Going back to the start: Getting into DotA2 as a LoL player

Learning how to play Dota 2 is rewarding, but takes a considerable amount of effort. Here’s how League of Legends players can get started in one of the most competitive games in the world.

Learning how to play Dota 2 is rewarding, but takes a considerable amount of effort. Here’s how League of Legends players can get started in one of the most competitive games in the world.
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League of Legends took the overall concept of the original DotA and switched it up to make it easier to get into and faster paced. LoL’s more friendly and fact-paced approach to the original “take down turrets and then the enemy base” formula has obviously worked considering it is the most played PC game in the world today — though it’s certainly not the only one.



The original game is still popular worldwide, and the Dota 2 beta is drawing loads of League players to try to learn how to play DotA.


Those familiar with the original game will have no problem learning how to play Dota 2 since it’s basically just the same game with a new coat of paint. As a LoL player, you won’t be so lucky. There are several core aspects of DotA/Dota 2 that are simply absent from League of Legends, making it hard for most players to learn how to play DotA past the basics.


They’re alike! (Sorta)

First, you need to know that the two games might be in the same genre, but they are only similar in three ways:


  1. Map layout (three lanes)
  2. Objective
  3. Champion/hero roles


The sheer amount of little things you have to learn to even play Dota 2 is overwhelming when coming from the simplicity of League of Legends, and the lack of a surrender option only amplifies its potential to be the ultimate in rage technology.


Keeping true to the original game, the Dota 2 beta has an input delay (thank purists from the first game for that). The delay is relative to playing LoL at 150 to 250 ping, depending on your location and the server you have queued for. Queueing only for the server closest to you can keep it at a minimum, but it is still noticeable enough to be one of the most complained about parts of the game.


You need a hero

DotA’s hero scaling is much different than LoL’s in that there is no ability power stat. Each hero’s attack damage scales off of either strength, agility, or intelligence depending on the type of hero’s type. Each primary stat also increases other parameters. For example, strength increases health and health regeneration.


Hero abilities do not scale with any stat, which is a big change for native League players. instead,  ability damage is high enough on its own. Nuker heroes do significant damage throughout all stages of the game, though carries will far out damage them once they are well-farmed. This lack of scaling may sound unreasonable if you’re coming from LoL’s AP scaling, but it’s offset by high mana costs to prevent spamming.


Coming to the Dota 2 beta, you need to toss out the “meta game” mindset you have to follow to in LoL. You’re going to be focused more on countering the enemy team or building a comp around a strategy than you would in LoL. A jungler is not a requirement and there are times where you will see a lane with two supports on one carry. What’s even more refreshing coming into the game is that your build is going to vary from game to game and from hero to hero. No stagnant build following here, which is something anyone who’s played LoL for a long time can get excited about.


Farming for victory

Farming is even more important in the early stages in Dota 2 as minion kills give you more gold and hero kills give you less gold than in LoL. The importance of farming is only amplified by the ability to deny creeps, the high cost of powerful gear, and the fact that you lose gold when you die. That’s right! When you die, a portion of your gold just goes POOF! And you’re not getting it back.


To make up for the unreliability of actually KEEPING the gold you’ve earned, you can purchase items remotely from lane. These remotely purchased items can either be kept in your stash and picked up later or you can have the courier bring them to you in lane. The emphasis on keeping yourself and your wallet safe while being able to buy what you need without heading back to base makes building up expensive items a little tricky. You can pick up something you can afford or you can save for something expensive — but if you die, you’re set back even further to building your core items.


There are of course other factors to the game that LoL players will find alien. The secret shop, runes, and the nooks and crannies in the jungle are just a few and are easy to figure out after fumbling around in your first few games. There is no denying that Dota 2 is hard to get into, and even the most experienced of LoL players will have trouble adjusting to the bits and pieces of the game that are completely outside of what League of Legends has to offer. Behind the higher difficulty and slower pacing lies one of the most competitive games in the world. Learning how to play Dota 2 is rewarding, but takes a considerable amount of effort.

About the author

Ashley Shankle

Ashley's been with GameSkinny since the start, and is a certified loot goblin. Has a crippling Darktide problem, 500 hours on only Ogryn (hidden level over 300). Currently playing Darktide, GTFO, RoRR, Palworld, and Immortal Life.