Why You – Even You – Should Watch The International Finals


By my watch, the main event of Valve’s $10 million Dota 2 tournament The International kicks off oooooh right about now in front of a sold-out crowd in Seattle. Gabe Newell will take to the stage and someone will yell out something trite about Half-Life 3. You should watch it. Not just because I think Dota 2’s one of the finest video games, but to see Valve’s pageantry. Big-money digital sport competitions in arenas will be A Thing for quite some time, it seems, and The International so far has put on the best show. With decent presenters, a solid between-game show, different ways to watch, and a general hum of excitement, it’s the event other games should be cribbing from.

Look, if you play Dota 2 you probably already know this stuff, but I’ll explain for everyone else.

The International 2014’s prize pool is sitting at $10,848,057 as I write this, and still growing with thanks to sales of The International’s sticker album thing The Compendium. The winning team of 5 will get $4,990,106 of that, and even eighth place offers half a million dollars.

Each game sees two teams of five wizards running around and duffing each other up for about 25-60 minutes. Best-of-3 matches start today, will run all weekend, then conclude with the best-of-5 grand finals on Monday. An all-star game is on Saturday too.

A video stream will show every match, along with the grand opening ceremony going on oooooh now, interviews, between-match analysis, and all that. The presenter team is informative and pleasant, including a stat specialists with a real flair for flamboyant suits, and a real gem in Kaci Aitchison. A local news presenter wholly new to Dota but used to interviewing people about their weird interests, she was excellent last year as a friendly entry point for this baffling world.

Some of the in-game commentators are, unfortunately, That Sort of Awful Video Game Person. This year’s new ‘newcomer’ commentary may help you avoid them. It’s intended for people not versed in the arcane mysteries of Doting, with friendly presenters who won’t get overexcited and scream or casually say horrible things. If you’re new to Dota, definitely go for that commentary.

The best way to watch matches is definitely the in-game spectator system, which includes several commentary streams and options to pause and rewind live games, and lets you mouse over tooltips explaining skills, items, and Dota 2’s many, many numbers. Past games can be watched through it too. Dota 2’s a free download on Steam so hop to it.

Organised ‘Pubstomps‘ are bringing the stream to pubs around the world too, so people can come together to celebrate their mutual fondness for getting drunk and yelling at wizards.

Crumbs, it’s even going to be covered on ESPN 2 and 3, actual sports channels. ESPN do like to dabble in these things occasionally, having shown Magic: The Gathering championships before.

Valve are on top of merchandise, a sports essential, with a huge catalogue of shirts, plushie dolls, posters, badges and so on, many coming with in-game items too. What makes it more than just flogging merch is that Valve are also selling items designed by Dota 2 fans, offering a revenue share. My chum Robin Wild has a shirt and mousepad in there, the clever sausage.

All of this bluster isn’t to say that The International is perfect. It won’t be. There’s still lots to improve.

As our wizard expert Phillipa noted in her Dote Night column, Valve haven’t quite cracked camera views for spectators. Analogue sports rely heavily on slow-motion replays, picture-in-picture, and all that. These would help so much for those times when 10 wizards cast all their spells at once and the screen is covered in explosions, arrows, ghosts, and spectral horses for ten seconds, then only one wizard’s left standing when the smoke clears. Better commentators really would be appreciated, and people who don’t do stuff like this.

However, Valve have put an awful lot of thought into packing digital sports up as actual things for people to actually follow and watch and enjoy. TI4 will probably be a great glimpse at the direction arena digital sports will follow over the next few years. And some cracking digital sports too.


  1. bcrowe says:

    You know I think I might just have a look, see what all the fuss is about.

  2. Dijeangenie says:

    What does ‘That Sort of Awful Video Game Person’ mean?

    • Horg says:

      People who ”casually say horrible things” apparently.

      Honestly I have no idea what this is supposed to reference. All of the commentary teams this year have been great, and contrary to advertised opinion, the main stream is not a hostile environment to new comers.

      • Alice O'Connor says:

        I’ve seen too many weird digressions into the attractiveness of female characters, and things like if Windrunner’s hair is naturally ginger and whether her pubic hair matches. That last one I vaguely recall was during last year’s International main event too (or if not, some other tournament). I mostly attribute these things to Tobi, though that’s perhaps because his voice is more recognisable to me.

        And all that screaming!

        • Dijeangenie says:

          Fair enough, I’m still not sure what “Awful Video Game person” is supposed to mean. Someone who is passionate about what they do? Just an awkward guy making an inappropriate comment.

          • Bradamantium says:

            An awkward guy making an inappropriate comment is easy to ignore at a party, harder to do when he’s half the folks yelling at you over an esports broadcast. I haven’t watched any Dota tournaments before so I don’t know how their announcers are, but after a couple hours of EVO last weekend, I just turned off the sound on stream thanks to Those Kinds of People.

