History of DotA

DotA Gosu “GosuGamers” Gamers
Each part will cover the important tournaments, influential teams and players, as well as the mainstream strategy of the EU/NA (European/North American) and the Asian scene. Sadly, the article ends after the 6.48 era, but perhaps someone knowledgeable could continue it in the future. Anyways, without further ado, I present the History of DotA.

A History of DotA in 7 parts:

1. From Aeon of Strife to 6.27
2. Violent AOE: The 6.32 Era
3. Fast Push: The 6.37 Era
4. Global Strategy: The 6.41 Era
5. Rise of the Blink Dagger: The 6.43 Era
6. Lessons in Ganking by VP: The 6.48 Era
7. To be continued...

Note: The prehistory segment contains much impersonal information, but future parts will be more exciting. Also, if there are any mistakes, I hope you guys will point it out to me in the comments.

Part 1 - From Aeon of Strife to 6.27

To understand the history of DotA, one must begin from Starcraft. In the early days of Starcraft, there was a UMS (Use Map Settings) map called Aeon of Strife (AoS) made by a modder called Gunner_4_ever that featured a cooperative game with four heroes facing off against endless waves of computer-controlled creeps in four lanes. The players would have endless computer-controlled creeps on their side as well, except these were weaker than the enemy creeps.

The familiar game mechanic of the player who last-hit an enemy unit being rewarded with money can be found in this map. The game would end once key buildings on either side were destroyed or with the deaths of all four player-controlled heroes. A second version was made so that four players faced off against each other in a 2v2 fashion with endless creeps on both teams.

Once the Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos (ROC) was released on July 3, 2002, Aeon of Strife was ported over to ROC where free of the limitations of the Starcraft map editor, a much more interesting game could be made. Players could gain experience alongside money, gain levels, learn more powerful abilities and buy equipment. Many of the game mechanics in modern DotA can be found in maps from this period.

The first AoS-styled map that took advantage of the ability to design custom spells provided by the powerful ROC World Editor was Valley of Dissent made by a modder called Karukef. Another modder called Eul borrowed some ideas of his predecessors to create an AoS-styled map called Defence of the Ancients (DotA), which would become one of the most popular UMS maps on Battle.net.

When Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne (TFT) came out on July 1st, 2003, Eul made a version called DotA 2: Thirst for Gamma in TFT, but it wasn't successful in replacing the original DotA that had been ported into TFT. Eul then disappeared, but not before making his code open-source.

At this time, many people modded the TFT version of DotA. These derivatives of DotA started becoming popular on Battle.net. During this time, DotA wasn't called DotA Allstars, but instead the EX series. This was the version of DotA optimized by a modder off of the ROC version. Other well-known series were the "DotA DX Series", "DotA Unforgiven" and "DotA Outland".

These ancient DotA maps led to DotA becoming one of the most popular maps on Battle.net and created very good conditions for DotA Allstars to flourish on its release.

DotA Allstars

So it was that DotA entered a new period in its history. New versions of DotA were officially called "DotA Allstars". A couple of modders called Meian and Ragn0r compiled particularly fun-to-play heroes from these different versions of DotA and put it all together calling it DotA Allstars. This is the historical reason why the term "Allstars" was added to the name. After releasing an official version of DotA that pitted Human against Orc, these talented modders stopped making new versions.

The first version of the Allstars series was "DotA Allstars Beta v0.95" released on February 3, 2004. This was a milestone in the history of DotA. In the development of later versions, the "Allstars" series was accepted as the best DotA series.

The Allstars series gradually became more balanced and refined. Once the 4.xx series was reached, DotA already carried a certain amount of influence.

Guinsoo's Era

At this time, a legend called Guinsoo appeared and began the 4.xx series. DotA Allstars v.4.0a was released on April 26, 2004. It was the first version to feature Roshan, which was named after Guinsoo's bowling ball.

A particularly big event in the history of DotA was the release of the 5.xx series. It signaled that DotA was reaching maturity. During the 5.xx era, two changes with historical significance occurred: The competitive mode was stabilized and organized competitions emerged.

e22286906b8a995eead72373135edf5444262ae3a7a22cd36360d67b04.jpgThe first version with stable competitive mode: v5.84

The 5.xx series inherited the essence of the 4.xx series' and also introduced many new heroes and items. It also made generated many new breakthroughs and added substance to the scope of the game. The first AI DotA map also appeared during the 5.xx era.

Since more and more players were joining, the work of making new versions had also become massive. Guinsoo recruited the help of fellow members from Clan TDA, Neichus and IceFrog.

The 5.xx series' first new hero was Tidehunter appearing in the 5.74 version. In the 5.75 version that followed it, Ursa Warrior and Atropos were introduced one apiece to Sentinel and Scourge. 5.76 introduced Keeper of the Light, Tinker, Ogre Magi, Pudge 2.0 and Sand King, while nerfing most of the old heroes.

The final version of the 5.xx series was "DotA Allstars 5.84c v2". This was an extraordinary version with historical significance, because the popularity of DotA had finally exceeded the confines of its players. Official, organized and influential competitive DotA began with this version. This qualifies it as the very first stable competitive version of DotA Allstars.

