NewBee and Evil Geniuses are two superstar sporting teams who oppose each other with arrows, swords and magic spells. They’re among the best in the world at DOTA 2, a multiplayer online battle arena game in which the main idea is to fight your way into and through the opponents’ territory with the aim of usurping their base. They battle in huge arenas in front of live audiences numbering in the thousands, with many more following the action live online. This year, the number of real and virtual spectators for The International, the world’s biggest DOTA 2 contest, in Seattle, topped two million. By winning the top prize, NewBee, from China, scooped over US$5 million.
DOTA 2 is the best-known MOBA game, along with League Of Legends. Other game genres have been pro gaming’s top-level option, such as first-person shooter (Halo) and most notably, real-time strategy with StarCraft II, which is still widely played, but the popularity of DOTA 2 means that MOBA is the current choice.
Mainly played on PCs, with simple versions available on smartphones, MOBA remains a mystery to many who would consider themselves hardcore gamers. That might change: when Apple launched iPhone 6, it showed off the device’s gaming capability with Vainglory, a seemingly rich and complex small-screen MOBA.
So what’s so special about it? “Mainly that it’s so unbelievably complicated,” says Toby Dawson, aka TobiWan, a pro gaming expert. “DOTA 2 is one of the most difficult games there is. The players have to work together and if one of them makes a mistake, the whole team loses.”
NEW MOBA Games
The never-ending saga of the giant robots shifts to the next level. Having conquered kids’ bedrooms and the box office, it now comes to gaming as an action-packed mix of MOBA and third-person shooter, in which teams of four players try to reduce their opponents to scrap metal.
Arena of Fate
Playing in teams of five – standard for MOBA gaming – you preside over battles between icons of myth, legend and history. Does Little Red Riding Hood stand a chance against Nikola Tesla? Who would win a duel between Baron Samedi (left) and Baron Munchausen? Now you can find out.