A Dota 2 Viewer Guide
What is Dota 2?
Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2) is the sequel to the original Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) and is one of the longest standing competitive Esports Scene’s there is. With Valve as their Developer they have always had and always will have financial backing. That being said, it is as popular as ever and there’s no shame in wanting to learn more about it, even if you just want to watch it and cheer on your favorite pro’s or understand what your favorite gamer is playing in their freetime. Let’s get into everything that may seem daunting at first to newcomers.
What are Picks and Bans?
Before the beginning of a match there is always a Pick and Ban phase where teams can Ban out Heroes that they don’t want to be in that match. Teams take turns banning and picking their Heroes. Over the years Dota has been able to make this part of the game fun to watch. They show the players having conversations over what they think are the best picks and bans and when a Hero gets picked, at some tournaments like the TI they have CGI’d Heroes in front of the player booths. Usually there is just a big graphic with pictures of the banned Heroes and Picked Heroes.
Compared to other MOBAs, the Pick and Ban Phase in Dota 2 is rather long, and there are so many Heroes available it can be difficult to keep track of all of them. Over time you will be able to familiarize yourself with the most popular ones, and if you end up picking up the game it will be easier to recognize them all. Of course, some are not always prevalent because of the current Meta, so if you end up having a favorite Hero don’t feel too bad when it doesn get picked up.
What are some of the things on screen?
Usually I start at the top right of the screen when it comes to visual aids, but in Dota 2 it gets a little cluttered up so we will come back to that. Let’s start at the bottom right. In Dota 2 there is a Courier system in place that allows players to shop outside of base and have their items delivered to them, this information doesn’t offer too much insight into the state of the game, but it’s there.
The bottom center offers us a look at the current player being Observers, their inventory, skills, stats, and remaining HP and Mana. This is useful for following along with bigger plays and seeing how strong someone is at the current moment. The bottom left has the minimap which shows us where everyone is and has a camera for the currently observed player, it doesn’t offer too much to the viewer but it is a nice tool for more experienced spectators.
The top center of the screen has a lot of information that is easy to process, from left to right is one team and their kills, the time, the other team’s kills and their team. Sometimes there will be a little green box with a number and symbol for gold, this is to show who has the gold advantage and how big it is. Back to the top left, there may be a settings cog and some other icons that really are not useful at all to anyone watching the game, those are little tools for players to use to quickly set the settings for their game and exit the match. To the right of that a little bit is the currently spectated player’s K/D/A (Kills/Deaths/Assist) and LH/DN (Last Hits/Denies). Below that is a board that can show a bunch of different gamewide stats, these stat bars are probably the most useful visual aid that is available to the viewer.
In the center towards the bottom of the screen there will be little quips and messages that we can see, this is the chat bar and while it usually only reflects pings and emotes it will occasionally have a comedic message on it from the players.
Casters, Analysts, and Lingo
While it always seems daunting at first to try and watch a game we don’t know much about, there is always the production crew there to hold our hands the whole way through. During the game we get to listen to the casters telling us exactly what is happening at any given point in the game. For what it is worth, Dota is a very complicated game to learn, especially as it is so long running there is just so much that has been fleshed out and so many intricate parts to the game. Thankfully the casters keep our focus on the action in the game. A lot of what the casters say can be foreign to us, it is important to remember that there are a lot of in game terms that are just names of Heroes or items and we will learn those overtime, some of the terms we don’t recognize need a little more explanation, let’s cover a few of those here.
- Ancients are the massive building in either team’s base, destroying this wins the game.
- Buyback is a feature unique to Dota where a player can spend gold after they die to respawn immediately
- Play 5 is a strategy where the entire team tries to fight together as much as possible.
- Farming is what Heroes do when they kill Creeps, creeps give gold to the players and can be tracked by the Last Hits and Denies numbers.
- Invade is when a player moves into the enemies half of the map unseen in order to try and sneak up on the enemy
- Ganks are when a Hero moves from their own lane to another lane in order to try and overpower the enemy with numbers advantage
- Offlane is the lane that is susceptible to ganks and tends to be longer for the respective team.
- Safelane is the lane that is less susceptible to ganks and tends to be shorter
- Dire is the team name for the team that spawns top right
- Radiant is the team name for the team that spawns bottom left
- Wipes is Dota’s term for Ace, when a team fully kills every player on the other team.
Playing the game can help us learn more about what we watch on the screen, and familiarizes us with more than just the obvious. Though it isn’t completely necessary as we will learn everything that there is to learn by watching enough games.
Analysts tend to appear after the game to breakdown everything that happened in the previous game, and set the scene for the next one. They get into the nitty gritty technical parts and this information can be useful or not depending on what it is you’re trying to learn about.
What are streamers?
There are plenty of places to watch the tournaments, from Twitch to YouTube, but there aren’t always tournaments going on and some of us end up a little more invested than we thought we would be. On those very same platforms there are plenty of content creators that play Dota every day, or close to it. If you find yourself needing a fix of high level Dota games, it may not be tournaments but make sure to check out those content creators and their content. They are also a little more available to ask questions to, sometimes you may have to donate to get their attention but usually they will end up talking about something that can answer your questions just because they live and breath the game.
Where do I go from here?
Dota 2 can be really hard to follow, especially at TI where everyone is just so good at the game. Fights and go any which way at any which point and make it all just so overwhelming. That’s all part of the fun isn’t it? Check out the streamers when there aren’t any tournaments and if you really wanna learn more about the game, make sure to pick it up and give it a shot. If that is the route you end up choosing, make sure to check out our other guides to help you along the way!