At the same time, 5.84 was a huge classic. Even long after 6.xx had been released, this map was still very popular. Rumour has it that even during the 6.2x era, SEA (South-East Asia) was still hosting competitions with 5.84. Out of the old-school Chinese players, I bet many fell in love with DotA during this version. Even now, this version can be found in the map directory of some Chinese cybercafés.

In truth, 5.84c wasn't actually released by Guinsoo. Due to a bug in 5.84b, a modder from Russia called True.Rus developed an unofficial 5.84c. This modder rewrote the code, reduced the load time from 3min to under 20s and fixed some bugs.

The Emergence of Organized Competitive Matches: TDA and IGS

During this period, some (very few, I think about 10) people formed the first DotA discussion forum called 9nid. This was the first semi-official DotA forum, where players would discuss DotA-related matters. Even to this day, some of the earliest members are immortalized on a list.

With the spread of WC3, DotA also became more and more popular. 9nid's users gradually increased eventually reaching a point when its servers could not withstand the traffic. At this point, the forum moved to RTSGamer. So it was that DotA leagues were formed.

The first league was Clan TDA (Team DotA Allstars) formed in April 2004. Its spread in popularity was helped in great part by thewebsite DotA-Allstars.com founded on October 14th, 2004 by TDA member Pendragon. It was the official website for the DotA Allstars map, as well as a place for the DotA community to partake in discussions.

With DotA's growing popularity, the forum would eventually grow from to over one milion visitors every month, a million page views every day, and a staff of over 100 volunteers. Sadly, the website was shutdown in July 2010. For this reason, the official website of the DotA Allstars map was moved to PlayDota.com and the term "Allstars" was dropped from the map name.

IGS (International Gaming Syndicate) began hosting DotA competitions. The first season had 20 teams participating. The second season had 45 teams, so more and more people joined.

Guinsoo, legendary DotA developer is on the left

We have some DotA items to commemorate these old map makers:
Eul's Scepter of Divinity
Guinsoo's Scythe of Vyse

A Gathering of Parts: The 6.1x Era

On February 28th 2005, not soon after the release of DotA Allstars 6.00, after Guinsoo announced his departure from the map-making world, Neichus and IceFrog officially took over development from 6.01 continuing the process of improving DotA. Rumour has it that Guinsoo went into World of Warcraft. Neichus had been working on the project since October 2004.

Neichus took over the project lead position and under his leadership, Earthshaker, Tiny, Chen 2.0, Stealth Assassin 2.0, Phantom Lancer, Enchantress, Enigma, Axe, Shadow Fiend, Visage 2.0, Nerubian Weaver, Bloodseeker and Dazzle were added. After several versions, Neichus grew disenchanted with the project, so he left IceFrog as the head developer of DotA Allstars.

Perhaps it was due to 5.84 being overly amazing that many die-hard fans refused to accept the huge changes instated by the 6.xx versions. This led to the early 6.xx versions not being hugely influential. However, these setbacks couldn't stop mighty IceFrog's momentum of churning out new versions.

IceFrog, our beloved developer

A common proverb is "A new broom sweeps clean." In 6.10, IceFrog made large numbers of modifications and improvements, completely remaking Faceless Void. He added a new Scourge hero, Invoker (It's the current Invoker. He was too overpowered, so IceFrog shut him in a small black room for a long time before letting him out). During the 6.1x era, IceFrog made many modifications to the old version of DotA. While fixing many bugs, he also rebalanced many heroes that were too imbalanced.

It was during this time that Heintje's Chinese 6.12 came out. This is the first 6.xx Chinese DotA version you can find. Following this, Heintje continued his efforts to translate DotA Allstars into Chinese contributing immensely to the popularization of DotA in China.

The First Light of Dawn: The 6.2x Era

IceFrog quickly released DotA Allstars 6.20, which abandoned the previous snowfield theme returning to the 5.84's grassfield theme, but with colours slightly altered resulting in today's style.

In 6.20, IceFrog continued the process of nerfing many heroes. In this version, the immensely popular Prince Arthas from the campaign entered the world of DotA. In 6.21, another new hero was added. Then until 6.27, fixing bugs and balancing the game took priority.

Regarding IceFrog being slow to release new versions, 6.27 lasted a relatively long time. After consolidating over several versions, DotA reached a new pinnacle in game balance with 6.27.

During this era, DotA Allstars became an event in the Singapore World Cyber Games 2005. 6.27b was declared to be the official version to be used in future leagues and championship tournaments. 6.27 became the second stable competitive version of DotA Allstars, the first being 5.84.

In 6.28, IceFrog added two new heroes: Witch Doctor and Spectre (back then, Spectre was considered useless). The -cs command was added (to display creep kills and denies) and a brand new loading screen. Since 6.29 had some critical bugs, 6.28 was the most stable map amongst DotA 6.2x versions.

