League of Legends vs. DotA 2 – Which is Better in 2018

If you have been out of the loop in the gaming world since the days of Command and Conquer, then you may not be aware of the multiplayer online battle arena genre, or MOBA for short. Let me fill you in on the phenomenon that has forever changed the competitive gaming landscape.

The MOBA genre originally stemmed from the StarCraft custom map Aeon of Strife where players picked a character from a roster and fought computer-controlled forces in three lanes, with the destruction of the enemy team’s primary structure as the primary goal. Players earned minerals from defeating enemies which then are used to upgrade the character and make it more powerful. However the map was not a hit, and did not manage to attract a lot of players.

With the release of Warcraft III, fans of Aeon of Strife sought to recreate their favourite custom map on this new and better engine. Eul, a modder, worked on the map’s new incarnation named Defense of the Ancients and it was wildly different than Aeon of Strife. Characters now levelled up and can unlock abilities as the game goes on, and the money earned for killing enemy units can be used to purchase beneficial items.

Warcraft III’s expansion The Frozen Throne was released a year later along with a much more powerful map editor. Many other modders made their own versions of DotA, and Eul took some time off on his own version. A pair of modders named Meian and Ragn0r gathered all the heroes from the other DotA versions and made the map DotA Allstars. A player named Steve “Guinsoo” Feak made his own modifications to the said map to make it more refined and balanced, including a focus on fighting actual human players instead of AI. The map became the most successful DotA version of all, and eventually Blizzard held a DotA tournament in 2005 during their first BlizzCon event. Guinsoo later on passed the map to the modder Icefrog, and DotA’s popularity soared as new versions with more content were released.


As it was just a mod, DotA was confined to the engines of Warcraft III. Players wanted additional features that were impossible to put at the mod such as matchmaking, penalty systems, etc. With this in mind, and the explosive fame of the MOBA genre, companies sought to make their own games. Among these is Valve Software’s DotA 2 and Riot Games’ League of Legends.

DotA 2 is the stand-alone sequel to the original Warcraft III custom map Defense of the Ancients (DotA).  Released on July 09, 2013 with 46 heroes initially, the game now boasts 111 heroes ported from DotA’s 112 hero roster, plus all the items with new additions with a few changes to avoid copyright issues.

League of Legends, or LoL / League, was released on October 27, 2009 and also inspired by DotA. In fact Guinsoo was among their designers. Their initial champion roster of 40 is now 128. It has the largest number of players worldwide, amassing more than 65 million (and beating other popular online games.) changes we discussed.

Both games have a layout similar to many real-time strategy games, an overhead view in the bottom right with a horizontal HUD which displays information about the selected hero / unit, the minimap, inventory, and other commands.  The hotkeys for the four abilities are the same (Q,W,E,R), with a choice of changing controls in the settings.

As they are both MOBA games, the objective of each match is to destroy a primary structure in the opponent’s base (Nexus in League, Ancient in DotA 2). Heroes in DotA 2, or champions in League, have to fight alongside allies in three lanes defended by towers / turrets and where creeps / minions, or computer-controlled units, engage the opposing wave of enemy units, earn money to buy items, and clash with their human opponents. Teamwork is of utmost importance in these kind of games, as strategies like ganking (ambushing) and pushing are vital, and achieving victory

Now for their differences:

DotA & League – Heroes / Champions

  • There are 10 free champions in League for everyone to use, with a rotation on a weekly basis. Playerscan purchase champions, their alternate skins, and boosts (increases gain of Influence Points) using either Influence Points which are obtained after a match, or Riot Points which are topped up using real money.

dota-2-league-champ-selection

League’s champion selection screen

 

  • In DotA 2, all heroes are available, and players have the option of using real money to buy cosmetic items for heroes and other customizations. There is also a chance to obtain said items after a match, although the chances are quite low and sometimes may require a paid key. Some sites also provide a way for players to bet on tournaments using items.

dota-2-league-hero-selection

DotA 2 hero selection screen

 

  • League champions reach a maximum level of 18 while in DotA 2 it is 25.
  • DotA 2 heroes have attributes namely strength, agility, and intelligence. Each of them has a primary attribute which increases attack damage along with the other bonuses brought by the specific attribute. Some abilities and items also provide attribute increments. League does not have an attribute system, instead champions are focused on directly building up attack damage, ability power, armor, movespeed, etc. The term “attribute in this game” refers to a champion’s role (assassin, support, etc.), just like the hero roles in DotA 2.
  • League champion abilities have smaller mana costs compared to DotA 2. The former encourages frequent use of skills and aggressive play in the laning phase, while in the latter you have to be mindful of your resources and utilize abilities strategically unless your hero has a way to regain used mana fast. League champions also have five abilities, DotA 2 heroes have four (with the exception of the hero Invoker who has 14) with an attribute bonus serving as a passive “fifth ability” of sorts.

