DotA Origins: Part I

May 22 2019 5 min read

DotA Origins: Part I ⚡⚡⚡ Esports and gaming news, analytics, reviews on WePlay! The latest news on WePlay!

August 1, 2011, is the day when esports has changed forever. Valve announced The International, the first Dota 2 tournament with a prize fund of $1,6 million. However, before that, "defense of the ancients" had a very long journey, nine years long. You can get acquainted with the history of the map, which granted us two super-popular games at once.

Aeon of Strife


Everyone knows that Defense of the Ancients is a custom map for WarCraft III, but its history goes even earlier. In 2002, Aeon64 released Aeon of Strife for StarCraft: Brood War.

There was no gameplay familiar to RTS on this map: you had only one unit to play with. Two teams of four players each had to protect their buildings from creeps marching along the four corridors. A distinctive feature of the map was the last hit mechanics of the: having finished off the creep, the player received minerals that he used to strengthen his own hero. It was necessary to kill the four enemy characters or to destroy the main headquarters, making your way past the defence towers.

When Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos came out in the summer of 2002 with a revolutionary for its time map editor, many players tried to transfer Aeon of Strife to the new brainchild of Blizzard. The fact that the characters in WC3 could gain levels turned out to be the next step in the development of the genre.

Four abilities, levelling, inventory to carry items — all these pieces somehow found their place in DotA. This gave new space for the creators of custom maps, and many of them began to experiment.

DotA Origins — Eul


Towards the end of 2002, Kyle "Eul" Sommer created a custom map called the "Defense of the Ancients" (DotA).  Yes, IceFrog had developed and upgraded the mode, but Eul was the guy to give the birth to the idea. Well, Sommer took the works of several other users. In the starting version, there were 32 heroes and 39 items available. The map gained popularity on, but it was still far from real success.


After the release of Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, the community received new features. Now maximum hero level is not limited to ten, any ordinary unit could be made a hero and a large number of different chips.

Eul has released a new version of his map called DotA 2: Thirst for Gamma in TFT. It did not become successful, and at some point, Kyle decided to abandon mapmaking. However, he did an extremely important thing: he made the map's code open, leaving the community the right to do what they want.

Guinsoo's ideas


Guinsoo is in the red shirt

Steve "Guinsoo" Feak has played a huge role in the development of DotA. His ideas and works led to the formation of DotA competitions, but DotA Allstars, the map that became the progenitor of an entire genre, was not invented by him.

Meian and Ragn0r took very popular characters from different versions of Defense of the Ancients, collected them in one map and called it "DotA Allstars Beta v.0.95". By the way, precisely because of this union, the word "Allstars" appeared. The official history of "Defense of the Ancients", as we know it, starts here.

It turned out that the main problem is the balance, and this is exactly the task that Guinsoo worked on. With great speed, Steve corrected errors and released updates. Also, Feak invented the recipes to create more decent items from the simple ones. Previously, players preferred to not buy cheap items, because there are only six slots, and it was better to immediately get effective and expensive artefacts.

Also, thanks to Guinsoo, runes appeared in the centre of the map. Thus, the developer introduced map control. In addition, he shifted the importance of farming creeps increasing the rewards for killing heroes and added revival delay.


On April 26, 2004, Guinsoo released DotA Allstars v.4.0a. Roshan appeared. Steve named him after his favourite bowling ball. With Feak's success and work performance, he gathered like-minded people around him. Steve "Pendragon" Mescon and Abdul "IceFrog" Ismail. Together they created Team DotA Allstars (or TDA).

In October 2004, TDA created its own website,, where the latest versions were released and users could leave feedback. Over a million people attended the forum every month.

A month later, the latest version of the Fifth Era was released - DotA Allstars v.5.84c v2. The map has become legendary because of its stability. It was there that the first competitions began to take place, and the map remained popular for a long time. After that, Guinsoo released v.6.01 and announced that he was leaving the project (it was rumoured that he was invited to develop World of Warcraft, and after a certain time he would become the creator of League of Legends).

6.xx era — IceFrog's genius


After Steve Feak's departure, Neichus became the main developer for a short period. He came up with a large number of new heroes in addition to the 69 characters that were created under Guinsoo, but he completely forgot about the balance.

IceFrog began to correct errors. It took him a long year to release 6.27b version. However, it was this map that became the next stable version, replacing 5.84. A large number of tournaments began to run on it. So, the World Cyber Games 2005 was held at 6.27b. 


Version 6.30 was the esports revolution as there appeared viewers. Previously, there could be 10 players in the game, but now two more spots have been added. This greatly simplified the recording of matches and led to an increase in the competitive scene.

DotA scene began growing in 2006, and the first professional teams appeared. This time (and the version was 6.32) became known as the "AoE era". Many effects could have been summed up with each other, so the effect of the five Mekansms was very hard to stop.

On September 10, 2006, IceFrog released 6.37. New stiff: rewards for tower destruction, some AoE items and nerfed abilities. The meta tactic was quick push.

Around the same time, Riot Games announced the creation of League of Legends, a new game with DotA mechanics, and DotA itself began to appear on more and more tournaments. In November 2006, the first MyM Pride Defending tournament took place: a series that had a great influence on the development of the esports ecosystem.

We can say that from this point on, DotA stopped to be just a fun custom map and became an esports phenomenon. We will talk about the development of esports in the second part of our material.

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