Compared to 6.27, 6.28 wasn’t as significant a change balance-wise. The addition of two heroes was the only change. Rumour has it that to quench the gamers' desires of 6.30, IceFrog hastily rushed through the version. This led to 6.27 taking the limelight amongst 6.2x versions.

After taking over development at 6.10, IceFrog did large amounts of bug fixing and hero balance improvements in order to get an UMS map that was originally only used for sheer entertainment to take large leaps towards competitiveness. This paved a solid foundation for DotA's swift development as an e-sport. While improving hero balance, a series of new heroes, items and models were introduced strengthening the amusement factor of the game as well. This helped meet the conditions for DotA to rapidly become popular.

Happenings in the EU/NA scene

DotA's rapid popularization and balance improvements greatly increased DotA's competitiveness. Lots of teams began to emerge. Internationally renowned teams such as PluG (later known as coL or compLexity), Apex (later known as JMC or Jax Money Crew), Say Plz, Team Q, TeG (The Elder Gods) and BTo (Boomtown Odense, front-runner of JoY or Jukes on You and later, MYM or Meet Your Makers) were influential in competitions during this era. Some of these teams such as Apex had their beginnings in earlier leagues such as the IGS.

EU/NA competitions were mainly TDA and CAL, as well as Dota-League's Pick League. In the first season of Pick League, Team Q claimed victory, while BTo took first place in the next three seasons asserting their dominance.

Happenings in the Asian scene

Compared to these tournaments in EU/NA, DotA was still in an embryonic state in China. EU/NA competitions didn't have a big influence on the Chinese scene.

In China in the month of November 2005, some players famous on the U9 forum formed team GL under the leadership and organization of Xiaoxiongmao. Ever since they formed, GL has been one of China's strongest, mightiest and most low-profile teams. During the same period, Mage (not to be confused with later Russian team MaGe) and IFNT formed in succession.

The appearance of teams naturally led to contests. During the 6.2x era, there weren't many competitions. Everyone learned from each other by comparing their views on how to play the game. The records we have on matches back then doesn't amount to much. I've only noted down the influential competitions.

On February 7th 2006, a Taiwanese team was on the U9 forum challenging teams and met the recently-formed GL. Due to poor connections, the match wasn't very good. Nevertheless, the Taiwanese team used Keeper of the Light and Tinker's long-range nuke strategy which broadened the DotA worldview of GL, who had until then worked diligently on their AOE (area of effect) strategy. This also gave Chinese DotA players a taste of the fascination that exists in CW (clan wars). As the first CW match in China with some influence, it deserves mention in this history.

In March 2006, the first RDL DotA competition was hosted. Using 6.27 as the official version of the competition, the tournament originally planned to have 32 teams, but in the end only 23 teams participated. GL was too strong for the other teams and took the victory claiming the very first national Chinese title.

This tournament is something that can't be omitted from any Chinese DotA history. It could be argued that due to the experiment that was this tournament, more Chinese DotA experts switched from playing for amusement in pubs to having organized and competitive team games. This tournament also led to more people appreciating the competitive nature of DotA to break away from the preconception many people had of the game as a WC3 ladder map meant only for casual amusement.

This tournament spread the fame of first-generation Chinese teams such as GL, HUST, IFNT, Mage and EDU which declared the arrival of the strong teams. Following the popularization of replays, Chenlun, Huiyue, Xiaoxiongmao and mAroBoRo (Wanbaolu) and other players left a deep impression in people. They were the first generation Chinese DotA stars. They were also who DotA beginners tried to model themselves after.

During the 6.27 era, the mainstream strategy was AOE. For late-game, the 4-protect-1 strategy was also developed. The most famous strategy was the Divine Aegis (Divine Rapier, Aegis of the Immortal) Medusa. These strategies flourished through the 6.32 era until the 6.37 era.

The above represents the prehistory portion of DotA.


Hi everyone. I appreciate all the feedback from you guys. Read through all of them and tried to make changes where valid. Don't hesitate to give suggestions and point out errors in Part 2 as well. The next part will probably be released after Gamescom, so enjoy the tournament.

A History of DotA in 7 parts:

1. From Aeon of Strife to 6.27
2. Violent AOE: The 6.32 Era
3. Fast Push: The 6.37 Era
4. Global Strategy: The 6.41 Era
5. Rise of the Blink Dagger: The 6.43 Era
6. Lessons in Ganking by VP: The 6.48 Era
7. To be continued...

Part 2 - Violent AOE: The 6.32 Era

The 6.3x versions yielded two stable competitive versions: 6.32 and 6.37. The changes in the mainstream playstyle that occurred between the two versions made two successive competitive versions into completely different eras. During the 6.32 era, the mainstream strategy still followed the previous 6.27 era's AOE strategy, but due to some gameplay and item changes, a fast push strategy became the most popular strategy in 6.37. The 6.3x versions played a large part in shaping later DotA.

In April 2006, DotA Allstars 6.30 was released. DotA entered the 6.3x versions and a new era had arrived.

