• DOTA 2 and League of Legends are like the NBA and ABA of esports
12.05.13

DOTA 2 and League of Legends are like the NBA and ABA of esports

When the 2014 contracts fell into the eager hands of League of Legends pros, they noticed a curious clause in it. They had been prohibited from streaming themselves playing games made by Riot’s competitors. At the top of the list was Valve’s DOTA 2, that other multiplayer online battle arena game. Riot has a right to be concerned. DOTA 2 is the O.G. MOBA in esportland.  

It looks like we have an AFL-NFL rivalry on our hands, with two leagues vying for talent and attention. You could also compare it to the situation in the 60s between the NBA and the ABA, when the ABA sprouted up because the NBA was reluctant to grow. Eventually, in both cases, an agreement was reached and the leagues merged, proving mutually beneficial, as we wound up with two fantastic sporting leagues.

This outcome for esports is unfeasible considering the way they work. For one, although League of Legends and DOTA 2 are similar to the untrained eye, the devil’s in the details. Both Valve and Riot have spent years tweaking and perfecting the systems and physics and values as they see fit. Which brings me to my second point: the question of ownership. No one owns the game of basketball, so it’s pretty easy for two groups of teams to join up. But videogames are the property of the companies who develop them, and obviously neither would be willing to give that up. Expect the feud to continue.