In recent months, I've started playing Dota-2. However, when playing match-made, un-ranked games, I've been able to choose any character, even though, according to the in-game lore and the wiki page, the heroes belong to either the Radiant or Dire.

Dota Wiki's Hero page

Is this intended? Does it change in other game modes? (I've been playing All Pick.)

3 Answers 3



In DotA 1 in the early years the default mode (called "normal") would have limited both sides (Sentinel and Scourge in DotA 1, Radiant and Dire in DotA 2) to pick the heroes their sides are connected to. There was even a third party neutral which would be offered to both parties to pick from.

enter image description here

At some point the mode All Pick was introduced which allowed to pick any hero. Balancing was not done for this kind of setup at the start but since the mode became the most popular in public games DotA 1 started to get balanced around this mode until Captains Mode was the main focus of balance. Because All Pick became so famous there was no longer a need to have parties per se. I guess Sentinel and Scourge were kept to keep the theme of the game (Defense of the Ancients) and the lore (good vs evil) while the neutral party was split and added into the remaining two parties that you can see today.

Bottom Line:

In DotA 2 these sides have no effect anymore other than being part of the lore or until Valve/Icefrog decide to include the modus -normal again.

Even more detail:

In Warcraft III (the normal game) you would pick heroes depending on your race(human,orc,etc) from your own altar. Furthermore you were able to purchase neutral heroes from taverns (everyone can access those).

The concept to buy heroes from taverns and to have neutral heroes in the first place was copied into DotA 1.

Here are three pictures representing DotA 1 hero selection showing the evolution of Taverns (examples): enter image description here

Upper left picture shows that back in v6.09 each faction/side had its own taverns(3).

Upper right picture shows that later in v6.60 all taverns were stored in the upper left corner of the map. Each side of the triangle has 3 taverns which stand for an attribute (strength, agility, intelligence) and within each tavern lies one faction (sentinel, neutral, scourge).

The last picture shows the modern arrangement (v6.70) of the taverns without the neutral faction. From left to right we have two sentinel and two scourge taverns. From top to bottom we have strength, intelligence and agility.

  • 2
    nice answer. I never played the original so interesting to see a bit of the history of dota
    – l I
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 18:59
  • thanks. i could add that in Warcraft III (the normal game) you would pick heroes from your own altar(according to race[human,orc,etc]) and could purchase neutral heroes (anyone can access) from taverns. The concept to buy heroes from taverns and to have neutral heroes in the first place was copied into DotA 1.
    – Wandang
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 20:52
  • Those were the days..
    – Jacob
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 21:56

The heroes are split between Dire and Radiant only for flavour and there are no limitations for piking one depending on your team.


No; you can pick any hero, regardless of your assigned faction (barring any other restrictions specific to your specific game mode, of course). Since the faction split has absolutely no effect on gameplay in Dota 2, the fact that specific heroes are categorized as "Radiant" and "Dire" currently serves basically two purposes:

  1. For story/lore purposes.
  2. It also serves to break up the hero selection screen in half vertically to make it a little easier to "read."

The original DotA map broke up the heroes into "Sentinel" and "Scourge" in much the same way.

  • 2
    Also in Warcraft 3 dota you had a mode where Sentinel could only pick Sentinel heroes and Scourge only Scourge heroes
    – WizLiz
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 17:46
  • 1
    @Panic i doubt that your second point is valid. The history of dota 1 dictates that there need to be two sides rather than valves "design" decision for dota 2. Any sources on your second point?
    – Wandang
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 18:03
  • @Wandang Regardless of the history, the grid view is broken up that way. That's a current effect that the faction breakup has, regardless of the prior reasons or history involved. That's all I meant by it.
    – Cloudy
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 19:24

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