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Opinion - Dota 2’s International 4 Was Amazing, But A Failure For Spectators

by Daniel Tack on Jul 23, 2014 at 12:38 PM

The finals of this year’s $10.9 million International 4 tournament, a best of five bout between Newbee and ViCi Gaming, was a display of unparalleled skill, practice, and preparation from both teams.

The issue is, when it comes to the unwavering win-fast or don’t win at all strategy that ViCi was employing, the final stages of the grand tournament came off as something less interesting to watch than a few random public matchmaking teams squaring off. For Dota 2’s first time to shine on ESPN, this back-to-back tower down GG spectacle didn’t display any confidence in the watchability of one of the most exciting games on PC.

It was incredibly disheartening to watch the so-called “Deathball” strategy of ViCi run into a brick wall in games 2-4, with no adaptation being employed between rounds. Same characters, same results. Games decided in five and over in fifteen. For a spectator, we didn’t get to see much of or any of the signature teamplay and epic 5v5 fights that make the game and the genre one of the most watchable eSports out there. It was a far cry from the team battles that made things like “The Play” representative of incredible Dota 2 play from a spectator perspective.

I’m certainly not a professional Dota 2 player competing for a $10 million prize pool, so I’m not saying that out of a misplaced position of gameplay analysis (I feel I have to reiterate this again, I am sure both teams represent the best of the best and are the most skilled players in the world) but as an enthusiast onlooker that dedicated a good chunk of my Monday to checking out the annual pinnacle of Dota 2 play. That was a curious issue as well – why were the most important matches played on a workday? Many spectators had to either take the day off to watch the matches or sneak furtive glances on their phones as the day went by. With the way things played out, this may have been for the best.

While I’m not advocating that ViCi Gaming should have stuck around in games they were almost certainly going to lose, the “Well, that didn’t work. GG, surrender” comes off as completely awful for spectators, especially those new to the game watching for the first time. Bases were never actually defended or assaulted, as first tower downs set a miserable standard for a game over surrender. It almost felt like a 9-0 first inning blowout with one team quitting before the other eight even happened in a baseball game, and while it may be completely logical due to the circumstances, the viewers are looking for more.

It leaves a bit of a bad taste for public match players, as Dota 2 doesn’t allow players to “GG” or surrender – If you’re in a losing Dota 2 match, you’re forced to sit around and get crushed at the opposing team’s leisure. Apply one of those situations to an average public matchmaking game and watch as it lasts 40 minutes as the winning team kills Roshan 4 times and six-slots (gear caps) before farming opponents in the fountain. The luxury of forfeiture is only extended to professionals in a tournament setting.