August 1, 2011, was a monumental day for not just Dota 2 but for all of esports. Esports tournaments until this day had relatively low prizepools and even then a lot of prizemoney didn’t get to the players. There were a lot of scams involving scummy organizations and managers. In fact, the maximum prizepool that a tournament had paid out up until that day, was $14,000 by ESWC. And then came ‘The International’.
The International, the first ever public showing of Dota 2 by Valve, would be held at Gamescom. A tournament for the best Dota teams from all over the world was great way to introduce Dota 2. But what followed was one of the biggest shocks any DotA player at that time would have experienced. Valve announced, in a blog post, that the winning team will receive $1 million for their efforts. The announcement was shocking enough to leave multiple pro DotA teams skeptical about the legitimacy of the event!
The DotA forums across the world went nuts on that day. This day still remains as one of the most historic days in esports.
July 10, 2013, was the day in which Dota 2, after years of meticulous testing, two Internationals, and several Access Passes/Starter Packs opened up to the general public. The game, as we now know, was an immediate hit amongst the masses becoming the biggest game on the Steam platform, boasting a monthly user base of more than three million - the largest in Steam's history (till PUBG broke the record that is) with peak concurrent users of over 300,000.
The ‘Beta is Over’ update sparked one of the largest peaks that Dota 2 has ever seen and continues to remain as an iconic day where Dota 2 went mainstream.
May 6, 2013, was the day that cemented Dota 2’s legacy as the highest paying esport amongst the many out there. While the introduction of the compendium and crodwfunding took Dota 2’s prizepool to new heights, no one would have ever imagined that in 4 years, it would help push the prizepool levels to over $24 million.
Although the compendium of TI3 looks like a cheap knock-off version of today’s expansive and feature filled battlepasses, we would have definitely not reached the heights we have today if it weren’t for Valve and the simple 1 HUD, 1 Taunt, 1 Immortal and 1 Courier it gave.
It was June 17, 2018, and the sixth season of StarSeries was winding down. RoX.KiS would end their unsuccessful campaign with a match against zRAGE on the final day of the round robin. No matter what happened, the outcome wouldn’t affect the standings. But it turned out that the outcome would forever change the way we look at Pro Dota 2 games.
The heavily-favored RoX squad lost to zRAGE in a game that they were expected to win thanks to some bizarre plays. It could have been just a case of a team clowning during a meaningless game, but evidence surfaced that the then RoX.KIS player Alexei “Solo” Berezin had bet against his team. With the odds so firmly in his team’s favor, the bet would turn $100 and a loss, into $322.
$322 may not seem like a lot, but it is by far the source of the biggest and most well-known scandal that Dota 2 has ever had. Though it wasn’t the first case of matchfixing in esports, it was the first high-profile case in Dota 2.
While it has since evolved into little more than a harmless meme (in-game — or in Twitch chat — it is now basically shorthand for any play that is ‘throwy’ enough to be suspicious. 322 simply refers to match-fixing.) It was a reality check to everyone who believed that the Dota 2 esports world was all ideal and showed us that its transition to becoming a mainstream sport might bring in its own problems.
December 6, 2013: Back in the day, "Welcome to Dota, you suck" was classic Dota 2 advice, but there was no way to determine how much someone sucked. Valve fixed that with the introduction of Ranked Matchmaking.
While other games had ranked matchmaking for years before Dota 2 introduced their own system. This was the first time that one could finally find out how good they actually were, and was the first step for many of Dota 2’s current player crop (Including Miracle, Ramzes666, and W33ha) to get recognized in the pro scene.
June 18, 2015: It was ten months since Valve released the Source 2 toolkit for Dota 2 custom game mode developers. It was seven months since they confirmed that something big would be arriving in 2015, a project that accounted for the lack of Diretide and Frostivus and the ever-slowing rate at which new heroes arrive. And boy it did.
It really wasn’t simply a major update: it was practically a new game. Valve's mysterious alt-text writer might have joked that we were back in beta, but we really were. Two years into the life of Dota 2, we were on the cusp of a change that was so massive that the community moaned about it for months.
The introduction of custom games, a swanky new UI, better graphics (at least for some), and dozens of minor changes brought in a whole new wave of Dota adopters. Unfortunately, the newer players were just not enough to compensate the number of old-timers who left, saying that they missed the old Dota 2. This was the beginning of the decline of the peak player base.
Still get goosebumps
December 10, 2016: The idea of 'Dota 3' has always been a running joke in the Dota community, used whenever something changes so significantly that the game we knew might as well be dead. And because this is the Dota community, updates thought significant enough to qualify can be anything from shuffling Roshan slightly to the right to changing the size of the gold bounty granted by a kill when the level difference between the killer and victim is greater than the radius of the Tomato Creep’s aggro range were called as Dota 3, ‘jokingly’.
This update was however different. This might as well have been Dota 3. And because Valve apparently isn't allowed to use the number '3', they called it Dota 2 7.00.
That '7' is significant in and of itself. DotA was in version 6-dot-something for more than 10 years. A colossal shift not only in Dota 2's history, but the history of arguably the most influential mod in the entirety of esports. A complete rework of the game, from the interface to the map to the vital systems that power the most complicated competitive MOBA around.
This is definitely one of the most prominent days in Dota 2’s history and even in the case it turned out to be a dud (it most definitely wasn't), Dota 2 would have lingered on and adapted. If nothing else, these 7 incredible days prove that.
Valve showcasing OpenAI beating seasoned Dota 2 veterans at TI7
During the last edition of the biggest Dota 2 tournament in the world, The International 7, a surprise segment introduced what could be the best new player on the block - a bot from Elon Musk-backed startup OpenAI. The bot easily crushed Dota 2 legend Danil “Dendi” Ishutin in a live 1-vs-1 match. Some of the bot’s maneuvers looked eerily human. After being defeated by the bot twice, Dendi forfeited future matches with it, and expressed surprise that a bot could outplay a human. He said the bot “feels a little like a human, but a little like something else.”
While the bot has finally been beaten after pros had a few weeks of practice against it, it could be a monumental moment in the near future. Perhaps bots will replace humans and teams/players can start utilizing it to hone their skills.