Difficult choice: Dota 2 or League of Legends?

Difficult choice: Dota 2 or League of Legends?

     League of Legends and Dota 2 have long been at the top of global esports. And to a person from the outside, they may seem almost the same. While these games have obvious similarities, there are also fundamental differences.

      Dota 2 and LoL have common roots, which goes without saying, as both games are MOBAs and both emerged from the same WarCraft III mode called Defense of the Ancients.

     Valve (the creators of Dota 2) and Riot Games (the creators of League of Legends) were inspired by this mode for their versions of the game, but the games were created in different directions. That being said, Riot decided to focus on a visually pleasing game that is easy to start playing but difficult to turn pro. Valve, in turn, wanted to create a much more strategic game. Therefore, LoL is considered to be a “simplified” version of Dota 2 (although not everyone shares this opinion).

     Looking at the previous argument, you might think that if one game is thought to be more complex and interesting, then the competition automatically wins. It would be so if the developers of League of Legends did not post patches every 2 weeks on average. It's not that every patch regularly makes major adjustments, but the changes keep the game moving forward.

Dota 2 or League of Legends: common features

Dota 2 or League of Legends

     Both LoL and Dota 2 are played in 5v5 teams on the same game map. The map itself is also similar, and in both disciplines consists of three lines: the top of it, central and bottom, as well as forest areas (the jungle) for farming neutral creeps. To win a match in both disciplines you need to break the opponent's main building, called the Nexus in LoL and the Ancient in Dota 2.

    The match starts with the laning. For a certain period, both teams in LoL and Dota 2 practice farming to earn gold and experience. These resources are used to power up the characters in order to ultimately demolish the enemy base.

    Some of the over 100 characters from both games are very similar to each other. For example, Ursa and Warwick, Drow Ranger and Ashe, and Winter Wyvern and Anivia. Although the characters seem almost the same at first glance, they can have very different roles and abilities.

    After the laning, players are grouped to start a full-scale battle with the enemy, after which – to demolish the enemy buildings. Teams also try to kill Roshan (Dota 2) and Baron (LoL) (the biggest neutrals on the map) to gain an advantage.

LoL vs Dota 2: main gameplay differences

Difficult choice: Dota 2 or League of Legends?

     First of all, in Dota 2 there are much fewer skill shots (abilities that you need to aim “manually”), which means there is less harassment with abilities on the lane. On the other hand, in Dota 2 there is a “denying” mechanic, when the hero finishes off allied creeps, depriving the enemy of the reward for killing him. There is no such mechanic in LoL, there you can only beat enemy units. In Dota 2, in some situations, you can even defy an allied hero.

   One of the main differences between the two games is the abilities of mechanics. In League of Legends, abilities are not targeted. That is, when the player hovers the cursor over the enemy, this does not mean that the hit will be accurate. There are no point skills in LoL, as well as passive abilities. As for Dota 2, in this game, almost every hero has some kind of passive skills.

     Another difference is that in LoL the characters are more agile, deploy very quickly, faster than in Dota 2, which in turn adds dynamics to the battles.

    Before the start of the map, players of each team in LoL can choose 2 “summoner spells”. These are special abilities that can be used for farming or movement: additional protection, fire shield, and others.

    An extremely important difference is that in LoL, the destruction of inhibitors (barracks) empowers creeps by only 5 minutes. At the end of this time, the buildings are restored. And in LoL, two teams can pick the same hero.

   After a hero or champion dies, players must wait a certain amount of time before resurrecting. The time varies depending on the length of the match. In Dota 2, however, there is a buyback mechanic.

    Runes are located at certain positions on the Dota 2 map, which are divided into two types: bounty runes, which give additional gold, and runes, which give various boosts. Runes can be stored in a hero's bottle, and used later.

Clear distribution of roles

     In LoL, before searching for a match, each player specifies the desired role. There are 5 of them: Marksman/ADC, Support, Jungler, Tank/Bruiser, and Mid Laner/APC. Everything is almost the same as in Dota2, but the role of the Jungler in it is optional and depends on the patch. In LoL, one player is guaranteed to go farming the forest. In the forest, by the way, there are bushes that give invisibility.

Couriers and teleports

Difficult choice: Dota 2 or League of Legends?

    It is impossible to imagine playing Dota 2 without a courier. This unit delivers the necessary items to the player right on the battlefield. In League of Legends, there is no such opportunity. To get the item, the player must leave the battle and return to the base.

    However, the time taken to get back to the shop can be done using the teleporter. In League of Legends, every champion can teleport to the store. You can return with the help of a spell, which, by the way, takes longer to recharge than a teleport.

