Dota has been around for two decades, with Dota 2 just recently celebrating its 10th anniversary. Any franchise that remains successful for that long is bound to create memorable moments for its players, but one haunting reflection casts a dark shadow over what’s to come in the future.
One school teacher, going by the name TypicalBalkanAsshole on Reddit, recently posted a long look back at their experience with Dota 2, ranging from their own time with the game to how they’ve seen the changing competitive gaming landscape reflected through their students.
The user talked about how in 2003 they’d carry their mouse and keyboard with their friends to a local LAN cafe during the summer to play games together offline because Wi-Fi wasn’t available for them. They’d start fights over Counter-Strike matches, all before Dota released and changed everything.
Those LAN cafes shifted into something new. Players would queue up and wait for someone to call out that they needed one more player, and you would play together for hours in a scenario where “no one knew shit.” Dota became a culture that kept players running games all night, cursing at each other, and having a blast in a way that carries on to this day.
“The sweetest thing was that there was no crying on intentional feeding,” TypicalBalkanAsshole wrote. “You would just get slapped until your headphones fell off your head and you learned your lesson. We are here to play and try hard. The culture didn’t change much.”
The Reddit user continued by reminiscing about playing with Puppey, Dendi, and other legends of the game as Dota grew, as well as the last kiss they shared with their girlfriend at the time before receiving their beta key and booting up Dota 2 for the first time in 2011.
But that is where the talks of past love and triumph end, and the haunting truth of where Dota and other competitive PC games could be heading begins.
The original poster said Dota, League of Legends, CS:GO, and more are competitive games of the past because every child coming through the schooling system is glued to their phones from an early age. The Reddit user and several colleagues have looked at data and think new blood won’t flood the scene like it did for those games over the last 15 years, some of which is backed by other studies on the market dominance of mobile gaming.
That thread of memories sparked a wide range of responses from players around the world, including current and former legends like Alliance’s Loda, who simply commended the poster for their clear love of Dota and the community that still stands strong amid a changing gaming and entertainment landscape.
Everyone was sharing their own best memories of “the glory days,” but the fact remains that LAN cafes are less popular in countries where they were a gaming cultural hub and the pre-class discussions about Dota in regions like Southeast Asia have faded away alongside them. And while most comments weren’t as doom and gloom about the future of competitive PC games, there were plenty talking about how the golden years might be behind us.
“Only we are left for each other,” TypicalBalkanAsshole wrote. “The next time you tell your teammate to kill himself or to uninstall, remember that there is no one to replace him. One day you will hit the find match button, but the accept match will never pop up. Remember to respect your teammate and opponent and be grateful because he is actually a brother you share a hobby with. One day, this will be a memory. But don’t make this day come too soon.”
I am one of those players who left the queue long ago, only picking up Dota in recent years to play some fun pubs with friends or check out updates and the battle pass around The International. But my time away from mashing keys hasn’t dulled my love for the game I get to cover every day.
The community is still thriving, the competitive scene is never missing thrilling narratives to follow, and, at the end of the day, seeing someone lift the Aegis of Champions stirs something in all of us.
And none of this doom and gloom talk means Dota, or any of those other games, are actually dying but rather that the culture and the way people play games is changing. In fact, Dota 2 has been sitting pretty with an uptick in players as of late and CS:GO is getting a sequel at some point soon.
Dota 2 just celebrated its 10th anniversary and Valve has shifted to a new development timeline that will see the game getting a number of large updates and bundles each year as the team tries to make it better for all players heading into the future.
As many people have said in response to the impending “death” of Dota, the only way to keep the game alive is to boot up the game and run it down lane. In the wise words of Reddit user Glitter_puke: “Only thing to do about it is queue up. The future will happen at its own pace, but right now I need to hear people scream about the sexual escapades my mother gets up to in a language I don’t speak while I go hit creeps. I’ve been playing this game for 17 years and have no plan to stop.”