Dota 2's The International has been immensely popular, with more than $10 million worth of crowdfunded prizes up for grabs. It's no surprise, given Dota 2's Steam domination. So it only makes sense that Valve should consider the same treatment for some of its other properties. Obviously, a Counter-Strike international tournament would not go astray.
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.
Valve took a three day run-up to its Love and War update, with daily teasers for what, in reality, amounted to some new taunts and weapons. You'd think, then, that the introduction of a new game mode would warrant something spectacular. Instead—perhaps fittingly for a game made by the company responsible for Steam—it's being launched into Early Access. Yesterday's TF2 update added two new "beta maps" to the game. They're rough, unbalanced, and, in some cases, untextured, but one of them is our first taste of the new Robot Destruction game type.
Every week, we publish a classic PC Gamer review from the '90s or early 2000s. This week, Ben Griffin provides context and commentary followed by the full, original text of our Half-Life 2 review, published in the November 2004 issue of PC Gamer UK. More classic reviews here.
What more can be said about Half-Life 2? Jim Rossignol's words below still do a fine job of summing up just why the world got worked up over a singleplayer shooter. November 2004 was a standout month for PC gaming, and indeed PC Gamer.
2014 will go down in history as the year Very Serious PC games got a karting mode. First it was Arma 3, and now Dota 2. While 'Dota Dash' doesn't look like the most polished karting game, it will no doubt please those who, for some reason, desire to burn around Dota 2 maps collecting power-ups and dropping bananas.
It's an exciting month for fans of DIGITAL SPORT. We're only a few days away from the start of The International's play-offs and exactly two weeks from the main event. Valve are preparing for the Dota 2 tournament's kick... er, creep-off with the launch of the official International mini-site. With it, they've announced the competition's prize-pool distribution, and the multitude of ways for fans—and newcomers—to watch.
Where next on the terrorism/counter-terrorism world tour that is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive? Valve have launched Operation: Breakout—the latest in a series of seasonal events for the competitive shooter. This time, the community-created maps that it spotlights are available in official matchmaking to all players.
Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes serious, sometimes silly column about Dota 2. The image above is from the ESL Flickr account.
We've always had a complicated relationship with e-sports. By 'we' I mean not just PC Gamer but PC gamers: I think it's fair to say that the paradigm shift that e-sports represent hasn't always been widely understood or accepted. That makes sense—it's a form of gaming that the majority of gamers will never participate directly in, and this is a hobby that is defined by participation.
ESL One Frankfurt: Loda discusses Alliance's tournament performance, rat Dota, and the impact of winning The International
Jonathan 'Loda' Berg has been part of the competitive Dota scene for as long as there's been a scene to be part of. He was the man holding the Aegis of Champions aloft at the end of The International 2013, and his team—Alliance—are one of the most effective, efficient, and idiosyncratic teams in the world. I first met Loda at TI3, when I interviewed him the night before the grand final. That interview became this article. After Alliance's loss to tournament champions iG in the semi finals of ESL One Frankfurt I spoke to Loda for half an hour about the current metagame, that incredible match against Cloud 9, and the way that winning TI3 has affected Alliance for better and for worse. This is a long interview, but I think most Dota fans would appreciate seeing the whole thing so you'll find it all below.
Images courtesy of the official ESL Twitter account.
'Timing' has been the watchword of this entire tournament. It was a concern this morning, when another late start threatened to force the entire show to run long, with the last quarterfinal match - Na'Vi vs. EG - not starting until 10.30am. It was a concern when the arena's internet connection went down and when Fnatic's voice comms broke for twenty minutes. It was a concern in-game, too, as the strengths and weaknesses of today's greedy, ult-centric metagame came down to who had power at the exact minute when it counted.
Timing problems caused a fair amount of heartache today, but I also got to see a terrific showcase of what the best Dota 2 teams can achieve when they're moving to their own rhythm. In addition, the event itself held together despite the technical problems to deliver one of the best large-scale e-sports experiences that Europe has seen since TI1. Great casting and analysis and a hugely engaged crowd made Frankfurt a great place to spend a weekend - and I'm not just saying that because I've been surviving on beer, sausages and energy drinks since Saturday morning. Well, mostly. The point is: it's gone midnight and I've got games to discuss, so let's get into it. As ever, spoilers below.
