Three Lane Highway: the seven stages of Techies
Three Lane Highway is Chris' column about Dota 2.
The patch could be here tomorrow. Maybe? Hopefully. By the time you read this you'll probably know more than I do. Valve have promised Techies by the end of August; Valve have promised a lot of things. Anything - and literally nothing - is possible.
It'll probably be tomorrow. If it is, we'll finally begin the process of accepting Techies into the game. Techies, the argument goes, are going to change how pub Dota is played forever. All Pick is going to become a (literal) minefield. The old ways will be gone. It seems appropriate that a hero with a reputation for griefing should attract a seven-stage process of its own.
Shock and denial
This is how you are going to feel the first time that an enemy Techies shockingly denies themselves to secure first blood against you. It will feel cheap, at first, and unfair. Techies can achieve with a single allied Tiny what the entire Dire team normally pulls off by rushing into the Radiant jungle before the horn.
"The novelty will wear off" you'll think, when the surprise fades. "People will get bored of doing it eventually." Now you're in denial: they will not get bored. There will always be new Techies players, just as there are always new Pudge players. The future looks like an endless series of level one suicide attacks. As you stare into the flames you perceive motion, like a pair of sunglasses descending; deal with it, the fire whispers.
Pain and guilt
You'll give in eventually. Change your name and queue solo and lock Techies before anybody else can. You'll fling yourself out of the fog of war at Crystal Maiden or somebody and - boom - there's your first blood. You'll mine the side shops and feed terribly. This might make you feel a little bit better at first but then the guilt comes: you're not that guy, are you? You never used to be that guy.
Anger and bargaining
Everybody else, however, clearly is that guy. After a week of contending with Techies in pub matches the novelty has very much worn off: who do these people think they are? Why doesn't anybody want to play Dota the way it used to be? Is everybody new? You suspect that everybody is new, and say as much.
When anger doesn't achieve anything - because it has never, in the history of Dota, achieved anything - you turn to bargaining. "pls no techies" you hurriedly type at the beginning of games. "i support if no techies pls". As a gesture of good faith you pick Witch Doctor and buy wards, courier, smoke, sentries. Then, somebody notices that Techies are free and repicks their hero. You sob quietly into your single Iron Branch.
Reflection and loneliness
Perhaps it is time to simply move on: to leave solo queue for a week or two and wait for the fuss to die down. You could work on your last-hitting, perhaps, or learn a new hero. Then, the notion strikes you: what if you work on becoming a really good Techies player? Someone respectable. Somebody the kids will look up to.
And so you practice. You read guides on bomb placement and work on finding farm with that awful basic attack in bot matches. You devote yourself to the theory and craft of Techies play, and slowly you improve. But there's no life in it, no spark. You realise that, as guilty as you felt at the time, there's something innocent and carefree about throwing your life away to troll a support. You start to miss the flames, in your own way.
The upward turn
When you return to solo queue you're no longer as aggrieved by the presence of little explosive goblins. You roll your eyes knowingly both at the players who automatically pick them and the players who get angry about the same: you've been both, you've moved past both. Your time practicing the hero has given you the knowledge you need to avoid the most obvious traps, and while from time to time you find yourself wandering into a nest of mines it stings far less than it used to.
You've got your Dota back. It's a little different, and sometimes people explode, but it's Dota. When Techies show up in Random Draft or Single Draft games it's an opportunity to play something a little bit unusual. You and your friends work to include Techies into your plans from time to time: when playing with a stack the hero is just another tool in the box, and not the end of the world. You watch a friend wander into a shop full of mines and laugh the long laugh of the healed.
Acceptance and hope
You have been on a long journey, Techies and you. Dota isn't quite the same as it used to be, but it's always like this, isn't it? You remember back, way back to when Spirit Breaker was added and smile. It's just like that, isn't it? Why didn't you realise? For a while, all anybody wanted to do was charge across the map as an angry-looking cosmic cow. Now, all they want to do is explode. And just like Spirit Breaker, you are probably never, ever going to see somebody pick Techies in a professional match. You will be fine.
The game settles down, and you start to wonder: what next? By this point, a month has passed - perhaps two. We are entering the autumn. You cast around for something to get hyped about all over again. Then, it hits you: where the fuck is Diretide?
To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.