          • Corb says:

            This year hasn’t really had problems like that in TI. There have been a few instances where a commentator either needed to do more homework/drink some coffee but it has been fairly professional. It’s also had some fun moments like when the dude with those crazy jackets decided to do “magic tricks” :P

        • Horg says:

          Well yeah, pretty much all of that criticism can be leveled solely at Tobi, adding in ”talking over his co-caster” and ”missing first blood” as a signature move. The rest of the main casters tend to hold themselves to a more normal standard. But it was Tobi’s screaming mad enthusiasm that first got me into watching DotA regularly, so I wouldn’t write him off completely.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Oh, oh.. that makes it all right, then.

            Sorry not meaning to be snarky (much), but there are certain standards people hold a commentator to. Sure, some commentators are more enthusiastic, funny and know how to play the crowd and others know more about the game and analyse well. But neither of these include sexist remarks and not doing your job well (the talking over someone else bit).

          • Horg says:

            He’s flawed, but he’s in the main event for a reason. I’m not making excuses for him, just telling it like it is, and making the point that the other main stream casters should not be tarred with the same brush. Make your own decision to listen to him, or not, and save the snark for someone that actually deserves it.

          • HadToLogin says:

            @Hmm-Hmm: Well, if you want pewdiepie fans to watch some stream, you need to get pewdiepie clone to stream it…

          • davemaster says:

            Exactly. So someone makes a comment about the way a girl looks. Get over it. Did someone get raped? Was someone’s life in danger? Did a feelz get hurted? We want girls in gaming, but they can leave their sensitivity at the door, this is a competitive sport. You want equality? Cool. Now handle the fact you aren’t going to be treated like the princess your mother told you you were.

          • Lumidingo says:

            What nonsense. Being crass and vulgar is not a highly regarded characteristic in commentating, and if you can’t manage to compartmentalize your potty mouth or your need to disparage women from your required duties as a commentator you should be shown the door. No other form of bigotry would be accepted from a commentator, your baffling refusal to treat women with the same respect as you would a gay competitor or a non-white competitor speaks volumes about what kind of person you are and what kind of values you hold dear. True sportsmanship is mutually exclusive with being a bigoted asshole, real competitors play the game and not the opponent.

          • Neutrino says:

            Bigotry or whatever-ism used to mean seeking to prejudicially disadvantage a group in society. However since being offended by anything and everything has become as popular a pastime as it has, bigotry is instead coming to be a synonym for ‘thought crime’, which is why it is also a term that is rapidly and rightfully coming to be held in contempt by many open minded and tolerant adults.

          • Lumidingo says:

            ‘Thought crime’ is a fairy tale, we can only judge on actions. If you’re commentating, you’re speaking openly and publicly to an audience. Expressing bigoted remarks towards individuals or groups of people while you’re speaking to a wide audience is the absolute furthest away that you can get from a ‘thought crime’. Harping on about how “ooer, I’m not allowed to express my shitty prejudiced opinions about people without reprimand anymore” is not ‘thought policing’, it’s people rightly calling you to task for expressing your bigoted opinions in public.

        • jrodman says:

          Tobi has the track record of casual racism and sexism. At the risk of minor xenophobia, this sort of thing is acceptable in certain segments of Australian culture. That doesn’t mean it’s something all Australians do.

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            It’s not a remotely xenophobic thing to highlight (perceived) differences in cultural standards of acceptability, in the same way that it’s not sexist to point out the biological differences in the body of the male and the female, or racist to observe that many of the natives of the continent of Africa have black skin.

          • Jackablade says:

            The more reason to shun him for it, methinks. Lord knows we could do with being a little less tolerant of prejudice in this country.

        • emmytee says:

          The screaming is something that a lot of people who like dota like.

          Many of actually enjoy watching these events rather than dutifully doing so out of some commitment to esports. The reason tobi is chosen for these events is because he gets so into it and people love that, his excitment is infectious and he makes the games more fun to watch. It never put me off when I was getting into it, quite the opposite: listening to a guy who obviously loved the game be all excited about it was a great way into it.

          If there were a persistant slew of offhand sexist remarks from commentators, that would be a different story. But luckily that simply is not the case. He must have cast thousands of hours of dota, and its a bit sad that you have picked out one or two half remembered instances of borderline sexist comments. Yes he shouldn’t say them, but here a guy who has followed his passion and been successful at it when there was no realistic prospect of that being the case in the beginning and here you are sniping at him for some offhand remark that reflects the culture he was likely raised in. Sometimes people say dumb stuff. Especially when they are amatuer hobbyists rather than trained pros. I’m not saying its right, I’m just saying that if you look at every person through the lens of a singal issue you will miss a lot of goodness and see a lot of evil, which is not the whole picture or a fair one to paint in a peice of journalism honestly. Most of the time he has been, like most people involved in esports a total amatuer and a very young man.

          If this entire website disappeared no-one would notice, esports would be fine. Unharmed. Totally unaffected. If tobi was “shunned” dota would be much poorer for it, and one of the people who made this game great would have been kicked out over some bullshit comment that isn’t greatly offensive to anyone who isn’t looking to be offended.

          The cogs thing was just cringy.

          Edit: May have dropped this reply on the wrong comment, or at least some of it!