The 6.30 version lasted a very brief period, but it still gave signs that DotA had entered a flourishing period. In 6.30, aside from balance improvements and the addition of new heroes, there were also two very important changes: the AI slot that exists in many WC3 ladder maps was removed in favour of observer slots. This allowed the possibility of a neutral host and for matches to be broadcasted through Waaagh!TV. This change made DotA more suitable as a spectator e-sport.

In May 2006, the 6.32 version was released. This was another classic version of DotA following the stable competitive version 6.27. In comparison, the Chinese version of DotA Allstars 6.32 wasn't released until August.

Before releasing a changelog, the Chinese version first released a FAQ addendum that answered some questions posed by beginners such as how to farm, where the secret shop is located, questions about orb-stacking and so on. It could be said that Heintje put more than 100% of his heart into popularizing DotA in China.

Happenings in the EU/NA scene

During this era, influential teams included coL (compLexity), JMC (Jax Money Crew), tPD (Team Pandemic), vRG (veRGe), Say Plz, Team Q and BTo (Boomtown Odense). Even though EU (European) teams were also widely influential during this era, for brevity's sake, only the NA (North American) teams will be explained in this section, with more of an emphasis placed on EU teams during Part 3 of this history.


During this era, the most important NA competition was the CAL (Cyberathlete Amateur League). The first three seasons were contended over by the four teams coL, JMC, tPD and verGe with their skill levels being such that they could dethrone each other at any given time. coL dominated the scene for quite some time, before they were defeated in a 2-0 upset by JMC during the finals of the first CAL season. However, coL would get their revenge in the second season as they dethroned JMC to become champion.

The second season brought in hundreds of new NA teams, so for the third season, CAL expanded their DotA competition to four categories: Invite (I), Main (M), Intermediate (IM) and Open (O).

Influential teams and star players:

coL was the first NA powerhouse. Originally called clan PluG, coL was one of the first DotA teams to get sponsored. They were a team with strong individual skill and impressive results. Aside from their influential playstyle, coL players also became the first-generation of DotA stars who everyone tried to model their own play after. coL.Fear and coL.ezy were particularly influential.

Fear of coL, one of the legends of DotA

coL.Fear was renowned in all aspects of his play. Aside from tournament replays, he also had many IH (in-house) replays. He played all sorts of heroes and had a deep understanding of every single hero. His grasp of match tempo and when he should engage were very outstanding. Fear's beginnings were in the IGS (International Gaming Syndicate) where teams would join other clans' Battle.net channels and ask to play. It was very common for teams to play 3v3 in this league. His first clan was "OwNT". Later, he formed the famous clan PluG which would become the juggernaut that was coL.

Recognized as DotA's strongest player of the time, Fear became the very first player in the world of DotA to reach Legend status. Many players watched his replays in order to learn from his play. Later after coL had disbanded, in a vote held by GotFrag for the Top 10 DotA players, Fear still claimed 5th place despite the poll having been held over 6 months after he had retired (he has since made a comeback). This goes to show how considerable Fear's influence truly was.

coL.ezy was the era's most famous farmer after JMC.Merlini. Nowadays, everyone knows how important last-hitting and farming is, but back then not many players focused on the fundamentals. ezy's epic replays playing Clinkz showed everyone firsthand how important last-hitting and farming was. It was only after watching his replays that many people began to practice last-hitting diligently as a fundamental skill in DotA.

Aside from coL, JMC was another NA powerhouse. Also originating from the days of the IGS league, the team was called FAG (Fang and Gang) named after JMC's captain. The name was changed to Apex to make the process of signing up for competitions smoother. Upon receiving JMC's sponsorship, the name was once again changed. Everyone on the team was of Chinese ethnicity. Beyond a doubt, Merlini's influence was the greatest. He played the most imbalanced Silencer of the time, which combined with the dream-like grandeur of his playstyle and his breathtaking performances filled countless DotA players with admiration. It was during this era that Merlini raised Silencer to the hero's peak of popularity. Merlini first made his name in IHLs (in-house league) where dominance in solo lanes, farming and clutch moves made him memorable.

Merlini of JMC, another legend of DotA

Another member of JMC called inDe_eD also had exceptional ability. He introduced many heroes into CW (clan wars). For example, he was the first to use Silencer in a competitive match. He wrote many DotA hero guides and articles on hero selection analysis. Many were translated into Chinese and provided excellent advice to aspiring DotA players.

tPD was the third team that caught people's attention. Originally called team ADA (Arrogant DotA Arseholes), the team received Team Pandemic's sponsorship. As coL's strongest rival, they often experimented with new strategies using unorthodox heroes. They continuously changed roles between teammates to try to get themselves used to hero combinations, thus playing with flair and originality. This got many people to notice them. Even their opponents could make no secret of enjoying watching them play. Merlini and p0c would both later profess that tPD was their favourite team.

tPD.Fachh was tPD's captain. Also of Chinese descent, he attained the acme of perfection with Juggernaut bringing the hero into a new light. Juggernaut had long been one of the least popular DotA heroes. Fachh's legendary performances showed everyone the incredibly destructive force that laid within, leading to his and Juggernaut's popularity.

verGe was the fourth big NA team. Originally called WaC, they were eventually able to outlast the other three teams and get eMg's (eMazing Gaming) sponsorship. Later on, they made it so big that one of the oldest NA e-sports gaming organization EG (Evil Geniuses) sponsored the team.

