Posted by: markfender | July 22, 2014

The International

It’s time for nerd sports again.

dota_international2Yeah, it’s Dota 2 again, this time with a prize pool of $10 million. That’s a ridiculous amount of money. I believe some games were on ESPN2 as well (which probably meant more 10 years ago but still it’s something).

This year, there was a “Newcomer’s Stream” where the announcers actually bothered to explain the game. It got a bit repetitive in places but it was much appreciated. In particular, it made the draft more interesting because they explained the hero’s abilities and what could counter it. A lot of times, even though I sort of understand the game, I still miss out on the subtleties of the hero picks. In particular, knowing the certain heroes were picked specifically to counter another hero made the games more interesting because you knew to look for those match-ups.

All of the previous International winners were eliminated in the early rounds. Alliance (who won last year) were eliminated in the preliminaries before the tourney even began. Considering that the three previous winners still had the same team members, it makes me think that Dota 2 is perhaps still too swingy. I know that, in physical sports, once you get a “legacy” going, you generally tend to at least make the playoffs consistently. Apparently, not so much in Dota. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

The finals came down to two Chinese teams which, as a red-blooded American, gives me pause. However, ViCi was playing very aggressively all tournament and, in fact, lost to the other team in the Final, NewBee, on the first day, battling their way back up through the loser’s bracket to make it to the Finals. That sort of can-do attitude appeals to my American sensibilities! Unfortunately, they went ahead and lost in the Finals, dashing my surrogate hopes for glory.

The schedule was also strange this year. They split the event over four days, which gave the teams more downtime. That’s fine, but they decided to have the Finals on a Monday, which doesn’t seem optimal. If you’re skipping work to attend the event in person, you’ve got to split your time off over two different weeks, which is just awkward. I’m fine with the event being four days, but it should probably be Thursday – Sunday instead.

Dota 2 is a weird game. The announcers get really excited whenever team fights start happening, but the majority of the game is about being really good at leveling your character. Things like stacking and aggressive ward placement are where the real action is and, unfortunately, that action is really boring. I don’t really grasp the appeal of that sort of gameplay. The team fights are cool and I can even appreciate a well-done item build. But actually just leveling up? That might be the least exciting thing in all of gaming (It’s even my least favorite activity in pen-and-paper RPGs). So, once again, I find myself at the edge of gaming, wondering where the fun is.



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