If I were at Riot, I would be looking at one of DotA 2′s features above all others: spectator mode. The spectator options in DotA 2 are absolutely incredible, and could serve to reduce the learning curve for getting into the game more than any feature in a modern MOBA. With Riot’s focus on the competitive scene, a robust spectator mode is an absolute necessity, and Riot has taken far too long to release the feature to the general public.
Valve, on the other hand, has an incredible setup, complete with the ability to download and save any of your recent replays. In fact, it’s hard to talk about the DotA 2 spectator mode without mentioning the fluidity of the client. While queued for a match, players can drop in and spectate on any of the public games being played. Yes, any of them. While the list could use a little more organization, the filter system allows a player to find recent games by hero, player, and skill level, among other criteria, as well as watch games that are live and in progress, albeit with a delay.
I have never been one for livestreams. I watch a tournament game here and there, but for the most part I don’t have a lot of interest in watching. Not just watching, anyway. Certainly not watching people I don’t know. With DotA 2, though, I can jump straight in and watch the games my friends are currently playing. It’s incredibly easy, and it opens up all kinds of room for multiple tournament streams. Don’t like the casters at one site? Each game can have up to 64 spectators, so finding a tourney stream from the site you love could be very easy.
As I mentioned above, all of this can be done while in queue for a game of my own. That’s huge. I think it might be one of the features that saves DotA from the inevitable overwhelming burden of knowledge that 100+ heroes can put on a new player. Being able to see a hero played and see some of the builds out there could help new players bridge the knowledge gap they face from the start of their very first game.