Dota 2 2023 Recap: The biggest moments and highlights of the year cover image

Dota 2 2023 Recap: The biggest moments and highlights of the year

Massive game updates, unprecedented records, and unusual controversies – here are the biggest moments in Dota 2 for 2023.

Every year, Dota 2 never fails to bring us loads of entertainment. Whether it be fiery action in the esports scene, mind-boggling patch changes, or riddles and puzzles to tease the community. The year 2023 saw a whole lot of surprises and we are here to explore them all! Here are the biggest moments and highlights of 2023 in Dota 2.

(Warning, the first moment isn't really positive, but it builds towards a better ending!)

Matchfixing and cheating allegations

The year didn't start off quite well for Chinese Dota.. and Dota 2 in general. In January 2023, cheating allegations surround the region with namely KNIGHTS and EHOME being in the hot seat. It wasn't any better that both teams made it to the Lima Major and ended in bottom place with severe performances.

In March 2023, Valve confirmed the allegations and banned not one or two, but forty-six players from China and Malaysia. This was a grim point in 2023, but spoilers alert: the region looks revitalized for 2024!

The arrival of Muerta

Now onto the fun stuff! In March 2023, Valve welcomed the arrival of the 124th Dota 2 hero, Muerta. She's cool, she's fun, and she's fresh. Muerta is the first Intelligence hero that is designated for right-click magical damage. Her skeletal figure follows the Mexican folklore and most importantly, she has two guns.

Riddles and puzzles

Valve for sure has its ways with Dota 2. In April 2023, just a day before the big patch dropped, Valve posted a list of riddles to hint at the upcoming changes. The community loved it and it seemed that Valve enjoyed doing this too.

The Dota 2 community would then get more puzzles to keep us guessing. Before a massive patch, they have dropped a list of emojis and even lengthy poems to continue the riddle tradition. Who knows what other puzzles they have up their sleeves for 2024?

The New Frontiers update

Now let's talk about THE New Frontiers update in April 2023! Following what was rumored to be IceFrog's return from hibernation, the Dota 2 community saw a colossal game update. This was when the map was enlarged to hold 40% more space. Not only that, we welcomed the presence of Tormentors, Lotus Pools, Watchers, Wisdom Runes, and many more!

Team Liquid vs Gaimin Gladiators rivalry

Throughout 2023, the Dota 2 community felt like it was stuck in a loop. The year was dominated by two Western Europe giants, Team Liquid and Gaimin Gladiators, who constantly paired up against each other in the Grand Finals of events.

The two met in four Grand Finals: Lima Major, DreamLeague Season 19, ESL One Berlin Major, and the Bali Major. All of these saw a defeat for Team Liquid and victory for Gaimin Gladiators. The two teams also met in the Lower Bracket of The International 12 - which saw an all-too-familiar ending.

Pure's controversy at the Bali Major

Ivan "Pure" Moskalenko of BetBoom Team is no stranger to controversies. Last year, he was caught drawing war symbols during his time with Virtus.pro. In 2023, he was again in the center of a debacle.

During the Bali Major, Pure was caught watching his own live game on Twitch. This wasn't captured by the tournament organizer, instead, fans pointed out the sight which can be seen on the official Bali Major stream. This led to his disqualification and an eventual loss for BetBoom Team at the crucial Dota 2 Major.

What a wild way to suffer defeat. But get ready, because our next highlight is another bizarre tournament loss.

23savage early celebration at Riyadh Masters

We don't often see Dota 2 stories breaking out of its esports circle, but this one did. During the Riyadh Masters in July, Thai carry player for Talon Esports, Nuengnara "23" Teeramahanon, did a premature celebration in a crucial third game vs Team Liquid.

So what happened? Talon Esports was on the verge of victory and 23 jumped out of his seat to celebrate. But while he was celebrating, Liquid's offlaner, zai, was ratting out their throne. And in the blink of an eye, 23savage's excitement turned into despair.

No Puppey at TI

For the first time in Dota 2 history, the Dota 2 community saw the absence of Clement "Puppey" Ivanov from The International. The TI1 champion is the remaining player that has attended all iterations of TI. But it was a rough year for Team Secret with little to no hope for them to qualify for the grand championship. And TI12 finally broke his phenomenal streak.

Goodbye, Dota Pro Circuit

The year 2023 is also the final year of the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC). In September, Valve revealed the abolishment of the DPC which has been the official professional circuit since 2017. We will no longer see the Tours and Regional Leagues take place as Valve has other plans. It will likely only focus on The International and in-game content as other third-parties such as ESL and BetBoom take over the calendar.

A new two-time TI champion

Team Spirit had a massive glow up in 2023. The team was visibly unstable earlier in the year, placing 9th-12th in a couple of major tournaments. But starting from the Riyadh Masters, Team Spirit consecutively bagged victories in a jaw-droppingly dominant fashion. They would then grab a win at the DreamLeague S21 and lift the Aegis for the second time at TI12. Team Spirit became the second team to hold the two-time title after OG.

Team Spirit Breaker charges through Dota 2

Bear with us, this deserves its own segment. Valve can be goofy sometimes and this celebration was one of its fun shenanigans. Following Team Spirit's win at TI12, Valve quietly renamed Spirit Breaker to Team Spirit Breaker for a period of time. It goes in hand with the meta at that time, which saw the space cow owning games. It is also Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov 's most played and most successful hero at TI12.

New family members!

The end of 2023 also saw new members for the Dota 2 family! European esports organization, G2, entered the Dota 2 scene with a partnership with Chinese powerhouse, Invictus Gaming. G2.IG made its debut in the ESL One Kuala Lumpur with a fresh roster.

We also welcome a new Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) force, Team Falcons. The team fields TI champions, veterans, and prodigies, who also made their debut together in the ESL One Kuala Lumpur.

A season of comeback

The final weeks of 2023 has been incredibly exciting for Dota 2. A number of star players who have resided in the shadows have marked their return to the pro scene.

Miracle- is officially coming back to play for Nigma Galaxy after a year of hiatus, and he'll be playing alongside another star player, SumaiL. The Chinese region in particular looks explosive. The uncrowned king, Ame, also returns after a year of inactivity to join Xtreme Gaming. And most recently, Faith_bian and Ori made their comeback official by signing with Azure Ray!

Valve sending charcoals to smurfs

Ahh, isn't this a good way to end 2023? The Dota 2 community has relentlessly complained about smurfs and boosters that have ruined the game in many ways. And Valve made it clear that they are listening.

During the Frostivus event, Valve sent out presents for players. But if you're on Santa's naughty list, you'll get a punishment instead. Smurfs, boosters, and those with toxic behavior have unwrapped charcoals for the holidays and with it a painfully lengthy ban.


And that wraps up 2023 for Dota 2. Let's look forward to a more exciting 2024!