Happenings in the Asian scene


During the period of time between 6.27 and 6.32, Chinese DotA developed quickly. It became the most popular map on college campuses. Not merely did it grow rapidly in numbers of players, but large amounts of EU/NA tournament replays and hero guides flooded intoChina. High quality forum posts and hero guides began to emerge in large numbers. The level of Chinese DotA began a speedy ascent.

During the 6.32 era, there were two major competitions in China. One was the first U9 DotA Invitational. The other was the CPL DotA Challenge Competition. In June and July 2006, The first U9 DotA Invitational was held with 30 teams participating. GL took first place, IFNT second place. In August, RN held a fierce competition from which IFNT emerged victorious.

In October 2006, the famous e-sport organization CPL (Cyberathlete Professional League) hosted a DotA tournament in China. It excited many DotA fans endlessly. This event's grand finals were the first LAN (local area network i.e. offline) event in China to have widespread influence. In the end, lzlqcl-led Nebula team returning from overseas took first place, HUST took second place and GL's two teams third and fourth places.

The CPL DotA Tournament was the first LAN tournament in China
The winning team Nebula from left to right: EYE, lzlqcl, 521, Longdd, nono

This LAN event provided an excellent stage for the leading Chinese DotA teams and players to interact with each other. I can't help but mention that GL saved up for a rainy day. After the tournament ended, they were vigorous keeping up relations with players who caught their eye in the tournament. So it was that PLU's Snoy, Nebula's Zilong (later known as Longdd), Zhanguotianxia's DC were all poached by GL later on. To say GL's manager was farsighted would be an understatement.

This tournament also encouraged two companies (now DotA-related) to take interest. One was OGame.net's DotA division that relied on fast-breaking news and replay releases to become the biggest replay download and DotA news site in China. In the beginning of year 2008, they made the strategic decision to transfer all DotA content to SGamer.com before shutting down. The other company was the VS gaming platform that relied on the simplicity and competitive nature of its point-based system, quickly becoming the most popular DotA gaming platform in China.

Influential teams and star players:

After being tested by several tournaments, a few teams stood out from the rest. For a considerably long period of time, they stood on the highest pedestal of Chinese DotA: GL, IFNT and HTML were the three most exceptional teams. After winning CPL, Nebula went through a period where no news was heard from them. After this period, they declared that they were going to disband.

If GL was a living person, this person could be said to have aristocratic blood running through their veins. Even just after they formed, they already were a top-tier team. After Tossgirl (not the female Starcraft progamer from Korea) who'd received abundant CW experience overseas returned to China on vacation, GL inherited the most advanced strategies of the time. When the playstyle of Chinese DotA wasn't yet mature, Tossgirl's strategic understanding and experience gave GL a firm seat on the throne of Chinese DotA for a considerably long period of time. At the same time, GL was under excellent management and were strict to the point of ruthlessness in their test for players interested in joining the team, thereby ensuring that every team member had top-notch individual skill. These factors combined to allow GL reign as the strongest team in China for a long time.

IFNT followed the model by letting overseas Chinese students onto the team in April 2006. Once the strong EU team Dcn's overseas students returned to China and joined IFNT in succession, IFNT received advanced strategy and the valuable tournament experience accumulated in EU DotA leagues. Afterwards, IFNT was filled with numerous talents and for a time held the moniker "When all the pieces are in place, IFNT is invincible." It's a shame one or two players weren't able to attend the competitions...

HTML was a team formed by ice_show (At the time DotA.cn's head admin. DotA.cn was the go-to forum in China if you wanted to improve) and Heintje (translated Chinese versions of DotA). The charisma of these two people drew players from all around China to their team. It was only that the skilled players were all in EU/NA and Chinese players were still weak (but were quickly improving) or else ice_show and Heintje would have enjoyed a greater degree of success.

Concurrently, DotA in SEA (South-east Asia) was also taking off rapidly. They adopted -AP (All Pick) mode favouring ganks. This playstyle was completely different from the EU/NA's preference of -LM (League Mode) for competitions where players would focus on lane-control. Originally, Chinese DotA players consisted of students who'd gone to EU/NA to study, so their playstyle and competitive mode (i.e. -AP) were modeled after EU/NA. SEA replays and forums weren't prevalent in China, which limited the influence the SEA playstyle had on Chinese DotA.

Nevertheless, teams such as Singapore's Zenith, the Philippines' Team Flow and Team 129 had some replays showing Chinese players the fierce and captivating nature of a frenzied gank playstyle. In particular, Zenith's novel playstyle and use of unorthodox heroes completely captivated the viewer's gaze.

Mainstream strategies and hero picks

AOE was mainstream during the 6.32 era. Whether it was 5 AOE spellcaster push strategy or AOE 4-protect-1, you didn't go without fierce AOE coordination. This is why the 6.32 era is often referred to as the "AOE era".

