Beginners Guide to MOBA Esports Games

Thanks to the original pioneers of Esports and their dedication to create a new arena where athletes can compete against each other, we’ve reached a point where Esports is a key component in the gaming ecosystem and is represented by a large number of countries.

One aspect of gaming that has taken the world over by storm have been MOBA games. This is a genre of Esports games that has branched out from the RTS genre; originally as just a mod for Warcraft III. In any case, we’re here to teach you all about MOBA games as well as where you can bet on them.

Best Esports Sites for MOBA Betting

  1. LootBet
  2. 1xBet
  3. Rivalry
  4. bet365
  5. Betway
  6. GGBet
  7. Nitrogen
  8. Thunderpick
  9. Betathome
  10. 22Bet

What is a MOBA?

A MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) is a type of game genre that usually involves matches with 10 people divided into two teams (5v5). They fight for control on a map and try to win the game by destroying their enemy’s base.

Some of the first RTS games that featured a tremendously large player base were StarCraft and Warcraft III. It is from these games that the modern MOBA genre evolved into; specifically, Warcraft III.

The first appearance of a MOBA game was in 2003 – as a mod for Warcraft III. The game was called ‘Defense of the Ancients’, more commonly known as DotA, and was the brainchild of Guinsoo, whose work was later improved upon by IceFrog, at his request.

DotA kept growing but it wouldn’t be until 2009 that the genre truly had a footprint in the gaming and Esports space. IceFrog was contacted by Valve to help develop Dota 2, while his former partner Pendragon got picked up by Riot Games for League of Legends development.

Since then, the two titles and companies have been ‘at war’ with each other, doing their best to make their game the best in the world. But more on this later.

As far as MOBA game mechanics go, the core of it is rather simple. Each MOBA game features a map with three main pathways between the two team’s bases. Five players compete against five others for victory. Each player selects a champion or hero to play.

Every champion is unique and has specialized abilities for specific roles (most MOBAS have five roles – tank/bruiser, physical damage carry, magic damage carry, jungler, and support). Every champion kill or assist grants the player additional gold which he can then use to purchase items and enhance his own champion.

The game ends when either of the teams destroys the others’ base.

Key MOBA Terms Glossary:

  • Champion – The player-controlled character on the battlefield
  • Map – The playable area of the battlefield
  • Base – Found at the top left and bottom right corners of the map; the starting areas of each team
  • Experience – Accumulated over time by the champion, allows them to progress levels and get stronger, gained by slaying enemy minions, neutral monsters, and enemy player champions
  • Abilities – The skills usable by the champion
  • Items – Purchasable by the player at the base, these make the champions stronger
  • Gold – The currency in the match used to buy items, does not carry over between matches
  • Towers – Protective measures between each base and inside of the lanes
  • Minions – Computer-controlled aids which fight with the player
  • Lanes – The paths from base to base
  • Monsters/Jungle Creeps – Found in the jungle between the lanes, these give gold and experience when slain

How did MOBA Games Become so Popular?

Nowadays, there are a dozen MOBA games in both Esports and the casual gaming world, but this wasn’t always the case. You see, only Riot Games had the resources to challenge Valve. Having just one game in the market (the original DotA) was not good because eventually, players would get bored of it.

Having healthy competition between the two giant companies had kickstarted the interest in MOBA games. On top of that, this genre was new; it provided new mechanics, new ideas, and new types of fun to be had.

Players have virtually endless possibilities in selecting their champions, in-game items, and strategies. This essentially means that every single match is different and unique in its own right. Plus, there’s plenty of stuff to explore in every MOBA game.

And then there’s the fun factor. MOBA games usually last for around 30 minutes, though it’s possible for them to last longer than an hour. Every match is chaotic and filled with action; in most cases, something exciting is happening nearly every minute.

MOBA Esports events have gotten bigger and more prestigious over the years which has garnered even more attention from fans and players alike. Today, the choice regarding which game you would want to play or bet on is not as easy as before. The good news is that there are countless streams of various tournaments that you can watch and learn more about the games.

However, most people would go for either LoL or Dota 2, with Smite in third place, at least globally. In any case, here’s a little bit more about each of the 6 main MOBA Esports games that dominate the landscape today.

The Five Most Popular MOBA Games Today

The MOBA Esports space is constantly expanding with 5 main titles nowadays. However, these six can be divided into 3 categories – large, medium, and small. LoL and Dota 2 represent the large group, Smite represents the medium group, and King of Glory & Wild Rift represent the small group. In other words, Large MOBA games are the most popular, then Medium, and then Small.

