League of Legends vs Dota 2

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One of the longest-lasting debates within the gaming community is whether League of Legends or Dota 2 is the superior game. Both player bases are very passionate about their respective title, which led to the creation of numerous YouTube videos analyzing the subject.

No matter how you look at it, both these games have gained critical acclaim. No matter which one you support, you will likely have tons of fun. In a way, Dota 2 and League of Legends are the reasons behind the meteoric popularity of battle arena titles.

Key Info Up Front

Both League of Legends vs Dota 2 are amazing in their own regard. The two games have a very intriguing, complex gameplay that allows them to stand the test of time. Furthermore, switching from one to another is somewhat easy as these titles have lots of similarities. However, mastering either one of them takes months of dedication.

Main Differences Between League of Legends vs Dota 2?

The Main Differences Between League Of Legends vs Dota 2 are:

  • League of Legends has much slower pacing, whereas Dota 2 is more dynamic. The difference in characters’ movement speed is especially noticeable when you switch from one title to another.
  • League of Legends map feels a bit smaller, whereas Dota’s is much more spacious with more features. However, the travel distances are somewhat similar due to the champion’s lower movement speed.
  • League of Legends matches have a very low kill count, whereas Dota 2 games can have 80, 90 kills, and even more.
  • Dota 2 has buyback mechanics that allows heroes to instantly get back into action when killed, whereas League of Legends doesn’t have such a feature.
  • Dota 2 heroes use mana for casting abilities, whereas League of Legends has several different systems that allow champions to execute their moves.
  • Every League of Legends champion has a passive ability that is available from the start of the game and synergizes well with a champion’s kit, whereas Dota 2 does not.
  • Dota 2 and League of Legends have neutral units that you can kill for experience and gold. Dota 2 “creeps” can provide powerful neutral items, whereas League of Legends “monsters” can provide temporary buffs.
  • Baron Nashor (LoL) and Roshan (Dota 2) are the most powerful NPCs in the game. When you kill them, you get certain boons. Baron Nashor provides a 3-minute buff for the whole team, whereas Roshan provides various unique items.
  • League of Legends has Summoner spells, whereas Dota 2 doesn’t have anything similar. In League of Legends, you can choose two Summoner spells before a game starts. They provide various active effects, including healing, damage, teleporting, etc.
  • League of Legends inhibitors regenerates over time, whereas Dota 2 barracks do not.
  • Dota 2 matches have to be played until the very end, whereas League of Legends has a surrender feature. If the majority of players vote for surrender, the game will terminate, and you will receive a loss.

What Is League of Legends?


League of Legends is a MOBA or Massive Online Battle Arena game. It was first introduced to the community in 2009. The game was inspired by the original Dota, and while you might notice some similarities in terms of spells, the two titles are somewhat different conceptually.

One of the reasons which made this title stand out is its free business model. That was somewhat revolutionary for the time, and even League of Legends successors (like Heroes of Newerth) required a game purchase so you could play.

Although you needed points to unlock new characters, there was a weekly rotation of 10 free champions (today, this number is 15). In a way, this made the whole experience even better, as you could unlock new characters by continuously playing.

Like Dota, two teams of five battle each other in an attempt to destroy the opponent’s main structure, in this case, Nexus. There are three lanes which we refer to as the bottom (or bot) lane, middle (or mid) lane, and top lane.

Each lane has 3 turrets, structures that shoot on the opposing team’s minions and champions, preventing their advancement. Once you kill the 3rd turret in a lane, you can destroy their inhibitors making your lane minions that much stronger.

Once you penetrate the inhibitors, you need to destroy the final two turrets guarding Nexus, allowing you to target the Nexus itself. The game ends once you eliminate the structure.

What is Dota 2?


Dota 2 is a game that has revolutionized e-sports. For its first “the International” competition, the Valve company has funded a 1.6-million-dollar prize pool. The tournament has become an annual event and a staple for all other gaming events. For comparison, the latest International 2021 had a prize pool of 40 million dollars.

