A Team Won Dota 2’s International, Plus Misc. Thoughts

Newbee lift the Aegis, a shield inscribed with the names of winners.

So, The International 2014 is over. Newbee gave fellow Chinese team ViCi Gaming quite the drubbing on Monday to win $5,028,174. Competitive Dota 2 was broadcast on the ESPN cable sports network. Are digital sports now mainstream? Is this It, is this The Moment? No, of course not.

This year’s International has widespread attention because of that honking great prize pool of $10,930,814, the spectacle, and the novelty. Minor details like who won only matter on the day to most. So today, any old Tuesday, why post about it? The International 2014 will still matter in days, weeks, or months because of where loads of that moolah came from: fans. Valve are crowdfunding arena-filling tournaments and gamifying fandom. And somehow making that not awful?

Valve put the first $1.6 million into the prize pool, but the remaining $9,330,817 came from sales of Compendiums, a sort of Dota 2 virtual sticker album and activity book. It cost $9.99 (£5.99) and 25% of that went to the prize fund, so a few quick sums shows fans spent $37,323,268 in total. Off this (and its own untold squillions of dollars, of course), Valve offered the biggest prize in digital sports history without sponsors or publishers or any of that.

I don’t expect everyone to care about digital sports, but you needn’t to find this interesting. Dota 2 is one of the few games to do free-to-play well and The International wouldn’t even be possible with a regular retail game. It couldn’t be justified. I’ve said before that Dota 2 monetises personal expression. The International works because it encourages players to behave like fans through the Compendium, which lets them express themselves with new wizard hats. The pageantry of the event only amplifies all this.

The Compendium draws people into the International spirit with activities like declaring a favourite team and player, predicting results and stats, challenges to play randomly-selected characters, collecting player cards, and so on. It builds anticipation. It’s also a cheap way to get cosmetic items for your wizards. See, buying the book gives a few trinkets, but owners get more–and fancier–items for ‘levelling it up’ by completing activities or spending money. As Compendium sales boosted the prize pool, it also passed stretch goals giving Compendium owners more shiny things and binding Valve to adding new modes and features I suspect they had planned anyway (bit cheeky, that).

And all this was entirely optional. Valve got $37 million dollars from something which has no effect upon the game itself, but makes people feel part of it all and gives them pleasant baubles and wizard hats. Digital sports are fast and lean and can play freely with ideas like this. More should.

Dota 2 won’t break the mainstream, nor will any digital sport for some time. These sums make people sit up and take notice, but more for the novelty of “Gosh, and they win all this money just playing video games?” That’s fine. Video games have never needed mainstream approval to be great. And, as boldly claimed, Valve have the best show around.

In all honesty, I missed a lot of The International because I spent Sunday in Oxford, drinking cocktails and swimming in the Thames. What I did see was the best-presented digital sports yet. A hollering crowd and colourful lights filled Seattle’s KeyArena. Valve had a good lineup of presenters and interviewers, though sections could run long and dry with all the time they tried to fill. The Dota 2 in-game spectator system is still the best way to watch any video game, with integrated commentary, oodles of camera options, and live pause and rewind. The ‘newcomer’ commentary stream was a fine addition. Valve put on a great show.

They can improve. Valve might want to consider moving further away from the in-game view, stripping down and reformatting the UI (LoL tries this but adds a horrible mess of numbers) and curating the view more. As Philippa noted, Dota 2 could benefit hugely from building in features like picture-in-picture and slow-motion replays. Discussions could drag. The end of it all was awfully abrupt, with short interviews then a casual sloping off home. And it is a shame that so few players have big fun media personalities, but that’s a toughie.

As for the actual finals? ViCi’s win in the first game seemed to set the pace for an astonishing series, then Newbee crushed them in the next three. The longest game was 26 minutes (well, sort of–the timer doesn’t include the draft or setup time, which are are awfully important too). Newbee were far better than ViCi. It was a sterling display of skill but lacking in drama. Even the most one-sided World Cup final guarantees 90 minutes of possibilities. But didn’t they Dote well?

Observe, the newbie stream of the grand finals (skip to 1:48:00 for the first game):


  1. Andy`` says:

    Can I keep lazily bringing up the Quakecon tourneys? Sigh.

    The DOTA final was so disappointing though, but gg to Newbee for good play. Will be interesting to see if next year gets the same press and TV attention.

