Pip is currently in Seattle to cover The International 2015 - Valve's six day Dota 2 [official site] tournament. There's over $18m on the line and a rich tapestry of professional gaming to enjoy (or unpick) - we did a cheat sheet to explain the basics. There are also lemon curd cakes to be eaten and fountains be be enjoyed. Here's what happened on day 4...
The first order of business was finding fruit and nuts in order that I could abandon my accidental diet of cheese and carbs. I hid it in one of my many bag pouches Sometimes I worry that I might be a woodland animal but then I think *well, at least if I am I will survive the winter".
The first of the day's games saw Vici taking on MVP Phoenix. The picks were slightly off-meta, in that instead of Anti-Mage or Shadow
Friend Fiend we were treated to Slark and Morphling. They're both highly mobile underwater-themed dickhead characters with good escape mechanisms and entertaining to watch in what has turned out to be a pretty stable meta. The thing with Morphling, though, is that he carries harder than Slark. What that translates to in non-MOBA speak is that when the game runs long and characters have earned enough gold to get well kitted out Morphling is more terrifying than Slark. That's what happened here. It felt knife-edge to a certain point because Phoenix have been playing so well but ultimately the wave monster played by Hao couldn't be stopped.
A second game was more on-meta but Phoenix couldn't hold up against Vici. I put Vici second in my predictions so I'm feeling pleased about that. Pretty much all of the rest of my predictions are in the bin right now but Vici are still there so that's nice! Oh, and I do not get why you would hand Rubick to Vici's Fy even once let alone twice. Fy is probably the best Rubick in the world. This is what he did the previous day against Cloud9 when he had the hero:
Tournament started-off-favourites-then-went-to-the-lower-bracket-and-now-¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Team Secret were fighting Virtus.Pro (who I put sixth) to avoid outright elimination from The International. Their offlaner, Zai, spent all three games of the series playing an amazing Dark Seer. Seriously. The man was throwing down amazing walls and amazing vacuums. I think my favourite moment was this one - a double kill making use of double Ion Shell and ending with the question, "WHAT KIND OF MONSTER ARE YOU?"
The first game was Secret's and I very much enjoyed watching KuroKy's Tusk repeatedly trap God's Silencer with his Ice Shards. It was like Silencer was playing the part of Sally Carrol in Kuro's dramatisation of The Ice Palace. No-one has understood this reference so far. It doesn't bode well for the comment section here.
Anyway, despite both of those things Secret lost both the remaining games, picking a signature Enigma for Puppey into Visage who is rather good at shutting Enigma down and not banning out Silencer - another counterpick. Secret put up a fantastic fight - they're highly skilled players, after all, but yeah. You look at that draft and wince.
The third game is the one that Zai double kill is from and he did so much work in that game, especially with some clutch saves during Secret's prolonged defence. Secret were holding on by their fingernails, on the defensive for so long but with moments of brilliance which saw my Twitter stream turn into a constant CAPSLOCK freakout. Ultimately VP would not be repelled and Secret's throne fell. The best way I could describe what Secret's main event performance felt like to watch is via a Robot Wars comparison. Team Secret were a machine set up to bludgeon other teams and win $6m. They were Hypno Disc to VP's Chaos 2.
I feel like in trying to make Dota 2 more accessible with Robot Wars and F Scott Fitzgerald references I am, in fact, making it worse.
The problem with super intense heart-stopping games is that there's rarely enough time to reset and refuel before the next series is underway. As a result I couldn't get a mental toehold in Vici versus EHOME and went to stand in the sunshine for a while in order to reset.
I also ended up eating lemon curd cake behind the analyst desk with Paul "ReDeYe" Chaloner (whose hosting, particularly during the extensive pauses of the first couple of days, has been rather good).
— Philippa Warr (@philippawarr) August 7, 2015
I think the cake was probably one of my five-a-day. They have a mango back there too. I didn't eat that as I wasn't sure if they were saving it for a mana boost later on.
I also met Maxime Lebled, the creator of the Faceless Rex courier. I considered telling him that my boyfriend had spent a terrifying amount of money trying to score one of those as a gift to me from in-game treasure chests but instead we chatted about less romantic things.
He was very excited about the news that the short film contest winners were about to be shown as his Enigma movie was in the running so he bolted for the arena as soon as EHOME had been eliminated. Here's the movie - it got a lot of laughs from the audience which must have been gratifying.
Last up was the All-Star. It's pure fan service. This year was also showcasing a 10 v 10 mode which is coming to the game client next week so ten audience members were plucked from their seats and invited to join ten pro players onstage. Well. nine and a Pudge cosplayer. I was hoping the Pudge would turn out to be a woman given the rest of the selected players were guys but the reveal was still a great fan moment:
The ensuing match was about as chaotic as you would expect - a half-hour teamfight and then some with Arteezy calling GG with the regularity that most people use their ultimate. But if you're looking for a hero play skip to 45:30 on the video below and just look at the Aghanim's ultimate one of the audience members throws out as Omniknight. Sir, you are a hero. A hero.