MOBA Terminology For New Players

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General MOBA Game Terminology

  • MOBA: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
  • Esports: Esports is a term used to describe competitive online gaming competitions and a wider competitive video game community
  • Hero/champion – The character that a player is controlling.
  • Items – Items are magical objects that you equip on a hero to gain additional benefits and stat boost.
  • Neutral items – These are specific items that you get by killing creatures in the forest. They are specific to Dota 2.
  • Spells and abilities – Incantations and special features that you gain as your hero/champion gains levels.
  • Passives – Passives are a bit different between Dota 2 and League of Legends. In Dota 2, you gain passives by investing points, and you can improve them to level 4. In League of Legends, every hero has a passive on level 1, and you cannot upgrade it.
  • Ultimate – This is the strongest spell/ability of a hero, and you can get it for the first time at level 6 (there are some variations, though).
  • Leveling – Getting a new skill/ability upon reaching a certain level.
  • Build – Refers to a combination of items and skills/abilities that you will get as your hero/champion levels up
  • Teamfight – Engagement where both teams fight five on 5 (or close to that number).
  • Ganking – Ambushing opponent’s hero/champion with one or several heroes/champions.
  • Pushing – Attacking or sieging towers and barracks/inhibitors.


  • Lane – Refers to three lanes going on the top, middle, and bottom of the map. Creeps/minions will spawn in these lanes and will push towards the enemy base. At the end of the lane, there are structures known as barracks/inhibitors that empower your creeps/minions.
  • Top lane – Lane on the top of that map.
  • Mid-lane – Lane in the middle of the map.
  • Bottom lane – Lane on the bottom of the map.
  • Safe lane – Lane where the allied heroes are close to an allied tower (can be either top or bottom lane).
  • Offlane – Lane where the allied heroes are far from an allied tower (can be either top or bottom lane).

Time and Periods


  • Early game – Initial period of the game. Usually lasts up to 10, 15 minutes.
  • Mid-game – Middle portion of the game. Lasts from 10, 15 minutes to 30, 40.
  • Late game – Later portions of the game. Commonly refer to the period after 40 minutes.
  • Laning phase – Period during which all heroes/champions are still in their lanes and haven’t started moving around the map.
  • Scaling – Scaling refers to the hero‘s/champion‘s potency as the game goes on. Some heroes/champions scale badly in the late game and will become less useful in time. On the other hand, certain heroes are very bad in the early portions of the game and will scale well into the late game.
  • Timings or team timing – “Hitting a timing” refers to the period of the game when a character or team is the strongest. This is usually connected with hero level or buying a specific item.

Structures and Environment

  • Inhibitors/barracks – The main structure from which opponents’ creeps are spawned. Destroying enemy team Inhibitors /barracks will produce powerful super creeps/minions for your team in that lane.
  • Tower – Structures that fire projectiles at opponents and are meant to protect the way to inhibitors/barracks.
  • Ancient/nexus – The main structure in the game. A team can only win by destroying opponents’ nexus/ancient.
  • Fountain – Structure from which all heroes/champions start. You can return or teleport to the fountain to regenerate health and mana and to purchase new items.
  • Trees – Trees is a specific term for Dota 2. You can use them to ambush enemies or escape from them.
  • Brush – Brush is a tall grass in League of Legends allowing you to escape pursuers or ambush enemies. While in brush, the enemies cannot see you unless they’re in the same brush.
  • River – There is a river in both Dota 2 and League of Legends. It is a part of the terrain which can affect certain skills, items, and abilities.
  • High ground – High ground refers to any elevated terrain. Heroes/champions that are on the high ground receive certain benefits compared to the opponents on the low ground.
  • Low ground – Opposite of low ground. This is disadvantaged terrain on the map compared to the high ground.


  • Carry – Carry is a term specific to Dota 2. It is used to describe heroes with high physical attack damage that scale well in the late game.
  • Midlaner – Heroes and champions commonly played in the mid-lane.
  • Offlaner – Heroes and champions commonly played in the offlane.
  • Assassin – Agile and fragile melee characters who can quickly dispose of their targets. The term is used for League of Legends.
  • Tank – Tanks are characters with lots of health points that can start fights and take a lot of punishment.
  • Fighters – Fighter is a classification common for League of Legends. These characters are somewhere between tanks and assassins.
  • Marksmen – Ranged League of Legends champions that rely heavily on basic attacks to deal great damage.
  • Mages – Mages are a class of champions in League of Legends that have strong spells and are heavily reliant on ability power items.
  • Support – Support is a class of characters who have the role of boosting teammates, healing them, purging them from negative buffs, etc.
  • Initiator – Heroes/champions that start fights. This is usually a tank class with strong disables.
  • Nuker – Heroes/champions who can quickly dispose of enemies.
  • Pusher – Heroes/champions with good potential for pushing towers.
  • Disabler – Heroes/champions with strong disable(s).
  • Jungler – Heroes/champions who can easily start in the jungle
  • Escape – Heroes/champions with a strong escape mechanism.



  • Creep/minion – Automatically generated units that spawn in lanes.
  • Epic monsters/ancient creeps – Represent a category of creeps that is stronger than the rest but also provides more gold and boosts.
  • Roshan/Baron Nashor – The strongest creep in the game. Provides items (Dota 2) or boost (League of Legends)
  • Creep Score: Your creep score relates to the number of creeps you are killing per minute

Abilities and Status Effects

  • Crowd control – Crowd Control relates to Spells and abilities that are meant to disable enemies.
  • Buff – Beneficial effect.
  • Debuff – Negative effect.
  • Purge/dispel – Spells and abilities meant to remove positive buffs or negative debuffs.
  • Toggle ability – Abilities that can be turned on and off.
  • Taunt – Spells and abilities forcing the target to attack you.
  • Rooted/grounded – Spells that keep hero/champion in place. During this time, the character cannot move but can perform other actions.
  • Blind – Hero/champion will miss a percentage of auto-attacks.
  • Silence – Hero/champion cannot cast spells.
  • Disarm – Hero/champion cannot auto-attack.
  • Sleep – Hero/champion cannot act. If attacked, it will wake up.
  • Drowsy – Hero/champion movement speed is slowed for the duration after which he or she will fall to sleep.
  • Polymorph/hex – Hero/champion will be turned into a harmless animal.
  • Stun – Hero/champion cannot act for the duration and will remain in place.
  • Suppression – Hero/champion cannot control movement, cast, or attack.
  • Break – Temporarily disables passive abilities.
  • Invisibility – Hero/champion cannot be seen for the duration.
  • Ethereal – Hero/champion cannot take physical damage but takes extra magic attack damage.

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