      • honuk says:

        2GD is well known for having a long history of being a horrible asshole

  3. froz says:

    When does the first game start? I can’t find that info anywhere and I don’t want to listen for an hour to talking heads…

    • Lars Westergren says:

      But one of the talking heads is Gabe! First match starts in a couple of minutes – VG.cn vs NewBee.

      Edit: Still haven’t started, they are taking their sweet time…

      • froz says:

        Yeah, well… I was hoping it will be more like regular sports transmission. But it so much is not. Do you imagine football player talking about his father before a match…? I mean, who cares about that?

        • Simplisto says:

          You’ve clearly never sat through Formula 1 pre-race coverage -_-

          • froz says:

            That’s true. Now I know I shouldn’t ever do that. Do they really talk about their fathers in Formula 1?

            Anyway, don’t know about formula, but in soccer the game usually starts when it’s scheduled and the studio talk is basically scheduled some time before it. I would hope to have the same thing here (so if someone likes listening to those guys, they can, but people like me know when they should open it not to miss beginning).

        • HauntedQuiche says:

          No, football players tend to strinmg along meaningless sentences and overuse the phrase “at the end of that day”. Would that be preferable?

  4. angrychair says:

    I don’t like DOTA2, nor do I like watching people play games, nor do I like watching sports or the ridiculous fervor that surrounds large, bloated events. Why should I watch this exercise in excess again? I’d find it less painful to spend the duration reading YouTube comments, at least I’d be entertained.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      > Why should I watch this exercise in excess again?

      It sounds like you shouldn’t. Luckily, no one is forcing you. So a happy ending for everyone involved!

      • Silverchain says:

        Angrychair makes it plain that they’re not interested in watching this crap and that the article writer is mistaken to suggest that we should.

        • Bradamantium says:

          Ah yes, when people suggest I do something I think is not My Thing, I too angrily shout instead of just saying Sorry, not My Thing. Or, you know, in a situation when the sentiment’s directed at the whole readership, just ignore it and move on.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            Well, when you make sweeping generalizations about the members of a large group (for effect or otherwise) it’s only fair that some of the ones you mischaracterized call you on it a bit.

          • Frank says:

            The article didn’t really live up to Alice’s title. Pageantry and her saying it’s an excellent game aren’t enough for people who aren’t into it already, and I’m sure she knows this. The rest of the post just went into what it is and why *not* to watch it.

            Personally, unless it’s a game I already find interesting or the commentary is excellent, I’m not going to watch. That movie Valve released about it was very interesting, though.

        • Banyan says:

          Angrychair would like everyone to be 100% certain that he has zero interest in this topic, regardless of what you may or may not suspect, and anyone who says different is sadly mistaken. Zero. Interest. So stop trying to convince him that he should pay attention to it. Stop. He is not interested.

    • Kollega says:

      I have another, similar question. The question being, why the hell should I have any interest in a highly competitive, PVP multiplayer action game where you click on the ground to both move your character around and aim their spells? WASD or bust, yo.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        You often queue up moves and actions in this game. Also, if you click on the minimap to move a long distance, you are then often simultaniously moving the camera around the check the map, buying items in the shop etc. I think it would be difficult to make this work together with WASD movement, but maybe you have some suggestion?

        • Kollega says:

          Why not have WASD movement while keeping the ability to click on the mini-map to move there? WASD movement does not neccesarily mean that your cursor is locked to the camera or reticle like in shooting games. A good example are some RTSes, like World in Conflict and Wargame series – there, the camera movement is bound to WASD and the mouse pointer is used to issue orders. Why not do the reverse of that? Of course, I’m just spitballing here, but I’m pretty sure that people who can afford to put up nearly eleven million dollars as prize money could come up with a better system than “you control a character in an action game as if it was an RTS”.

          • Lars Westergren says:

            It is kind of an RTS though. Every single hero theoretically have several units to control if they buy the Helm of the Dominator and use it to charm jungle creeps. Some (Visage, Lycan) have a couple of familiars or pets. Some heroes (Phantom Lancer, Meepo) can have dozens of clones or illusions to control at the same time.

            Sorry you don’t like it, it’s fine if you don’t and therefore don’t like the game. But it’s not from laziness, this is a game that has been polished for almost a decade. If WASD for movement was viable it would have been used widely by now, but it’s not.

          • Frank says:

            I also tend to think it is laziness. As far as I can tell, nothing about this genre has changed across the years and games. It’s a single map and the interface and game mechanics are just an accident of how things worked in Warcraft 3. Last hits, anyone?

            I’m glad they’re keeping AAA RTS alive and that it has spawned all sorts of creativity elsewhere (beyond the straight-up DoTA clones), but the modern MOBA is defined by extreme conservatism.

            That’s my impression anyway. I’ve always enjoyed RTS for building, exploration and storytelling, not micro-ing units’ movement and spells.