During the 6.32 era, the mainstream strategy still followed the previous 6.27 era's AOE strategy of emphasizing harassment against opponents in-lane, so roaming ganks weren’t a common sight. Upon acquiring a certain amount of superiority or after completing an essential item (Mekansm, for example), the team would gather to push.

The inspiration of this playstyle perhaps came out of traditional Western concepts of warfare such as forming into ranks and firing off volleys (of spells in the case of DotA). After an intense AOE spellcaster battle began, triple and ultra kills were not uncommon. Rampages also weren't rare. (Note: The sounds for "ultra kill" and "rampage" didn't exist back then. You could only hear a repeat of "triple kill") The AOE strategy required extremely good coordination from teammates. This is why early DotA teams from the AOE era endured a trial by fire and perhaps had better teamwork than later teams.

Mekansm ad infinitum

The 6.32 version's Mekansm heal could be stacked. Since Sentinel could not withstand the five spellcaster mass AOE push by the Scourge, a 4-protect-1 strategy protecting Silencer was developed, who was a good physical DPS (damage-per-second) hero as well as the bane of any AOE strategy. Thus this led to Scourge developing a 4-protect-1 strategy around Visage.

Late in the 6.32 era, nearly all Chinese teams were using the 4-protect-1 strategy. Despite being 4-protect-1, there was still an abundance of AOE. The ganking 4-protect-1 had also emerged, but it wasn't mainstream, because ganking hadn’t matured yet.

Aside from Silencer and Visage during the 6.32 era, Morphling and Clinkz were also common sights in CW. Morphling's “morph” ability and his ultimate "replicate" were good weapons to deal with Visage. The despicable Divine Aegis strategy used by Clinkz was an endless source of headache for Sentinel heroes.

Aside from these physical DPS heroes, AOE heroes including Enigma, Crystal Maiden, Rhasta and Krobelus were all popular during the 6.32 era. Furthermore, Lich's nearly 100% appearance rate in CW during the 6.32 era shows that he was the hottest hero during the era (cheesy pun, because if something gets cold enough, it will feel like getting burned by something hot). For many teams, the test for players interested in joining the team was facing Lich 1v1 solo-mid using Silencer.

The above represents the violent AOE era of DotA's history.


Hi everyone. I appreciate all the feedback from you guys. I read through all of them and tried to make changes where valid. Don't hesitate to give suggestions and point out errors for Part 3 as well.

A History of DotA in 7 parts:

1. From Aeon of Strife to 6.27
2. Violent AOE: The 6.32 Era
3. Fast Push: The 6.37 Era
4. Global Strategy: The 6.41 Era
5. Rise of the Blink Dagger: The 6.43 Era
6. Lessons in Ganking by VP: The 6.48 Era
7. To be continued...

Part 3 - Fast Push: The 6.37 Era

On September 10th 2006, DotA Allstars 6.37 was released. On December 6th, the Chinese version came out. The 6.37 version was the second stable competitive version in the 6.3x series. There were many big changes that finally brought an end to the AOE (area of effect) era and marking the beginning of the fast push with summons strategy.

Happenings in the EU/NA scene

As promised, this section will focus mainly on the European (EU) scene since the previous dealt mostly with the North American (NA) scene. The international-scale of competitions during this era brought to a clash the EU and NA powerhouses of DotA. Due to EU's success in the ESL (E-Sports League) DotA Premiership and the MYM Prime Defending (Meet Your Makers) series that followed, as well as the instability and eventual disbandment of old NA powerhouses coL (complexity), JMC (Jax Money Crew) and tPD (Team Pandemic), it could be said that NA lost to EU its position as the centre of the DotA world.


The most important competition during the 6.37 era was the ESL DotA Nations Cup. Participating teams numbered 12 in total including NA powerhouses coL, JMC and tPD, as well as strong EU teams such as Team Q, Say Plz, TeG (The Elder Gods) and JoY (Jukes on You). Without a doubt, these were the top teams of the time. Since the competition stretched so long in duration, teams disbanded and players didn't always remain with original teams for the entirety of the competition. Nevertheless, this was the most high-skilled international tournament before the MYM Prime Defending series of competitions.

The most dominant team in the ESL was tPD. Early in the 6.37 era, tPD experimented with Pandaren Brewmaster, Syllabear and other heroes before finding the perfect meat shield for a fast push strategy: Bristleback. From that point onwards, the Bristleback, Enchantress, Twin Head Dragon, Beastmaster and Holy Knight lineup swept aside all teams at ESL who had no way to withstand their onslaught.

It was a shame that at a critical juncture in the tournament, the Bristleback God that was SwissBeatz became inactive having gotten into World of Warcraft (WoW). Then, Say Plz stole tPD's own strategy and used it against them sending them into the losers' bracket in the semi-final match. In the losers' bracket, Team Q followed Say Plz's initiative and eliminated the inventor of the fast push with summons strategy. It's lamentable that tPD fell into a downward spiral soon after.

