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DotA is shorthand for Defense of the Ancients, which was an extremly popular player-created map for WarCraft III. It was based upon the (also popular) Aeon of Strife series of maps for StarCraft.

DotA was created by a player named Eul in 2003. Afterwards, since that player was no longer supporting the map, another played named Steve "Guinsoo" Feak picked up the torch with a modified map that he named "DotA Allstars". He kept up development until the map reached the 6.01 version mark, where it was then handed over to Abdul "IceFrog" Ismail, who continues to make DotA games professionally today, far past the limited toolset that was given for WarCraft III. Much like the term "Diablo Clone", DotA is also used as a genre title for this specific type of gameplay. Shortly after the map's release, it easily dominated the custom game list in WarCraft III, and continues strong today.


Before the match begins, each player will select a hero for the map. Each hero has his or her own unique abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, and the heroes themselves can be compared to the classes you would find in an ARPG. They can also gather and equip different types of gear and consumables throughout the match.

Each player begins on one end of the map, and the objective is to capture and hold flags while destroying your opponent's base, effectively mixing the simple mechanics of an ARPG with that of a tower defense-style game. During the match, different groups of units will spawn during pre-set intervals and head towards the enemy's base. The player must stop these units and the opposing heroes while holding flags and destroying enemy structures.

Beyond WarCraft III[edit]

Due to the popularity of the gameplay mode (for good or ill), it is no surprise that the genre has extended beyond usage in WarCraft III. It is also in constant production in any RTS game that has an editor, and there are also standalone titles.

Some games based upon the DotA formula were designed by IceFrog himself, such as Heroes of Newerth and League of Legends, while other games have been released without any mediation from the original creator, such as Demigod.

A game simply titled "DOTA 2" is in production under the Valve development team, and it is being produced by IceFrog.