          • Banyan says:

            Theoretically that would work, but I think you’d start running out of left hand keyboard real estate. After 4+ keys for abilities, six keys for item activation, one row for shop/courier commands, one row for communication and miscellaneous (such as ‘center on character’) and the function keys set used for groups (essential for microing units), I’m not sure I would give up four keys for redundant movement controls. I suppose if you had a customizable mouse, you could move comms or shop/courier commands over to the right hand, but you would actually have to change playstyles.

            For example, let’s say I’m playing in the bottom lane and notice a fighting shaping up at top. I click the ground in screen to do whatever (move towards a ward placement/store, move back to a tower, etc), click on the minimap to see what’s going on top and make a quick decision if I need to teleport in to join the fight, decide it’s not worth it, and click back on my location so I’m back in the screen. If I wasn’t ground clicking I’d have to either hold down a direction key while looking at another part of the map or use the minimap to click a location to move and lose much of the ability to finetune my target location. That sounds like a more fiddly and frustrating game.

            You can make a good MOBA with WASD, such as the TPP of SMITE, but you’d have to structure the game around that mechanic. Dota 2 is probably the most fine tuned game I’ve ever played, with many many interlocking and overlaid mechanics and systems.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Perhaps you might find it interesting to learn more about something that’s pretty ‘big’ in video games?

      • Vinraith says:

        As someone who finds lane pushers and the culture surrounding them (and esports and the culture surrounding them, for that matter) to be generally off-putting, the fact that an event like this is wildly popular isn’t going to change my mind. Quite the opposite, really, it just serves as evidence that mainstream gaming has drifted so far away from my interests as to be of no further note.

        • Lars Westergren says:

          Hey Vinraith. The culture surrounding lane pushers and esports – fair enough. I deplore the general douchebaggery, the juvenile stuff, and and the hate displayed against women in general, and Kelly in particular on the Dota 2 forums and Reddit. But as a fellow oldtimer who likes (I think, from reading your posts here over the years) a lot of the same type of games – cerebral stuff, adventure games, RPGs… I can say there is in fact a lot to like about the game itself. It’s really good if you play it as a team together with friends, so you don’t risk getting on the same team as some angry guy who berates you.

          Coming back when the other team is in the lead is like an adventure game puzzle, but you have to think QUICK. I get the same kick as a single player RPG when I level up and beat the opponents, but unlike a single player game you can’t grind slowly without risk, because the other team is moving too and may be lurking invisibly nearby waiting to assassinate you. There is a delicious complexity in the interaction between all the different heroes and their spells when you draft the team. The only thing it doesn’t give me that I like in games is strong writing.

          • Vinraith says:


            Yeah, I played some of the original DotA mod back in the day with friends (it was easier to coordinate group co-op back then, before any of us had real jobs) but even then we mostly played against AI. Competitive PvP just isn’t something I have much interest in due, again, to what we’ll just call “cultural problems.”

            That said, it wasn’t really my intention to critique lane pushers as games here, I just thought Alice’s “it’s popular so you should watch it” comment was kind of odd and warranted a response.

          • Lars Westergren says:

            > (it was easier to coordinate group co-op back then, before any of us had real jobs

            Oh yeah, I know that feeling. Not to mention the kids! Goshdamn heteros. Spawning like crazy, they are.

          • Reapy says:

            Well…. It is something though, isn’t it? I’m not quite into the dota games and it’s not too interesting to watch but… 15 years ago would you have ever thought you would see something this big surrounding video games? It is worth mentioning, and maybe just a few moments to be like ‘wow, how our culture has changed, hasn’t it’?

          • Vinraith says:


            I didn’t say the enormous popularity wasn’t worth mentioning, I just said it wasn’t an argument for watching the thing. As a movie fan, I’ve certainly noticed that the Transformers movies make an obscene amount of money and are wildly popular, but that’s not going to convince me to watch them.

        • lordfrikk says:

          That’s perfectly fine. I hardly care for a lot of the things that are in these days, but here’s the thing (I am probably weird in this regard from the looks of it) but when I truly, genuinely don’t care about something, I don’t spend a second of my time commenting on said thing I hold no interest in, unlike a lot of the “i don’t care” posters. Mind, I didn’t mean you in this particular case but the most vocal and annoying kind.

          As far as DOTA is concerned, I have no interest in playing it but I rather enjoy watching the finals every year and I don’t even watch regular non-e-sports so this is a rare thing for me.

          • Craymen Edge says:

            For an article titled “Why You – Even You – Should Watch The International Finals”, a comment stating why you’re not interested seems pretty on topic, if you ask me.

          • lordfrikk says:

            Oh, no argument there, it’s definitely on-topic. But it always seemed to me like a contradictory statement, like saying out loud “I never speak”, you basically invalidate what you said by that very action.

        • dmoe says:

          RPS posters are seriously in a league of their own assholery. It’s almost impressive. Almost.

      • Frank says:

        Your post is interesting, and Valve’s movie also serves well for learning about it, but … that’s not really a reason to watch the thing, for me.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      To quote someone more wittier than I

      It’s easy to be annoyed by things you don’t like when you think you are the center of the universe.

      • Jackablade says:

        I’m not sure that one really needs to be especially narcissistic to be annoyed by things that one finds to be annoying.