League of Legends

League of Legends is one of, if not the most popular MOBA Esports game today. We’ve now entered year 12 since LoL was released and the game has come a long way since then.

Riot Games aims to prolong its life as much as possible through frequent updates to the game, including new champion releases, map updates, mechanic and core updates, new items, and more.

The game is not too difficult to learn but does require some dedication. Items in LoL enhance your champion’s abilities or stats by providing more damage, health, and resistance. Tactics-wise however, LoL is dwarfed by Dota 2.

League of Legends tutorial from 2015

This is due to League of Legends having less versatility with in-game strategies, although they do exist. In any case, LoL has cemented itself as one of two major MOBA leaders in the Esports gaming scene and arguably the biggest Esport ever.

League of Legends Esports Scene

Tournament Name Prize Pool Winners Description
Worlds 2021 $2,250,000 EDG Most prestigious LoL tournament (group + knockout system)
LCS 2021 $200,000 100 Thieves North America’s professional LoL League (franchise system)
LEC 2021 €200,000 MAD Lions Europe’s professional LoL League (franchise system)
MSI 2021 $250,000 RNG International tournament (group + knockout system)
LCK 2021 $320,000 T1 Korea’s professional LoL League (franchise system)
LPL 2021 $644,000 RNG China’s professional LoL League (franchise system)
All-Star 2020 / Licorice, Bwipo, YuxiaoC, Deft A ‘for fun’ competition between the best LoL players

Where to bet on LoL

  1. LootBet
  2. 1xBet
  3. Rivalry
  4. bet365
  5. Betway
  6. GGBet
  7. Nitrogen
  8. Thunderpick
  9. Betathome
  10. 22Bet

Dota 2

The Dota franchise has been the leading online gaming MOBA for almost 20 years now. The original was created in 2003 as a mod for Warcraft III, and Dota 2 was released in 2009. Since 2009, the ongoing battle between Dota 2 and LoL has been intensifying, with more and more Esports events (with larger prize pools) becoming reality.

League of Legends has ‘arguably’ borrowed some of DotA’s mechanics so we can consider DotA as the original. The main difference between the two games is complexity and difficulty. Dota 2’s items function differently from those in LoL. They usually do not improve abilities but rather the champions (heroes, as they’re called in Dota 2) themselves.

This leads to prolonged team fights, deeper and more vital strategy and tactics, and crucial team composition. There are also certain mechanics that are unique to Dota 2 but we’ll cover that at another time.

Overall, Dota 2 is a powerful opponent for League of Legends and belongs to the top of the MOBA food chain.

Dota 2 Esports Scene

Tournament Name Prize Pool Winners Description
The International 10 $40,000,000 Team Spirit The largest and most prestigious yearly Dota 2 tournament
WePlay Animajor $500,000 PSG.LGD The second Major Dota Pro Circuit season tournament
ESL One Summer 2021 $400,000 T1 Tier 1 Dota 2 Esports tournament
ESL One Fall 2021 $400,000 Tundra Esports Tier 1 Dota 2 Esports Tournament
ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021 $500,000 Invictus Gaming The first Major Dota Pro Circuit season tournament

Where to bet on Dota2

  1. LootBet
  2. 1xBet
  3. Rivalry
  4. bet365
  5. Betway
  6. GGBet
  7. Nitrogen
  8. Thunderpick
  9. Betathome
  10. 22Bet


Smite is the one and only truly different MOBA game than the rest. The main premise and mechanics are the same – there are a few lanes to take as well as the jungle, and it’s the objective of both teams to destroy each other’s base.

However, Smite isn’t played from the same skewed top-down perspective that most MOBAs are. In Smite, you control Gods in third-person mode. This novelty was what originally brought players into it while constant updates and new Gods are what is keeping them.

Smite has never been near the top of the MOBA ladder, at least Esports-wise. Some people find it awkward to play in third-person while others don’t like the gameplay. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 epidemic took a toll on Smite Esports with 2019 and 2020 being uncompetitive years.

2021 featured only 2 tournaments but at least there were tournaments. Hopefully, the future will be brighter for Smite Esports.

Smite Esports Scene

Tournament Name Prize Pool Winners Description
Smite World Championship 2021 $600,000 Pittsburgh Knights The largest and most prestigious Smite tournament
Smite World Championship 2018 $785,000 eUnited The largest and most prestigious Smite tournament
Smite World Championship 2017 $1,150,000 NRG Esports The largest and most prestigious Smite tournament
SCL 2018 Summer $75,000 Astral Authority A Major Smite Esports tournament
Smite Summer Finals 2018 $74,000 NRG Esports The end-of-summer season tournament

Where to bet on Smite

  1. LootBet
  2. 1xBet
  3. bet365
  4. GGBet
  5. Betathome

King of Glory (Arena of Valor/Honor of Kings)

This game has had many names over the years, predominantly due to adaptation for foreign markets. The game was originally released in China by Tencent Games. Many call it a LoL clone but due to its presence in Esports, especially mainland China, it is evident that it’s unique in its own right.

