There are many ways to enjoy Dota and spectating it is one of them. For many spectating Dota became more important to actually playing it. They might no longer have time, energy or motivation to go through a full match, but they can always tune in to a twitch stream and enjoy the highest level of Dota, while going about their everyday business.
For some, however, watching Dota is less of an option. They see it on a regular basis, they see people get excited about it and hear the casters go into overdrive mode in a tense situation, but they still do not understand it at all. This Valentine’s Day we have prepared some advice for introducing your special someone, be it your other half, your closest friend or your mom, to the world of spectator Dota.
It goes without saying that it is impossible to appreciate Dota without some basic understanding of what the game is about. Unlike other currently popular esports, Dota specifically, and MOBAs in general, are a lot more complex.
Don’t go too deep into strategy, meta, counterpicks or any of these things, since most of them will just sound as alien language for the uninitiated. Instead focus on core principles of having to destroy the enemy Ancient to win the game and the underlying requirements — getting stronger, pushing towers and potentially getting a lane of barracks.
For some the concepts of Health Points, Attack Damage, Mana and abilities will also have to be explained, but once again, concentrating on the basics is key. Don’t go too deep with Armor or different types of damage or you will potentially raise more questions.
The above advice holds true for when you are explaining some of the things heroes do — new spectators aren’t likely to be interested in cooldowns, manacosts and other things Dota. Instead, highlight what defines the hero — Venomancer can slow heroes down and deal a lot of damage, Nyx can scout for his team and disable the enemies etc.
Using showcase view in this context is also often quite beneficial — it might pique someone’s interest in the hero in the game through the design alone. After showcasing all heroes, following the hero a newbie spectator got the most interested in can be a good course of action as well. It will definitely come at an expense of your own spectator experience, but it will prevent information overflow for your special someone, allowing them to learn Dota in smaller, bite-size portions.
And don’t underestimate the power of lore. For many core gamers the hero models, their voiceovers and all the other fluff is not that interesting, especially after thousands of hours into the game. But for someone new it might be a hook that keeps them interested in the game and can ultimately be a gateway to actually playing Dota at some point.
Spectator sport is also interesting because of the personalities, the storylines and, sometimes, because of drama surrounding it. This content makes for a very interesting discussions in-between games, since it can give context to why a particular game might be important in general or to you specifically.
So far, this bit is easily the best piece of content ever created for showing the emotions behind the game and we strongly recommend showing it to anyone expressing interest in watching Dota. In a span of several minutes it has it all: the joys of victory, the sorrow of defeat and the crowd. It is rare for anyone to not get at least a little bit interested in the history behind teams and players after that video.
Explaining what team you personally like the most and the reasons behind it can also be a good topic and catch the interest of your companion. Most teams in the Dota scene have a long history and giving a brief overview of why a particular team might be important to you in either a positive or even a negative way can be very interesting as well, especially for someone who cares about you.
The last advice should be self-explanatory — people generally don’t like being told what to do and pushing too hard with a subject that is this broad and deep will scare most people away. If a person expresses interest in learning more help with it, but don’t go over that. Keep it clear and concise.
The fact is, Dota is not a game for everyone. Dota is also not a spectator sport for everyone and there is nothing wrong with it. Different people enjoy different things and despite your best attempts your special someone might still be not that interested in the game.
If they are, however, take it slow and someday you might even find them willing to try out the game themselves, where this post from three years ago might be of some use to you.