On average, around 1 million players login to play Dota 2 per night, staring at their avatar marching into battle across the screen until their eyes bleed and muscles atrophy. I’m one of these hopeless addicts, having roughly 2,000 hours clocked on my main profile and a couple hundred more on my smurf account. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s embarrassing, but in my defense, playing the game so much has made me an authority on the subject. Now, I can explain with certainty what sporting a tattoo tribute to the game is all about, which — to get right to the divine rapier’s point — is crushing your enemies, aka point-and-click combat at its finest.
Of all the multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs) at gamers’ fingertips today, Dota 2 is by far the most popular and commercially successful. League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm have their appeal, but they’ve never beat out the OG game of the genre. Dota 2’s most recent premiere annual tournament — The International — had a $20 million prize pool, dwarfing its contenders by an insanely large margin. Its devoted fan-base and bustling marketplace, where people spend exorbitant amounts of money buying items to trick out their units, have made it into the most lucrative ventures to ever disrupt the gaming industry.
Dota 2’s predecessor — the prototype for the entire MOBA genre, Defenders of the Ancients — was built on the backs of passionate gamers, who first conceptualized the game style as a custom mod in Blizzard’s Warcraft III. The design was an instant hit, and its popularity prompted Value to purchase the intellectual property of the game, shaping it into the more refined stand-alone version that so many players are hooked on today. Since being released in 2013, Dota 2 has reshaped the video game industry, spawning numerous imitators and even providing the conceptual basis for recent sensations like Overwatch. In short, it is one of the most influential games of the new millennium.
Given its massive following, it was really only a matter of time before Dota 2 devotees got tributes to the game. Depending on whether they like soaking damage up, dishing it out, or just supporting teammates with some well placed wards, tons of fans have commemorated their love of the different units’ play-styles by getting tattoos of them. In the battleground of body art, nearly all of the current 113 heroes have appeared as homages. Everyone from Abaddon to Zeus has blinked their way onto people’s skin. To my surprise, even my main — the hugely reviled Meepo — poofed into a portrait. Just like in the MOBA, there are a lot of characters to choose from, but having a tattoo of any of them, hints you have an outrageously high MMR.
To see more nerdy body art, make sure to hit up these tattooists Instagrams. If you’re a Dota 2 nut, consider commissioning one of them give you a tattoo of your favorite hero.