Home Gaming Valve’s new Monkey King hero for Dota 2 is incredibly original (not really)

Valve’s new Monkey King hero for Dota 2 is incredibly original (not really)

4 min read

Monkey King Dota 2 header

At The International last week, Valve revealed that Underlord would be making his way to Dota 2 in the near future. It was particularly exciting news, because it meant that finally, after many, many years, the entire DotA cast would’ve been ported over to the sequel.

Who then, would come after Underlord? Based on Valve’s typical release schedule, I didn’t expect to see anyone new until next year at the very least.

But lo and behold, a surprise announcement surfaced toward the end of TI6, revealing a brand new character. Holy moly, a new, original hero was on the way to Dota 2, and a lot sooner than anybody expected… PRAISE GABEN! Here’s his teaser trailer…

… Monkey King? Seriously, you mean to tell me that after all this time, after dragging out DotA hero ports for ages, Valve’s first new original character is Monkey King?

I’d brush it off, really I would, except literally every other mainstream MOBA (bar Heroes of the Storm) has somebody of that ilk already. Don’t believe me? See for yourself…

Wukong (League of Legends)

Wukong LoL

Monkey King (Heroes of Newerth)

Monkey King HoN

Sun Wukong (SMITE)

Sun Wukong SMITE

Gokong (Strife)


Ozo (Vainglory)

Ozo Vainglory

Wukong (Warframe)

Yeah, I know Warframe is not a MOBA, but I’m adding this character here too because REASONS!

Wukong Warframe

Basically every other game has a character inspired by Sun Wukong already. Speaking of which, who the hell is that anyway? Here’s a quick history lesson on the Monkey King, who comes from Chinese mythology…

Sun Wukong, also known as the Monkey King, is a mythological figure who features in a body of legends, which can be traced back to the period of the Song dynasty. He appears as a main character in the 16th century Chinese classical novel Journey to the West. Sun Wukong is also found in many later stories and adaptations. In the novel, he is a monkey born from a stone who acquires supernatural powers through Taoist practices. After rebelling against heaven and being imprisoned under a mountain by the Buddha, he later accompanies the monk Xuanzang on a journey to retrieve Buddhist sutras from India.

Sun Wukong possesses immense strength; he is able to lift his 13,500 j?n (7,960 kilograms (17,550 lb)) staff with ease. He is also extremely fast, able to travel 108,000 li (21,675 kilometres (13,468 mi)) in one somersault. (Note that this is more than half way around the world.) Sun knows 72 transformations, which allow him to transform into various animals and objects; however, he is troubled in transforming into other forms, due to the accompanying incomplete transformation of his tail. Sun Wukong is a skilled fighter, capable of holding his own against the best warriors of heaven. Each of his hairs possess magical properties, capable of being transformed into clones of the Monkey King himself, and/or into various weapons, animals, and other objects. He knows spells to command wind, part water, conjure protective circles against demons, and freeze humans, demons, and gods alike.

One of the most enduring Chinese literary characters, Sun Wukong has a varied background and colorful cultural history. Sun Wukong’s origin is from the White Monkey legends from the Chinese Chu kingdom (700–223 BC), who revered gibbons and especially white-colored ones. These legends gave rise to stories and art motifs during the Han dynasty, eventually contributing to the rise of the Sun Wukong figure. Sun Wukong was initially developed as a Taoist immortal before being incorporated into Buddhist myths.[3] He is also considered by some scholars to be influenced by elements of both Chinese folklore and the Hindu deity Hanuman from the Ramayana.

Interesting tale and character, right? It’s really no wonder so many titles have drawn inspiration from Wukong. I just find it hilarious that Valve have chosen him to be the basis for their first new original hero.

What’s even funnier is that the voice actor, Matthew Mercer (who voices Overwatch’s McCree too as a matter of interest), is the very same bloke who recorded lines for Heroes of Newerth’s Monkey King (via Dota 2 Gamepedia). At least he has the experience already – specific experience that he is bringing to Dota 2’s character.

Anyways, moving right along, am I wrong to be so harsh to Valve? Every other MOBA does have a Wukong too after all, so they’re all culprits of being completely unoriginal.

