Dota 2: how I connected with Ukrainian friends through gaming.

After years of gaming hiatus, I began playing Dota 2 about 3-4 months ago. I had no idea it had been out for four years. Four years of my life could have been spent playing a damn fun game.

But first, the humble introduction.

Dota 2 is a competitive multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), which players compete in a five versus five match with selected units (heroes). Heroes kill non-player controlled units (NPCs) to gain gold, which they are able to buy items that increase their abilities. They then kill enemy heroes and eventually push a tug-of-war style map to secure a victory.


This is what a typical battle looks like in Dota 2.

Picking up the game wasn’t too difficult; I played Warcraft 3 Dota for a couple of years in high school. This multi-million dollar franchise, amazingly enough, was made by a map creator in Warcraft 3 named IceFrog. He essentially created a new genre from his own ingenuity, using Blizzard’s amazing open-sourced map editor. Dota stood for Defense of the Ancients (DotA), which was part of the Warcraft lore of the Night Elves battling the pre-Orcs. Nerds unite.


This is what Warcraft III DotA looked like.

Valve Corporation (creator of the Half-Life, Portal, and Team Fortress series) eventually hired IceFrog to remake the game as a standalone project, culminating into Dota 2.

Second, the fun.

I’ve been mostly playing on my own, as I don’t know anybody in the same time zone (Americas now) who play the game. If you play, reach out to me. Now and then, I get to play with my Ukrainian buddies Alexey and Igor. The two used to play fairly competitively, and thus are solid at the game. They “carry” me suffice to say.


Alexey to the left, Igor in the middle, and myself on the right in Lviv, Ukraine.

We were playing in ranked matches rated at the high 3,000s, as the two have 4,000-4,500 ratings. On the contrary, my individual rating is currently around 2,800. Therefore, I enjoy playing a “support” hero with them. My role is to allow them to get stronger with as few interruptions as possible, so that they can overwhelm the enemy with brute strength.

There were a few games in particular which we dominated. Igor then messaged me privately, suggesting I write a new blog about our dominant victory, titled “Ownage Fridays.” I agreed.


I’m not merely gloating; we have lost our fair share of battles.

The incredible thing is that the love for games has connected people together, who otherwise live in different parts of the world. Gaming with Alexey and Igor is similar to practicing mixed martial arts with Rostyslav, where we’ve bonded over similar interests. Instead of merely talking about work, or sticking to small talk, we exude passion over these hobbies.

Yet another reason why I love gaming.

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