League & DotA Map(s)

  • DotA 2 only has one map, but supports custom maps created by players that have wildly differentdota-2-league-map-dota2

    DotA 2 Map

     

    game modes reminiscent of the old Warcraft III custom map days. There are also special event game modes released only during certain holidays. League offers two game modes namely Classic and Dominion. Classic is the usual MOBA game, with three different maps that cater to different game styles (Summoner’s Rift is the name of the map that resembles DotA 2’s, and is smaller), while Dominion only has one map and focuses on faster matches and capturing important areas to damage the enemy Nexus. For this comparison, we will be talking about the Summoner’s Rift.

  • League only has one item shop per team, and that is in the base where the champions spawn. All items that a player needs for the champion can be purchased there. On the other hand, DotA 2 has one for each base, two secret shops near the map’s center for both teams, and a side lane shop on the top left and bottom right areas of the map. The secret shops contain items that are needed to complete certain recipes, and cannot be purchased from the other two shops.
  • Both games have an area called the jungle where neutral creeps / monsters spawn.dota-2-league-map-league

    Summoner’s Rift in League

     

    These are not affiliated with either team, and can be killed for extra experience and gold. There are also heroes / champions who are supposed to stay in the jungle during the early gaming phase instead of the usual lanes to earn and level up faster thanks to their skillset. In League, there are certain monsters that provide unique bonuses when slain. Also, League monsters only attack when the champion hits first, unlike in DotA 2 where the neutral creeps automatically attack a hero or unit that comes in their vicinity. This kind of neutral creep aggression allows players to perform a technique known as creep stacking and creep pulling.

  • DotA 2 has Roshan, a powerful neutral creep that provides the Aegis of the Immortal upon death. This item reincarnates a player upon death, with full health and mana to boot. League has the Dragon and Baron Nashor, with the former providing the entire team the Dragon Slayer buff and the latter providing Hand of Baron. These are quite powerful bonuses which make the slaying of the two large monsters a priority for teams to gain the upper hand.
  • League has the brush terrain feature, represented by foliage, which renders champions invisible when entering it. This provides players with many creative advantages to use against the enemy. DotA 2 does not have this, but instead the game allows players to destroy trees and carve out new paths to either ambush the quarry, or flee from pursuers.
  • DotA 2 has power-ups that appear on the river at specified times, called runes. When picked up or stored in a bottle, it provides the hero with a limited boost like maximum movement speed, double damage, invisibility, etc., and the right rune at the right time can be quite a game changer.

 

League Of Legends vs DOTA – Gameplay

dota-2-league-league-laning-phase

League laning

 

  • League has faster animations in attacking, turning, moving, and using an ability compared to DotA 2, so a more fast-paced feel and gameplay is obvious on the former. Players who try both games may find the latter a bit lethargic.

dota-2-league-dota-laning-phase

DotA 2 laning

 

  • DotA 2 has the concept of “denying” wherein you can slay an allied creep or structure once it is below a certain health threshold, granting the enemy hero only half the experience and of course denying them of gold. League does not allow players to deny creeps or buildings.
  • Both games award the player (and the teammates who helped) upon killing an enemy hero / champion. They also keep track on how many heroes / champions the player has slain, and for consecutive kills in a span of seconds. Dying to enemy creeps / minions or towers / turrets only grant enemy heroes / champions experience and not gold, provided that they have not damaged you prior to death. However:
  • In League, champions whose levels are lower than the killer, or champions who have a streak in deaths, net a smaller gold reward.
  • In DotA 2, gold is split into reliable and unreliable gold. Reliable gold is earned from killing enemy heroes, couriers, and Roshan, upon the destruction of an enemy tower, and using the Hand of Midas item (kills a non-hero enemy unit and converts it into gold).
  • Unreliable gold is earned from your creep kills, your starting gold, when you destroy an enemy tower personally, and the income of 1 gold every 0.6 seconds. Dying to an enemy hero costs the player unreliable gold, and the higher the level the greater amount of gold is lost.
  • League offers all champions the Recall ability that allows them to teleport back to their base. In DotA 2, players have to purchase certain items, or use abilities that are exclusive to specific heroes, to return to base either instantly or after a short period of time. As it takes time to go back to base and to the lane, DotA 2 has couriers that help transport player items from the base and into the inventory.
  • League has a rune system that provides champions with select augmentations. Purchased withInfluence Points, these runes are equipped on a runebook before the beginning of a match. The bonuses provided are numerous, ranging from increased attack damage, to reducing skill cooldowns, and this gives players many possibilities for rune combinations that give the bonus they need for the fight. Players can also equip Summoner Spells that give their champions two extra abilities that can be actively used in battle. Summoner Masteries are another way to provide champions with additional bonuses. Summoner Levels, which are earned after a match, determine how many spells and masteries a player can use, and their potency.