        • Malibu Stacey says:

          It’s one thing to be annoyed by something you find annoying, it’s another to loudly announce it to anyone and everyone.

          If I see an article on RPS which I’m not particularly interested, I skip to one I am interested in. I don’t automatically click on it & then proceed directly to the comments section to tell people how uninterested I am in the subject of this article.

      • Bull0 says:

        @Stacey Yeah, that’s mean and also doesn’t fit because in this scenario it isn’t the thing itself that’s annoying – he isn’t complaining about DOTA – he’s complaining about being told, “Hey, you should pay more attention to this thing you hate, because I like it and it’s really popular”. Hope that helps. Love your new hat by the way.

  5. Myrdinn says:

    Last year was the first e-sport event thing I ever watched (and trust me, I was the last person who would think ‘e-sports’ would be even moderately interesting) and it was hella fun! I must admit that some basic Dota2 knowledge is probably a prerequisite for fully appreciating the matches, but hey, there’s still some weeks left ;). Hope they have the same announcers once more and hope the show will be even bigger and badder (probably will be with such an huge prize pool). I also loved seeing the bits where they interviewed Valve developers, talked with a lot of voice actors (including glados!) and had interaction with the fans.

    I do however admit that I haven’t played any Dota2 since last years International so I probably will have to play a few matches myself to get ‘into’ it again. Not much of a competitive (or online for that matter) gamer, but I do believe that Dota2 is a pretty dang well designed game. And hey, it’s totally free with no small print. If you decide to try out some Dota2 yourself, be mindful that if you enjoy it – you can’t miss the International!

  6. trueplayer says:

    It’s weird, I just can’t get into MOBAs – they are boring and dull for me. I love watching SC2 though (Dreamhack Valencia just started today!).

  7. Simplisto says:

    I tried DOTA2 during the beta. I didn’t know how to play so I uninstalled it. I now feel very silly.

    Can anyone recommend a guide?

    Since I have no idea what’s going on, I’m supporting Cloud9 on account of their superior logo design.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      There is an in-game tutorial now that is pretty good at teaching the basics. After that there is this (slightly outdated) guide. Don’t mind the name, it’s toungue in cheek.

      link to purgegamers.com

    • Horg says:

      Watch some high skill live games in the client, pick a player to follow (I suggest support players to start with) and check out where they ward, what they buy, how they move around the map, what skill build they use, etc. The in game tutorial is……pretty bad honestly. Watching other people is the best way to learn.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Cloud9 isn’t a bad choice. Europe+NA multinational team, plus they are scrappy underdogs have fought for years and wants to win SO HARD.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      That’s what I first did when I tried LoL. Made an account did the then rather meagre tutorial and decided against it. Much later I gave it another go and now I’m enjoying playing LoL.

      That’s not to say you will or should. Dota games are just another genre. But it never hurts to see if you do like ’em.

    • Bahlof says:

      I tried to get into dota once too, but the majority of community treats the game like their life is on the line so I stopped. Unless you’re great on your first time playing with people they will be dicks.

      • hackmastergeneral says:

        That’s all MOBAs though. The LOL community isn’t any better.

    • dmoe says:

      The In-Game Guides are actually pretty good. But if you want more of a video presentation explaining things. Check out Purge from PurgeGamers on Youtube. He is heading the Noob Stream at this years International on Twitch. But he streams and will explain things as he goes along. He’s a good player too!

  8. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    Is there one main stream or how does this work? I find many different channels on that twitch.tv link all showing the International.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Main stream here:

      link to dota2.com

      Previously there have been several matches played at the same time, therefore many streams. Plus commentary in different languages and a special “noob friendly” commentary which explains things from a beginner perspective.

  9. Piecewise says:

    Fuck Dota and fuck Mobas in general, cancer in the pancreas of gaming that they are.

    And while we’re at it, fuck MLG and everything to do with it. Because thats what gaming needed right? Another high profile event where advertisers rub their genitals in your face with the shallow pretense of gaming being involved. This and its ilk are the nascar of gaming; a bunch of people with a meaningless skill whoring themselves to advertisers and then said advertisers playing it off as a sport.

    Then again, considering that gaming media in general is either corrupt as fuck, pandering as shit, or so up its own ass you’d need a tunnel borer and a team of Sherpas to find its head, I can’t say I’m surprised.

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      ALL HAIL MEGATRON! (supplicates before him)

    • jonahcutter says:

      Sherpas are known for their mountaineering prowess. I’m not sure how useful they’d be for exploring one’s colon.

      Is there an ethnic group known for their spelunking skills?

      • Piecewise says:

        Dwarves, maybe.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        > Is there an ethnic group known for their spelunking skills?

        Stone age tribes? Is that an ethnic group? I mean, they would have to get down there somehow to do the cave paintings.

    • disconnect says:

      Wow we are all super-impressed with your edgy cancer remarks

    • Fiyenyaa says:

      I quite like Dota 2.

      Thanks for letting us know what you think though! <3

    • dmoe says:

      > This and its ilk are the nascar of gaming.

