Jess Colwill, December 28, 2016

The Biggest Dota 2 Stories of 2016

It’s been another incredible year for Dota 2, the MOBA which continues to shatter records. Not only was this year’s incredible International the biggest esports prize pool on record with a purse of more than $20 million, but this year Dota 2 actually surpassed League of Legends as the most profitable esport game for players of all time, tallying up more than $65 million in prize money provided to its star teams since launch.

Never mind the money, though, Dota 2 was also a fascinating game to watch this year on spec. Wings Gaming won one of the most entertaining Internationals of the last few years, while OG (twice) and Team Secret also claimed Major victories despite roster upheaval. And perhaps the most exciting thing about it is that Dota 2 could feel completely different in 2017 thanks to a certain recent patch...

Let’s take a look at some of the stories that made Dota 2 such a winner in 2016.

That World-Changing 7.00 Patch

Even though it’s only a few weeks old, the now-infamous 7.00 patch turned the world of Dota 2 on its head. Pro players have been forced to go back to the drawing table, as changes to jungle creep spawn times and an increase in the bounty rune count from one to four mean that old habits and well-honed routines are now right out the window. The importance of contesting those map resources is now paramount, and the addition of shrines to provide mini-HP boosts will mean fewer trips back to the fountain, all of which means more exciting team fights for you, the viewer!

But that’s not all... not by a long shot. Leveling stats is gone, and a hero-specific talent system that bears a superficial similarity to Heroes of the Storm is here. The battlefield has been completely overhauled, relocating Roshan to the top of the river and changing every juke path. All that time you spent learning the map like the back of your hand? Start learning again!

Dota 2 Roshan

Let’s not get bogged down in talking about how 2016 was the year Dota 2 was completely revolutionized. If you want more of that, you can check out theWonderCow’s complete breakdown! Let’s take a look at...

Monkey King, the Banana Champion

Dota has been around for a long time, and even though Dota 2 is a thoroughly modern and very classy reworking of the classic mod, nobody has been brave enough to create an entirely new hero… until now.  

Dota 2 The Monkey King

Enter Monkey King, who arrived with the world-changing 7.00 patch, but was overlooked due to the fact that the 7.00 patch was so revolutionary. This illusion-heavy agility hero eats bananas and can transform into a tree, as well as perch on top of trees and spring down onto unsuspecting enemies. He can also summon an army of clones to march outwards from him, a devastating force that can be difficult to counter.

2016 also introduced the Underlord to Dota 2, a reworked Pit Lord from the original Dota and the last remaining hero to be convertedso now the entire Dota roster is complete!

Team Secret Makes Headlines for all the Wrong Reasons

Team Secret turned up in the news in a big way in September, but unfortunately for them it wasn’t for winning a tournamentit was because Jack "EternaLEnVy" Mao wrote a furious post denouncing team management for failing to pay their players, claiming that they owe him nearly $30,000 and have been secretly taking a cut from the winnings without telling any of their lineup.

Dota 2 Team Secret

Mao went on to allege that Team Secret had failed to deliver on promised sponsorship hardware multiple times, and that team captain Clement "Puppey" Ivanov’s bad temper (backed up with this video of him smashing his headphones into and breaking his monitor in rage) had driven team morale down and Team Secret were unwilling to address it.

EternalEnVy’s claims were backed up by Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen, a former Team Secret player now playing for Digital Chaos. In his own story, he explained that he too had been stiffed by Team Secret and had to hire a lawyer to get them to hand over the money he owed.

If there’s one lesson we can all take away from this, it’s that joining a pro team without a solid contract in place is a bad idea! Skype chats and Discord messages are not legally binding, so don’t sign up for a team and don’t try to build your own team if you don’t have the legal contracts ready to go.

You Can Now Spectate Dota 2 in VR

Bored of spectating Dota 2 the usual way? Maybe you’d prefer to be doing it in VRassuming you own Valve’s own personal VR set, the HTC Vive. The update arrived in July, just in time for The International 2016, and allowed Vive owners to drop right into the games and spectate from on the ground, looking at the life-size heroes and mobs as they run past.

Once in the game, you can move around freely, teleporting by clicking on the minimap, tracking heroes, swooping up, down, in, and out. Or simply follow along at ground-level like you’re part of the action. You can also bring friends with you if you’re so inclined, and you can all wear a variety of virtual Dota-themed hats. The future is now.

VR mode also includes a Hero Showcase, if you’ve ever wanted to take a close-up look at your favorite champions. Remember this is life-size, so you’ll need to bend down to take a look at Sniper and back up to get a full view of Tidehunter.

The Boston Major’s 80-minute Final Game had Everybody Screaming

The scene: The Boston Major final round. The teams: OG and Ad Finem. It’s Ad Finem’s first time playing at the top level of competitive Dota 2they’ve lost to OG already, they’re the clear underdogs and they’re already over the moon to have got this far. Everyone is expecting the final round to be an OG wipe.

But 80 minutes later, in one of the most tense, nail-biting games of Dota 2 on record, Ad Finem’s Earthshaker Verros “MNT” Apostolos turns invisible with his Shadow Blade, sneaks into the heavily-damaged Dire base behind enemy lines, and delivers the final blow to the coresmashing it into the ground and clinching an incredible win for the team. Watch the video below to hear the commentators absolutely losing it in excitement.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to clinch the Major for Ad Finemthey lost the next game to OG, who took their third victory to win the round and the Major. Still, this was hands-down one of the best games of the year and, if nothing else, Ad Finem have shown they’ve got what it takes to perform at the top.

Jess Colwill

Jess is a writer and dog-lover from the eastern coast of Australia, who loves playing games (particularly anything by BioWare), listening to metal, baking, and fostering rescue dogs while they wait for new homes. You can find her on Twitter at @notsocryptic.