    • bigblack says:

      Yes! I was glued to Quakecon for Friday and Saturday, hanging out in a vent channel with a group of other old-timers as we watched the competition streams. They did such a great job with coverage this year – the streams were very high quality (I could almost swear that ‘source’ quality option was streaming at 50+ fps) , the announcers were informative and not annoying, and the competition and gameplay was fucking aces.

      It’s awesome that the International was such a giant success, and the unique crowd-funding of the prize money is absolutely important and newsworthy, but the Quakecon CTF and Duel tourneys were amazing to watch and had the best competitive spectating coverage I’ve ever seen. Bravo!

      • soundofvictory says:

        Yes! I only watched a bit of the duel finals, but it was riveting stuff with the commentators doing an excellent job. Seriously the best I’ve seen in eSports. I also checked saw the EVO Blazblue Grand Finals which was also amazing. I’ve been enjoying watching eSports more and more lately. DoTA is probably the least enjoyable for me to watch but, EVO, any high level CS, and QL are all highly entertaining and have great communities around each of them.

        • Halk says:

          yo we esports now?

          you should watch the marvel and usfiv top 16 too

  2. shaydeeadi says:

    Massively disappointing grand finals after so many good matchups. 4 stomps in a row was sad and you could tell the final game was over within about 2 minutes. Not a patch on last years finals.

    • Fenix says:

      Well that’s what happens when the two finalists are both Chinese teams… Chinese Dota teams play such a mindnumbingly dull and boring dota that they managed to kind of suck all the excitement out of the tournament even before the whole thing was over.

      There’s a reason Ehome was chosen to be the “bad guys” in Valve’s Dota 2 documentary, Free to Play.

      • The Godzilla Hunter says:

        I keep hearing that Chinese teams have a “boring” play style – why is that? What do they do differently than the Western/non-Chinese teams?

        Honest question(s).

        • Martel says:

          It’s less Dendi hookshotting into the well and more precise, calculated play. To me at least it’s like watching Germany rather than Argentina (which btw I prefer), if you want to use a World Cup analogy.

          • rockman29 says:

            I think the difference is more than that. A great analogy, but the gulf between the different play styles seems much larger.

          • Melody says:

            It’s funny you say that, because Chinese teams in LoL are much more like Argentina: they are all amazing mechanical players, and they are so good at teamfighting, but they have no idea about how to play strategically, split-push (or react to split-pushing), put pressure on the map, and they don’t even ward. Some describe them jokingly as having a sort of gentlemen’s agreement, “we’re going to farm for a while, and then we’re going to meet mid and teamfight. Repeatedly.” And the team which is behind keeps teamfighting, until they just lose.

        • Banyan says:

          The stereotype of “Chinese-style Dota” is that it is incremental and cautious, with a preference to farm into the mid game and then go for split pushes to grind away at side lane towers until the other team succumbs. The stereotype is that “Russian-style Dota” is two teams going right up the middle and bashing at each other until one achieves glorious victory. Both those stereotypes are overblown; both Vici and Newbee were playing very aggressive drafts in the Final that had limited late game potential. The Chinese teams were plain outplaying most of the other teams in TI4, including in teamfight, due to obviously superior and consistent coordination and positioning. And Newbee was far from passive in their games; their support rotations in the early game to gank and countergank were almost unbelievably perfect and the Hao Weaver is one of the most aggressive players I’ve ever seen. (Seriously, Hao’s early harass between the Tier 1 and 2 towers was unreal.) The combination of the finely polished coordination plus superb laning rotations plus a few creative players turned the final into a pretty boring stomp of Vici, but Newbee was clearly the best team in the tournament, after a rough start.

          As for the Dendi fountain hook being indicative of anything, even Dota forum polls found majorities in favor of removing it after TI3. The game has a lot of pseudorandom numbers in it, but waiting around to see if a blind hook through trees would get a useless creep or the enemy carry to win pushed Dota into a game of chance and not of skill. It was exciting, but made 8 players in the game spectators to the Purge-Chen duo.

          • Malibu Stacey says:

            As for the Dendi fountain hook being indicative of anything, even Dota forum polls found majorities in favor of removing it after TI3.

            Which makes no difference whatsoever. VALVe even confirmed it as a bug long before TI3 which was “deemed too hilarious to fix” & it’s no coincidence it was fixed in the first major update post-TI3 after it’s impact on the Na’Vi vs TongFu match.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          It’s a different style of play. Less items, very early teamfights and pushes, games tend to be shorter. Even a lot of the games that did go into the 30-minute mark were basically over at the 10 or 15 minute mark. The vast majority of Western matches go well into the 30th minute mark and usually focus more on items and later teamfights.

