League of Legends vs. Dota 2

Over the years, League of Legends and DOTA 2 have sat at the forefront of the MOBA genre – they’ve also played major roles in the development of Esports as a whole thanks to their active competitive scenes and consistent game mechanics.

rand 1919
Freelance Esports Writer
30th Mar, 20·☕️ 7 min read

Over the years, League of Legends and Dota 2 have sat at the forefront of the MOBA genre – they’ve also played major roles in the development of Esports as a whole thanks to their active competitive scenes and consistent game mechanics. However, a long-standing debate remains – what is the best MOBA title to immerse yourself in – LoL or Dota 2? It’s not a simple question to answer, as a LoL veteran would quite obviously opt for LoL as the better game, while a Dota 2 player would do the same for Dota 2. It will be hard to convince either set of players otherwise as they would’ve already accepted the flaws of their preferred title simply because they’ve already gone through the process of immersing themselves in that game. However, for a new player looking to dive into the world of MOBA games, a more objective approach towards reviewing both games’ strengths and flaws will go a long way, on that note, here’s a look at a head-to-head look at some key aspects of LoL and Dota 2.

League of Legends: Basics

LoL was launched in October 2009 by Riot Games. The game arena is based on a custom map created earlier for WarCraft III. The original mod was simplified and this made LoL easy to pick up for newcomers in esports. The game currently includes 148 champions.

Dota 2: Basics

Yet another king in the MOBA niche – Dota 2 – was introduced to market players in July 2013. Valve has also taken the same WarCraft III mod as the basis of the game but made it more strategic. Dota 2 offers 117 unique characters within its gameplay.

What do they have in common?

As you have already noticed, both games used the same mod for their gameplay but brought unique changes. LoL and Dota 2 have a similar map layout which includes top, bottom, mid lanes, and a jungle. To win the match, players must reach the main target (or base) - in both games. It means to destroy the enemy’s base Nexus (LoL) and Ancient (Dota 2). Gamers are also responsible for protecting the largest natural monsters Baron (LoL) and Roshan (Dota 2). The match starts with the laning phase during which players should farm experience points and gold. This allows leveling up heroes, improving their skills in order to use the maximum strength to attack the enemy team. As soon as the laning phase is over, players are gathered in groups and work together for the benefit of the team. Their goals are to destroy as many enemy team members and buildings as possible.

What is the difference?

Despite having some features in common, League of Legends and Dota 2 still have far more differences, both gameplay, and non-gameplay ones. First of all, the structure of the laning phase is distinctive. Dota 2 has fewer skill shots when a player aims manually which results in fewer possibilities to reach the enemy at a distance. Another difference is the availability of couriers that bring characters purchased items during the laning phase. The Dota 2 courier is a type of animal which can be later changed for a flying creature in order to perform a faster delivery. LoL, however, doesn’t have any couriers so champions have to get back to the base for purchasing items.

Even though some characters in both games might look similar, their roles and abilities differ. For example, support heroes are used in LoL mainly for backing up the Attack Damage carry, or ADC, while in Dota 2 support players are responsible for making plays and engagements. Also, players in Dota 2 can use the denying tactic when their own creeps/minions are destroyed in order to prevent enemies from farming gold whereas in LoL denying is not possible and only champions can destroy opponent’s creeps/minions. Speaking of roles, they are determined in League of Legends before the game starts, while in Dota 2 more than one role can be played by a hero. In comparison, LoL has 5 main roles and Dota 2 offers 9 various types. A LoL player can possess only 4 abilities (3 basic, 1 ultimate), whereas Dota 2 allows achieving 14 of them. One of the major player’s goals is to level up a character. In LoL, the top level is 18, in Dota 2, it’s 30. The last one takes more time for a hero to improve. In order to level up, a player should purchase certain items that add strength.


Pretty much all competitive games these days have microtransactions, they still remain a controversial topic, but the gaming community as a whole has grown to accept them to an extent. Some games keep their microtransactions to the bare minimum in a bid to make sure that players don’t feel forced to make any purchases aimed at bolstering their progression in a game, while other games deliberately put a paywall around key items – the latter is by far the biggest pet peeve of most gamers today. Both Dota 2 and League of Legends have microtransactions, but LoL’s microtransactions are more pronounced as there’s a paywall surrounding some of the champions available to use in the game. Dota 2, on the other hand, has a completely free roster of heroes you can choose from, creating a fun gaming experience for new players who aren’t too keen on spending money to unlock characters. So in terms of microtransactions, Dota 2 has the edge over LoL.


LoL vs Dota 2 — which is easier to play? The LoL vs Dota 2 debate usually tilts towards the former’s favour because of how much it is easier to learn as a game. Because it doesn’t contain as many mechanics as Dota 2, LoL has a lower skill ceiling and is easier to pick up. Not to mention, League of Legends also has a significantly better new player experience compared to Dota 2 (if we don’t talk about community). This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to learn how to play Dota 2. It is, but it’ll be harder. To help, Dota 2 has a “demo” mode that you can use to feel everything out. Although, to really get good taste of how the game works, you can try playing with bots for your first few games as you try to acclimate yourself to the game.

Because the learning curve of Dota 2 is quite steep, it is usually a bad idea to play against other players in “Normal Matchmaking” right away. Unless you are playing with someone with significant playing experience coaching you, you’ll want to stick to playing with bots first. Master a few heroes and once you feel comfortable with how the game works, feel free to play against other players. However, keep in mind that you will probably not have a good time for your first dozen or so games. Often, you’ll find yourself matched with players with significantly more experience than you do. This is because the game is still trying to find out who to place you with. Once you weather this out, you should find yourself matched with players with similar skill levels.


League of Legends has approximately 70 million users worldwide while Dota 2 boasts around 43 million, hence LoL is quite obviously the more popular game. The main benefit to the average consumer of having such a large player base is the amount of content that you’re able to immerse yourself in outside of playing the game, as the quantity and quality of LoL content eclipses what the Dota 2 community is able to muster. Keep in mind that the League of Legends community is far more toxic than the Dota 2 community, which may be a barrier to new players who want to get into League.


For some, the fact that Dota 2 doesn’t have a paywall, makes it the obvious choice, while others will look towards the game’s mechanics to make a decision on what they believe to be the better game. Dota 2 boasts a steep learning curve, while League of Legends is fairly easy to pick up on. While this might seem like a disadvantage on Dota 2’s part, the game’s complexity makes it far more rewarding once you’ve put in the time to understand the game’s mechanics and successfully execute some unusual builds and plays. This means that Dota 2 players need to have an in-depth knowledge of the game’s roster, amongst other things, adding an extra layer of skill to the game. So to sum up, a player who prefers slow and complex gameplay will opt for Dota 2, while a player who prefers faster gameplay and simplified mechanics will opt for League of Legends.

Dota 2 and League of Legends are both complex games. They also each cater to different parts of the MOBA audience. Thus, players should avoid looking at both games as one and the same. Having said that, anyone who wants to try and learn how to play Dota 2 will benefit from more playing time. Because Dota 2 plays differently from other titles, it’ll take some time to grasp how the game feels. As such, the only way to develop a good feel for the game is to keep on playing. Both games are doing their best to provide players with the greatest possible gaming experience. League of Legends might seem more accessible while Dota 2 has put more into their characters’ skills and abilities. Betting on LoL or Dota 2, in general, is impossible without the understanding of core goals and differences. Simply knowing the basics of MOBA will not help you to acquire significant rewards or will prevent you from getting one at all.


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