Among others, the game was used for machine learning experiments so that the scientists could see how the robots would adapt to its rules and what kind of results they would provide competing against humans. For the most part, the robots were dominating Dota 2 professionals, but there were a few games where pros emerged victorious.

Similar to League of Legends, Dota 2 has received numerous gaming awards over the years. It is regarded as one of the best online multiplayer games ever, and it still has a very large player base. In fact, its enormous tournament prizes made the title popular among young gamers who wanted to make a career for themselves.

When it comes to gameplay, Dota 2 and League of Legends have the same lanes, the same number of turrets/towers, the same number, and the layout of barracks/inhibitors. Although the basics are the same, the characters and items are completely different. The same goes for how the games are played. While there are some similarities in terms of ganking and teamfights, League of Legends is much more static.

League of Legends vs Dota: Price


As mentioned, both of these titles are free to play, and you can pick them up at any time. In fact, League of Legends was one of the first such games that would become extremely popular and profitable. While there were other free games before it, Riot was the first to connect it all together and make a title that would generate a constant stream of revenues.

However, if we were to compare Dota 2 and League of Legends as to which one is “more free,” that would be Dota 2. Despite everything, you are still limited to playing only 15 champions when you install LoL. Dota 2 grants you access to all its heroes and resources.

Both of these companies are making money from skins. In a way, they are like crowd-funded projects, and the viability of these enterprises is connected to respective player bases and their willingness to buy more skins. So, both Riot and Valve place focus on product quality as a way of retaining users for as long as possible.

Both titles offer character skins. League of Legends also allows you to buy XP/IP boosts and new champions. On the other hand, you can buy Compendiums while playing Dota (booklets are available periodically during certain events and tournaments).

League of Legends vs Dota: Player Base and Community


League of Legends has a much bigger player base. Since 2012, the game had a constant average daily player count of at least 1 million. These numbers peaked in 2021 when 5 million people would log into it on a daily basis. On average, there are more than a million people playing League of Legends at any given moment.

If we turn these numbers into monthly stats, there were 180 million players enjoying the game in the last 30 days. Keep in mind there is some skepticism behind these numbers as many experts don’t trust the data provided by Riot. No matter how you look at it, the game is immensely popular, and it overshadows Dota 2 by a mile.

The Dota 2 numbers are much more modest. Throughout its history, the game had more than 1 million players from January 2016 to February 2017 and during a few other months. On average, there are about 500,000 players enjoying the game at any given moment.

Generally speaking, Dota 2 player base is much more loyal to the title. This is why the numbers are relatively constant. League of Legends has an incredible marketing team. So, a lot of people will try out the title but won’t necessarily stick with it. However, like with Dota 2, the same core player base exists for League of Legends as for Dota 2. It is just that the game has much more “casuals.”

The two titles are somewhat comparable in terms of tournament viewership. The recent International 10 was watched by 2.7 million people, while the League of Legends counterpart, 2021 World Championship, was viewed by 3.5 million spectators. This reinforced my claim that League of Legends has much more casual players than Dota 2.

Speaking about community, both League of Legends and Dota 2 are notorious for their toxic communities. Over the years, these two titles would commonly take the first two spots as the worst gaming environments. However, it is worth noting that the Valorant has finally taken over this notorious title, becoming the most toxic game in 2021.

League of Legends vs Dota: e-Sports

dota esports

If you wish to start a professional gaming career, it would be much better to go with Dota 2. Furthermore, Dota 2 holds the first six places for the largest gaming prize pools in history. Since 2014, each one of their Internationals managed to gather a prize pool above 10 million dollars.

As mentioned, the latest one, the International 2021, had a prize pool of 40 million dollars, with winners receiving $18.2 million, while the second team got $5.2 million and the third $3.6 million. By comparison, the League of Legends tournament with the highest prize pool was LoL 2018 World Championship ($6.4 million). With this prize pool, LoL 2018 World Championship managed to rank as 12th all-time.

