Dota 2 is a massive game. Very few people will ever learn everything there is to know about it. Perhaps its most impressive aspect is the number of varied, interesting heroes you can play as. There are 110 heroes to choose from (as of patch 6.85), and the way the game has balanced each of them to serve a specific role within a team is one of the most astonishing things about playing it. One of the reasons people play Dota 2 for thousands of hours is because it never gets old, and the fact that no human being will ever see every possible five-versus-five team lineup is a big part of this.
It’s a testament to the design of the game there isn’t a “bad” hero in the game. On or against the right team, any hero can feel powerful or fun to play. But some heroes are better than others. We’ve ranked every Dota 2 hero in order, from worst to best. We’ve used a patented formula which calculates the quality of every hero using factors such as aesthetic, range of utility, abilities that make you say “wow,” cleverness, and the ever-accurate “fun factor.” This list was compiled after using these and other metrics to create a rubric by which to judge every hero, then shuttling names around on a Google document. If you have questions or concerns about the nature of this important scientific document, please let us know in the comments below.
The next entry in the series will run next week, so keep an eye out.
Suriel Vazquez is a freelance writer who cut himself with an X-ACTO knife during an art class and had to manually tear all of his construction paper for the rest of the year. He’s written for Paste, GamesBeat, Vice, Playboy, and several others. You follow him on Twitter.
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110. Morphling: This is an important place to reiterate that I don't think being at the bottom of this list means Morphling is a terribly-designed hero, nor that he's useless. It's simply that he's not a terribly inspiring design. Winning is fun with any hero, and Morphling will definitely do it if given the time to buy the items he needs to get going. But beyond the cool trick of creating a clone of any hero he can teleport to, there simply isn't much to this boring water elemental. Most of the cosmetic items released don't do much for him, either; how are you supposed to dress up water?
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109. Terrorblade: A lot of people like Terrorblade. But conceptually, he's the kind of character someone would have thought up during middle school while listening to Slipknot or Ministry. His story is that he's so evil he was sentenced to serve time in Foulfell, which is where people in Hell send the people who behave extra-poorly. And Terrorblade was so evil he conquered his evil reflection in Foulfell and now uses it when he fights. One of his abilities lets him swap health bars with any other hero, so that's pretty wicked, I guess.
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108. Dazzle: The best thing about Dazzle is his is Shallow Grave ability, which prevents an allied hero from dying from just about anything for five seconds. It's a nice ability for him to have, since he has no way to get out of ambushes otherwise. Dazzle's the kind of hero people tend to have to play because he works well with a number of lineups, since being unable to kill someone for that long can win you fights. Still, it's a kind of a bummer to play Dazzle most of the time.
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107. Dragon Knight: Dragon Knight is a knight who can turn into a dragon, which you'd think would put him a bit higher on this list. In practice, though, Dragon Knight is good at dealing damage to towers and sticking around fights longer due to his increased armor and health regeneration. But when you're not a dragon, Dragon Knight's abilities don't have that oomph to them. He's only fun to play half of the time—the other half, you're waiting to become a dragon again.
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106. Queen of Pain: Let's get it out of the way: Queen of Pain's design is meant to be sexy. She's a succubus, after all. That doesn't mean I have to like it. As far as "tempting" or "sexy" goes, it's a pretty simple "reveal a bunch of skin and have a metal bra" thing fantasy games are well known for. Switch it up, Ms. Pain! Maybe try some glasses. As a character, she can teleport and scream very loudly to deal damage, which isn't the worst way to do that. But then you're kind of stuck there, not screaming and walking around in skivvies, which will be more fun for some people than others.
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105. Ancient Apparition: Ancient Apparition can make a huge ice ball and throw it anywhere on the map. If you touch it, you can't regain health and will instantly shatter if your health falls below a certain threshold. That's pretty fitting of a man made entirely of ice who is also a ghost and has been around forever. The rest of his abilities have their uses, but they don't inspire many cool moments. He's mostly a fun a way to counter heroes who rely on gaining health to win fights, but other than that, he's just a sad little ice man, and not the cool X-Men kind.
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104. Viper: Viper's not only boring to look at (he's kind of like if a Fruit Roll-Up gained sentience), he's also really annoying to deal with in the game itself. He really only does one thing: shoot acid at you, and it can slow you and deal a lot of damage over time. Viper's the kind of character you send out when you want to gain an early advantage by annoying everyone on the enemy team, then do nothing but spit acid for the rest of the game. The best part about him is that he makes a Top Gun reference in one of his lines of dialogue—"Holy shit, it's me."
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103. Oracle: Oracle could be a cool character. In fact, there's a good chance he is. The problem with Oracle is that not many people know what any of his abilities actually do, or when they should use them. Unlike most heroes in Dota 2, he's difficult to play not because he demands lots of fast-paced clicking, but because half of his abilities can do more harm than good if you don't use them well. Having someone who knows what they're doing on the hero is crucial, but the net effect is still a hero who leaves a lot to be desired.
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102. Drow Ranger: Drow Ranger is like a more interesting version of Viper; she deals a lot of damage very quickly through her regular attacks, and her other abilities augment that damage. She has a few more things going for her, though; she spreads her damage among her allies as long as they shoot things instead of hit them directly (she's an archer, after all), and can prevent enemies from casting spells. She's on the cusp of being a far more interesting character after a few recent changes, but she's unfortunately not there quite yet.
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101. Weaver: Weaver's a skittering bug who's hard to catch. He can go invisible, instantly travel back in time (which puts him back where he was a few seconds earlier with health intact), and deploy waves of bugs that latch onto enemies. As far as insect heroes go, he has an interesting hook, but it's sort of dulled by him being too weak to fight for most of the game, and needing to buy certain items before he can be effective.