A screenshot showing esport game DOTA 2 gameplay

How to Watch DOTA 2: The Easiest Guide for a Total Beginner

In Blogpost, eSports, gaming, how to's by Digital Bunker Overlord0 Comments

You’re going to pop your DOTA 2 tournament viewing cherry, congratulations!

Like any first times, a DOTA 2 match for a beginner can be an awkward and confusing experience, but we’re going to guide you along your journey. We promise it won’t hurt.

We’ve laid out the silk sheets and wrote a super easy beginner’s guide to watching a DOTA 2 match.

Why DOTA 2 is fun to watch:

Like any great sport, DOTA 2 (Defence of the Ancients) is a fantastic game to play. In the year that the game was released (2011), DOTA 2 won IGN’s People’s Choice Awards. Over 250,000 people voted, so it is a legit accolade to an excellent game.

But you certainly don’t have to play the game to watch it. If all else fails, you can simply replace yelling “BALL” at the footy with “GG” at DOTA 2. Easy.

DOTA 2 is a fast game of strategy and skill that is best suited for people who like team sports with constant action, smart tactics and drama.

Some gamers playing Defence of the Ancients on their computers

Let’s have a look at the essential rules of the game:

  1. DOTA 2 is a team sport. There are 2 teams, 5 players each.
  2. The game is played on a map, with two bases on opposite sides. To differentiate them, one base is the dark Dire side, the other base is the light Radiant side.
  3. Each side has a couple of towers, and a main structure called an Ancient. The aim is to knock down the towers, infiltrate the opposition’s base and destroy their Ancient before they destroy yours, hence the name Defence of the Ancients.

We can be Heroes:

Each player chooses a character to play as, which in DOTA 2 is called a Hero. There’s over 100 Heroes to choose from, and each have their own abilities.

Heroes can fulfil different roles in the game, but the mains ones are “supports” and “carries”. Supports tend to be strong early in the game, carries are often weak to begin with and level up to be incredibly powerful later on.

Heroes begin every game at level 1, and require experience and items to get strong enough to destroy the Ancient.

Down the Lane:

A top down map view of DOTA 2 showing top lane, mid lane and bottom lane

The map where the game is played contains 3 paths that head toward the Ancient. These paths are called “lanes”, and the lanes are named top lane, mid lane and bottom lane.

I’m a Creep:

In regular 30 second intervals, foot soldiers known as “creeps” spawn, and run down the lanes to automatically fight any enemies for you until they die. Brave little critters.

Detouring off the lanes in the jungle areas of the map, there are also hidden neutral creeps, which anyone can find and fight with.

Creeps serve the important purpose of giving Heroes opportunities to fight them to gain experience points and gold.

Much of the early game is about levelling up and buying items to become stronger, so skilfully leveraging creep kills gives players first advantage in the game.

It’s Just a Phase

Professional DOTA 2 games generally run for about 30-45minutes.

The game doesn’t have time limits or defined quarters, but you can view it in general phases.

  1. Laning phase: In the early game, the teams split off down the lanes and try to level up their Heroes with experience and items. It becomes a hectic survival game as teams try to outpace and disrupt the other team’s progress to gain first advantage.
  2. Mid game: You’ll begin to see team fights. This is also the part where teams may look at taking down Roshan, who is a super hard to kill dragon in the middle of the map. There’s many perks to killing Roshan that can push a team to the winning advantage.
  3. Late game: Teams are super strong and Heroes are at such high levels that it takes ages for them to respawn once killed. Strategic and accurate team plays at this stage become critical, as the death of a Hero can give the opposition time to do significant damage to the base.

Nek Level

That’s the nitty gritty of the game. Like the crazy stats obsession that spectators can delve into with the likes of Fantasy Football in the AFL, DOTA 2 can get really indepth with its strategy and team game play. You’ll discover this very quickly after watching a few matches.

The International DOTA 2 championships in Seattle

Where do I watch DOTA 2?

With the DOTA 2 International 6 already racking up a huge prize pool, and our very own Digital Bunker tournament under way, you’ll have many great reasons for watching DOTA 2!

To get you started, give these a go:


This is the match that contains the infamous “$6 million Echo Slam”. This match also features a memorable moment in shoutcasting (esport commentary) with the phrase “It’s a disaaaaaaster!”

To explain the above video, this is a fantastic article to get your head around DOTA 2’s critical game play by breaking down one specific, and albeit epic maneuver.

Not the cracker of a final that we’d hoped, but it was the year that Valve introduced a Newcomer’s Broadcast that featured easy to follow, “noob friendly” commentary. It’s like a nice sherpa guiding you over Mount Everest.

It’s new, and it’s local. There’s no commentary, but hey it’s our first run at a tournament so come test your DOTA 2 knowledge with us!


Image credits:

  1. Huge DOTA 2 Teamfight” by Anuraj Tapidas, YouTube video.
  2. Team rOtk steam-rolled team XBOCT” by DOTA 2 The Interntional is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
  3. Dota 2 minimap” by Diventox is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
  4. TonyBet to Offer Live eSports Betting as the Market Is Rapidly Expanding by BagoGames is licensed under CC BY 2.0.