline in popularity just yet.

5. Esports Environment

League of Legends vs Dota 2 is the biggest competition in terms of esports’ MOBA community. League of Legends wins in terms of event planning and viewership. The League of Legends World Championship can now be compared to the likes of the Superbowl in terms of their grandiose opening ceremony and promotion. LoL event performances include a lot of big names from both the western and eastern music industries. Meanwhile, Dota 2 likes to keep it humble.

Ekko and Dckswrth dancing at Worlds 2019
Esports events have come a long way!

In terms of Prize Pool, League of Legends’ prizes looks cute compared to the massive Grand Prize that Dota 2 continues to ramp up every year. Dota 2 also has a vastly superior tournament format that ensures 100% competitiveness unlike League of Legends’ knockout stage. This makes the esports scene more exciting and gives every region a chance to compete for the title. Underdog matches and lower-bracket runs are also extremely fun to watch and keep the fans at the edge of their seats.

6. Game Development & Evolution

Dota 2 continues to stay loyal to the original Dota 1 model and retained much of its identity throughout the years. Dota 2 does have some big changes but no major rework or patch that would change the overall gameplay that loyal players have come to enjoy over the years. Dota 2’s biggest change is from its transition from Dota 1 where the game introduced a ton of new mechanics. The game has only introduced 8 new heroes since its release.

Dota 2's Hoodwink hero
New stuff always arriving

Meanwhile, League of Legends continues to evolve, introducing new gamebreaking mechanics every season. The game also introduces a lot of new champions per year and reworks outdated models regularly so that it keeps up with the current meta. Players from 2016 probably wouldn’t recognize League of Legends in 2021. Dota 2 players from 2016 will see the 2021 version as exactly the same as how it was 5 years ago.

The Future of League of Legends vs Dota 2

The two biggest MOBA games in history have lasted more than a decade in the gaming industry as part of the Top Played Games in History. The future is rather uncertain but there’s no doubt that both of these games still have a good decade left in their time. After all, the MOBA genre has become a staple in the video games world and small companies are continuously trying to create their own version of these games in other platforms to ride on the hype of making a successful knockoff.

As long as these games exist, there’s no doubt that the League of Legends vs Dota 2 debate will continue to fuel internet wars for the years to come. It’s not necessarily a huge problem but we need to accept that the rivalry between these two games will never resolve themselves as long as passionate gamers exist. If one doesn’t destroy the other then there’s nothing wrong with trying to prove that you’re playing the best game in the genre.

The Final Verdict

League of Legends having broken away from its roots has definitely created a world of its own and made it more interesting to follow. Because of it’s easier gameplay, aspiring MOBA players have an easier time starting out with this game, thus establishing a bigger playerbase than that of Dota 2. As the years go by, League of Legends has seen a significantly higher growth in-terms of popularity, net worth, and game development.

Dota 2 will continue to remind us of our first MOBA loves in Dota 1. It has the most loyal community and there’s no denying that it takes a really skilled player to master Dota 2. The prize pool is insane and it really gives you the drive to become a pro-player. Achievements feel more rewarding and bragging about it feels extra nice. It stays true to its identity because even if it doesn’t change, people will still love it for what it is no matter what the era.

In this League of Legends vs Dota 2 debate we often try to throw the pros and cons despite one or the other not even experiencing playing the other game. When players do try out the other’s game, they only focus on the negative aspects of playing so they completely disregard what makes the other so exciting for certain players. MOBA is one of the most beloved game genres and it’s thanks to the friendly rivalry of League of Legends vs Dota 2.

Is Dota 2 better than LoL?

Both Dota 2 and LoL have categories where they win against the other. There’s no overall category to determine how a game is better than the other without relying on unqualified critics that slap random numbers on random lists. You’ll need to look at it objectively so that you can determine which you think is better.

Are Dota 2 and LoL the same game?

Dota 2 and LoL originate from the Warcraft III mod – Defense of the Ancients. They are both created by original DotA developers which essentially make both of them direct descendants of the games. However, they are both completely different after separate companies started managing the development of the games.

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