As the offspring of the original MOBA, Dota 2 had a lot to live up to. Ever since the first Defense of the Ancients (Dota) peaked in popularity as a custom map in Warcraft 3, developers saw the potential of expanding the Dota gameplay model to a full dedicated game. Years, and many failed attempts at creating a lasting entry to the genre, later only a few successful MOBA games exist. There is League of Legends (developed by Riot with the help of one of Dota’s creators), Heroes of the Storm (created by Warcraft 3 owners Blizzard), and Dota 2 (developed by Valve with help from the other creator of Dota). This history and connection to the genre puts Dota 2 in a unique situation for a title that is a direct sequel to the genre defining game.
All that being said, Dota 2’s success is a bit of a surprise. While the original Dota had a healthy following, it was nowhere near as large as League of Legends audience had become in the time before Dota 2’s release. This built the expectation that Dota 2 would release to very little hunger for more in the genre. It seems people didn’t anticipate just how big the brand new MOBA fanbase could become.
Dota 2 found success in being a faithful sequel to the original in nearly every facet. Where game like LoL made changes to the standard gameplay and interface that created a more welcoming environment to those who had never played a MOBA, Dota 2 stuck with the originals tough learning curve and high skill ceiling. This gave Dota 2 the opportunity to acquire the reputation as the more technical and professional of the two MOBA giants, with a healthy focus on competitive gaming and eSports.
As it stand now, Dota 2 pulls very comparable streaming numbers to League of Legends when the big tournaments are on. As it does cater to more of a hardcore and rigid audience, it will likely never be the top dog in the MOBA genre while more casual (but still very competitive) games exist. The Dota 2 community is strong and the game will be alive and kicking for years and years to come. So if you are thinking of getting in to a new MOBA game, or want to try out a MOBA for the very first time, the sequal to the game that started it all is not a bad choice.