          If VG couldn’t smash through with teamfights, they’d gank towers to get early map control and then just roll on through. Newbee was smart and was able to counter through good team coordination and deny VG’s carries from being able to level and become a menace. The last three games became, essentially, VG smashing themselves against Newbee until VG was so far behind they knew they could never catch up.

        • nearly says:

          To be perfectly honest, I’m of the school of thought that anyone mentioning, or more typically complaining, about “Chinese dota” is just indulging in more or less overt racism. Team DK, which has been one of the top tier teams and is Chinese, is known for very farm heavy, drawn out games. They like to set a slow pace and not fight, but kill neutrals, etc, to get a lot of gold for expensive items and then end the game after 90ish minutes. Vici Gaming, one of the grand finalists, is also Chinese but take a very hyper aggressive, early game strategy that sees them targeting enemy heroes very early on and pushing down towers as early as possible in a 5 man group. I’m sure you can see why calling both of these things “Chinese dota” and complaining about it is a bit obnoxious. They’re both legitimate strategies that work and play to a given team’s strength.

          In the case of the grand finals, Vici stuck to their strategy, which Newbee, another Chinese team, had already figured out and successfully countered/outplayed. It was just disappointing because Vici’s strategy is an all-in early on strategy that means early wins or early losses without any real back and forth or the tension that makes matches really exciting.

      • Skeletor68 says:

        I’m not sure I agree. It wasn’t a 90 minute farm-fest. Both teams played aggressively and with a lot of skill. The Puck and Weaver performances were great. It is a pity that it was one-sided after so many great games in the rest of the tournament but Newbee had to come back from the loser’s bracket and beat Titan, NaVi and IG to get there.

        Their reaction to winning could have been much better though! Guys like Dendi, Rotk, Puppey and Chaun have a lot more personality so was a bit of a limp finish.

      • kwyjibo says:

        The VG/Newbee style play is not traditional Chinese play at all.

        The boring style that was characteristic of Chinese teams were the god awful 90 minute farm fests. Sure the stomps were boring, but they were short.

      • Hypocee says:

        did you uh miss the part where the longest game was 26 minutes

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        Well that’s what happens when the two finalists are both Chinese teams… Chinese Dota teams play such a mindnumbingly dull and boring dota that they managed to kind of suck all the excitement out of the tournament even before the whole thing was over.

        Ironic that Vici & Newbee are playing the exact same strategy now as Na’Vi have been for the past 4 years.
        Na’Vi being the team which people will gush all over for some unknown reason.

        You sound like one of these people who are stuck in 2012 listening to Tobiwan endlessly moaning about 90 minute games.

    • BooleanBob says:

      I’m going to cross-post some of my thoughts from Eurogamer, I hope that isn’t considered bad form (I tried to vamp it up a bit for EG readers who are a bit less likely to Dote)…

      It was an incredible tournament. Looking at the final in a void then yes, it was a disappointing spectacle, but that’s failing to appreciate the context that serves as a backdrop to the clash.

      VG looked unstoppable coming into the final. It was as if they had discovered a legal cheat code for Dota. They seemed like a stampeding herd, an innumerable swarm: they’d grab the momentum with a first blood kill in 2-3 minutes and turn that into a tower push. In the confusion and tumult, they’d steal across the map and swipe another double kill, and another tower would fall. Then another. Titans of the sport, teams that had crushed tournaments and slugged out 80-minute bouts for the ages, were being consumed like a T-Rex falling to the furious onslaught of a pack of tiny, tenacious velociraptors. In their lack of respect for this meta-challenging strategy, the old guard buried their heads in the sand – and were buried in turn.

      Meanwhile, despite being well-respected and much-touted for the title, Newbee had almost been knocked out of the tournament in the group stages. They had to fight tooth and nail to scrape out of a tiebreaker set just to claim one of the final available slots in the main event. They then went on a tear of their own, winning five best of three matches – against teams who had done much better than them in the opening days of the tournament – to leap frog their way up from last qualifiying place, first into the winner’s bracket and from there to the grand final itself.

      And in that first game, VG rolled over them just as they had rolled over everyone else. It was a straight-up demolition. The ‘deathball’ pushing strategy seemed to annihilate everything in its path. VG had one hand on the title.

