Before I jump into the topics that you probably came to see, I wanted to start off with the unsubstantiated rumors I heard about RD2L prior to this season and my thoughts about RD2L after my first season here.
Most of the rumors I heard concerning RD2L were scary. I hesitated to join because people were very clear that I wouldn’t get to play anything but Warlock and that would be the best-case scenario. The worst case would involve me spamming warlock in a toxic cesspool of angry high-MMR players on a team that was headed to an imminent disband. I was told that I’d likely have at least one toxic/hyper-critical player and I shouldn’t expect communication or scrims outside of scheduled games. This was rather disappointing as I wanted to join the league to get better, but thanks to Truck and Clare, I decided to sign up.
Coming out of a 2nd place LD2L team that I dearly enjoyed, RD2L had a lot of unreasonable expectations to live up to. For those of you that have never played in the league, a lot of the teams are very PMA and you can count on building friendships and camaraderie with your team. I ended the season knowing many more players and having my friends list chock full of people that would play DotA and other games with me at nearly any hour. We helped each other improve and generally had a great time.
For those LD2Lers that are interested in my overall review of the season (and whether I’d do it again), you can scroll to the bottom of this post. Moving on to the comparisons — I’m going stream of consciousness with this one and thinking of categories on the fly. You’ve been warned.
Website, sign-ups, and pre-draft days
RD2L: Obviously the RD2L website is more polished by far. It was easy to sign up, look at different divisions, and determine who the admins were for my division. The sheer number of blogs that dealt with player scouting overwhelmed me and I was a tad anxious about the amount of thought and effort that went into this nebulous pre-draft time.
Rating: 9/10 — You nerds have too much time to plan.
LD2L: Less polished than the RD2L site, but the discord community was more than helpful in getting me signed up and ready to go. To avoid smurfs and general trash tier human beings, LD2L mandates that new players are vouched via inhouse games. I was exceedingly nervous during my first two inhouses. I didn’t talk on comms and was far less salty than I normally am. I want to commend the LD2L admins for using this system. It really drew me into the community and provides far more than a simply check to make sure you aren’t smurfing. There were no player blogs prior to the draft so all decisions were made based on whatever the captain valued.
Rating: 9/10 — Just go with the flow
RD2L: I knew I’d be a fifth round pick here and I ended up napping too long so I missed the first half of the draft. All in all, I would rate PST-Sun draft as a cacophony of captains, opinions, and panicked draft sheet checking. LD2Lers, beware. This won’t make any sense (because who even are these people) and it feels much more intense than the LD2L draft. Opinions of players (mostly negative) are thrown around freely and the discussion surrounding picks is markedly confrontational (albeit hilarious). I’d recommend against watching if you’re trying to learn anything of importance about the players in the league. If you want to be taken on a wild adventure with a bunch of high MMR players acting like this is a draft of similar importance as the NFL draft, have at it.
Rating: Cthulhu/∞ — Watch the streams at your risk.
LD2L: Obviously, any LD2Ler reading this knows how chill LD2L draft is. Captains come in with their own ideas of who they want, and they might even have a draft sheet. The drafting is done through the website and the discussions are a lot shorter. Friend drafting is common and you’re far less likely to be picked if no one has heard of you, even if you’re close to the MMR cap for the league. The most interesting part of the LD2L draft happens post-finals where captains assure you that they’ll totally pick you in x round and pick midorchen somewhere before you. Overall a fun and light-hearted environment with a discord channel full of excited people that are following the stream.
RD2L: Scrim city. No one told me I’d be playing a scrim nearly every week and I was nervous during my first few scrims as a result. Scrims here are scheduled between captains and there were far more active scrims than in LD2L. Scrims are a mixed blessing — if you’re winning all your scrims and have great synergy you‘re obviously going to be super hyped headed into your first league game. On the other hand, if you’re losing or running into personality conflicts, you might be less excited than when you first signed up. All in all, I like that there are more scrims in RD2L. You learn about other teams, you see high level drafting and get advice on how to improve when you’re feeding an enemy team that is competent.
Rating: 9/10 — high value scrims teach you a lot about why you suck and how much you suck.
LD2L: While scrims are entirely dependent on your team and the crazy time zones they live in (Kruggerand), I found that there was far less emphasis on scrims in LD2L. Players preferred to play with their team in party queue and it wasn’t uncommon for scrim commitments to fall through or never completely materialize.
Rating: 5/10 — Again, my team didn’t scrim much and that made me sad. Other teams vary.
