Doublelift and N0tail argue skill in League of Legends vs Dota 2

Steven R. December 24, 2019

Which game is better and more challenging, League of Legends or Dota 2?

The debate has raged among fans of these games for almost a decade now. Some prefer League’s more fluid gameplay experience and its relatively straightforward roles, while others enjoy Dota 2’s greater flexibility and diversity.

MOBA fans are being treated to some light-hearted jabs on the matter at the professional level just before Christmas, with two-time The International winner Johan "N0tail" Sundstein debating popular League of Legends pro Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng on the matter on social media.

The back and forth started during a stream with Doublelift with the Team Liquid player questioning the technical proficiency of the pros of the rival MOBA.

“I’d say Dota has more to learn than League when it comes to build diversity, champion pool diversity, [and] map plays,” Doublelift said in a stream. “But mechanically, no. There’s a zero percent chance Dota has more mechanical skill ceiling than League.”

Though he didn’t specifically call out Doublelift, N0tail seemingly responded directly in a post on Twitter.

“I too went into my first and only League games and shitstomped them,” N0tail said, referencing a quote by Doublelift where he said he easily outplayed Dota 2 opponents in pub games.

“Real talk though, if on average pro games have 4-5 kills in 30 minutes, what are the critical objectives? Is it like a mega extended laning phase where it's all about last hits and harrassing?” N0tail asked.

This opened the floodgates on the matter and reignited the debate on which of the two games was superior.

Dota 2 vs. League of Legends debate between N0tail and Doublelift

So who is right here? Well, it depends on your perspective.

Doublelift specifically hones in on the game’s “mechanical skill ceiling,” and cites Dota 2’s lack of regular skill shots and relative lack of mobility-based abilities as evidence.

To some degree, that’s true. A massive number of Dota 2 spells functionally work like a heat-seeking missile, making stuns and other spells generally more reliable than they are in League of Legends. There is also a fair bit more finesse to spacing and movement in League of Legends than there is in Dota 2, with items like Blink Dagger and Force Staff giving Dota 2 players much more margin for error than LoL players have when it comes to escaping and initiations.

That said, there is sometimes more room for displays of individual technical prowess in Dota 2.

Though many heroes in Dota 2 are fairly straightforward and easy to play, there are a handful that demand a huge amount of skill. Heroes like Chen and Meepo call for intensive micromanagement abilities, and Dota 2’s skill shot-based characters like Pudge and Clockwerk are arguably trickier than those of League of Legends as their skill shots extend across a significant portion of the map.

But while Dota 2 might have a higher skill ceiling in some parts of the game itself, the overall skill required to compete in professional League of Legends is likely greater. League’s larger and more global player base makes it tougher to climb the ladder and significantly more difficult to stay at the top. The game is also much more punishing of small mistakes, requiring players to border on mechanical perfection if they want to reach the top.

Of course, none of this means that one game is better than the other. That will always come down to player preference, no matter how many people fight on the internet.