dota-2-league-rune-system

League’s rune system

 

League of Legends VS DotA – The Recap

 

DotA 2 has denying, creep pulling / stacking, tree cutting, and other strategies that help your team gain the upper hand. The heroes are mainly reliant on the player’s skills, team composition and teamwork, and the item and ability build, as there is no way to tweak their performance with runes, masteries, or any external changes. Mistakes are punished harshly here, being at the wrong place at the wrong time can cost the player quite dearly.

In League, the absence of the other game’s laning mechanics is meant to encourage aggression, along with some abilities that have low mana costs and cooldowns. The rune and mastery systems allow customization of the champion outside the game, giving way to more possible builds when coupled with in-game items, while the Summoner Spells grant players more tactical options.  Of course, coordination with the team is still important. No gold is lost upon death, although waiting to respawn robs precious time that could be spent earning from killing minions. This game is the least harsh, and welcomes new players who would want to try out the waters first.

Play League if you prefer a fast-paced game with champion customization outside of a match, without being too harsh and can be quite friendly to newbies. Play DotA 2 if you want to experience more complex mechanics with no customization apart from cosmetics, albeit being more unforgiving to mistakes and has a higher learning curve.




43 COMMENTS

  1. honestly given that you are _CLEARLY_ a league of legends player you might want to learn how to spell Guinsoo’s last name

    i give you 0/5 for this awful article. maybe get above gold league in LoL and 4K mmr in dota before you start pretending to understand either game

    • Honestly, how does this show any bias? This is simply factual information in this article.

      Besides, by saying he’s in Gold, you’re saying he’s in the top third of LOL players in the world. You’re giving him a complement.

  2. i owned an internet shop here in the philippines, at first most of the kids and teens ages of 16 and below were playing LOL, while teens and adults were all playing DOTA 2. after 3 months, LOL game in all of my pc clients(20pc’s) are all outdated which means none of them where still playing LOL and all of my customers now are playing dota 2.

    • It always goes that way for new MOBA players.

      They end up getting fed up with the bull on League, and move on to the OG moba.

    • 80% of league players are between 16-30, the kids you’re talking about are probably in the deep depths of bronze 5.

      • Someone with a brain for once. People see lots of rules and complexity as a skill thing?

        You are playing against other people so in theory the skill is just being better. I can make a very simple game where you gotta toss a coin into a pot but the pot is 0.5% bigger than coin and is 50 metres away. Easy rules yet stinking difficult!

    • For people like me who just want to chill, that is a good reason to play lol. For competitive and skill testing Dota2 probably is better (haven’t played more than 2 matches tho).

  3. I have been playing both platforms since their conception and have been honored as a beta tester for both. DOTA 2 7.0 has a great deal of updates and will change the game dramatically. Both have their good points and not so good points, however in my personal opinion LOL is DOTA done right.

    • Why tho? I think that those are 2 pretty different games. Dota 2 is more for hardcore players and people who don’t like anime/cartoon style in Lol. However, lol is easy to understand and newbie friendly. I learned it pretty fast and as it was my first moba, I couldn’t get into dota2. It just felt dark and complicated and I quit it after 2 matches.

      • You just answered your own question. LOL is easy to understand. It’s game mechanics is very responsive to what a gamer wanted to do during games.

        • But some people like to get into game and show off how smart they are and that they can beat you with their skill. My brother, for example, either to go into game mechanics very deep and calculate what he should do or doesn’t play it at all

          • bruh you’re complicating things, don’t go off of others’ opinions, go off of your own opinion.