Dota 2 vs LoL: main non-gameplay differences

    LoL players can choose two additional abilities before starting a match. Among them are flash (allows you to teleport few meters, an analog of a blink), barrier (protects the champion), ignite (sets the enemy on fire for five seconds), and others.

    These abilities are usually tailored for different roles. For example, smite (an ability that only deals damage to enemy monsters/minions) is always used by Junglers. There is no such choice of additional abilities before the match in Dota 2.  

    While in LoL all five major roles in Dota 2 are much longer: Carry, Disabler, Initiator, Jungler, Support, Durable, Nuker, Pusher, and Escape. With five heroes per team and nine roles, every Dota 2 match is played in a completely different way.


    In LoL, champions have four abilities: three basic ones, and one ultimate, available after level six. In Dota 2, heroes can have a completely different number of abilities, which greatly complicates the game. For example, Invoker, one of the most difficult Dota 2 heroes, has 14 abilities.


   Another important difference between LoL and Dota 2 is the talents. They were added to Dota 2 relatively recently, in December 2017. Skills are unique for each character and select every 5 levels ranging from tenth. Most often, talents are aimed at enhancing the character's abilities, or additional gold/experience. Strengthening abilities, in turn, affects the dynamics of the game. The only way to level up a character in LoL is to strengthen one of the champion's abilities to choose from.


     Each hero in Dota 2 is free, unlike League of Legends, where you can get only a limited number of heroes without investing real funds. Also, for collectors of various items, the Dota 2 development company has added the ability to purchase most of the sets on the marketplace, which allows the price to change, often downward from the official Valve offer. Riot Games, on the contrary, does not welcome the possibility of exchanging or buying items on the marketplace, and therefore you can buy each of the skins only in their store.


Difficult choice: Dota 2 or League of Legends?

    One of the main components of any online game is its community. It is impossible to say unequivocally which community – League of Legends or Dota 2 – is more developed, but it is worth mentioning the two most important manifestations of any gaming community – communication in the game itself and communication on specialized resources.

    Often in comparisons of this kind, there is a mention of voice chat as one of the most important communication tools in modern games. It is present in Dota 2, and more recently a profanity filter was added, similar to which is used in League of Legends. In the League itself, there is no voice chat, which has repeatedly become a subject for discussion.

    Undoubtedly, when it comes to external Internet resources, a player from any country can easily find a forum where players gather, contains thematic materials, guides, memes, etc.

Attention to the community

     Riot Games, belatedly, listens to the community. In addition to the ability to admit their mistakes, the developers of the League of Legends managed to create a well-functioning system of reward and punishment of players. For fair play, you are rewarded with special loading screen borders, randomly dropped champions, skins for them, and other bonuses.

    For your love for the obscene form of expressing your thoughts, you are imposed a restriction on the chat, for an early exit from the game you get into a queue with a low priority, although it does not work like in Dota 2. In LoL, you will have a time lag before the start of a new game with a duration of 5-10-20-30 minutes depending on how often you exit the game in advance.

    If you want to play, then learn better time management. And for unsportsmanlike behavior, you may be completely banned. All this forces the players to be more correct with each other and to minimize the number of games with flame.

Dota or League in cybersport

Difficult choice: Dota 2 or League of Legends?

    The last of the points, which is often one of the main motivators for beginners, is esports. Both disciplines have long been established, have huge fan bases around them, as well as numerous sponsors. Despite this, the main face of each of the disciplines is the annual world championship, which is held by the developers themselves.

     In this case, two objective indicators should be mentioned – the number of viewers and the prize fund. Here you can see a diametrically opposite picture – the League of Legends World Championship 2019 gathered 44 million viewers around it to broadcast the final meeting, while in Dota 2 about 2 million viewers watched the same final online at the same time. 

    When comparing the prize pools, you can see a completely different picture: year after year, both tournaments are growing steadily, but the League continues to yield to its opponent several times over. 

   So, according to the latest published data, in 2018 the total prize pool at The International was about 25,5 million US dollars, while in League of Legends it was approximately 6,4 million US dollars.

                          Which is better, Dota 2 or LoL? Conclusion

Which of these two games is better – each player answers to himself. In any case, to successfully play Dota 2 or LoL, it is very important to understand the specifics and differences between the two games. A deep understanding of the MOBA genre cannot replace a deep knowledge of the game. Therefore, it is very important to understand where and how these games differ, so as not to mistakenly transfer inappropriate experiences from one game to another.