DOTA: Dragon's Blood - Is It Worth Watching?

DOTA: Dragon’s Blood is an animated Netflix adaptation of Valve’s beloved Esports legend MOBA game. It was released at the end of March, telling the story of dragon-hunting knight Davion as he fights to make his world a safer place. The series blends Japanese and Western animation styles to create something visually unique, bringing DOTA’s world to life with an almost World of Warcraft-esque color palette - typical fantasy tones are offset by fantastical splashes of colour and vivid magical effects. It’s common knowledge that screen adaptations of hit games are often more miss than hit, but Dragon’s Blood is having a bit of a moment nonetheless.

The series currently sits at 8.3/10 on IMDB and a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with reviewers praising its entertaining lore and fight sequences. In contrast, Rotten Tomatoes’ audience rating is currently at 92%, a significant increase over the critic rating - this would suggest that fans of the game itself are enjoying the Netflix adaptation more than the critics, which makes a lot of sense. It’s a curious place for a show to be, though, and with so many more options out there to spend your time on, you might be wondering if this series is worth your time.

Dragon’s Blood has clocked up some impressive numbers in the short time since its release. The series has already cracked the top ten most viewed list for Netflix in 47 countries - including Jamaica, Brazil, Estonia, and India. It’s a really strong start for the series, and just goes to show how far DOTA’s reach goes, as people across the globe have flocked to watch it. Whether this is an indicator of the show’s quality or just how much DOTA is beloved around the world remains to be seen, and although Netflix has yet to announce a renewal, it seems all but inevitable.

The voice cast includes the likes of Yuri Lowenthal (Spider-Man, Prince of Persia, Persona), Kari Wahlgren and Troy Baker (far too many to list), it’s obvious that producers Studio Mir/Kaiju Boulevard are taking this adaptation seriously. These are all incredibly prolific voice actors in the animation and gaming industry, with even casual gamers or anime fans hearing their voices a hundred times over without realizing it. The series is spearheaded by Ashley Miller, who’s worked on some very well received sci-fi TV shows alongside contributing to superhero flicks Thor and X-Men: First Class.

The competitive DOTA scene from where all this began has had a bit of a difficult time thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Last year, the highly anticipated International was postponed and eventually cancelled, leaving the high-end competitive circuit without its biggest event. The ONE Esports Singapore Major is currently underway, marking the first top tier offline cross regional event in over a year, since the pandemic began.

The prize pool for the Singapore Major is $500,000 - Team Secret have already walked away with the fourth place prize of $50k. The first, second and third place prizes - $200k, $100k and $75k respectively - are still all to play for. Surprisingly, big teams like Fnatic and Team Liquid were knocked out in the playoffs, leaving the tournament without any European representation. Check out the odds by BetOnline for top picks on the DOTA scene’s 2021 circuit.

So, is Dragon’s Blood worth watching? It depends - if you’re a longtime DOTA lover there’s plenty to love, the animation is slick, the cast is relatively star-studded, and it has some prolific creative talent behind its direction. It has become an overnight sensation in 47 countries, and there has to be some merit behind that - but really, the decision’s down to you. Do you like your fantasy with liberal splashings of blood and a focus on worldbuilding? Do you want to be engrossed in the world, or amused and entertained? If you’re not a DOTA fan already, it might not make quite as much sense, but well-produced fight scenes and a diverse cast of characters might still sell it to you. If you’ve already spent a lot of time in DOTA’s world, you’re going to get more enjoyment out of it than someone coming in as an outsider. Check it out for yourself - don’t worry about what the critics say.

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