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A MOBA Glossary for New Players

League of LegendsHeroes of the Storm, and Dota 2 have never been stronger. Soon these successful MOBAs will be joined by ParagonGigantic, and more. If you’re new to the genre, as a player or an esports fan, it can be a little overwhelming. Thankfully we have you covered with this list of generic MOBA terms you’ll want to know to get into most, if not all, of these games either as a player or a spectator.

Ace/Team Kill

The term for eliminating the entire enemy team.

Active

A character or item ability that must be activated, as opposed to a passive ability. This is commonly used when referring to in-game items.

Aggro

A familiar term for MMO players, aggro refers to the aggression of neutral monsters and turrets. In high-skill play, intentionally acquiring or “juggling” aggro is an important skill.

Area of Effect (AoE)

Azmodan AoE

Refers to abilities that effect large areas and therefore potentially impacting multiple targets.

Ability Power (AP)/Ability Damage (AD)

Two common types of damage types, which are often mitigated separately by items and defensive stats.

Carry

Any hero who “carries” a team through a game, especially when that character scales well late game. Commonly used with AP and AD Carries, referring to either mid-lane players or attack damage players.

Bait

To lure in enemy players into a disadvantageous position.

Back

To teleport back to base to heal up or buy items.

Backdoor

To take an objective, usually the enemy base, by sneaking in while the rest of the team is distracted.

Base Race

When two teams rush for the victory at the same time, turning the game into a race for who can win first. This usually becomes an exciting game of chicken.

Bot/Mid/Top/Jungle

The locations, and roles, that make up most MOBA games. Traditionally this covers a five-player match of one player top, another in the middle, two in the bottom lane, and one roaming. In esports, these roles can and will swap frequently.

Buff/Debuff

A temporary or permanent performance boon, usually granted by killing key neutral monsters. The opposite of a debuff, which weakens players.

Bully

To play aggressively, pushing opponents away from objects, usually bullying them out of the lane.

Collapse

To surround an opponent when they are caught in a poor position, sandwiching them with the brunt of your team’s forces.

Cooldown (CD)

The time it takes for abilities to recharge after use.

Crowd Control (CC)

Any and all abilities that slow, stun, disable or otherwise impede enemy movement and abilities.

Creep Score (CS)

In MOBAs that grant gold to those who last-hit the neutral minions who flow into battle, CS is a measurement of how many of these “creeps” a player has killed. Disparities in CS generally reflect disparities in gold income between two players, and therefore a potential power differential.

Denial

Usually refers to killing your own creeps or towers, a mechanic removed from many MOBAs, preventing enemy players from earning gold or experience for the kill.

Dive

A coordinated effort to assault a specific target, usually underneath a defensive turret.

Dunking

The act of quickly obliterating an enemy player, typically with some kind of leaping strike.

Face Check

To wander into terrain, such as a bush, to see if an enemy is inside. This can often result in a humiliating death.

Farming

The process of steadily killing minions or neutral monsters to gain gold and/or experience.

First Blood

The first kill of the game. First blood often grants extra gold to the player who lands the killing blow.

Fed

A term used to refer to players who have amassed so many kills that they have grown into a disproportionately powerful machine of death and destruction.

Fog of War

Also just fog, this is the gray area of the map out of sight from a team.

Gank/Counter-Gank

To ambush an enemy with one or more players. Counter-ganks refer to the act of initiating a surprise ambush when the enemy team is trying to do the same.

Gap Closer

Abilities that shorten the distance between two players, often crucial for initiating a fight or assassination.

Glass Cannon

A character with high damage output but very low defenses.

Harass

To pester an enemy player with safe offensive abilities and attacks.

Invade

To go into enemy territory to harass or steal neutral objectives, generally referring to jungler behavior.

Jungle

The neutral space between lanes in most MOBAs containing neutral monster camps.

Kite

To continuously back away from enemies, keeping at a safe distance, while simultaneously using ranged attacks.

Last Hit

The act of killing an enemy, minion, or monster with the final blow, usually granting credit for the kill. This concept does not exist in Heroes of the Storm.

Map Control

To control part of the map with good positioning and visioning, limiting the opposing team’s access to that area of the map.

MIA

Missing-in-Action: to declare an enemy player missing from vision, which acts as a warning.

Minions

The creatures that spawn from each enemy base and move down the lanes. Groups of these minions are called a minion wave.

Nuke

A powerful spell or ability whose primary purpose to obliterate a single-target enemy with a huge burst of quick damage.

Proc

A term used to describe triggered effects, some of which include random chance, such as a critical strike.

Peeling

To slow down or otherwise impede the ability of an enemy to attack an ally.

Ping

To click the map, sending a notice to teammates, usually signaling the location of enemy players.

Poke

To harass an enemy player with long-range attacks or abilities.

Push

To advance a lane and its minions to take a tower or other enemy objective.

Roam

To wander between lanes, especially in the early game, to look for an advantage or potential gank.

Root

A form of crowd control that “snares” enemies in place for a short time.

Skillshot

An ability that requires manual aiming to land on a target.

Squishy

A vulnerable enemy with particularly low health.

Scaling

How well a character’s offensive or defensive stats increase with levels and items.

Shop

The location where players buy items for their characters. This mechanic is absent from some MOBAs.

Silence

A debuff which prevents enemy players from casting spells for a short time.

Snowball

The process of using an advantage to secure yet another advantage, and continuing this process to victory.

Steal

To kill a neutral monster out from under an opposing team, “stealing” away the reward for the kill.

Tank

A character with high defensive stats, often falling into an initiating or peeling role, making up the front line during team fights.

True Damage

Damage not associated with magic or attack damage, which cannot be mitigated with armor and other defensive stats.

Ultimate

Each character’s most powerful ability, often with very long cooldown times.

Utility

The  traits and abilities that provide a non-offensive benefit to your team, such as movement speed boosts, abilities to disengage from team fights, etc.

Ward

Items that can be placed to grant vision within a radius around the war.

Wombo Combo


The act of chaining two or more abilities together to decimate opponents. Originally a term from the Super Smash Bros. community.

Zoning

Harassing an enemy to prevent them from entering a certain space. This is a tactic often used when securing objectives or preventing opponents from gaining experience.


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Jorge Albor
Jorge Albor

Jorge Albor is a staff editor at Fandom. He's been involved with games in one way or another since 2008. You can find him writing on PopMatters, hosting the EXP Podcast, and covering all kinds of games right here on Fandom. He has a special love for esports, board games, and movies.

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