dota 2Dota 2 by Valve Corporation is an incredibly popular video game within the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre. The game is also one of the largest esports in the world.

The origins of MOBA are a point of contention among some, but the first widely played example of a MOBA was a player-made map called Defense of the Ancients for Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft III real-time strategy game. The content was created using the game, but was not made or owned by Blizzard itself. One of the developers associated with the mod, who is known publicly as “Icefrog,” was employed by Valve as lead designer on Dota 2.

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Current odds for real-money Dota 2 betting


How Dota 2 is Played

MOBAs are a combination of role-playing and real-time strategy games. Each match of Dota 2 consists of ten players in a 5v5 format. Each team controls one of two bases which continually send out AI controlled “creeps,” or small combat units. These creeps move along three paths that connect the bases, and they attack players and towers controlled by the opposing team. Towers are structures which are strategically located at choke-points along the three paths. The location of structures and bases in Dota 2 is the same for every game. The first team to destroy the “ancient” (central building) located in the other team’s base is the winner.

Players control one hero character out of a selection of over 100, each with unique abilities. They gain levels throughout the match, which enables new abilities, by killing creeps and other players. Killing other players is a source of income, as is “last-hitting,” and the money gained can be spent on items to increase a hero’s stats. Heroes are classified by their roles:

  • Carries are initially weak heroes who grow to become the strongest by the end of the match. They are expected to lead their team to victory in the late-game stages.
  • Initiators are characters whose skills are most effective at starting “team fights,” or when a majority of the players of each team are engaged in a single skirmish.
  • Supports are heroes who focus on helping their teammates with skills like healing spells.
  • Disablers are support heroes capable of temporarily preventing enemy heroes from taking certain actions.
  • Lane supports help their team’s “carry” with killing units and players in the early game.
  • Durables can withstand larger amounts of damage than other heroes.
  • Nukers are capable of dealing significant damage, even in the early stages, through the use of potent and consistent damage-dealing abilities.
  • Pushers are best suited for destroying towers and vying for map control.
  • Escapes have abilities which enable them to move in special ways around an area.

The most important thing to keep in mind about these roles is that they are not too strictly defined. Within each role classification, there are numerous branches (such as semi-carries and “hard” carries, etc.)

Each hero can usually play at least two of these roles, but often more. None of them can fulfill every role.

Tournaments, and the Enormous Prize Pool

The tournaments in Dota 2 feature some of the largest prize pools and spectator numbers in the world. Games can be watched within the Dota 2 client itself through a spectator mode. Valve actually rewards players for watching certain games with in-game content.

The largest tournament is the Dota 2 International Championships, run by Valve. The prize pool for the 2015 version of this tournament was over $18 million USD.

To achieve such an incredible figure, Valve sold portfolios of in-game cosmetic content (such as alternate hero appearances, none of which alter gameplay balance) called “Compendiums.” These can be bought at multiple price points, and each player’s personal Compendium can be “leveled up” (one way to level up is spending more money) to unlock more content.

Additionally, as more Compendiums are sold worldwide, Valve makes more content available to all Compendium owners regardless of level, in a system reminiscent of Kickstarter rewards. Twenty-five percent of all sales goes to the prize pool. There are other tournaments, however, with vastly different prize pools, number of entrants, average skill level, etc. For comprehensive tournament schedule information, is always a great source.

Factors for Success

There are few companies, if any, better suited for creating and maintaining an esport than Valve. They took notice of a mod which had already been lauded for its gameplay and balancing, and they saw the potential for it to thrive in a more public competitive setting. There are a many factors which contributed to the growth of Dota 2 (and some which still do):

  • The wide use of Valve’s Steam client among PC gamers, and their company’s reputation.
  • The game’s free-to-play model allows everyone access to every hero character at no cost. There is no rotating roster of “free” heroes while locking others behind a paywall. Anyone with an internet access and a suitable PC can play without paying any money.
  • A spectator mode is built into the game itself, allowing players to watch pro teams.
  • The game is heavily iterative of the original mod, and it benefitted from all the balancing that the mod received. It is currently an extremely balanced game.
  • The game features RTS-like complexity, but with a simpler control scheme.
  • The use of the Steam client in item-based gambling on Dota 2 matches (more below).

