It was a big moment, four years ago when my best friend and I put together my first gaming computer. Sitting there with it actually working, it’s an accomplishment in its self. So it’s no wonder I was sitting there with a, “What Now?” expression on my face. I mean I had this computer with nothing really to play. After burning my self out on the first wave of games I had I was looking for something new, watching Twitch.tv is one of the best ways to see new games and it just so happened to be this time of year. The time for Dota 2’s biggest tournament of the year The International.
I had never played let alone seen a MOBA; I do have a love of Iso-metric RPG’s, and this game I was watching had a similar camera angle to them, but with more of an RTS feel. It makes sense considering that Dota was originally a MOD of the game Warcraft 3 and its history is well documented, as well as branching out as a stand alone success leading to the release of the beta for Dota 2. The game was chaotic and confusing, but from moment one when I saw pro player Mushi single handily carrying his team on a hero named Ursa, I knew this game was something I could get into.
Fast forward three years later and I still have a love for Dota 2, but I don’t find as much time to play it as I once did. But every late July I start getting the itch. Every year around this month it’s time for the big tournament affectionately referred to as TI. The best teams from all around the world gather and compete for their share of what is always the largest prize pool in Esports. This years pool sitting at around $23 million.
It’s truly a spectacle to behold. There are moments of cringe, which one quick google search can lead you down a rabbit hole, and moments of brilliance with incredible high skill plays with heroes you didn’t know were capable of such feats. It’s my favorite event each year and one I spend way too many hours consuming.
With events of this size, there is always blowback and criticism of the tournament most of which is overblown, but ones I find to be truer this year is the lack of production value. The four channels streaming the group stages is missing any post game break downs and with the decision of Valve (the company that owns Dota 2) to mostly have the panel comprised of former players. There is a serious lack of diversity in voice at the event. Now I will concede that it is still just the group stage and some of the talent aren’t even at the event, with the main stage bracket starting next week there is still time to rescue what has been a slightly down tournament in that aspect.
I love TI; it’s the time of year for me that hits max consumption of video games, Esports, and media. The fun of watching a tournament’s meta develop, and see heroes you love that don’t get much competitive play swing games is something you don’t get watching your favorite streamer playing ranked.