      Naw, that’s COD. If you’re going to try and paint Dota 2 as some AAA garbage. The least you can do is a bit of research first. It’s fine if you call it shit but have some backing for it.

      • Piecewise says:

        I’m saying the event is that, not the game. And that really is all that it is, an advertisement.

  10. Moraven says:

    IEM Shenzhen and Dreamhack Valencia are going on right now. Lot of other eSport content for those not interested in Dota.

    I hope LoL and SC2 finals get this much attention from every single gaming website when their fianls come later this year. LoL is even bigger than Dota 2. I wish EVO got more attention from various sites.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      RPS is driven primarily by what interests each writer, so we have a lot of Dota 2 because I dig Dota 2. I would like to do more with other games, though personal interests etc. mean I miss a lot of it. I haven’t really watched StarCraft since GomTV switched from Brood War to SC2.

      • Moraven says:

        Oh I know, especially RPS is typically not big on eSports coverage.

        Just like the Super Bowl, The International is gets reported by more media due to how big of an event it is relevant to eSports.

        More awareness to those not interested in Dota but possibly eSports that other events are happening right now. And the hope that other games will get drown out to general gaming sites due to a general love for Valve and Dota 2 from journalists.

        I am interested in The International for it being a big part of eSports and see its growth. (SC2 is my fav to watch, had great seats at the finals the past 2 BlizzCons).

        • HadToLogin says:

          Actually, it’s reported because it’s Valve.

          If GabeN would tweet “I’m off to shit”, every news site would spend days talking how important it is that GabeN makes sure his intestines aren’t full.

  11. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    Hmm. I’ll give it another go I suppose, but so far I just don’t seem to find any e-sports as exciting as physical sports*. I think it’s the lack of randomness due to how optimised you have to be (watching people do things perfectly isn’t exciting – see Formula 1 racing in the Schumacher and Vettel dominant years) along with the lack of punch-the-air moments like a goal or a try (I’ve watched that tower’s health bar drop steadily for a while so it’s not a big thing when it dies whereas a football can hit the bar/striker can completely shank it etc., a golf ball can skirt the hole). The issue Phillipa mentioned of finding it hard to tell what’s going on doesn’t help either – even in the famously baffling sport of cricket it’s easy to understand when the ball’s been walloped all the way into the crowd.

    But as I say, I’ll have another look, maybe something will click. This wasn’t meant to be a moan-y post, but has ended up looking that way. Sorry y’all.

    *No, not “p-sports”. Behave yourselves. I don’t know honestly.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Some matches are as you describe, especially the mid game if both teams play conservatively and concentrate on outfarming the other (gaining gold/levels faster) instead of taking team fights. But in the early game you only have to lose concentration for a second and go a few meters too far into the enemy zone to get jumped on and killed. Pros often use the “dust of deceit” early to go invisible and go hunting for members of the opposite team. If they find one and kill him they gain a decisive lead early. If they fail, then they have left the opponents back in their home lane time to get more experience than them, so the opponents can have a level or two more and more gold&items when they slink back to the lane.

      If you have played Divinity: Original Sin you know how difficult it is to attack opponents who are a couple of levels higher than you and have better equipment. Same principle applies here. Team fights towards the end game can also be extremely tense, and far from perfect in execution as nerves and exhaustion is taking their tolls. Imagine $5M depending on you landing an area spell perfectly so you stun all the opponents for a few seconds. If you miss, it’s all over.

      Edit: And if you watched the first match, you would see some of what I was talking about. :) A level 1 team fight, a failed smoke gank, and then the opposing team just steamrolling over them.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I think it really has to do with how invested you are in the game, how much you understand about the gameplay and specifics (players, teams, specific tournaments, casters). In that sense I feel it’s very similar to real sports.

      I think how a tournament is set up and who casts is VERY important. These things which are only peripherally connected to the direct gameplay affect the feel and atmosphere of a tournament a lot.

      A recent example of an e-sports event I really enjoyed was the Sandisk Shoutcraft Invitational (a small online Starcraft 2 tournament).

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Who casts? Casts what?

        Assuming it isn’t a die, are we talking about short hand for broadcast?

        • jrodman says:

          “who talks over the action?” is what that means.

          I’m not sure how traditional titles like “announcer” or “commenter/ator” got replaced with “caster” in videogames, but that’s the term that’s used.

  12. Nova says:

    Even though I play(ed) a lot of Dota I prefer watching StarCraft 2. Dreamhack Valencia now on.
    link to twitch.tv

  13. Poppis says:

    This reddit thread gives a nice overview of everything happening tonight, who is playing who, when and where you can watch it: link to reddit.com

  14. snapchat for pc says:

    Well, I am really impressed by all the remarks which is given by you, amazing.

  15. Stellar Duck says:

    I read the post.

    You explain a lot of technical stuff about the presentation and the obscene merchandising but I’m still not sure why I would want to spend my time watching the stuff?

    I’ve never played a Dota nor any of the clones in my life so I have no clue what they’re actually about, aside from what you just said. Which was just that a bunch of wizards do stuff for an hour.