I just feel that Valve had the opportunity to reveal something truly spectacular for their first new original hero, and they slipped up. Perhaps they’ll prove me wrong though. For all I know, this Monkey King could prove to be the very best interpretation of the legend yet.

Last Updated: August 16, 2016


  1. #MandatoryWarframeIsBestestComment


  2. Pariah

    August 16, 2016 at 13:35


    No. Seriously Valve. No.


  3. Alien Emperor Trevor

    August 16, 2016 at 13:36

    • Matthew Holliday

      August 16, 2016 at 15:49

      That CGI, water physics look so real.


  4. Dean

    August 16, 2016 at 13:43

    And then when you look deeper, Sun Wukong might just be a copy of Hanuman the Hindu deity.


  5. Anthony Nell

    August 16, 2016 at 13:47

    Did Valve every say it was a new ORIGINAL hero? That seems to be the theme shoved down our throats in this article. I don’t see why we should all be so mad at Valve for adding a new hero to the pool as long as it’s a good addition and not something utterly irrelevant. You can say original as many times as you want but I think that is a little unfair to make that the basis of an entire argument unless they called it their original hero, ya get me?


    • hairyknees

      August 16, 2016 at 14:37

      For sure 🙂 I have no issue with the new hero being added. It just seems so absurd that after all these years, Valve’s big reveal was something we’ve essentially seen before – in literally every other mainstream MOBA (except HotS). It feels mediocre – at least to me anyways.

      But you’re right, they’ve never claimed it was their own original hero. I was only trying to point out that Wukong has been used as inspiration many, many times.


      • Anthony Nell

        August 16, 2016 at 15:31

        I don’t think in Valves case they care much about the originality of the character as much as they do about his addition to the meta and the mental amounts of money they will get from hats. And like BakedBagel said 90% of other MOBA characters have been copied from the original W3 mod so why not the other way around for a change.


        • hairyknees

          August 16, 2016 at 15:41

          Yup that is indeed true. The success of original Warcraft mod inspired basically all the other MOBAs, and with it, tons of character copies. Hell, Heroes of Newerth has some proper copy pastes in some cases xD


      • Matthew Holliday

        August 16, 2016 at 15:42

        Honestly doing something that was quick and easy was quite clever, with pitlord being the last of the old, its just a nudge, reminding us that there will still be new stuff aswell.
        it took volvo to like 6 years to release underlord, who was a premade, can you imagine waiting for them to sit on their thumbs for something actually new?


        • BakedBagel

          August 16, 2016 at 16:35

          Beta in 2038


      • Teh Vanarch

        August 16, 2016 at 18:23

        As I mentioned in another post, it isn’t Valve that makes the hero concepts. Icefrog, the lead developer of DotA & Dota 2 since 2005, makes these decisions and Valve merely works with it.

        – Icefrog may be very secretive (nobody even knows his face or name for that matter) but from what we do know he is quite active on Weibo (a Chinese Twitter of sorts).
        – The Chinese community has always been a big part of Dota but there is still so much potential to expand upon the playerbase over there (where gamers have flocked to LoL).
        – He first appeared in WC3 DotA as a secret boss in 2013.
        – The concept obviously derives from the legend of Sun Wukong who first appears in the Chinese epic “Journey to the West”.
        – We don’t know what his abilities are like yet so in spite of his concept being featured in several other games in the genre it doesn’t mean he will play exactly like the others or won’t be fun to play in general.

        Given all that, it’s not hard to see why Monkey King would be a good starting point as far as new heroes are concerned.


    • BakedBagel

      August 16, 2016 at 15:05

      I would love to know the amount of hero’s used in other moba’s
      that have a likeliness to dota hero’s.

      Its honestly staggering.


      • Matthew Holliday

        August 16, 2016 at 15:46



  6. Kikmi

    August 16, 2016 at 14:11

    Interesting none the less. More chars means more domination. I’m keen


  7. Lu

    August 16, 2016 at 14:37

    Well actually Monkey King was in DotA first in a way.
    Yesterday i found out there was a hidden Monkey King boss and minigame in the original – there are a few vids on youtube.
    It will be interesting to see how he compares with Phantom Lancer, considering the whole multiple illusions thing MK has going. (And the fact that I have a monkey king set for PL)


    • hairyknees

      August 16, 2016 at 14:40

      Yeah it did, but in 2013? Heroes of Newerth and LoL both had their version back in 2011 I think.