Steam's sales traditionally end with the most popular offers from previous days being resurrected for a sort of victory lap, and this year is no different. They've put most of the daily deals on offer again, so if you missed out on Dragon Age or Skyrim or XCOM and you've been ruing your indecision ever since, now's your chance to make up for it. It's also your last chance to pick up any other games on offer in the sale, now that there's no chance of them being reduced further in a daily or flash sale.
Don’t forget to check out GOG’s summer deals, too, which coincidentally will be ending at around the same time. GOG have resurrected all of their previous daily deals, along with a ton of flash sales refreshing every couple of hours.
Image via the official ESL Twitter account.
Per Anders 'Pajkatt' Olsson Lille has been playing competitive Dota since prior to the first International, which he attended with Online Kingdom. He played for LGD.int at TI2 and will return this year with Mousesports, formerly Team Dog, who earned their place in TI4 with a fantastic performance in the European qualifiers. Yesterday, they got knocked out of ESL One Frankfurt following a close-fought – and very exciting – series of matches against Invictius Gaming.
I spoke to Pajkatt an hour after the game to talk about that first blood, the reasons why they lost, the danger of Pugna and the plan between now and TI4.
Images courtesy of the ESL Twitter account.
What an incredible day for DIGITAL SPORTS. You get used to the idea that these events are always going to get bigger; that the next step up is always going to mean a larger stadium and more impressive production values. But there's something pretty startling about seeing games played at the highest level in an environment like the Commerzbank Arena. It's more than you get from attending other kinds of large gaming convention: it's not just about having something in common with thousands of other people. It's about the catalysing impact of sport, the way a hobby can grow and grow and grow until it becomes a spectacle.
It's always a bit weird seeing how quickly game prices depreciate, particularly when a Steam sale is involved. The pick of today's deals - Wolfenstein: The New Order - is only a few weeks old, but it can now be had for a delicious 50% off. The question is, with only a few days left of the summer sale, what other surprises lie in store? The other question is: can your wallet take any more of this? If the answer is 'yes', join us after the break.
There aren’t any big surprises in today’s Daily Deals (how many times has GTAIV been discounted?), but cheap games are cheap games and there are some good ones today. There are also some holdovers from previous days, such as the BioShock Triple Pack, which has only lost 8% of its discount since Wednesday. Peek at our picks from previous days to see if any former Daily Deals are still discounted.
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.
Later this afternoon I'll be heading to Germany to begin a weekend of coverage of ESL One Frankfurt, the last major Dota 2 tournament before The International. It's shaping up to be really exciting. The scene is in good shape, with varied and exciting play coming from a broad range of teams. Eight of those teams—Alliance, Na'Vi, mousesports, Fnatic, Cloud 9, Evil Geniuses, Vici Gaming and Invictus Gaming—will be competing in Frankfurt for a crowd-boosted prize pool of over $200,000. I sat down with fellow Dota nerd Janusz Urbanski to go over our predictions for the event.
The Steam Summer Sale is always dangerous, threatening to take money from your wallet and hundreds of hour of your life away with tantalizing games. But today's best deals feel especially life-threatening, because there are some masterful strategy games on sale. Civilization 5, Rome 2: Total War, and Europa Universalis IV are all heavily discounted, and any one of these games could keep you occupied for months of economic planning, political trickery or open warfare. The deal of the day, though, is Dishonored, a top contender for 2012 game of the year.
Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes serious, sometimes silly blog about Dota 2.
Last week I wrote off the concept of MMR as part of a not-entirely-serious list of 'meaningless' numbers in Dota. My thinking at the time was that discussing the problems raised by ranked matchmaking at all was going to attract a particular attitude in the comments, so I'd be better off treating it as a punchline. That was an error. I tried to use irony to mask something that I think and care about rather a lot, falling into the same trap that I'd accused certain competitive players of falling into only a week earlier. Sly winks don't carry well on the internet, and when you're discussing the relative worth of somebody's internet wizard skill rating it's fair to assume that most readers are going to take it pretty seriously.
I want more people to play CS:GO. With caveats made for its flaws (64-tick servers, uninspiring stat tracking, the modest number of official maps, and imperfect cheat detection), CS:GO is the best competitive FPS on PC today. Until Evolve or Rainbow Six Siege come around, I expect that to continue uncontested.
But for the veteran player, someone who’s thrown hundreds of hours at that competitive mode, a CS:GO Steam sale like today’s—$7.49 / £5.99 until Friday—isn’t a happy event. It’s a harbinger of hackers and competition-souring “smurf” accounts.