OMG my game is better than yours!!!
DotA 2 has a higher skill ceiling than League of Legends. Although I am unable to make this judgment myself (I do have plans to play and enjoy DotA 2), I will assume that the opening sentence is completely true.
And so comes the key question: so what if DotA 2 has a higher skill ceiling?
“LoL is for casuals and DotA 2 has more skill depth, so it should be in every competition out there,” many would answer. Even if the skill depth statement is 100% true, skill depth alone has never made a game successful as an esport.
Back in the days when real men played Quake 3, Counter-Strike had the reputation of a game for casual players that did not offer a skill ceiling close to what Q3 had. Where I come from, CS was a game for people who failed at Q3 and UT, or for children. All the cool kids played fast-paced, high-adrenaline games.
Somehow, that did not stop CS from becoming one of the most influential games in esports history. In the grand scheme of things, more so than Quake 3 was. It had major tournaments, professional teams, star players and a major audience, and it survived longer because of it. So is it relevant that I still think that Quake 3 allows a player to display a larger scale of talent than CS does?
Before Quake 3, there was QuakeWorld and Quake 2. And it so happens that the QuakeWorld die-hards thought that Quake 3 was too casual and did not offer a good enough skill ceiling. And that did not stop Q3 from becoming a fantastic platform for professional gaming.
DotA 2 players look down on LoL, just like Warcraft 3 players looked down on DotA, just like StarCraft: BroodWar players looked down on Warcraft 3 (and on StarCraft 2). All for the same reasons that are brought up in the DotA 2 vs. LoL discussion by the elitist side of it.
There’s much more to the success of a game in a professional esports environment than the skill ceiling (which is to a large degree arbitrary). In fact, if the game has enough skill depth for there to be a discernible difference between the champion and the second best, the skill ceiling is the least relevant criterion for esports.
As long the best player or team wins consistently, as long as there are enough people that find it fun to play a game, watch a game and come to an event with a banner or a sign, the game has a place in esports.
DotA was good enough back when professional esports leagues mostly ignored it because it had players and spectators, and the best team won. CS was good enough back when I thought it was lame because it had players and spectators, and the best team won. Both LoL and DotA 2 are good enough today because they have players and spectators, and the best team wins.
They’re all good enough for esports. It doesn’t matter what other people think about them.
So again: is the skill ceiling the killer argument? Unless you’re playing QW or BroodWar (the truly ultimate games), there’s probably someone out there cringing at the game you play.
Does that make you an idiot?