LighTofHeaven of Say Plz, winners of the ESL DotA Premiership Season 1

In the finals of the ESL after Say Plz won Game 1 due to one of Team Q's players (CatQ) having internet issues, they fought a bitter, hard-fought 2h 30m 46s match against Team Q. After a heaven-startling and earth-shaking comeback (no pun intended), they managed to claim victory. This was one of the most classic matches in the history of DotA.

On October 7th 2006, after hosting two small-scale DotA tournaments that didn't have much worldwide impact, e-sports organization MYM held the MYM PriDe #3 Tournament (Prime Defending) filled with high-skilled players. From MYM PriDe #5 onwards, this tournament series would go on to become the most influential online DotA competition in the world.

The famous EU DotA website DotA-League held the 6th season of its popular online tournament Pick League. Each team would accumulate points based on victories. In the end, the German team WE (World Eaters) won. WE|Kuroky had made his mark on the world of DotA for the first time.

During this tournament in a match between MYM and WE, the recently-joined MYM.Merlini used for the first time ever in a competitive match Boots of Travel (BoT) Tinker strategy of flying everywhere on the map to gank. So it was that a classic DotA strategy emerged. Later, in the 6.52 era, Indonesia's XcN (eXeCutioNer) would bring the BoT Tinker strategy to its pinnacle.

Surprisingly, this strategy was developed by a pub player called Virot2 who had been perfecting it since 6.27. He published an influential guide between the 6.32 and 6.37 versions that was the first to advocate such a build considered highly unorthodox at the time. If there was a case of a pub player revolutionizing the DotA world, this would be it.

Influential teams and star players:

On September 29th, the famous 6.32 era team JMC announced that it was disbanding.

On November 15th, 2006, e-sports organization MYM began sponsoring the recent winner of MYM Prime tournament, JoY, thus prompting them to change their name to the one we're all familiar with. The key members were Paccie, MaNia, Maelk, Akke and Loda. Half a month later, they claimed victory in the DotA category of the renowned LAN (local area network, i.e. offline) tournament DreamHack. After winning the tournament, Loda and Akke left MYM to form a new team called T_T (Team_Team). After Loda left, MYM reached out to members from the disbanded JMC. The addition of Merlini, Fang and p0c boosted MYM's popularity and prestige making it one of the most followed teams.

Before Loda and Maelk were bitter rivals, they won tournaments together
From left to right: Loda, MaNia, Maelk; in front: Akke, Paccie

During the 6.37 era, the most influential team was tPD without a doubt. Despite not being able to win ESL, their fast push strategy became 6.37's tempo. If it wasn't for SwissBeatz giving up DotA for WoW, we can rest assured that their exploits would have been even better.

The Russian giant Say Plz began their march towards DotA world’s limelight. In terms of popularity Say Plz, as one of the oldest teams in DotA, had already supplanted coL. They were considered one of the best teams in the world playing with maturity, having stable players and rarely committing mistakes.

After being defeated in the finals of the CEVO tournament by tPD, coL began to fall apart. throzz retired, DOGKaiser fell under team verGe's enchantment and warr1ck didn't know what to do. With Fear as leader of coL, they had become one of the strongest teams in the 6.32 era.

iMbaQ had served for a time on Say Plz and STFU (Skill The F Up). With STFU, he had won MYM PriDe #2. After joining Team Q, he played the role of a carry. With his individual ability, he served Team Q with distinction at TFL (The Frozen League) and ESL contributing to Team Q's dominance during this period. iMbaQ didn't use spaces when he types, preferring the underscore instead. He had a considerable amount of personality. Some say he was the Einstein of the DotA world, so great was his influence at the time.

LighTofHeaven had become the representative of EU DotA during the 6.32 era. Following strong performances by Say Plz, he drew more and more attention due to his spectacular performances in the carry role. He combined exceptional farming capability with awe-inspiring abilities of reading the game and stability in his play. He was a pioneer of the Necronomicon Silencer item route and played a crucial role in the advancement of Silencer in terms of how he should be played.

Having joined MYM, Merlini showed a renewal of his 6.32 era prestige and influence, filling the skies with heat-seeking rockets and once again propelling himself to dazzling stardom. To say that he was the most influential DotA player in the world wouldn't be an overstatement. He became the first player after Fear to attain Legend status.

Loda, ARS-ART, M.Admiration, FocusIRE and Levent, these later stars began making their mark during this era.

Happenings in the Asian scene

IceFrog's 6.37 version lasted from September 1st, 2006 until February 2007, but its influence on the Chinese scene wasn't actually that extensive. It wasn't until December 2006 until the Chinese version came out and was quickly replaced by 6.41 two short months later. In between was also the Chinese version of 6.38 and the Chinese New Year. Also during the 6.37 era, there weren't any big tournaments aside from CDL-I. Compared to the EU/NA scene, the Chinese scene was quite small.

