Dota 2 vs League of Legends: By the numbers

Count

We’ve looked at a variety of differences between the world’s two most popular MOBA this week. For the final entry in this series, its time to crunch the numbers. How many players are there? How do the numbers stack up? It might not determine which game is best, but it certainly will tell us which one reigns supreme (for now).

Number of players

Mobs

Due to not being on Steam, it can be trickier to track the numbers for League of Legends. However, last time they released their stats, their peak was 7.5 million concurrent users. That’s a lot of dying Teemos. Meanwhile, Dota 2′s all-time peak is 843 024. While that is nothing to sneeze at, and it is still leaps and bounds ahead of all its major competition on Steam, it is still tiny compared to League of Legends. LoL is almost nine times bigger than Dota 2 – just think of how many servers that takes. I would love to give you details on whether LoL is growing, and the rate of change for LoL compared to the growth rate of Dota 2. However, with the lack of numbers available from Riot Games, it just isn’t possible to do so.

Of course, this explains why we talk about the MOBAs so much when it comes to eSports – with active players like these, it’s only natural that they get a lot of exposure. COD, Battlefield and others are a drop in the bucket by comparison.

Prize money

Moneycat

When it comes to prize money there really isn’t much comparison either, although this time in the other direction. While League of Legends is offering a rather respectable prize pool for the world championships of over $2 million, it simply can’t touch the prize pool for The International which is currently over $10 million and still climbing.

Before people climb all over me and say that there are more tournaments with prize money in League of Legends or any other argument, the reality is that between the two MOBA, Dota 2 players make more money from prizes. A lot more money; the highest paid Dota 2 players fill up 11 of the top 20 eSports earners, with the highest paid League of Legends player coming in at 27th place.

Spectators

Viewer cat

Last year, Dota 2′s third International was a huge success. It had a ridiculous prize pool, top teams, and a horde of spectators. Just over 1 million concurrent people tuned in on twitch, Gamefy and in game – that doesn’t even include the people who watched in groups at pub events or though other means. One million people watching eSports at the same time (so not counting the numbers that watched at various different times) – that’s pretty impressive.

A few months later, it was time for the League of Legends Season 3 finals, which dwarfed those numbers. 8.5 million people watched the game at the same time. The year before, LoL had 1.1 million concurrent streamers, how did an extra seven million viewers get on board in the space of a year? That is some impressive eSports viewing, and rivals views the royal wedding or the Olympics. Well done to you, LoL.

Up and coming competition

Competition

With the success of these MOBA, plenty of others are trying to get in on the profit. Some of them look like they will get some decent numbers. Heroes of Newerth (HoN) still gets some players, although the last time they posted about it was over a year ago and they were proudly grabbing 100k. SMITE has managed to grab 4 million players, but there aren’t any details about how many of those are concurrent.

Then there are all the other newcomers on the market – Dead Island, The Witcher, Infinite Crisis, Heroes of the Storm, Transformers, Dawngate, Arena of Fate. How much room is there for more MOBA? Will people really move from playing LoL or Dota 2 to playing The Witcher on mobile or Transformers? I think the Witcher will work for quick games, perhaps while waiting for your friends in a Dota lobby. However, I just don’t see all these other games surpassing LoL or Dota 2. Sure, there are plenty of MOBA players out there, but they are relatively committed to their MOBA of choice, and I don’t see them changing teams anytime soon.

Dota 2 vs League of Legends: Company philosophiesDota 2 vs League of Legends: Community InvolvementDota 2 vs League of Legends: Prizes and Tournaments Dota 2 vs League of Legends: Heroes and Champions

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Author:Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!
  • CiNiMoD

    Those stats are awesome. Personally, Im a LoL fan, and watching the LCS has become a weekly thing for me now. even the wife is slowly picking up a liking to it :P

    • frikkenator

      I find that explaining to people that I will spend time watching other people play a game, it is met with “but why?”. Once you explain that it is the same as watching any other sport and get them to sit down and watch a game or two they get into it quite quickly!