      But then something happened in the second game. VG didn’t get first blood. Then they traded two kills away for one in another lane. Simultaneously, in the third lane, they lost another man. They didn’t have the momentum, but they had drafted for early tower-pushing, so they had little choice but to go ahead and push. It failed miserably. Newbee had concocted a coherent counter-strategy and the screw was beginning to turn.

      From seeming invincibility the flaws in VG’s strategy were suddenly all too apparent. It wasn’t an all-conquering ultra-strat but in reality, more like an all-in gambit. Like the wham moment in some action movie, the formerly invulnerable archvillain was suddenly confronted with the unexpected sight of his own blood. ‘How can this be..?!’ Panic set in. You could read it in the draft of game 3, and game 4, as VG doubled down on what they thought – what they knew – had served them so well up to now. They clung to heroes who were serving them no value, while panickingly picking others who Newbee had taken earlier in the set in a rash attempt to keep them out of their hands. Meanwhile, Newbee were growing in confidence. They had rallied in the face of a devastating opponent and were on their way to an emphatic comeback.

      And that’s very much the point, I think. If you look at the individual matches, it was disappointing that there was no back and forth. No epic rosh fights, no six slotted carries, no buyback teamwipes, no backdoored barracks and no YOLO 322 throws. But take the longer view of the grand finals – think of losing the first game as being like losing a first set of rax – and it looks very much like the stirring from-behind reversals that we so love to see in our Dota 2 matches. Take an even longer view of the tournament as a whole, and the narrative becomes even more compelling.

      This is to say nothing of some of the other amazing games we were treated to. Some of the sickest comebacks of all time – LGD versus DK game 1; Titan versus Newbee. Some of the most dramatic base races – Big Daddy grabbing the rapier and trying to storm Mous’s base single-handed. Singsing’s Meepo and DDZ’s Invoker. I hope the slightly bitter taste left by those individual games in the final doesn’t overshadow what was a feast of sumptuous doto that produced a worthy winner. Congratulations to Newbee!

      • mechabuddha says:

        Thanks for the background! I only tuned in for the final, and this goes a long way towards understanding what was going on.

      • Riley Lungmus says:

        Hey guys, if any post is worth reading it’s the once above this.

        You gave me some chills with this synopsis of the last series, almost more exciting than actually watching it. Your imagery is evoking.


  3. Cinek says:

    Hm… I got a mixed feelings. Last year final was much more interesting and exciting. But I’m certainly happy to see eSports raise and money involved go up.

  4. Tiax says:

    It was funny, I watched the finals on the noob’s channel which was casted by Purge.

    After the game was over, he left his computer but didn’t turn off his microphone so basically everyone could still hear him talk and say “Well, that wasn’t TI3…”

    • KevinLew says:

      I personally thought that TI4 was fine, but it certainly had its dull moments.

      Since we’re talking about “moments when the mic was left on but they kept talking off camera,” you could also hear Purge talking to some of the Valve staff after Game 1 of the Newbee vs. Na’Vi semi-finals. He had put his microphone down and it was barely audible. “I think many people are going to be disappointed,” he said. And you could hear the other person respond, “Yeah, I think so too.” The entire conversation was basically saying that he expected Na’Vi–the most beloved team in Dota 2–to get crushed by Newbee, and that’s exactly what happened.

  5. Crainey says:

    I would agree they have the best event all round, taking into account the community environment, but not the best show. The production values of the LCS each week are higher than The International; there were a lot of production hiccups and they definitely lack the professionalism and experienced production crew Riot has at its disposal.

    The final games themselves were pretty boring too, which is always disappointing but not uncommon in eSports. Once again eSports shows spectacularly that nerds are really bad at celebrating, particularly Asians it would seem, perhaps the language/culture gap causes that one because back home they have a good time. We really need to learn how to do proper finals ceremonies.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Yeah if I’d just won over a million dollars I wouldn’t have been walking out of that pod I’d have been bouncing through the damn window. They just walked out like they were on a sunday stroll.

  6. Philopoemen says:

    Wimbledon has a 5 million pound prize pool, the US Open PGA round has $US 8 million. The International has managed to surpass this sans-corporate sponsors. That’s a fairly large deal.

    The public isn’t whats going to bring esports into the mainstream, it’s the broadcasters and advertisers who are going to realise what a big cash cow it is if marketed correctly. With that will come corporate sponsorship of teams, etc etc. 10-20 years time when VR is mainstream, whats to say say that you don’t take a virtual seat inside a DOTA2/LoL “stadium” complete with sponsor placards, and the game’s happening right in front of you?

