Remember the International? Twenty million people watched it, so chances are you do. I wrote a couple of things about it, too. But we missed something: one of the best bits of fan service to emerge from the entire event, particularly for people who have followed the pro Dota 2 scene for the last couple of years.
The International 2014
The 2014 International Dota 2 Championships attracted record-setting online viewership numbers, including more than twice as many peak concurrent viewers as the 2013 event.
You can find write-ups of all three previous days of play at the International here.
The fourth International is over. As a fan, there's always a hollow feeling that comes with this period - the sense that the last of the hype has finally burned away, that this event that has come to occupy so much of your time and energy has been suddenly brought to a close. Post-International blues are a real thing. This year, though, those inevitable doldrums have been compounded by a Grand Final that won't have been what many fans were expecting when the main event began. Below I'm going to explain why I came away from the finals largely satisfied even though I agree with some of the criticism, and what I think the course of those four games say about the state of Dota 2 as we enter the next year in its life. Spoilers, obviously.
Missed yesterday's report? Read it here.
The bloodiest day of The International 2014 began with a run of the tournament's best matches. Then, after a run of upsets in a tournament that has been defined by upsets, one team emerged that will face Newbee in the grand final today. It's certainly not the grand final I'd have expected a week ago, and if you'd told me these results a month ago at ESL One I'd have called you crazy. I'd also have asked what it was like in the future and if you could help me skip the queue in the Secret Shop, but that's another matter.
If you missed yesterday's list, you can find it here.
Almost nothing today went as expected. Well, some things. As far as day two's competitive matches went, however, extraordinary upsets and out-of-left-field performances were the rule. Today saw the fall of former champions and the continued rise of teams that almost everybody had counted out. While the matches I've chosen below reflect the best of the day, this was one of those essential runs that bears watching in full and analysing after the fact.
It might have been rumoured for a while, but it's still unprecedented. Tonight at the International Valve took the lid off Techies, a DotA hero with a cult following due to his continued absence from Dota 2. Like Valve's other great unfinished projects - Ricochet 2, Portal 5 - Techies have become an event so long-awaited that it seemed like it'd never happen at all.
Day one is over. Even though none of the teams in the upper bracket faced elimination today, success at this stage meant securing vast proportions of the prize pool in advance of the rest of the tournament. For the team that managed to earn their place in the grand final, it meant a guaranteed place in history as contenders for the single biggest reward ever offered in competitive gaming.
The 2014 edition of The International Dota 2 Championships, better known to gamers as simply The International, will be broadcast live on ESPN3, while an exclusive preview of the final match that will include an interview with Gabe Newell will be carried on ESPN2.
After an eventful group stage, the International begins in earnest tomorrow. Of the nineteen teams in contention for the Aegis of Champions on the 8th of July, eight remain. Over four days at Seattle's KeyArena, those eight teams will fight to secure the lion's share of the largest prize pool in competitive gaming history. The winner will take away just shy of $5m. But this extraordinary reward, most players will tell you, isn't the point. The International is Dota 2's alpha and omega: it is where reputations are made, where teams are proven. Many of the matchups you watch this weekend will never come about in the same way again; the stress of falling short at The International is enough to tear lineups apart and force teams to start over. This is the end of the biggest year in the game's life and the beginning of the next.
Three Lane Highway is Chris' weekly column about Dota 2.
'Metagame' is a sharp, cyberpunkish word for a pretty cloudy and unscientific concept. Which is not to say that it's impossible to get an exact read on a game's competitive landscape, but that sense of certainty is usually unsustainable. The moment a team does something that nobody expects and it works, questions are raised. Figuring out the answers to those questions - or watching other people do it - is one of the major draws of this part of the hobby. It's natural to chase certainty, to be sure, but it's doubt that creates drama.
And, thus, the Dota 2 community did buy many internet sticker books. And yea, they did fill those books with non-corporeal points. And so, Valve did set aside 25% of each purchase—creating an International prize pool of $10 million, and much wealth and happiness for their own accountants.
Well, that was inevitable. Yesterday, the Dota 2 community completed their quest to give Valve all of the money. The prize pool for the upcoming International tournament stood at $6 million, meaning over $4.4 million had been raised from sales of the Compendium sticker-book and its corresponding point system. Now, Valve have unveiled more stretch goals, with potential rewards reaching to the £10 million mark.
Here's a quick maths question for you. If a copy of Dota 2's Compendium costs $10/£6 (which it does), and $2.50 of that goes to the International 2014's prize pool (which it does), and that prize pool—which launched at a base level of $1.6 million—currently stands at over $6 million (which it does), then how much deeper is Gabe Newell's swimming pool tribute to Scrooge McDuck? The answer is lots.* Valve aren't the only winner of this equation, though. The participants of the Dota 2 tournament have a much bigger prize to compete for, and the Dota 2 community have now secured the entirety of the Compendium's stretch goals.
The Compendium is a magical tome filled with knowledge, riches, and small pictures of people who are absurdly good at Dota 2. No wonder then that the community has been snapping up copies in record numbers. The digital sticker-book-companion to The International 2014 has upped the tournament's prize pool to over $4 million—a more than $1.24 million increase over the last International. Impressively, it's done all this in under 5 days.
The International, Valve's annual Dota 2 tournament, is one of the largest gaming events in the world, a celebration of Steam's most-played game that last year took over a symphony hall in Seattle. A report at onGamers, citing sources from eSports teams and officials, indicates that this year's event will move from July from August, and according to Valve's Gabe Newell, may take over a sports stadium.