      • https://twitter.com/andreferhelst Aries

        true, and the only difference is that we actually learn things from watching others play the games, so it not like wasting time watching tv and learning nothing

  • ToshZA

    Interesting numbers, actually. And yet, there’s more dota news online (for me and where I go anyway) than LoL. Dota is also older, and since everything (heroes) is unlocked by default, I’d have expected closer numbers. Oh well.

    • frikkenator

      Dota 2 is considerably newer than LoL, and thus if you look at growth the user base growth of Dota 2 is much, much higher than that of LoL. I started playing Dota 2 1.5 years ago, and back then the number of unique players per month was 1.9 million, it is now just shy of 9 million.

      • ToshZA

        Dota 1 invented the genre. You don’t get older than that. Dota 2 is merely an upgrade to the first, as a standalone package.

        • frikkenator

          True, but a lot of players moved to HoN and LoL between Dota 1 and 2.

          • ToshZA

            Why didn’t they move back then? It’s just, odd to me you know?

          • frikkenator

            Yea sorry that’s what I was trying to say, even though Dota 2 is still way behind, it is growing much faster as those players are moving back to Dota.

          • ToshZA

            Well since they opened the floodgates a few months ago, the monthly unique numbers went from 6m to 8m. But that’s total, in a month. LoL has about that much, concurrently. That’s still a vast, vast difference.

            Whatever though, people will always play which ever game they prefer. But damn, the numbers.

        • Matthew Holliday

          yeah, but different company, different platform.
          dota 2 has probably had more players in its short time than wc3 dota ever had.

          • ToshZA

            This is why I’m surprised at just how big LoL is though. Dota was the original, the pioneer of the genre. I’d have expected closer numbers. I’m not saying either is superior, because I haven’t played LoL and I don’t have an opinion to share on that matter. But it’s still very surprising for me.

          • Chung Van Dao

            It’s not really surprising because DotA as a concept was always popular but underground due to its limited custom map status. LoL just takes the concept and brings it to the masses with less but more intuitive and simplified mechanics, more cutesy visuals and an unlock system that attracted MMORPG players. It was also heavily marketed and released years before Dota 2 so by the time the latter came out, LoL already had a giant snowball going its way. However, this doesn’t matter because quality > quantity. Objectively Dota 2 offers its players more for a better value (much more well-made client and features, everything is unlocked, you can even make money off cosmetic drops).

            Keep in mind that Riot doesn’t release publicly available data and instead opts to release “announcements” while Valve has actual data you can view by the hour and by the day. Also it’s a lot easier and there’s more “incentive” to have smurfs/secondary accounts in LoL. For instance it’s region-locked so an Aus/NZ/UK player with friends in America would want to opt to play on the NA servers but when solo queuing would rather play on a local/closer server.

            This is not to say that LoL isn’t more popular because it most certainly is and everything indicates towards that, just how many players it has, however, is another matter.

          • Cody

            The so-called superior benefits in DOTA 2 mentioned by you are arguable. Well-made client and features? In my honest opinion, LOL has a better and more simplified, yet cleaner client. DOTA 2 Interface is a mashup of different sections. Well I first played the game, I could hardly find the Options menu.

            Not everything is unlocked in DOTA 2. There are packages, skins that require players to buy, similar to LOL. If your argument simply illustrates the fact that the champions of LOL need to be unlocked with money, you are only half-correct. All champions can be bought with collectible and FREE in-game money, available after every single game you play in LoL, except under some special circumstances. If you pay some efforts into the game, sooner or later you can get all the champions by simply constantly playing LOL. It’s that simple, really.

            I am not really sure about the “announcements” part. If I have not mistaken, are you commenting on the speed of the announcements made by RIOT and Valve? You are not making sense here. I cannot relate this to the topic we are debating on.