The map is different from LoL, featuring its own assortment of jungle monsters, pathways, and other elements. The gameplay is pretty similar to LoL but a bit more fast-paced, due to the game being released for Android, iOS, and the Nintendo Switch.

Speaking about Esports, the largest King of Glory events are held in China, with only Chinese teams participating. There are international events here and there, but not as much as some players and fans would like.

Nonetheless, King of Glory has numerous Esports tournaments year after year, so there’s always plenty of action to see. And hey – there’s Batman in the game as a playable champion so there’s that!

King of Glory Esports Scene

Tournament Name Prize Pool Winners Description
Honor of Kings World Champion Cup 2021 $7,730,000 QG Happy The largest and most prestigious Honor of Kings tournament
Honor of Kings World Champion Cup 2020 $4,600,500 Turnso Gaming The largest and most prestigious Honor of Kings tournament
King Pro League Spring 2021 $2,470,000 Hero JiuJing An A-Tier King of Glory tournament
Arena of Valor International Championship 2021 $1,000,000 Buriram United Esports The pinnacle of International Arena of Valor esports
2021 Honor of Kings Challenger Cup $550,000 eStar Pro The inaugural Challenger Cup for Honor of Kings

Where to bet on King of Glory

  1. LootBet
  2. 1xBet
  3. Rivalry
  4. GGBet
  5. Nitrogen
  6. Betathome
  7. 22Bet

Wild Rift

Wild Rift is a rather new game; it was released in 2020 for Android and iOS devices. The game was created by Riot Games and serves as LoL’s mobile variant.

Truth be told, it is an upgraded version of LoL in some regards, all the while keeping true to its original form – the PC version. It features a smaller champion pool and fewer items, but the look and feel of the game (graphics and animations) have definitely improved compared to League of Legends.

The mechanics of the game are the same as in LoL so there’s not a lot of point going into too much detail about it.

Its Esports scene is still young and evolving, but we’ve already been treated to some incredible tournaments.

Wild Rift Esports Scene

Tournament Name Prize Pool Winners Description
Horizon Cup 2021 $500,000 DKG The largest and most prestigious Wild Rift Esports tournament
Weibo Cup 2021 $47,000 Totoro A Chinese A-Tier tournament that is part of the WRL National Series
Wild Tour 2021 Finals $30,000 TSM Brazilian regional circuit A-Tier tournament
SEA Championship 2021 $200,000 SBTC A Major regional Wild Rift tournament and part of the Icon Series
Wild Rift Origin Series: Championship $177,777 Team Queso An A-Tier regional tournament for the EMEA region

Where to bet on Wild Rift

  1. LootBet
  2. Rivalry
  3. Thunderpick

MOBA Esports Games FAQs

What MOBA game is the most popular?

Both League of Legends and Dota 2 are MOBA industry leaders but LoL edges out thanks to its viewership numbers and established franchise system. LoL is also easier to follow due to the abundance of tournaments – almost double that of Dota 2.

What is the easiest MOBA game for beginners?

Theoretically, neither game is too friendly to beginners but in general, League of Legends has the simplest mechanics of all. However, it lacks a proper tutorial so players may get frustrated until they learn to play. Dota 2 is much better in this regard with an incredibly well-designed tutorial for first-time players.

Which MOBA games are popular for betting?

Both novice and experienced bettors prefer League of Legends and Dota 2 over all other MOBA Esports games. Smite has a large following as well, but drastically smaller than the two aforementioned games. Still, it’s a good choice for betting. You should also keep an eye out for potential betting bonuses that you can get by registering your account. A couple of great bookies for beginners are LootBet, Betway, and GGBet.

What is the largest MOBA Esports tournament?

Dota 2’s The International is the largest and most prestigious MOBA Esports tournament out there. The world’s best Dota 2 teams (as well as wildcard teams) compete in the final showdown of each year. The prize pool is immense; The International 2021 featured a gigantic $40,000,000 in prize money!

How long will MOBA games stay popular?

Hard to say. The beautiful thing about MOBA games is that they can be modified and expanded in many ways. Gaming companies that have the resources can easily keep the games going for years on end. A rough estimate would be that we’re looking at at least 5-10 years of continued MOBA popularity.

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Please be aware that all predictions given on this website are the oppinion of the author and might not necessarily be correct.

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