Dota 2 is currently one of the most popular eSports games and enjoys a thriving community. In addition to attracting a huge player base, the game is famous for being one of the most financially rewarding and is a leading example of the vast potential of eSports. The number of successful teams and professional players just keeps growing alongside the popularity of the game, but success did not happen overnight. Behind the flashiness of the Dota 2 we see today, there are a number of pioneers whose efforts laid the foundations for the current explosion in the game’s popularity.
Gabe Newell is THE person most responsible for the current game. The founder of Valve Corporation (the video game company behind the title), Newell started the project of Dota 2 in 2009 by purchasing the rights for Defence of the Ancients Warcraft III mod. Thanks to Newell, the beta version became available in 2011 and two years later the official version was released. The next huge leap into the eSports domain was again initiated by Newell with the announcement of The International in 2011. It was the first eSports tournament to offer a huge prize pool and the $1,000,000 pot caused a real stir. The tournament is now a staple in the industry and has awarded the biggest prize pool in the history of eSports at over US$20 million. Ever since he issued his first “Welcome to the International!” greeting, Newell has kept close to the community and listened to its voice.
There is no greater mystery in the Dota 2 world than the identity of IceFrog. Currently the lead developer in Dota 2, his involvement with the game stretches back to its first version, when it was still a Warcraft III mod. Although not the inventor of the game, he became a developer in 2005 and later took on the project single handedly. IceFrog introduced many new innovations and balance changes during the following couple of years before he was approached by Valve in 2009 to be the lead programmer of the upcoming standalone version of the game. In 2010, there was an attempt to reveal his identity and the name of Abdul Ismail was widely circulated but the speculation and rumours were never verified and the mystery continues.
One of the more colorful personalities in the industry, Bruno ‘Statsman’ Carlucci has been playing the game since version 6.20 which came out in 2005.
Bruno is one of the first people to introduce a statistical system to professional Dota 2. His interest in pro Dota statistics was sparked after he attended The International 2011. At the next edition of Dota’s biggest event, he was on the casting panel and later joined the GD Studio. It was then that he announced his plans to create a website to provide for the statistical needs of the professional Dota 2 community, called Dota Academy. Being an essential part of the community, Bruno decided to continue his influence on the game from behind closed doors and joined the Valve team as a software engineer in 2015, after being offered a full-time position.
Toby ‘TobiWan’ Dawson is a household name for every Dota 2 fan. The Australian can justifiably be described as ‘the voice of Dota 2’ and is the most emblematic caster in the scene. The cheerful and passionate caster has been a key part of every Valve event to date, from the very first International in 2011. His adventure in the eSports world started when he became a Call of Duty player, who soon turned to commentary in order to increase the level of popularity of the game in Australia. Toby fell in love with Dota at the stage of the World Cyber Games when he plunged into the wild to fill a vacant spot and cast the Dota tournament after no one else was available. Despite having played only three games prior to that, Tobi created great hype and excitement around the tournament which turned out to be a major success. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ben ‘Merlini’ Wu is a former top pro player who moved into casting with BeyondTheSummit. He was known as one of the best players in the early Dota days making a name for himself with heroes such as Zeus, Tinker and Rubick. He became a pro player in 2006 with one of the strongest teams at the time, MYM. Before switching to Dota 2, Merlini was a part of EG, SK Gaming and OK.Nirvana.int. Several years later he moved into Dota 2 but it was not met with the same level of success. However, despite struggling to get on the top of the pro scene, Merlini wanted to stay with it and now spreads his invaluable game knowledge behind the microphone as a hugely popular analyst and caster.