Dota, The Most Honorable of Hobbies

Why do you play this game?

If you read the community forums or have friends that play the game, you would often come across stories of people talking about quitting Dota for good. Some succeed, but a majority come back to the game.

I’ve heard the argument many times that Dota is like an abusive relationship. You only stick to it because of some weird form of the Stockholm syndrome: Dota is what you know best, and you’ve invested far too much time and effort into this hobby to simply walk away, even though it doesn’t really contribute positive things to your life.

And, of course, there is some truth in that statement. The player base is undoubtedly toxic – even more so than most other anonymous online communities. Casual racism/nationalism, entitlement, extreme intolerance, and all other kinds of negatives aspects of human nature are rampant. You’re stuck with these people, their toxic attitudes and often even more infuriatingly – their incompetence, for an average of 40 minutes at a time.

Personally, I’ve been playing the game for ~13 years. Yet, somehow a “Stockholm syndrome” never struck me as a good enough explanation of why I play Dota.

A metaphor of life

In a match of Dota, you are invested in your goal – you want to win. Maybe you also want to distinguish yourself, and prove to yourself and others that you are actually exceptionally good. That you are special and deserve recognition from the people playing with you.

And sometimes you succeed – you play well, you go on this kill-streak, you are so strong, you carry your team to victory. And it feels amazing.

But quite often things don’t go your way. And it feels terrible. It feels as if the world is conspiring against you and putting you in toxic teams with incompetent teammates just so that you lose. And it feels like you can’t do anything about it.

enemy team

All credit belongs to the author, SFFORLIFE (Source)

A match of Dota, in a way, could be a good metaphor of life. It is indifferent to your wants, needs, and most importantly - feelings. It gives you the opportunity for amazing highs, but also absolutely brutal lows.

In the game, and in life, the odds are sometimes stacked against you. Just as you might not have been matched with the best teammates in Dota, you might not have been handed a great hand in life, in one way or another.

Yet, deep down in your gut, you know that if you pick up your sorry ass and stop blaming the circumstances, you might actually be able to win. Despite the odds being stacked against you, despite everyone flaming and blaming you, if you were just a bit of a better player, or just a bit of a better leader, you COULD turn the game around.

And if you have it in you to succeed in this brutal game, you might also have it in you to succeed in life.

The strive to become better

So, in a way, what I love most about Dota is that it is extremely complex and challenging.


That in order to succeed, you need to work for it. There is no way to fake it.

Microing Meepo clones or doing fluent Invoker combos doesn’t come easily – it requires hours of practice and many failures before you can reap the benefits. Developing an acute game sense is also something you get with practice – there’s no shortcut. 

To acquire these skills, you need to dispense of your delusions of being good enough, and to adopt a totally different attitude – one in which you are determined to make an effort to constantly improve.


That in order to win, you need to have enough knowledge and to use it creatively.

The meta is constantly changing thanks to the ingenuity of people and IceFrog’s interventions. You can never stay stagnant of your understanding of the game or you’ll fall behind. 

Simply listening to people better than you talk about the game could be an incredible learning experience in itself. But what I really love is that once you have a solid base of knowledge, you can start using your own creativity. Discovering new builds, hero combinations, tactics and strategies that work well is one of the most fun and rewarding things you can do in this game.


That in order to be successful, you need to work with people. That you need to set aside your own ego in the name of the common goal. 

You have to force yourself to be the better person: to rise above the pettiness and toxicity, and to find the strength within you to give your teammates the morale boost and sense of direction needed to improve your chances of winning even when there seems to be no hope.

And if you succeed...


Above: OG at TI8

Unless you become the best in the world, you wouldn’t be rewarded with something huge. You’ll simply get an MMR number higher than the one you currently have. And at first glance, MMR is just a number, but at the same time – it’s not. It is an objective representation of your success that other people can’t take away.

You don’t have to be 7k MMR to be successful – not everyone needs to become a pro player. Even if you were 1k and you got to 1.5k, this is a big victory in itself. It is proof of your improvement – of your determination, strength of character, and cunning that you used in order to overcome the odds.

It’s proof that you can do it – and if you can do it in this brutal game, then you can probably do it in other aspects of life you put your mind to.

Our Community

I don’t think there is another video game community so obsessed with getting better at the game. A community, in which guides and other types of gameplay analysis are some of the most popular and widely created and consumed types of content. I think this is amazing, and despite the fact that we certainly have our shortcomings, at the end of the day I believe our community it is packed with smart, strong, and determined people.


My personal love for this complex and unforgiving game, the process of understanding it and getting better, is what kept me motivated for years until this site, which reflects my passion, became a reality.

I believe if you are similarly determined to challenge yourself and become better, you’ll really like our content. If you do – give us a follow on our social media (below) so that you get notified when we post new interesting things. You can also check out our subscription service if you're really dedicated!