This Was Dota in 2002 : Part 1 of the MOBA Evolution - Upcomer
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In 2002, this was the earliest version of what we call Dota today.

We all know Dota 1 was a Warcraft 3 mod– but did you know it was a Starcraft mod before that?

Aeon of Strife might look completely foreign, but it was the very beginnings of the Dota we play now. The map, named after the legendary Protoss civil war in Starcraft lore, was built around one team of four players controlling their heroes, fighting against a team of bots in 3 lanes. It was a fairly simple map– while fun, there were barely any other mechanics due to map editor limitations.

There were 6 different lane “creeps” that would spawn on both sides.
There were 6-8 heroes available for players to choose from, and the differences are based off movespeed, attack damage and size.

  •  Zergling: Fast movement and attack speed, but very little damage. Despite it’s incredibly small size, the Zergling hero had the most HP.
  • Vulture: The fastest hero in the game, lowest HP, but the highest damage. Fast farmer.
  • Ultralisk: Very slow and large hero. Decent HP and damage.
  • Archon: Splash damage ranged hero.
  • Goliath: Decent stats all around.
  • Dragoon: Explosive damage, easily clearing tankier enemies.
  • There was believed to be two other hero units in the initial version: Tassadar and another whose name is heavily debated. (After all, this was nearly 15 years ago!)


2003: Warcraft 3 is released. Defense of the Ancients Beta and “Thirst for Gamma” is released.

When Warcraft 3 came out, a modder going by the name Eul released the very first version of Defense of the Ancients (DOTA). Name sound familiar? The Eul’s Scepter of Divinity is named in his honor.

Surprisingly, he also released a second version of DOTA that never gained popularity; “Thirst for Gamma” had FIVE lanes positioned around a central power source both teams would fight over. Teams would control two outlying towns each, which could be captured by taking down towers dotting the lanes. Items (roughly 200 of them) were based on an RPG styled system (such as purchasing different armor types) and were sorted with a rarity system.

Bizarre, right? While a cool idea, the map’s sheer size made it simply impractical. While it definitely influenced the development of DOTA, the map failed quickly.  The community pressured Eul and his teammate Song into releasing the map when it was incomplete, filled with bugs and issues. Eventually, Eul gave up and the map was passed on to other members of the modding community. You can play an updated version of Thirst of Gamma here. 

What about the heroes? Thirst for Gamma’s had 34 heroes, who would reach their maximum level at 10, being able to put up to 4 points in each ability (making it impossible to level everything).

2004: Meian and Ragn0r create DOTA Allstars Beta v0.95. 

You can download the map here. Below is rare footage of the gameplay (video is in Russian).

Heroes: As shown in the video, some of the heroes included were:

  • Slayer is the exact version of Lina today.
  • Stealth Assassin (Today: Riki) had permanent invisibility, a crit and a blink; but his ultimate was Witch Doctor’s Death Ward.
  • Vengeful Spirit had her iconic Magic Missile. She also had an ability called “Feedback”, and her ultimate was “Snow Storm”. (Interestingly enough, some books about Japanese folklore refer to spirits that can create snowstorms, and they are oftentimes referred to as “vengeful spirits”. Perhaps this was the inspiration?).
  • Prophet (Today: Nature’s Prophet) had Lone Druid’s bear’s Entangling Roots, and his ultimate with a healing aura.
  • GOD had a maelstrom lightning effect, Antimage’s Blink, Antimage’s Mana Shield and Mirana’s Starfall.
  • Thunder Knight had the same first ability as GOD, along with a “Charged Image” illusion spell, “Lightning Reflexes” passive ability and his ultimate, “Summon Lightning Dragons”.

This is the first part in a series about the history of Dota and the birth of MOBAs that we know and love today. We’ll return with the second part soon!

Got any screenshots, stories, firsthand accounts or old Warcraft maps that we can include in this series? Please let us know below or email [email protected] !