      That trailer had over 9000 illusions O_O keen to see what his actual abilities are 🙂


      • Lu

        August 16, 2016 at 15:46

        Also true. Would be epic if his ulti is augmented by MKB instead of Sceptre


  8. Jordan Rose

    August 16, 2016 at 17:19

    Monkey King was a planned hero for the original DotA way before any of those games. They had whole events teasing him. He never got released after they started working on Dota 2 and had to start from scratch again.


  9. Teh Vanarch

    August 16, 2016 at 18:13

    Firstly, Valve wasn’t the one that came up with the hero concept, it was Icefrog – the lead developer. Secondly, the hero concept first appeared as somewhat of a teaser about 3 years ago in WC3 DotA where it was featured as part of a secret quest. The update in which he will be released is entitled “A New Journey” which thematically makes a whole load of sense for two reasons. Firstly the hero is based around Sun Wukong who first appears in the Chinese classic “Journey to the West”. The other reason why it makes a lot of sense is that he is the first new hero to be released (exclusively in Dota 2) after the hero parity and thus marks a new beginning for Dota 2. No longer is it constrained by what came before it in WC3 DotA. Some may call it generic but I find it to be exciting news regardless.


  10. Defense of the Valve

    August 16, 2016 at 20:14

    Sun Wukong was a boss in dota 1, their just making him into a hero like they did with phoenix


    • Defense of the Valve

      August 16, 2016 at 21:04

      Icefrog created Sun Wukong during dota 1 but as a boss in a complicated quest. The reward Sun Wukong would grant was the Monkey king bar which is an item currently in the Dota 2 shop but it was changed completely in order to provide an affordable mid-late game item generally for late game right click carries. (Old MKB = It gives you Active Truestrike, 90% evasion, 1100 area True Sight, auto-dominate nearby enemy illusions and +10000 attack damage. Also provides attack/movespeed aura for your allies.)


  11. Abbas Ali

    August 17, 2016 at 03:33

  12. Griffith

    August 17, 2016 at 09:09

    I always thought that Phantom Lancer was Sun Wukong since all the illusions and staff (with windwalk back in the old days, and spell immunity) but that is just me.q


  13. Swagnatti

    August 19, 2016 at 01:56

    Actually, Wukong IS part of the original DOTA cast, he appeared as an easter egg in one original DOTA’s versions. He also entered development during the end of DOTA 1, but was ultimately scrapped. It seems that valve revived Wukong and are now porting him to DOTA 2.


  14. mrtwommra

    August 23, 2016 at 06:13

    In fact, IceFrog wanted to add Monkey King in DotA Allstars in 2010, before he was added in LoL and before SMITE ever existed. However, because of work with Dota 2, he decided to add him later, so in 6.79 there was a secret boss: Sun Wukong, the Monkey King. And when 6.80 beta, that was only for testers, has begun, even skills of Monkey King was already known! However, it never released in final 6.80. So in fact, this is not Dota 2’s first original hero, it is still port from DotA Allstars.


  15. MrNycticorax .

    August 24, 2016 at 16:46

    Author would be kind to do his research before shitting on things he does not fully understand. Quoting a more balanced article (http://www.pcgamer.com/valve-announce-monkey-king-the-first-dota-2-hero-that-isnt-a-port-from-dota/):
    “Sun Wukong was teased many years ago in the original DotA, and a recent
    Dota 2 test update included a mysterious prevalence of bananas: all
    signs pointing towards the first hero to be added to Dota 2 that isn’t a
    port from the original mod.”
    When one of the original authors of a game is working on hero that gets to be copied and released by other games and later releases that hero himself, he is not exactly copying others.


  16. Dohregard

    December 12, 2016 at 10:23

  17. Maxim

    December 12, 2016 at 21:08

    He was original back when he was in DotA beta in 2010. Of course, you wouldn’t know that.


  18. FFF Inquisition

    June 26, 2017 at 04:44

    Heroes of the storm actually has their own Monkey king in the form of a skin..


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