40,000 cheaters banned from Dota 2 following massive honeypot

By Kenneth Williams


Feb 22, 2023

Reading time: 3 min

Getting a notification that a cheater your reported has been banned is one of the best feelings in Dota 2. Imagine that multiplied by 40,000.

Valve has initiated a massive ban wave in Dota 2 that has eliminated approximately 40,000 dishonest players from matchmaking. This is one of the biggest sweeps in the game’s history, and the secretive company has even revealed some details about how it pulled this off. Here’s why this mass banning is so important and what kind of players are now excluded from matchmaking.

The ban wave was formally announced in traditional Valve fashion through a blog post. Titled Cheaters Will Never Be Welcome In Dota 2, the post claims that around 40,000 accounts were banned in an update on February 21, 2023. This was accomplished by setting up a honeypot within the game that could only be accessed by cheats. While this ban wave is particularly massive for Dota 2, it comes alongside other methods Valve has developed of ensuring fair play.

Valve is usually extremely secretive about how it catches cheaters, but this ban wave is a notable exception. The company explained that it monitored secret game information that third-party programs can detect but normal players can not. By monitoring which users were accessing this data, Valve was able to find cheaters with a high degree of accuracy. The post stated that there should be zero false positives from this wave, though that remains to be seen.

Blog post image

This ban wave is likely to prepare for Dota 2 patch 7.33, which is confirmed to release on March 6. That update represents the massive yearly update for the game after The International 2022. It will also bring a new hero in Muerta, whose abilities are still under wraps. Valve probably expects a player count spike from returning Dota 2 fans, so getting rid of cheaters now will help welcome them back to the scene.

While the announcement is a massive win for the general Dota 2 community, Valve did not claim that all cheaters were caught with this method. There are likely still some bad actors in the matchmaking pool using cheats that avoided accessing the honeypot. As always, performing overwatch and reporting bad actors is the next best option for dealing with remaining foul play.

What are cheaters banned for in Dota 2?

There are a variety of cheats used in Dota 2, but the two most common types are maphacks and automatic scripts.

Map hacks refer to tools that grant players some sort of vision through the fog of war. These take various forms, though a recent allegation claimed that one cheat uses enemy vision indicators similar to Slark’s ultimate Shadow Dance. Other programs just show enemy players as they move through the fog, giving perfect information to the cheater.

The second common type of Dota 2 cheating is scripting. These are hacks where the player’s hero automatically performs certain actions when conditions are met. A common script is automatically using instant disables like Hex when an enemy hero gets close. These can also be used to perfectly time dodges like Manta Style, Phase Shift, and Chemical Rage. These kinds of cheats are frustrating to play against, though they can also be exploited by clever players.