In game hero draft:
RD2L: Do you like Warlock? I sure hope you do. As an LD2Ler you need to be comfortable with the fact that you will very likely be playing 5. Unless you can prove yourself on another hero, the default pick will be Warlock for lane effectiveness and ease of use. For my team, the draft phase was mostly orchestrated by my captain and first-pick. My opinions were gently considered and then I was told why my hero selection wouldn’t work. It’s a very informative period and the drafting strategies are significantly different than LD2L. There are also drafting blogs that help you understand what a pre-draft game plan looks like. Highly recommend this league for drafting expertise if you don’t mind playing 5.
Rating: 8/10 — Learn to love Warlock and you’ll get a lot of knowledge out of the draft.
LD2L: Do you like your main hero? Of course you do! You’re probably going to get to play them for at least a few weeks before they get respect banned. While I can only speak for the team I played on, LD2L drafts are super zen. We might have a strategy going in, but a lot of decisions are made on the fly. Meme strats aren’t uncommon and everyone gets a chance to contribute their own ideas. This leads to some unbalanced team comps and questionable picks but you definitely feel like your voice matters.
Rating: 8/10 — Go with the flow, enjoy your crazy offlane picks.
Team communication/ability to stay untilted:
RD2L: There is a lot more communication on the timings and objectives that are critical to winning. I was expecting to get berated for my ward placement, hero positioning, and pretty much anything that involved a mouse and keyboard. I wasn’t wrong. However, most of the criticism was constructive, and the longer rants were saved until after the game where we could reflect as a team on what went right and wrong. Even when I made lots of mistakes, there wasn’t fire and brimstone. Treebeard would sigh, tell me to buy more smokes and proceed to carry my clueless self. Truck would remain positive no matter what and keep the team morale higher than I thought possible in tense situations. Granted, my experiences are based on the team that I was drafted to, but I’ve experienced much of the same when playing with other high MMR RD2L players. They accept you (and your shit MMR) and do their best to carry and give advice when possible.
Rating: 9/10 — Truck god, the -1 point is due to Tree making me feel like I am actually draining potential from my team every time I breathe.
LD2L: There were a lot of bumps in the road with my LD2L team and tilting. When we were stomping, the team atmosphere was infectious and fun. When we were losing, there was a lot more tilting and communication during the game suffered. As expected, less emphasis is placed on timings and my warding wasn’t criticized. Thanks team! All in all, I think this experience was still valuable — I learned how to deal with all sorts of different personalities and everyone was chill after the game.
Rating: 6/10 — Totally team dependent but tilting mid-game always sucks.
League communication (e.g. match-ups):
RD2L: Match-ups are never certain, teams will disband, people won’t record their games properly and you can expect to receive ‘new’ and not improved match-up most weeks. Any stand-ins or replacements are promptly announced, and the match-up madness is mitigated by the fact that captains don’t always have their shit together.
Rating: Pending — due to ticketing issues (Just kidding, 7/10 — go with the flow and it all ends up mostly okay)
LD2L: Match-ups are pretty much certain due to the system used to plan them. Disbands happen less often and captains are pretty good about posting their results.
Rating: 10/10 — no complaints, thanks admins!
General discord atmosphere:
RD2L: RD2L has a main discord and division specific discords. I was exceedingly nervous to talk on the PST-SUN discord at first. Now that I’m not awestruck by all the high-MMR god tier players (shout-out to my Immortal captain), I can happily report that the community is nice, filled with memes, and helpful when I have DotA questions.
Rating: 9/10 — Admins might change your nickname to something inappropriate.
LD2L: LD2L has one ‘main’ discord and a few other gathering spots where people hang out to find queues and complain about their matches. I like that there are bots to pull up match data and the history of your last games. People in the server are helpful and kind.
Would I do it again?
This section is for all the LD2Lers that have considered joining RD2L to learn more about DotA or gain new experiences. I hesitated at first and asked a lot of questions. You probably should too. I was lucky to get drafted onto a wonderful team that didn’t disband, but not everyone was so lucky. I also had teammates that coached my ranked games and stayed PMA when I panicked in league games. Obviously, my experience is based on a near fairy tale. I dodged all the awful rumors and learned a lot about myself and DotA. I was lucky enough to play with some high skill players and I’ve even made a few friends. If you’re willing to play pos 5 and deal with the criticism that is meant to help you, I’d recommend joining RD2L. The PST-SUN community is welcoming, and you won’t be screamed at for being Archon. If you expect to play a core role or aren’t looking to improve on your general mechanics, I’d advise against joining. I’ve had a wonderful time this season and I’m looking forward to playing in both leagues next season.