On December 7th 2006, OGame.net announced they were going to host a Chinese DotA Tournament called the CDL-I Tournament. This time, their announcement was sufficiently loud. In fact, their eye-catching advertisement was on the 6.37 Chinese version's loading screen which was just released on December 6th. This edition of the tournament stretched a very long time lasting over half a year. It strode across three competitive versions from 6.37 until 6.43.

There were 12 teams that participated. Almost all were the 12 strong teams invited by CPL (Cyberathlete Professional League) as mentioned in Part 2 of this history. In the end, IFNT defeated HTML to take the victory. This was the more carefully organized online DotA tournament. Advertisements giving advance notice, replay release after the tournament and live casting were all performed fairly satisfactorily.

It is interesting to note that the now infamous trilane (3-1-1 laning) emerged during the time between the 6.32 and 6.37 eras in the SEA scene. It is rumoured to have first been used by lesser known teams at WCG Malaysia 2006 in August. The first time it can definitely be proven to have been used in a competitive match was in the semi-final BO1 (best of one) match of WCG Asia 2006 by Singapore's MI2 (stylized way of writing MR) facing their dominant countrymen, Zenith. With Zenith's star-studded squad of GPS, Ant, ToFu, LuX and iceiceice on ten month long winning streak, MI2 needed a miracle.

MI2, winners of WCG Asia 2006 and pioneers of the trilane
From left to right: ShouRy (mutton), jiabaoZ (jb), dot-dotrk, K-yLeng, Scotts

Facing a gank-heavy lineup from Zenith with the possibility of a dual-stun lane, MI2 ingeniously trilaned an Enigma, Vengeful Spirit, Medusa bottom against a solo Sven. Threatened with complete lane domination, Zenith was forced to pull the dual jungling Sand King and Chen all the way from Scourge jungle to bottom lane for support, costing them experience and gold. Ultimately, with Medusa strong beyond imagining, MI2 was able to take three towers with their first push and force Zenith to "gg" with the next.

On September 24th 2006, in a showmatch between MI2 and coL, Asia's gank style met EU's lane-control style to determine which one was stronger. The match became the focal point of discussion for many and appealed to countless fans.

MI2 was the winner of the most recent WCG Asia 2006 (World Cyber Games). coL had just defeated tPD and become the winner of CAL (Cyberathlete Amateur League). The two teams met at their peaks and the match attracted worldwide attention. Due to poor internet connections, both sides fought well in one match each and the contest was split one apiece.

In the first match, coL dominated with their standard AOE 4-protect-1 Clinkz. (This was still early on in the 6.37 era) In the second match, MI2 dazzled with their offensive trilane (as opposed to their farming trilane vs. Zenith).These two matches were classic matches full of historical significance. From this point on, the gank and lane-control styles of play began to interact, both trying to borrow from the strengths of the other.

Soon after this showmatch, EU and NA teams led by MYM and coL began experimenting with trilanes as a situational strategy for offensive purposes or farming. Popular picks in the SEA scene such as Viper and Queen of Pain entered the competitive pool of EU and NA DotA.

Mainstream strategies and hero picks

As alluded to previously, there were many big changes since the 6.32 version that brought an end to the AOE era and begun the fast push with summons era. These changes included:

-Mekansm could no longer be stacked.
-The items Vanguard and Bottle were introduced.
-Tangoes were buffed to heal 75 more HP (health points).
-Denied units gave off some experience instead of none.
-A reward of 200 gold was now given to team members when an opposing tower was destroyed.

Changes to game mechanics to denies as well as the buff to tangoes allowed melee heroes such as Beastmaster and Bristleback to become viable for the first time.

6.37 wasn't actually a very balanced version. Under -LM mode in 6.37, the Sentinel fast push using summons strategy with Chen and Enchantress was almost unstoppable by Scourge. Even with the Spectre trilane strategy, Scourge lost more games. This is why players began to doubt the balance of competitive matches and to consider the possibility of using -AP mode over -LM. Thus began a shift in public opinion regarding the competitive mode.

Several versions that followed 6.37 were stable competitive versions, but these versions made some important changes with some looking like they'd been made in a rush.

Birth of Bottle-Crow

6.38 introduced the new items Arcane Ring, Flying Courier, Mjollnir and Vladmir's Offering. As well, the siege unit was added as a creep type. The Bottle was buffed immensely by allowing runes to refill an empty bottle and a buff to the mana regeneration of each sip. A new hero Priestess of the Moon was introduced.

6.39 continued with the changes, the significant ones being: addition of -RD mode, addition of the OB (observer) stat table, and two new heroes, Geomancer and Dazzle.

DotA 6.3x was the era where DotA spread worldwide and continued its evolution as an e-sport. During this time, large-scale tournaments with influence worldwide were held providing the conditions for different DotA playstyles to interact (trilanes and Queen of Pain being two examples). The rationales behind different strategies blended and gained from the strengths of each other preparing for the arrival of a new era.

The above represents the fast push with summons era of DotA's history.

Source: http://www.playdota.com/forums/329512/dota/
Chinese Author: IloveThis
Chinese Editor: xuyou

Special thanks goes to shostakovich for reading over a preliminary draft and providing suggestions and corrections!