    I worry for the day when some 15year old chinese kid is mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan by his generation of fans though.

    • Crainey says:

      Chinese fans are quite crazy, especially when it comes to Warcraft and Dota. So far these big tournaments have been making bigger waves in the Eastern scene than in the West. No doubt so many Chinese teams taking home so much money in this one weekend will be a pretty big deal back in China, though I don’t know what the press is like over there.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      I think the lack of any visible corporate sponsorship (I realise some of the teams have it, but it could barely be seen) is a massive deal that’s not really been talked about. Like you say, it’s sponsorship that goes a long way to taking most major sporting events to a mass market. Companies don’t just pay money so they can have their name up on the interview backdrop, but so they can sell Olympic happy meals and what have you. Sponsors need a way to make money off their investment. I struggle to see Valve getting on board with all that. The Valve way is keep all the merchandising in house, do what they can themselves, and let the community do the rest. And I can’t see them allowing Doom prancing round in a Coca Cola hat any time soon either.

  7. Amikae says:

    I tried hard to like this tourney, but the chinese teams lack any kind of personality. Very precise, robotic play, which is usually something I like, but not in games such as these, where a proper storyline is needed for it to be epic. But what storyline when even if you ask me now I can’t name you a single player from the winning team.

    I find this a huge problem, at least for me, when watching LoL and Dota 2, it’s difficult to watch as a non player, because it’s full of so many generic players(and casters), that I can’t really root for anyone. StarCraft 2 on the other hand is full of legendary players or legends in the making. I really can’t understand how it’s not more popular than these mobas.

    • shaydeeadi says:

      ROTK is about the most presentable Chinese personality, Ice3 is also very charismatic (although Singaporean.) I guess it’s hard to come off as interesting to a western audience when you don’t speak English.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        The translators were kind of monotonous and robotic, which didn’t help. The Newbee interview at the end, you could tell that they were rather passionate, but the translation didn’t really convey that.

    • Vandelay says:

      Has the meta improved with SC2? It has been a while since I have watched any, but I recall it just descending into mass marine play and nothing more. HotS seemed to do nothing to improve the situation (honestly, the new units were quite shit.)

      • Amikae says:

        Protoss currently dominates the pro scene with zerg slightly behind. Almost every recent major tournament has been won by a protoss player, WCS EU/NA and the GSL and some other high profile tournaments. But none of those were one sided tournaments.

        Terran is kinda weak, mainly because their meta never shifted from the bio play.

        Protoss is very strong now after MSC has been completely figured out, they can safely expand, two base blink play is still a scary thing, they have all kinds of all ins, but can also play the longer game getting to very strong endgame compositions with storm, tempest etc.

        Zerg is very strong too the longer the game goes on. Creep spread has been a thing for the past 6 months with emerging monsters like LiquidSnute who are capable of covering the bigger maps top to bottom in creep, because it’s very hard for protoss and terran to keep cleaning it. Mutas are very strong, especially late game vs terran, hydras have been buffed, Swarm Host is one of the go to strats vs protoss(but very boring to watch).

    • wengart says:

      Esports big problem generally seems to be the required knowledge of the game.

      Personally I found the final matches incredible. Especially watching Hao and Mu play Weaver and Puck respectively.

  8. Vandelay says:

    I had a good time watching the International. I hadn’t gotten into it previously, but I watched about 4 or 5 matches this year, including most of the final. The final games were completely one sided, although I was rooting for Newbee, so it was a good outcome. The hero selection could definitely have been more varied, but I am not bothered by quick games.

    I didn’t particular think much of the Compendium though. Seeing lots of people with high level ones made me think it would be worthwhile, but those people must have spent a fortune on top of the initial price to get so many points. I ended up not playing that much after getting the Compendium and I also missed out on the last couple of prediction sessions, but I still don’t see it being possible to get much beyond level 12 or 13 without spending additional money.

    Having said that, I got enough enjoyment out of the tournament itself and played enough DOTA that I don’t particular mind putting money back into it.