Place a real or play money Dota 2 bet

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Dota 2 is the way that spectators can gamble on match outcomes. People can place Dota 2 bets using three things:

  • Money
  • Play Money
  • In-Game Items

Gambling real money at Dota 2 betting sites

For most readers who are familiar with gambling outside of esports, the first two should be familiar. Play money and real money gambling are often offered by the same sites, with play money being the substitute for those where online gambling is illegal (such as in the United States), or as a tool with which to practice and become acclimated to the idea of a wager.

The kinds of bets that people make are wagers on who will win a particular game, a future bet on the winner of a tournament, a bet on how far a team will go in a tournament, etc. Sites that offer esports gambling include Pinnacle Sports and bet365. We’re also fans of Betway eSports, which offers an array of titles, including several Dota 2 matches.

Some sites, such as DraftKings, offer fantasy league & esports betting. Similar to fantasy leagues for live action sports, fantasy bets for esports are based on bettors choosing a roster of pro players for their own fantasy team. The performance of those players determines whether or not you earn money. There are points given for kills and assists, and points taken away for deaths. There is more in-depth information and FAQs on Draftkings’ site.

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Gambling with in-game content on Dota 2

The ways to wager on Dota 2 only deviate from the gambling norm through the ability to wager in-game content on the outcomes of high profile matches. Using the Steam client by Valve (who is not actually affiliated with the gambling itself, but allows for third parties to use Steam), players can connect to to trade or bet the in-game content they own. These in-game items have real world monetary value, and their sale is a primary means by which Dota 2 is sustainable monetarily.

These items are all classified by their rarities. Bettors look at the odds for each bet, how many items of a particular rarity they must wager, and the items they would receive back if they won their bet. Players choose items to wager and send them to the trading accounts run by these sites through the Steam platform’s own trade functionality. They then receive the appropriate rewards, and their wager items, when the match is over (or they lose, and get nothing).

One possible problem for people who don’t actually play Dota 2, however, is that it’s a bit difficult to find places to reliably sell items to other people for real money. Items can be sold on Steam’s Marketplace for money on a Steam Account, but this money can only be used on the Steam service itself. One site that offers gamblers the chance to sell items is, but it’s difficult to say how reliable the site truly is. There are some bare bones sites like which keep forums to track buy and sell offers, as well as discussions of buyer/seller reputations, but the site doesn’t ensure the safety of any transaction.

Getting an Edge at Dota 2 Betting

Making money through betting on a game requires an understanding of the game, and its best players. On top of that, simply learning about various Dota 2 gambling sites can provide a huge edge in itself. Both types of knowledge can be acquired by watching the aforementioned Dota 2 International Championships, where the best players in the world compete. Any broadcast with a famous commentator (such as TobiWan) will give you more information than anyone could, because they know more about the sport than anyone short of professionals.

There are also qualifiers for the tournament, which are good to watch to see second tier pros and learn more about up-and-comers. The place for in-depth statistics about any match is Here is a page which gives statistics for one round of a wild card matchup for this year’s International Championships. Important stats include the following:

  • Kills (K)
  • Deaths (D)
  • Assists (A)
  • Last Hits (LH)
  • Gold Per Minute (GPM)
  • Experience Per Minute (XPM)

Keep in mind the role and hero each character was playing as when looking at statistics. A person playing a carry should have very high LH compared to the rest of their team, whereas someone playing a support will often not.

Dota 2, like all esports, is in its infancy. The idea of Dota 2 gambling – or gambling on any video games – is new. Some legwork may be required to make the most of this opportunity, but the information is out there, and someone is always willing to put in the effort. Someone who takes the time to become an early expert at Dota 2 online betting could profit enormously.[/column]