In the world of esports, both Defence of the Ancients (DOTA) and League of Legends (LoL) have their fair share of passionate players and spectators. But, ultimately, which one is bigger?
The answer to that question depends on who you ask and what exactly “bigger” means to you. As far as number of players worldwide, League of Legends surpasses DOTA. However, in terns of game type they are at the same level, as both are MOBAs and both can be found on most esports sites.
Both games are the subject of yearly tournaments that draw impressive numbers of viewers. The League of Legends World Championship in 2019 was the most watched in the history of esports. One match of the championship attracted a viewership of 3.9 million, which set a world record previously held by the solos tournament for the Fortnite World Cup.
Because League of Legends is played all over the world, the total viewership numbers are likely higher than what has been recorded. This is because the Chinese market does not measure the number of viewers that view esports. It is especially significant because China’s esports market is the world’s largest.
In comparison to LoL, DOTA 2 was the most internationally watched esports event in 2019. Yet it’s viewership was smaller, with 1.96 million viewers. Overall, spectators spent more than 137 million hours watching LoL in 2019. They spent 88 million hours of 2019 watching DOTA 2.
Though LoL has more yearly spectators than DOTA 2 does, the cash prizes played at DOTA tournaments are higher. Of the three tournaments held in 2019, The International, Epicenter, and the Chongqing Major, the world’s biggest cash prize for any esports event in history was awarded at The International Tournament.
DOTA vs LoL
LoL sets the bar for every other game in the esports industry. Worldwide, the game has more than 100 million players per month. Despite 10 other similarly structured games, no one has been able to top the popularity of LoL among players. While every game has its own set of fans/players/spectators, LoL surpasses them all.
If you ask diehard DOTA fans they will tell you that their game is superior because LoL is considered to be too easy. Many hardcore DOTA players think that LoL is best suited for beginners in the field of esports.
Even though DOTA has 10 years on LoL, it hasn’t given them an edge in the industry. This was surprising to some because a well known company in the gaming industry produced DOTA, while LoL is the brainchild of a lesser known software company. Despite the fact that they have fewer resources, LoL’s manufacturer has released many more upgrades and updates for the game, pointing to one more reason why it is likely so popular. This includes a major update to the game’s graphic engine that DOTA just couldn’t pull off for themselves.
It is safe to say MOBAs would be nothing without the players. So naturally a game that attracts more is going to outshine any game with fewer of them. For this reason, gamers are more likely to turn to LoL than DOTA. The more players a MOBA has the better and more relevant the ranking system is. The playing field is leveled so no one has an unfair advantage over anyone else.
This isn’t the only reason why number of players matters. Another is that experienced players are looking for competition. It stands to reason that the more people that play a game, the more competitive it is.
Higher player numbers brings together users from all over the world. This strengthens a game’s position in the esports industry. When a game attracts international players it is always easier to find someone to compete against. Without this flexibility the esports industry wouldn’t be nearly as big as it is.
Games like LoL have produced a lot of champions over the years. More champions make games more appealing to players and even spectators. Too few champions in a game and players will grow bored with it much quicker. The key to longevity is variety.
Hero vs Hero
The meat and potatoes of any MOBA is its heroes. LoL has significantly more than DOTA does. The growing number of them means that players always have new options in the game. Since each hero has his or her own set of skills and personality, the possibilities are endless in a game like LoL. Between 2009 and 2018, an additional 60 heroes were added to the game.
Bottom Line: DOTA or LoL
Though solo play is possible with both games, everyone knows they are better played in teams. Most people will enjoy the experience more when they have a team of other players to work with. Since friends can form teams, no one has to worry about playing with people they don’t know. For most gamers, it is more appealing to play with people they do know.
Strength in numbers isn’t just a term that applies to life. It also applies to gaming and esports. More team members mean more people with different skills. If you ask most gamers, DOTA requires sharper skills than LoL is, so playing alone or with anonymous strangers is not recommended.
The necessity for more refined and diverse skills draws gamers to DOTA over LoL. Gamers like to be challenged and hate to run out of options. For those people, DOTA is the clear winner.
But it isn’t that cut and dry. You still have plenty of gamers who swear by LoL. The truth is, no one can definitively say which game is better because there are arguments for and against both. But either way, esports fans are in for a treat when they watch or participate in either game.