IceFrog is the lead developer for both Dota 2 and the original Defense of the Ancients. To date, he has remained pseudonymous, and other than revealing that he was 25 years old in early 2009, characteristics such as his physical description and real name are unknown. IceFrog speaks English and Chinese, which he learned in order to better communicate with Dota's large fanbase in China.
Various professional players and casters profess to have met IceFrog in person, but public details about these encounters are scarce out of respect for his privacy. Purge remarked that he had met him before, but was unaware he was IceFrog; 2GD mentioned that IceFrog spoke quickly during their meeting. IceFrog is known to solicit balancing suggestions from professional players prior to a patch, though this is usually done over the internet.
Defense of the Ancients
IceFrog officially began his involvement with Defense of the Ancients in 2005, when he was recruited by Guinsoo--the mod's lead developer at the time--to assist with programming. Later that year, Guinsoo left the project and passed the lead developer position to Neichus, who continued to develop with IceFrog. Neichus' departure a short time later left IceFrog as the sole designer for the map. Since then, IceFrog has ushered in an era of competitive play by carefully balancing and renovating the game.
It is rumored that at some point, IceFrog approached Blizzard Entertainment about the possibility of developing DotA as a standalone game, but the company was uninterested and asked him to port the mod to their upcoming StarCraft 2 map editor for free instead.
In 2009, a dispute arose between IceFrog and Pendragon, the maintainer of the de facto community hub DotA-Allstars.com. Pendragon, who had recently been hired by League of Legends developer Riot Games, was charged with using the site to promote his company's upcoming product, while IceFrog was accused of developing the game Heroes of Newerth with S2 Games. DotA-Allstars.com was taken offline (along with all of its contents), and IceFrog and the rest of the community were forced to relocate to the newly-created PlayDotA.com.
Also in 2009, IceFrog was contacted by Valve, who had become interested in Defense of the Ancients and its future. After receiving a tour of their offices, IceFrog was hired and began work on Dota 2.
Abdul Ismail Rumor
A persisting rumor is that IceFrog's real name is "Abdul Ismail". In late 2010, an anonymous person posted a defamatory article called "The Truth About IceFrog: Behind the Bullshit", which has been termed "false" (unofficially) and "fake" by Valve representatives. A common theory is that it is pure libel, written by Pendragon after his falling out with IceFrog. One of IceFrog's posts on PlayDota, which appeared before this incident, implies that IceFrog had no direct involvement with S2 Games.
However, the name supposedly reappeared in the Dota section of Valve's project management and bugtracking software, and was included in the Free to Play credits. It is unknown if it belongs to IceFrog or simply another Valve employee.
Additionally, video game magazine EDGE has referred to Icefrog as "Abdul Ismail" in issue 250.
In 2016, The President and Co-founder of Riot Games, Riot Tryndamere, made a reddit post with a vague line reading "...hoping Abdul (IF) would eventually...", Suggesting that IF refers to IceFrog. The comment has since been deleted and Tryndamere refuses to comment on the matter.
In May 2017, a California court was discussing the ownership of Dota and they mentioned the name of IceFrog (Abdul Ismail), so it was confirmed by the California District court.
- "EDGE Developer Awards 2013: Valve". (February 2013). EDGE #250, pp. 80.