In April 2009, two lane-pushing games entered beta in the same month. Heroes of Newerth and League of Legends competed for more-or-less the same audience of Dota fans. Initially it wasn't clear which would have the greater success, but LoL's free-to-play model saw it garner enormous momentum and soon become the most-played game in the world.
Heroes of Newerth still found a dedicated audience, however, and one large enough to sustain it for almost a decade of updates (the last major update came in 2019). At the time this was clearly an update for the end times, adding tributes to staff members for their hard work over the years, and making one final major rebalancing patch.
In December 2021 the closure was announced by Frostburn studio (which took over the game from the now-defunct original developer S2 Games):
"Heroes of Newerth (HoN) has been in service for a long time. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has been on this journey, created special memories together with us, moved HoN forward, and created a lot of unforgettable stories for HoN, as well as making Heroes of Newerth become one of the most popular MOBA games in history.
"The Heroes of Newerth team regrets to announce that Heroes of Newerth’s service will officially come to an end on June 20, 2022."
Ever since then the game has been re-running old events, stopped selling premium currency, and generally showered the remaining players with nice things as a final farewell. Today the Heroes of Newerth servers have shut down, and its various official communication platforms are to be wound-down.
I wasn't a Heroes of Newerth player, but the official forums are full of the people who put years into this game, many of whom have been playing since beta. I found this tribute by TemplarZ touching:
"Hello everyone, as I write this with tears in my eyes, I just wanted to say it's been a pleasure playing with every single one of you! No matter what has happened and what kind of a game it was when we played, good or bad... I'm just thankful it happened.
"I just played my last HoN game with my all time favorite hero Shadowblade (the first hero that I got Immortal and Annihilation in the same game with... I remember it like it was yesterday) and I played it with my oldest HoN buddy (who has been a real life friend of mine for many years thanks to this game). I've meet many interesting people who will continue to be my friends all because of this beautiful game. It has been a wild journey and every second has been precious, filled with all sorts of emotions.
"So, I say this with a heavy heart, goodbye everyone and goodbye Heroes of Newerth. I really hope that something magical will happen and that we will all be able to play our favorite game again!