MOBAs - eSports trophy case
Trophies stand inside a display cabinet at the training center of the SK Telecom T1 professional video-game team, sponsored by SK Telecom Co., in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. Video game competitions, known as eSports, have been expanding as gamers seek to shift perceptions around their craft from a basement hobby to a serious money making industry. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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MOBA is a subgenre of strategy games ignored in its initial years, despite having a very firm and niche fanbase. By that time, It rarely dragged the attention of the regular gamers (or even media) until it became a very viable eSports game.

We can say that MOBAs came from the dead to rule the competitive scene of eSports, surpassing other popular genres like Shooters, Arcade, or Fighting games. The journey wasn’t easy, but three games achieved greatness; the first started the fire, the second spread the word, and the third rule the world.

A Look Back

The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) concept appeared in 1989 when the Real-Time Strategy game, Herzog Zwei, was released for the Genesis console. Although the gameplay was nothing similar to what MOBAs are now, HZ laid the foundations for what was to come.

In 1998 Blizzard Entertainment launched the mythic strategy game Starcraft. One of the most significant changes was the StarEdit, a function that allowed the player to create personalized maps. Was the modder Aeon64 the first user to design a three lanes map. The rest of the plot was practically empty, but his creativity was the sparkle that ignited the path for the next generations of MOBAs.

It is impossible not to talk of MOBAs without naming DotA and his predecessor Dota 2. The sequel was, in fact, for a long time the most played game of its kind. Nonetheless, the big show began when Starcraft and Dota 2 started the eSports scene.

In 1998 Blizzard Entertainment launched the mythic strategy game Starcraft. One of the most significant changes was the StarEdit, a function that allowed the player to create personalized maps. Was the modder Aeon64 the first user to design a three lanes map. The rest of the plot was practically empty, but his creativity was the sparkle that ignited the path for the next generations of MOBAs.

It is impossible not to talk of MOBAs without naming DotA and his predecessor Dota 2. The sequel was, in fact, for a long time the most played game of its kind. Nonetheless, the big show began when Starcraft and Dota 2 started the eSports scene.

eSports Underdogs

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When Starcraft started to have its own eSports tournaments (1998), MOBAs were an underdog genre. Games like Pokémon, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Quake, Counter-Strike, and Warcraft already had an audience; meanwhile, the strategy title of Blizzard appealed only to a fraction of the spectators. But its most crucial fanbase was in South Korea, the country that it was to become the cradle of eSports.

The gameplay of Starcraft had everything to be a top eSports and eventually did it.

But the MOBA had another significant transformation years later, in 2011 The Dota 2 Tournament“The International” surpassed the 40 million USD in prizes, something never seen before. Suddenly, the Battle Arena’s stopped being the “weakest.”

Dota 2 were even more special for the viewers because they could enjoy the kills, the skills, and the strategy of a game with more options and champions than Starcraft. For instance, the game looked unbeatable…until a beast was released.

The number one eSports game

Despite popular belief, League of Legends is a MOBA that came out long before Dota 2. However, its competitive stage took longer to take off.

League of Legends, in its beginnings, was not as popular as the previously named video games. Although its gameplay was similar to Dota 2, gamers enjoyed other titles more.

In 2011 he had his first participation in the Dreamhack event. The prize pool was around $100,000, nothing compared to other eSports tournaments. The most popular teams were Team SoloMid, FnaticMSI, Epik Gaming, Counter Logic Gaming, and against All authority.

Fnatic won that tournament, but the real winner was the creator of LoL, Riot Games, who realized that their game had the potential to reach more and decided to continue with the tournament but redefine it and classify it as “Worlds”.

With improvements to gameplay and the competitive entry of LoL in South Korea, little by little, LoL was getting more players and fans than Dota 2 itself.

In 2013, the true reign of League of Legends began, both in its MOBA category and eSports scene. His third “Worlds” featured a player considered the best of all time; Faker “The Demon King.”

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Since then, Riot Games has kept the game on top, building regional leagues, creating quality content, balancing the game, constantly releasing updates, raising millions of dollars, and getting all the world’s attention. The impact generated by this MOBA meant that in 2019 “Worlds” was seen by 200 million viewers, doubling the number of people who saw the Super Bowl that same year.

Without a doubt, League of Legends brought greatness to MOBAs, which would not have been possible without Starcraft, DotA, and its predecessor.

Stay tuned to Last Word on Gaming for all the latest gaming news and reviews.

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