            In my opinion, tutorials in DOTA 2 are boring, and not exactly fun. The interface (without lock camera mode) makes the screen a little bit uncontrollable. At least in LOL, you get the choose and alter locked screen mode. In-game guides and game modes are constantly replenished and improved by RIOT too. You cannot simply ignore that. So your opinions are really biased. I’d like to say both games are equal in many aspects.

    • Matthew Holliday

      the local LoL scene isnt as large as the local Dota 2 scene.
      if there was more demand for the news, there would be more news.

  • http://www.pornhub.com Doug

    Loving the eSports exposure atm. Cant wait until they are made into Olympic events ;)

  • Anthony Nell

    Well here is a little numbers game as well.

    DotA 2 sold the Compendium for TI4, which costs $10, of that amount $2.5 goes to the prize pool. So if we assume that each compendium sold is used by a player (you can only activate one per account) that is 4 million compendium owners. Besides the fact that obviously not everyone owns a compendium or could afford to buy/trade for one. That is roughly half the amount of unique players this last month, and possibly half the viewership of last years Ti3 tournament.

    Those numbers are increasing exponentially each year and I would hazard a bet to DotA 2 overtaking LoL in the near future numbers wise.

    • ToshZA

      A lot of that prize fund comes from people buying points to level up their compendiums. 25% of those sales were also added to the prize pool.

      • Anthony Nell
        • ToshZA

          And a portion of those extra funds, came from the extra points people bought. What’s the point in that link?

          • Anthony Nell

            it’s just a link demonstrating the funds and stats etc. I wasnt posing an argument or I would have made one. I don’t know if you are right or wrong, its just an interesting link.

          • ToshZA

            Well now I feel like a tool. Sorry. >_<

          • Anthony Nell

            lol I aint even mad

          • ToshZA

            lol, but I still acted like a tool, so apology stands. :)

          • Rags

            Dude you should have responded with “Then why did you not expand in the comment asshat?”. ;)

  • Chung Van Dao

    Those 8.5 million viewers include TV broadcasts in Korea & China – the two most populous and dominant regions of LoL. In terms of ratio of viewers-to-playerbase Dota 2 is doing better. IMO it’s a lot more exciting to watch.

  • Eugene

    I don’t trust Riot’s numbers.

    • Brady miaau

      indeed. Hidden is bad.

  • guobaorou

    Something to mention is that Chinese Dota 2 players (mostly) do NOT play on Steam and are not counted in those concurrent user numbers on Steam. A different company called Perfect World handles all the server/account/etc stuff in China for Dota 2.

    Tencent owns Riot, and as a result Chinese players (biggest single country for LOL by a mile) do get counted towards those numbers for LOL.

    So while it probably doesn’t get close to LOL’s huge numbers, but seeing as it is pretty popular over here it does give it a nice boost since China is probably the single biggest country for Dota 2.

    Another interesting bit about Chinese LOL vs Dota 2 is that Tencent has made it super, duper easy to sign up for LOL. Tencent owns QQ and Weixin, two instant messaging platforms that China essentially runs on these days. Tencent also owns Riot, and as a result LOL. That QQ login that basically every Chinese citizen has several of already works as a LOL login, so you just need to download a client and you’re good. The billing system is also all run through the same channels that people have already been using for close to a decade, so the barrier of entry for LOL in China is pretty darn low.

    That said, the LOL vs Dota dynamic here is pretty interesting cause while LOL is what everyone plays, Dota is what everyone watches. Dota 2 is almost considered “higher end” (and given China’s domination of pro Dota 2 compared to LOL, it doesn’t come as a surprise) while LOL is the everyman’s e-sport.

  • Brady miaau

    Naspers makes a fair amount of buck from their 30% stake (is it 30, think so) in Tencent.

    The numbers are jut staggering when I read how many users are on Tencent products globally, with most being in China.

    I still distrust Riot Games figures, because they are not transparent. I do, however, think they are viable.

  • Jadryga

    Gotta update the numbers… DOTA2′s peak hit 9million unique users in the past month.

    • Robin

      and lol got 27 mil so yea…

  • Robin

    And lol got now 27 mil so…. yea

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