Icefrog: The Mysterious Persona of DOTA2
The gameplay of Dota 2 is balanced by Icefrog. Little is known about the individual who created such a highly popular game and whose only interaction with the Dota 2 community consists of a few cryptic tweets each year. It is not surprising that his name appears frequently in Reddit posts or Twitch chats. Icefrog's influence can be found throughout the gaming world, from the joke "My Finest Creation" to the Twitch emote "OSfrog," which forever inscribes his name in the culture.
Even while Icefrog used to interact with players and fans rather frequently during the DotA Allstars era, his communication has decreased over the past ten years. Due to intense criticism and harassment, Icefrog stopped contact with the English-speaking Dota 2 community. He participated in discussions on the game with other Chinese people on the social media site Weibo. The Dota 2 community refers to Icefrog in a variety of ways, including as the master of balancing, the Dota deity, and the lord himself. In order to paint a complete image of Icefrog, this page will attempt to bring together the majority of the information that has been dispersed over the internet.
How Dota 2 came to be and how Icefrog was a part of it
Without going into Dota 2's past, a discussion about Icefrog cannot be fully understood. Defense of the Ancients first appeared as a mod for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos by Blizzard Entertainment, long before it was a complete standalone game. If one was a lover of games like Dota, one would hang out in the Warcraft III custom maps section. The MOBA genre was not officially established yet. Defense of the Ancients was one of the maps that stood out. But Icefrog hasn't yet appeared in this tale. The original Defense of the Ancients map was made by a player by the name of "Eul," and a vibrant community sprung up around it. This was influenced by another mod for Starcraft II: Brood War by Blizzard called "Aeon of Strife."
Kyle "Eul" Sommer, however, had other ideas. The most well-liked custom maps in Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos' The Frozen Throne expansion pack in 2003 were DotA and a number of Tower Defense mods. The game's expanding fan base made it possible for it to spread, which in turn inspired the modder to make it more challenging. After The Frozen Throne, the original author Eul vanished from the scene but thankfully left his code open-sourced. Modders might now expand on the foundation that Eul established. The Defense of the Ancients map was picked up and continued to be worked on by Steve "Guinsoo" Feak. DotA Allstars was the name given to the mod, and it would remain such until Dota 2 was released. Guinsoo wouldn't stay on the scene for very long, though. The DotA Allstars mod would then pass to Alex "Neichus" Moss from Guinsoo.
The most anticipated chapter in Dota history has here. Neichus, who had inherited the mod from Guinsoo, needed IceFrog's assistance because he had no formal training in coding. After Neichus dropped out of the project, Icefrog was left as the map's only designer. 2005 was the year, and Icefrog was the captain. DotA Allstars began holding competitive tournaments in the EU, SEA, and China in addition to amassing a million participants worldwide. DotA Allstars continued to grow in popularity and carve out its own niche thanks to Icefrog's diligent bug-fixing and consistent inclusion of new heroes. Large corporations took notice and made an effort to cash in on this market segment, which was becoming to be known as the MOBA, or multiplayer online battle arena. League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, and Dota 2 successively evolved as a result of the participation of Riot Games, S2 Games, and Valve.
Icefrog may have been interested in working for Riot Games on League of Legends, but the lack of creative freedom led Icefrog to consider other opportunities. After a brief stint with S2 Games, where he was tasked with balancing the heroes of HoN, Icefrog was eventually hired by Valve to lead the Dota 2 project. Icefrog revealed in 2009 that he would be collaborating with Valve, starting a storied collaboration.
Icefrog’s method of design and his philosophy of balancing in Dota 2
If Icefrog's approach to balancing DOTA 2 or DotA Allstars had to be summed up in a single sentence, it would be something like this: "Balance the game around the pro scene, and the rest of the player base would follow." This design approach is not common. When judgments were made that did not take the casual player population into consideration when balancing the game for the pro scene, the game was frequently obscured. Call it good fortune or Icefrog's pure brilliance, but it has worked for DOTA 2 over the years. Over the past ten years, Icefrog has also made a number of significant changes to DOTA 2, which have significantly altered the game. The major patches have altered how DOTA 2 is played, adding features like neutral objects, outposts, and hero talent trees. This was made feasible in part by the Valve engine that DOTA 2 was based on. Compared to the Warcraft III map editor, it allowed Icefrog far greater latitude. The way Valve controls the game is another factor that is sometimes overlooked. Icefrog has total creative authority thanks to Valve, which means he can make whatever insane adjustments without worrying about a corporate organization watching him.
This essentially outlines the design philosophy behind DOTA 2's approach to flexible roles and other related elements. Icefrog has always allowed the player population to experiment with roles in contrast to League of Legends' strict compartmentalization of heroes into designated roles. As a result, a particular hero can be utilized in a variety of ways, which is an accomplishment from the perspective of game design and also adds to the competitive scene's intrigue. Teams devise surprise tactics to trick the opposing side into believing a given hero will be playing a particular role when, in reality, they would be playing a different one as the draft went on. One notable illustration of this is OG's TI9 run using core IO.
In addition, Icefrog's lax attitude to the design of the gameplay led to the emergence of tactics like roaming and trilaning. Players may be spotted cutting creep waves from tier 3 towers in no other MOBA, revolutionizing the offlane position. Overall, Icefrog's vision made sure that DOTA 2 would be an exciting game where teams and players would frequently devise novel methods. As a result, DOTA 2 evolved into a popular esport for spectators. With Chinese viewers excluded, The International 2019 recorded a record viewership of 1.97 million.
But who is Icefrog: piecing together the memes and facts
As DOTA 2's fame grew, numerous rumors concerning Icefrog's identity spread as well. Many speculations and rumors started to circulate, some supported by indirect evidence and others by nothing more than conjecture. Icefrog's long-standing urban legend did not emerge overnight. The Frog invested time over the years delivering content upgrades and balance adjustments, first in DotA Allstars and then in DOTA 2. The haze that around the name simply became denser. There has been a lot of speculation regarding who Icefrog is in the DOTA 2 community, from Valve's de facto community relations representative Wykrhm Reddy to the renowned analyst Statsman Bruno to CyborgMatt. Several celebrities have made jokes regarding the identity of the Frog on Twitter.
Many of the celebrities and professional athletes who have visited The Internationals are known to have personally interacted with Icefrog. According to Kevin "Purge" Godec, he met "the man" at the Internationals. This was the second time Purge had met Icefrog and he described him as a "ordinary person" and a "amazing dude." When they first met, Icefrog did not identify himself to Purge. The encounter between Icefrog and Zhang "LaNm" Zhicheng has also made for interesting conversation. When LaNm realized it was the Frog he had encountered, he reportedly fell to his knees and sobbed in front of him. Tobiwan and Maelk's analysis of Free to Play supported this.
There have been rumors that Jonathan "Loda" Berg had met him, among other players. Other from these well-known individuals, there must be a small number of other professional players and DOTA 2 personalities who have interacted with Icefrog. Apart from any speculation, there is only pure, unwavering adoration for the balancing genius behind DOTA 2. It's amazing that this man has been successfully using a pseudonym for 16 long years in the age of the Internet.