The history of Dota 2

Nowadays, Dota 2 is among the top titles in esports. The International, which is the biggest Dota 2 tournament... Harrison | 3. January 2023

Nowadays, Dota 2 is among the top titles in esports. The International, which is the biggest Dota 2 tournament hosted by Valve, features millions of dollars in prize pool annually.

Winning such money can forever change the lives of the people who win it, just like in the case of the most successful esports player — Johan “N0tail” Sundstein.


Although Dota 2 is a standalone title owned by Valve, it first got its start from its predecessor, Defense Of The Ancients (DotA), which was first introduced in 2003 as a mod for Warcraft III: Reign Of Chaos. The mod was created with the Warcraft III world editor and also took its inspiration from a custom StarCraft Map called Aeon of Strife. 

Right from the start, DotA offered what other games didn’t have — encouragement of team synergy. It also gave birth to the new genre known as MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). The objective of the game was simple: destroy the enemy team’s Ancient (base) — the last structure that is set behind towers and waves of enemy units. 


Originally developed by a lot of different people, the first iteration of DotA was released by  Kyle “Eul” Summer. 

After Eul had stopped supporting his own work, other enthusiasts decided to step up, adding additional in-game characters known as heroes, as well as items along with multiple other features to the game. 

The first and most popular of DotA spin-offs was DotA Allstars, which featured multiple favorite iterations added to a single downloadable map. 


the map quickly established itself as DotA’s successor. Its development was taken over by Steve “Guinsoo” Feak, who passed the project to two of his contributors after a year — Neichus and IceFrog, who has become Dota’s longest-standing designer, loved by the entire community. 

Beginning of Dota 2

Under IceFrog’s directive ideas, DotA blossomed into both an international sensation along with its own esports scene. Although it was just only a mod, it became one of the biggest games in the world in the mid-to-late 2000s.

And even though there were some games entitling themselves as “successors” of the original DotA, none of them even come close to the beautifully complex in-game mechanics and action that the DotaA offered. 

In October 2009, IceFrog released a statement that he had been hired by Valve to create a true successor to DotA. This new game would feature all the DotA’s original heroes, items, and features along with mechanics. However, due to copyright issues with Blizzard, the new game would be known as Dota 2.

Evolution of Dota 2 esports 

Along with the release of Dota 2, Valve announced a tournament featuring $1.6 million USD in prize pool, known as The International Dota 2 Championship, breaking the record as the esports tournament with the highest prize pool at that time. 

The inaugural The International was held in Cologne, Germany, and it was a massive success, with Natus Vincere crowned as the first The International Champions. 

The International carved the road for the esports scene, finally giving an answer to the long-asked question “Can you make a living playing video games ?” A month after the tournament, Valve put Dota 2 into open beta and made the game free to play. After two years, a month before the third iteration of The International, the game was officially released. 

Valve also introduced crowd-funding to increase the prize pool at The International 2013. 

Dota 2 past & future

Dota 2 is generally considered a massive success in the gaming industry. However, the game’s scene has been prone to many misconducts and allegations as well, with the recorded history of the first-ever esports match-fixing scandal, as well as multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.

Fast forward to the present, last year was a disappointing one for the Dota 2 scene, as the total prize pool for The International had dropped for the first time since its fourth iteration. Furthermore, the game has seen a drop of interest in 2022 as well. 

However, the game managed to bounce back from similar scenarios in the past. There’s a saying that the night is always the darkest before dawn and with the new DPC season starting next week, the community is waiting to see if the game will be able to recover yet again.

Header: Valve