Dota 2 is also dominant in terms of player earnings. In fact, Dota 2 players take the first 21 spots on the list of highest-paid e-sports athletes in gaming history. Dota 2 legend, Johan “NoTail” Sundstein, is at the top of the list with $7 million career earnings. Sang Hyeok “Faker” Lee, the highest-paid League of Legends player, ranks 77th all-time with $1.3 million earnings.

Although Dota 2 has a much bigger prize pool, the Internationals usually have less viewers than LoL World Championships. Furthermore, the Dota 2 tournament features fewer teams, has fewer matches, and overall, less time watched.

The reason why Dota 2 Internationals have such enormous prize pools is because of Compendiums. These are virtual booklets that allow you to collect players’ pictures, make tournament predictions, and perform daily challenges. Valve uses the money from every Compendium sold to add to its prize pool. In other words, these tournaments are mostly sponsored by the community.

League of Legends vs Dota: Critical acclaim


Given how long these two games have existed, it makes sense that both became renowned within the community. There is only a handful of gamers who haven’t tried one of these two.

According to Google reviews, Dota 2 has an overall score of 83%. It garners 90/100 Metacritic score, and most review sites gave it 9 out of 10 or higher (the list includes Game Spot, Game Informer, Edge, Euro Gamer, Destructoid, IGN, etc.)

When talking about awards, Dota 2 received IGN’s People Choice Award in 2011, as soon as it was revealed for the first time. In 2012, it was nominated as the Game of the Year by the PC gamer. The company also nominated it for the best e-sports game that same year. Over the years, the title received various awards and nominations for the best strategy, best multiplayer, best competitive multiplayer, best MOBA, best spectator game, etc.

Although League of Legends is also very well received, and we cannot deny its popularity, the game received a somewhat worse reception compared to that of Dota 2.

76% of Google users liked the game. It also received 3.2 out of 5 on Facebook and 78 out of 100 on Metacritic. 1Up.com gave the title A- score, Eurogamer 8 out of 10, Game zone 9 out of 10, and PC gamer 82 out of 100.

It is important to note that some of the reviewers improved their scores as time went by. For example, Game Spot initially gave it 6 out of 10 in 2009. This went up to 9 out of 10 in 2013. Similarly, it received 8/10 from IGN in 2009 and 9.2/10 in 2014. So, the constant patches and improvements were noticed and praised by the big gaming outlets.

League of Legends received four major awards during its existence. In 2015, it got BAFTA Games Award for Persistent game. It also received The Game Awards for Best Esports Game in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Lastly, it is worth noting the 2010 Golden Joystick Award for Online Game of the Year.

League of Legends vs Dota: Gameplay

dota 2 gameplay

No matter which game you’re playing, you will need a lot of time to learn all the characters and their abilities. Mastering these champions/heroes will take even more, and there is a small number of people in the world who can call themselves experts on all of them.

League of Legends has a total of 157 champions compared to 121 Dota 2 heroes. This, in itself, would make League of Legends a more complex game. Unless you’ve been playing these games throughout the years, it would be really hard to jump straight into them.

Remembering everything in League of Legends is a tall task. Unlike Dota 2, where almost all heroes have 4 spells, League of Legends champions has 4 spells and a passive. So, there are more things to learn. However, Dota 2 has become even harder for memorization in the last few years with the introduction of Talents and Neutral items.

Due to the fact that League of Legends is an older title, it makes sense that it has worse graphics. In a way, this makes it easier to play. The spells don’t look as polished and are often in the form of simple projectiles. As a result, it is easier to follow what’s happening on the screen.

Dota 2 has much more polished graphics making teamfights much more chaotic. Sometimes, you would have to watch the replay just to understand what happened. This would make it confusing even for veteran players.

Besides graphics, the reason why League of Legends is easier to follow is the overall speed of characters. While spells in Dota 2 and LoL are equally explosive, and characters can get nuked in seconds, it often seems that things are developing faster in Dota 2 teamfights. Furthermore, Dota 2 has several items that allow surprise initiation, such as Blink Dagger and Shadow Blade.

If we set aside items and characters, Dota 2 has a bit more complex mechanics. The first thing worth noting is the creep denial. In Dota 2, you have the option of killing your own NPCs when they are at low health. This forces you to make a choice whether to last hit your creeps or deny opponents.