    • lukovski says:

      I thougt the compendium was a great idea, which really motivated the players with the 10-hero-challenge, the daily hero challenge and the statistics tool for your favourite hero. I actually played alot since I bought the compendium and came to level 26, whitout being any good at guessing the most picked hero etc…

  9. Horg says:

    I think it was a mistake to hold the finals on a separate day. The reasoning was so that both teams could get a nights rest before coming on stage for the Bo5, but it just torpedos the hype when you have a break that long. I hope for next year they consider going back tot he TI3 format and holding the grand finals on the same day as the LB finals. Maybe stick a just for fun event in between to break up the scheduling so the teams are somewhat rested.

  10. ScrubLeagueTV says:

    I really like DOTA and The International, but there’s no way any MOBA will ever get mainstream-popular, while the casual observer is unable to look at the broadcast for a few seconds and know exactly what is going on. Sure, you have kill counts and a game clock up top, but that doesn’t tell you anything about the current condition of the game. All the physical sports (and even non-physical sports like poker or chess) are constant representations of what the game is about. Baseball has a pitch, basketball has passes and shots, soccer (football) has passes and shots, football (American) has a down, even golf has a swing, and this all happens every few seconds.

    MOBAs have stretches of several minutes where a team is waiting for the perfect situation to move in, and then deciding not to move in. There is only an organic impetus for action, and hanging out in your team’s base for 2 minutes can be as effective as sending your team down the lane to throw magics at the opponent as often as possible. I like DOTA and think it’s great to watch, but there exists such a high barrier to even the most casual of understanding as a spectator that it will be decades before any game of the sort will have a kind of broad appeal.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      LOL is actually better in this respect with a constant gold count at the top which is mostly an accurate indication of which team is winning. This wouldn’t always be the case with DOTA though as gold swings are more common due to hyper-carry heroes.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        This wouldn’t always be the case with DOTA though as gold swings are more common due to hyper-carry heroes.

        Don’t think you’re talking about the right game here mate. Large gold & experience swings are pretty much only after team fights where 4 or 5 of the players from both teams are involved & it’s generally a team effort rather than because of a single carry hero (unless we’re talking 90 minute games from 2 years ago which the game has been pushed well away from in the last year due to balance changes).

  11. honuk says:

    “I’ve said before that Dota 2 monetises personal expression”

    Of course this is true, but it’s also true of the marketing structures of virtually every contemporary industry. Marketers no longer sell you a product, they sell you yourself and then allow you (which is a farce, they don’t “allow” you they “tell” you) to transmogrify that identity onto a product. Everything is an event, a process, an accessory, an opportunity. The International is not a Dota 2 tournament, it is a Dota 2 convention that has expanded itself to incorporate the whole of the game and those who play it, rather than just those committed to attending. Valve has allowed people to purchase the right to identify themselves with the product, and the second you have successfully done that you can go ahead and print yourself all the money you want. See also: Star Citizen (but really everything).

  12. Stormworm says:

    SingSing with his amazing Meepo play was the highlight of the whole tournament for me. That character got respect banned in the next match too. Shame they decided to go for that level one Roshan in match three… You dont do that against Earth Shaker.

  13. sd4f says:

    My perception of dota has changed after watching the finals. I think for the game to be a great esports game, it is going to need a heap of refining. While any physical sport, the games change over time, the differences are usually subtle. There’s a lot of noise on the internet and hate for ‘rat doto’ or the ‘chinese deathball’, I feel they’re all legitimate strategies permitted within the confines of the game, while others don’t like it and even feel that it’s unfair and cheating…

    If looking at the finals in isolation, it looked like each game was decided in the first few minutes, and became glaringly obvious that towards the 10 minute point, who was going to win. My gripe with dota is that it rewards successful play by granting further advantage, and penalises heavily unsuccessful play. To explain this further, it’s basically hard to crawl out of an early rut, because the other team gets a XP advantage and a gold advantage, and they just snowball from there. In any other physical game, you don’t send off players because they conceded points. One can easily say ‘well that’s just dota’ which is true, but I think from an esports perspective, the game will get fairly dull if victory is reduced down to first blood and early kills, because the rest of the match just becomes a formality and the losing team might as well just deny their ancient (joke).

    My (developing) opinion is that DotA needs to solidify what it is, it needs to figure out how the game is played and start to develop rules around what sort of game it should be, and start locking that in. Strategy is a big component, but I think it would be complete poison to settle on a game that gets decided in the hero choices (i.e. the meta-game) and first few minutes of play. Because of this, the meta-game I think should be toned down a fair bit (it’s also really noob-unfriendly) and they need to start figuring out how to keep the successful gameplay interesting to watch, and possibly penalise uninteresting gameplay.