    So, why would I spend my sparse vacation watching this?

    • Craymen Edge says:

      I agree. As well as the article gives plenty of information to take in, it didn’t really deliver the why promised in the title.

      But I’m old and MOBAs mystify/bore me, so what do I know?

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Are you “Stellar Duck” on Steam too? I’d message you, but “Gravatar or WordPress password” and bleh.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        I am. With a “clan” tag in front though, but I don’t reckon there are many other ducks of that nature around.

    • Jad says:

      If you are reading a (relatively niche) website/blog like RPS, you are probably doing it for two reasons:

      1) To read about specific PC games that you like and to be made aware of other PC games that you might enjoy.
      2) To be informed about the PC and videogaming industry as a whole and to participate in the general gaming zeitgeist, no matter whether you have a personal interest in the actual games themselves.

      If you fall into the first camp, then that’s totally fine. You should not watch the International. And I don’t mean this as any kind of criticism or judgement — I’m much more busy nowadays than I used too be, and most days I just skim RPS looking for names and genres I’m familiar with.

      However, it is undeniable that DOTA and MOBAs in general are a huge part of PC gaming, and that e-sports are getting bigger and bigger. And the International is clearly one of the most important deals in that section of the PC gaming universe, and if you’d like to “be a part of the conversation” Alice has given you a bunch of information on how to go about watching it.

      Again, no judgement if this does not sway you, I’m not trying to sell anything here. I’ve played maybe 30 minutes total of DOTA 2 and, like the World Cup, have made vague promises to watch some matches this weekend but will probably forget.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Is certainly is a big event, but one that is representative of a general shift in games away from what I enjoy.

        That’s perfectly fine! I still find enough to satisfy my grumpy ways despite it.

        But the articles title seemed to imply that I should be watching this and I really found no compelling arguments. There were no real mention of the actual game play and just a lot of fluff and logistical details. Which is fine but hardly a reason that ‘even I’ should watch it.

    • Janichsan says:

      Totally agree here. Just “because it’s a big thing”, like Alice said above, is not a good argument. So are Kayne West and Michael Bay’s Transformers. That doesn’t make them worth my time.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      I think I was pretty clear in the framing: because this is the best example of something that’s rapidly growing within western gaming. It’s explicitly about not-the-game. It’s what Valve are doing with Dota outside the game itself to present it, spread it, make people care about it, and make spend wild amounts of money on a free-to-play.

      It could be any game and I’d still think it’s interesting. It happens to be Dota.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        This seems circular to me. I should watch it because many people watch it?

        The recent World Cup had lots of people watching and lots of people spending obscene amounts of money but I don’t think I could argue that anyone should watch it because it’s popular. They should watch it if they like football.

        It’s a growing thing, yes, and I’ve noted that fact. I don’t need to watch it to observe that. I just read that here. I don’t need to spend my weekend watching streams to know that. So, what I don’t understand is your title. You say that I should watch it… because the pageantry and because Valve is pushing it? That seems to me to be a bit of a wonky line of reasoning. I don’t even know what the game is about, so I doubt I’d enjoy watching people shouting for an hour about something alien to me would bring me more enlightenment than just reading your post.

        And all of this is besides the fact that I don’t care for pro gaming, F2P or competitive gaming or the noxious communities of these games one jot.

      • Janichsan says:

        So what you are basically saying is that I should join the hype because of the hype? Still not a good argument.

  16. Jim9137 says:

    As a someone who has played a lot of Dota2 and only a bit of SC2, I can say that SC2 has its own highlights, and it can be entertaining to watch (especially with good casters!). However, as a game SC2 is much more static than Dota 2, and it very often boils down to few strategies players seek to apply and execute better than their opponents.

    In Dota2, there can be set strategies and drafts that seem to counter each other – but even then there can be huge upsets by surprise picks or just by sheer execution/dumb luck (kyXy aegis deny, the million dollar dream coil, fountain hooking…). The International is huge, so I wouldn’t readily compare it to IEM Valencia, either.

    As for people complaining about MOBAs, well, you can say they are not for you, but as far as game goes, Dota 2 is one of the more exciting and versatile games around when it comes down to actual gameplay. You are very rarely forced to do the same thing, to adopt same strategies, and ot play same style. That to me screams Good Game Design.

    And for those people, who still don’t like them (it’s okay, I despise Half-Lifes too), don’t worry. It’s just the flavor of the decade. After Doom it was Quake-clones, after Red Alert it was the real time clickers, after Call of Duty it was the cover shooters. It’s honestly not worth while to go on an edgy rage tirade about a genre and blame them for ruining your hobby, when we have literal things that are hurting the industry, such as pay-to-win, zero day DLCs, rapidly sinking Q&A, cloud based “gaming” (ie. crippling DRM), et cetera.

    As an example, I thought real time strategy genre killed my first love of turn based games for a nice flat decade, but hey look – now it’s easier to find a good turn based game than a good real time strategy game. Genre doesn’t kill another genre, people.

    tl;dr: The International amazing. IEM Valencia amazing. Dota2 good game. Haters gonna hate.