  4. c
    I’ve recently stoped playing Lol and i played a lot of Dota 2. I’m level 13 and tns
    Pros:

    1.Map is awesome and has unique mechanics
    2.A lot of awesome heroes
    3.The deny mechanics is very fun for me and i feel it gives the support a way more important role.
    4.It’s fun

    Cons:
    The most cons are not from the game itself but from the community

    1.Rusians
    2.You dont have to much diversity in games (There are some heroes that i never see, some that i saw once or twice and some that are there every game like Phantom Assasin and Bloodseeker. One of this 2 are in 80% of my games and for good reason… this is far worst then Yasuo or other op picks in lol )
    3.I feel the game is a lot more reliant on your team then lol. In lol you can save a game if one of your lanes didnt do so good but in dota if one lane did horrible and one of the guy in theyre team is 10/0 its almost impossible to win O_O …
    4.Some champions have clunky kits… for example Juggernaut’s q is your main source of dmg in early game but in late game its almost useless, you do more dmg with autoatacks. I find it very stupid to waste points into a skill that i wont use in late game at all.
    5. I thinks some champions are overpowered (Like Phantom Assassin) but this might be my lack of game knowledge

    Overal i like the game and its very fun but i have the feeling that its a gamble in every game as in 80% of the games my team or they’re team have some feeder, afk, a total noob, a guy who lags, some rambo, some guy who build dagger on riki or other “Special Specimens” or all of the above. The games kind of feels like: the team with less idiots wins and i felt this in Lol too ofc but not at this level….

    I recommend for people to try it and share opinions 😀 and if u have any advice for me as a new Dota 2 player please tell me . 🙂

    • Hey dude,

      1. Ever tried peenoise?

      2. Yeah that’s pretty normal in the lower MMR bracket or when kids are around as they
      want nothing but to be a carry without giving a stuff about team composition.

      4. Jugg’s Q is good for escaping as it gives magic immunity. It’s not always about the damage when it comes to skills. That Q could save you from a potentially fatal magic damage.

      5. There is no such thing as an OP hero. Heroes only become OP when they’re neglected by the enemy team, hence the important of ganking, hunting in the jungle, and other ways to impede the carry’s farm. Phantom Assassin can be countered with Ghost Scepter (she can do jack stuff when you use that) and Monkey King Bar / Silver Edge (renders her Blur useless).

      In my opinion the best way to play this game is if you play it with friends. Going solo queue is nothing but frustration with a very few good games scattered about. I no longer play solo, I only play with at least one or two friend around. Timing matters too, it is ideal if you play at night when the kids are asleep.

    • get one friend dude and play with him…
      play snip or drow if u wanna more high winrate…
      watch pro scene on youtube…
      with rambo etc…. play more get skill better then try play in mmr match….

    • Try to get to higher MMR (over 4.5K) and you shall see a magic transition. Most of the problems you described shall disappear. Do not boost your MMR artificially, it won’t help you. Once you start shouting at other players for mistakes you are standard DOTA 2 player. Once you stop shouting you are well-aged DOTA 2 player who is fun to play with. Unfortunately shouting period seems inevitable for all DOTA 2 players (cannot vouch for the US, Canada and China).

      P.S. Sometimes it is quite fun when BS with artificially boosted account tries to play against proper team and starts cursing and blaming his team for everything.

  5. The person that didn’t played for a while both of these games, doesn’t have opinion here.
    Dota 2 is clearly the best.
    I have played lol 2009-2012 & dota 2012-now

  6. i’ve played dota 2 around for 2500hours since after I played dota 1. now i move to LOL because I’m tired with the SEA server community *sorry for my bad english*

  7. As a player of both, league has quite a large number of bugs, especially with champion balance. But the UI and control friendliness is much better than DOTA’s, which to this day infuriates me. While dota’s champ line up is certainly full and nice to experiment with, I find it much easier to try random/funny builds in league, where responses are slightly less toxic. Finally, the Recall and Summoner’s spells makes league much easier and fairer, since the long commute is painful in Dota without buying recall scrolls, and the courier system annoys me. In regards to the communities, LOL wins hands down. Dota’s community has been the butt of jokes for years, and the notoriety of the Russian players is well founded. While LOL has plenty of toxic and extreme players, I find them to be just barely less in numbers. As one last final gripe, I am slightly perturbed by the game run time for DOTA, with my games going on almost twice as long as a League game regularly.

  8. both are great games..

    it depends upon the player.
    if you want just a fun and addictive game go to LOL
    but if you want to be more competitive and improve your skills go to DOTA2

    my vote is for dota2. ^_^

  9. visit TZJinzo’s youtube channel, a lot about dota and lol, including their differences and history can be learned from there

  10. I’ve been playing Dota for close to 10 years; I love the game and will always consider Dota 2 better ; ive played a bit of LOL but couldn’t really get into it ; Dota 2 is the original , and it is competitive and if you are not good enough it will show ;

  11. “Play DotA 2 if you want to experience more complex mechanics with no customization apart from cosmetics” HAHA REALLY?! dota 2 can costumize the WHOLE MAP, cursors, wards, WEATTHER, pointer HUDS, EVEN THE RIVER! HAHA this is such a biased review. There are good points but you can tell this guy has not played much of doto tsk tsk.

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