Besides that, Dota 2 players have to think about four important team mechanics: buybacks, Smoke of Deceit, scan, and fortifications. Buybacks are strategically used to revive players and get them back into the fray. They cost a lot and have a long cooldown, but they can make a difference between losing and winning a teamfight.

Fortification would make your towers invulnerable for 5 seconds, which is why you need to use them carefully. Scan is a global feature that allows you to scan a part of the map revealing if there are hidden enemies lurking in the fog of war. Lastly, Smoke of Deceit is an item that would turn all enemies invisible for a short duration. This is a great way to ambush enemies and win teamfights even if you’re disadvantaged.

Due to all these extra features, it is much harder to coordinate team efforts in Dota 2. Furthermore, the utilization of these effects can often cause confusion and disputes in public games.

League of Legends vs Dota: Earnings


Although League of Legends has become more popular over time, the game revenues have fluctuated drastically. In 2015, the MOBA reported 1.63 billion dollars in revenues. The figure went up to $1.8 billion in 2016 and $2.1 in 2017.

However, this was the company’s peak. They had a major dip in 2018, having $1.4 billion in revenues. The company has recovered a bit since then. In 2019, they made $1.5 billion, followed by $1.75 billion in 2020. The company is yet to issue a financial statement for 2021.

What’s most surprising about all of this is that their esports division is yet to make any profits. Despite LoL tournaments being watched by millions all over the world, the company is struggling to make money out of its World Championships. According to Riot’s management, the organization is trying to make its esports division into a separate business entity.

According to data from 2015 to 2017, Dota 2 has made $238 million, $260 million, and $406 million year after year. Experts believe that these numbers have gone up, given the success of their Compendiums.

If we’re talking just about their International revenues, Valve generated more than $25 million in 2014. This figure rose exponentially to $50 million in 2015 and $60 million in 2016. The International is a major source of profit for the company, and in 2020, they made $130 million out of it.

However, there is a major discontent within the Dota 2 community. While the revenues from the tournament have gone up, the company’s expenses have gone down over the years. Valve is exclusively relying on users to generate the money for participants.


Question: Is Dota 2 better than League of Legends?

Answer: It is completely up to you whether you choose to play Dota 2 or League of Legends. League of Legends is the more popular game, while Dota 2 has more complex mechanics. No matter what, it will take you some time to get adjusted to either one of them, even if you have previous experience with MOBAs.

Question: Is League of Legends harder than Dota 2?

Answer: Both of these games should be regarded as very complex. However, most experts will agree that it takes more time to learn Dota than to learn League of Legends. This is mostly because the game is faster, and there are more mechanics to go through.

Question: Why is League of Legends more popular than Dota 2?

Answer: There are a few reasons why League of Legends is more popular than Dota 2. First off, it was the first game of this kind on the market. Although we classify Dota 1 as the first MOBA ever, the fact it was a Warcraft 3 mode means that people had to buy a whole game just to play it.
League of Legends came out as a free game, allowing it to gain immense popularity in a short amount of time. So, they had an enormous headstart compared to Dota 2.
Also, it is worth noting that Riot invested lots of money in marketing (and they still), so this had a cumulative effect on its popularity.

Question: Is Dota or League of Legends more toxic?

Answer: Both games are very toxic. In fact, they are regularly cited as the first or second most-toxic online game. If you play either one for a longer period, you will probably be a victim of harassment.
According to data, 79% of Dota 2 players reported harassment in 2019. In 2020, this figure rose to 80%. On the other hand, League of Legends had 75% in 2019 and 73% in 2020.

My Thoughts

It is hard to say which is better between League of Legends and Dota 2.

As someone who has played both these titles for a long time, I can tell you that each one of them has something to offer. Besides the gameplay, one thing that separates them is the hero pool. Each game has unique characters with specific strategies. This, in itself, is a good enough reason to try both titles.

I prefer Dota 2. League of Legends often feels sluggish, without much action. Everything is faster in Dota 2, which makes for a better gaming experience.

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