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Dota 2 is a MOBA published by Valve, which is known for its steep learning curve and incredible depth. It enjoys a lofty status within esports thanks to The International, an annual tournament that boasts an enormous prize pool.
Dota 2’s origins go back to its beginnings as a custom game mode in Blizzard’s popular real-time strategy game WarCraft 3. That custom game mode, Defense of the Ancients, saw immense popularity within WarCraft 3’s online play service. Its central idea of having opposing teams of players control hero characters who would become more powerful over time emphasized WarCraft 3’s hero concept, and eventually went well beyond it.
Defense of the Ancients was so successful that its rebirth as a standalone game was inevitable. In the case of Defense of the Ancients, it would actually lead to the creation of multiple games, most notably Valve’s Dota 2 and Riot Games’ League of Legends.
Dota 2 was developed in-house by Valve by a team led by IceFrog, the somewhat mysterious creator of the original Defense of the Ancients custom game mode. IceFrog and other Valve developers created a new game that closely mimicked the Defense of the Ancients experience, all the way down to its heroes mirroring their WarCraft 3 equivalents.
Work has continued on Dota 2 ever since its original release date of July 9, 2013. These many updates gradually separated the sequel more and more from the original game, both conceptually and aesthetically.
The most popular competition in Dota 2’s calendar year is The International, a massive esports tournament featuring some of the biggest prize pools in all of competitive gaming. These prize pools are funded in large part by the game’s many players purchasing a battle pass, as well as other digital goods. A percentage of those purchases goes towards The International’s prize pool, which has grown to total tens of millions of dollars in recent years.