    • Jad says:

      “I thought real time strategy genre killed my first love of turn based games for a nice flat decade, but hey look – now it’s easier to find a good turn based game than a good real time strategy game”

      Wow, I hadn’t really thought about it before, but you might be right on this. My 1998 self’s brain just exploded.

      Also my early 2000’s self still can’t quite believe how popular adventure games are again — a re-release of Grim Fandango just got a huge ovation at a mainstream console manufacture’s E3 press conference! Telltale’s got like 20 games in production! Everything old is new again!

      And as to your larger point MOBAs are the new MMO to me. A few years ago you couldn’t walk through a videogame news website without stumbling over an announcement for a new MMO. The MOBA groundswell will die down and something else will pop up (I mean, heck, we’re still deep in the DayZ/Rust/Starbound/Minecraft survival-n-crafting craze as well!)

  17. MichaelGC says:

    Well, if nothing else, this article’s headline and opening paragraph is a beautiful illustration of the impossibility of deriving an ‘ought’ from an ‘is.’

  18. Frank says:

    A relevant plug:

    If you don’t like click fests but find the idea of teams of units with cool abilities appealing, there is a turn-based game borrowing some MOBA mechanics, Aerena: Clash of Champions.

    Yeah, I know it’s F2P, which some find more objectionable than click fests, but the tactics are solid, the community is friendly/nontoxic and the art is excellent. It still has a few features in the works, like cross-platform accounts (across Steam and mobile), but it is mostly bug-free.

  19. Riley Lungmus says:

    It’s interesting how the comments have split here.

    There really is a lot to focus on. The money, the pageantry, the idiotic comments, the awkward nerdy-ness.

    I’m a big fan of Dota, and I play it often. I wasn’t around for the original mod, and my interest was sparked by one of my close friends. As Tobiwan has said, “You never know when you’re gonna get hooked.”

    Something that I generally focus on is the fact that these people aren’t surrounded by boards and programs, unions and federations that closely monitor their behavior like the old-hat FIFA and NFL do.

    As far as I know it’s Riot who’s barred players for certain comments, but I’ve heard an eminent player get asked what he would do against another eminent player’s specific mid hero reply with, “Uh, I dunno. Prolly masturbate.”

    We’re the internet over here, and a blase attitude regarding much of everything is perhaps what keeps the wheels on the truck. When they get down to it, they are after-all, literally playing a video game for millions of dollars.

    I’m sure this notion was expressed before big football federations were established and the sheer amount of money involved became a project unto itself, “We’re literally being played to play a sport.”

    Perhaps the lack of maturity is something that I can relate to. There is no sixty year old coach in his black suit screaming at the players on the pitch in a multi-billion dollar affair,

    Instead there are skinny Malays making snide comments who couldn’t possibly care less about what you think: They are playing a video game for millions of dollars.

    I register the very valid complaints, particularly James’ “Do you like Cogs, Sheever?” as just fundamentally disrespectful. But I’m curious what sort of structure surrounds these young men and women who cast and participate in these games. I don’t have to be sensitive to your grandfather’s delicate sensibilities, why would I? I’m like, twenty five. And playing (one of those new-fangled) vidjamagames. For millions of dollars.

    It’s fresh to me to imagine that these young people are their own bosses. It’s refreshing to imagine that they won’t be called up in some secret circle-jerking tribunal of their shadow-bosses (like the kind that invariably run FIFA and the Olympics Committee), and verbally and financially disciplined for forgetting for a moment that they’re not a usual commentator.

    They’re a commentator of a videogame.

    With a prize pool.

    Of millions of dollars.

  20. frightlever says:

    I tried to like this. I guess it isn’t for me. I don’t watch sport. I suspect I don’t watch e-sport because e-athletes would need to be 10x nicer than actual sportsmen, most of whom are exemplary people. SO, what I’m saying is that the only way I would watch a virtual sport is if the… fucking world ends or something. There’s no way I’m watching an e-sport because there is no cost in the play. This is why rugby is a sport and American Football is an advertising opportunity.

    It’s disingenuous to think that we NEED an e-sport. We don’t, because the nature of our hobby is constant change. Sport is, like truth, legend, law and habit, just a bunch of shit you put up with until you know better.

  21. frightlever says:

    Rugby consequences vs DOTA 2 consequences…

    Search Google NOW….

    Sport, my ass.

    • frightlever says:

      But kids have killed themselves over e-sports!

      Care to list athletes who have killed themselves?

      Yeah. There are less than a dozen athletes who have killed themselves. Mean while un-directed kids kill themselves al the time. Maybe we should look at that.

      • Bull0 says:

        You’re misinformed there – suicide is a real problem in some sports, particularly those with a relatively low retirement age.

  22. teije says:

    Some great discussion here in the comments that actually has helped me understand some of the appeal of Dota and similar games. As an old-school gaming 44-year old that cut my teeth on the PET and C64, I feel somewhat enlightened. Thanks all for that.

  23. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Flattered to have an article written for me personally, but I think I’ll still pass…