5 crazy Dota 2 facts you probably didn’t know

By Steven Rondina


May 19, 2021

Reading time: 5 min

Dota 2 is a game with 120 characters full of lore, almost 15 years of history as an esport, and an origin as a custom map for a completely different game. Even within its recent history, publisher Valve has changed plans and retconned backstories for a variety of reasons. This has made for a lot of weird, interesting trivia within Dota 2.

There are far deeper cuts within Dota 2 than Lina and Crystal Maiden being sisters or Omniknight being based on Arthas Menethil from Warcraft 3. Here are some of the most intriguing and little-known factoids related to Dota 2.

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Phantom Lancer was originally based on a Final Fantasy character

The original Defense of the Ancients custom map was made for WarCraft 3, and as a result, there are many obvious ties between Dota 2’s heroes and the characters they were based upon in the classic Blizzard RTS. There is one hero that is taken out of a completely different fantasy franchise, however.

That hero is Phantom Lancer. The hard carry is based upon Kimahri Ronso, the blue mage of Final Fantasy X. DotA 1 utilizes a custom model that approximates his appearance on the map, and a character portrait taken directly from Final Fantasy X’s promotional artwork.

Even today, there are striking similarities between Dota 2’s Phantom Lancer and Kimahri. Both are anthropomorphized cat people with blue fur and white beards that use spears. However, in terms of their combat abilities they’re not at all alike. Kimahri does not have the ability to duplicate himself in any way, and instead copies the ability of enemy monsters in a way that is more similar to Doom. 

Furion isn’t the full name of Nature’s Prophet

Most Dota 2 heroes have rarely used first names. For example, Drow Ranger is referred to as “Traxex the Drow Ranger” and Lifestealer is “N’aix the Lifestealer.”

Believe it or not, Nature’s Prophet isn’t actually one of them. While the “Furion” name attached to Nature’s Prophet is the most enduring DotA 1 name of all, Valve has completely forsaken it and simply refer to the popular offlaner as “Nature’s Prophet.” But Furion wasn’t the character’s full name in the first place.

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Furion was an abbreviation of Malfurion Stormrage, the WarCraft 3 character that served as his avatar in DotA 1. Malfurion is also the brother of Illidan Stormrage, whose character models were used for both Anti-Mage and Terrorblade. There are no apparent ties between Nature’s Prophet and those two in Dota 2.

Why didn’t Valve commit to using the “Furion” name? That answer has likely been lost to history.

Anti-Mage and Terrorblade are brothers?

While Nature’s Prophet was apparently cut out of the family in the jump from Defense of the Ancients to Dota 2, that isn’t the case with Anti-Mage and Terrorblade. They still maintain a close relationship that can be found in hidden Dota 2’s voice lines.

WarCraft 3 uses the model of the young elven Illidan for Anti-Mage, and the demonic Illidan for Terrorblade. Illidan and Malfurion were brothers in WarCraft, and Dota 2 also casts Terrorblade and Anti-Mage as siblings. 

Dota 2 has a series of unused Anti-Mage voice lines in the Dota 2 files that explicitly reference Terrorblade as his estranged brother. It’s unclear why these lines haven’t been used and Terrorblade contains no responses specific to Anti-Mage, with most of his lore-focused kill lines and greetings dedicated to other demonic characters. This may stem from Valve looking to keep Dragon Knight as Terrorblade’s primary rival, which was teased in Dota Underlords before becoming the basis for the DOTA: Dragon’s Blood animated series.

This is still an interesting connection that may come up if Valve ever decides to do more lore-focused events. Which it likely won’t.

WarCraft 3 isn’t the only game that inspired DotA

The original DotA has close ties to WarCraft 3, with Valve making no attempts to hide how the units from the RTS are the inspiration for different heroes in Dota 2. But WarCraft 3 isn’t the only game that the original DotA developers took inspiration from. 

A number of different heroes make reference to, or are based upon, characters from Blizzard’s other fantasy franchise, Diablo. That isn’t the only fantasy IP that DotA paid homage to, as Sega’s Phantasy Star series actually had many of its item names copied over to Dota 2. It’s not just video games that have inspired Dota 2 either, as Magic: The Gathering has also seen some of the characters from its cards serve as the basis for characters in Dota 2. 

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Champion OG squad played more at TI than all other events combined

The OG roster that defied superstition and won back-to-back The International championships is regarded by many as the single greatest team in Dota 2 history, and possibly the best in all of esports. Given how large The International is on the calendar each year, it’s a strong argument to make. But outside of those two tournament victories, the team has a resume that is both short and weak.

The complete OG roster that included Anathan “ana” Pham, Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, Sebastian “Ceb” Debs, Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka, and Topias Miikka “Topson” Taavitsainen have played just 127 pro games of Dota 2 together. 73 of those have been attached to The International. For the sake of comparison, Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi played 213 games during his one season with OG.

That small sample size stems from a number of different things. The TI8-winning roster didn’t actually come together until immediately before the qualifiers for the event, with that first championship standing as a colossal upset. From there, ana took an extended break with different players filling in for him to mixed results. Once the team was finally reunited, N0tail wound up on the sidelines for some time due to an illness.

That number is also held back by the fact that OG tends to play poorly outside Valve-sponsored events. Throughout its existence, OG has only ever performed well at the biggest events while underwhelming elsewhere. That’s still the case today, as OG hasn’t won a tournament in 2020’s online league era despite competing in a number of events.

Arguments have been made that OG’s path to greatness serves as an unfortunate indictment of the state of the Dota 2 pro scene, which has seen the team’s success at The International trump the week-in, week-out greatness of organizations like Team Secret, Virtus.pro, and Vici Gaming.


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