Hello Friends & Internets,
Here is a TLDR about Ti5:
Dota 2 is a Free to Play game made by Valve, which is based in Seattle
It is a MOBA: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. Dota stands for Defense of the Ancients
Think of it as 5 v 5 wizard chess but the peons are constantly fighting and you only control 1 powerful piece. The King is the Ancient here
The first International Main Event in 2011 had roughly a 1.5 million USD total prize pool
The 2015 version of The International boasted an 18.4 million USD prize pool, the largest ever in eSports!
It is an invite event to the top Dota 2 teams, with tournaments to get into it as well for smaller teams
Technically the tournament ran from the 26th of July - August 8th, but the spectating portion was August 3-8th
6.6 million dollar first place prize, and it went to EG, the first USA / North American team to win an International!
I've only been in the Dota 2 scene for about 2 years, but having gone to the previous International and comparing my experiences between the two, I can only be in awe of the community that has spawned around a game mode that started as a free custom game in Warcraft 3.
Things that were great
Just being there
Anytime you go to a large scale event at a venue that can hold over 10,000 people, you are certain to encounter die hard fans & enthusiastic attendees. The difference with Ti5 is that everyone is so excited to be there, watch their favorite teams & players take on their rivals, and there is so much to see. Many dedicated fans take such care to create amazing costumes of characters, the Cosplay factor at Ti5 continues to be very strong. In addition to Cosplay, you'll see the top players & casters walking around, and a lot of amazing creations, both physical and digital, from the community on display.
Check out the EG logo on the Legion Commander's flag #pointsforyou
Admittedly, it isn't that easy to get to The International. This year, general admission being 100 dollars for a week long event in Seattle, the event sold out in a total of 10 minutes across two waves of ticket selling. If you do manage to get a ticket for TI then you'll get a great Swag Bag as a compliment, it definitely takes some of the edge off of the spending hit to your wallet. The complimentary bag, itself improved from last year, comes with a Dota 2 branded Nalgene bottle, a golden sharpie (great for autographs), a moleskin note book, super shiny Ti5 pin, a friggin dota 2 wallet (very subtle, Valve) and even some sunscreen to take care of our skin in the new Shop lawn area.
The bottom row is all of the free stuff, water bottle not shown, and everything above that is why this event continues to make money for Valve.
The Secret Shop
Most veterans of an International, particularly last year's, can tell you that line for the Secret Shop is akin to waiting for the new ride at a Six Flags during a national holiday. Thankfully the first improvement to this year's experience was the ability to pre-order items. This saved so much time both for people who took advantage and for the folks waiting in line with fewer bodies thanks to pre-orders. The other main improvement is that the Secret Shop itself moved to a space roughly three times larger, and provided a HUGE screen for all of the fans to watch the games going on while in line. Not to mention a fantastic lawn space to watch outside, and trading tables for people to wheel & deal, myself included. The last great aspect of that outside area was the sponsor booth area & beer-garden, where you can save 3-4 dollars PER drink vs getting that delicious 8 dollar Coors inside and play rocket league and other new rad games (including some Dota 2 Reborn).
Notice the lack of a crowded line on the right side of this pic
Night rolls in but the games and crowds continue
^ Couple of goons
It is clear Valve recognized the importance of presentation for this event. Everything on the outside and within Key Arena had been upgraded this year, but would the arena itself keep up? Resoundingly, yes! Compared to last year's theatrical set up, where there is a stage on one far side and everyone has to look in that direction, the casters were off to the side, the centralized arena configuration this year made it more engaging and way easier to watch.
In addition to having the stage in the middle, the stage itself was full of visual effects that were mirroring the play happening in real time. The players got to do a much more thrilling walk into the main event amidst fog and cheers, and the spectators can actually see into the booths and watch the players to an even closer degree.
Valve created a behemoth four sided screen with rolling stats and an improved map over the actual battle ground view. In the potato picture below, you can (maybe) see that the casting booths are now right in front of the crowd as well. This allowed for fans to make great costumes and signs be visible during the broadcast and it really help convey the roar of the crowd whenever big fights or ambushes were happening.
This was during a USA vs USA match. No matter what those USA flag holders should be somewhat happy after the games
The fireworks after the final game ended were pretty spectacular for an indoor venue, and it did really add to the culminating moment. The energy in the crowd was electric as EG was about to take home the victory. What a fantastic way to put the icing on the cake for the first American based team to win the International.
Things to be improved
We, the fans love to see Cosplay, and Cosplayers really love to do it as well. I'd like to see Valve bring back a Cosplay Costume contest to give those folks a spotlight and a place to really both show off their hard work and be recognized for it. Or perhaps if not a singular event, they could have a smaller dedicated space for people to come and display their cosplay, get to talk to folks who are interested about it more. I don't think it is a huge ask but it would be received very well by the community.
Crowded cosplay alley, waiting to take a picture in front of the one backdrop available.
End of Tournament Proceedings
With all of the excitement leading up to the end of the Tournament, day after day of hardcore Dota 2 games, I was expecting a more robust trophy and award cerimony. Don't get me wrong, Valve / Key Arena did a great job with some indoor firewoorks. However, we only got about 5 minutes of the victorious team (not really) addressing their fans and holding up the Aeges (the Trophy) and then suddenly we transitioned into a Deadmau5 show.
Can we get a break, bros?
Not really kidding on this account. With so many games and content being churned out by the International, spectators don't really get any lunch or dinner breaks. They have to pick and choose which matches they will miss out on, or have to stream on their phones etc. For the players, there is some down time between games, but really most of that time will be consumed in preparation for the next match or going out to make an appearance, do signings, etc. I wonder if a mid day break would help divide up the flow of the event, and allow for even the players to see a designated "break" time.
Tired victorious EG, SumaiL is still moving too quickly to be captured by my phone!
Fan getting ready for the Grand Finals, he definitely "Bleeds Blue"
Ti6 2016 w00t
The development of eSports tournaments and spectator events over the last half decade has been tremendous. It is an atmosphere of excitement, highly invested fans, and not to mention the core competition stemmed from the rivalry between each center of gaming across all of the continents. Whether you cheer for a player, or for a region, an amazing national team, or just want to see the top level talent in this game, it is Valve's crown jewel show & it delivers it all. With a truly entertaining main event combined with a consistently improving user experience, I really cannot wait until The International 6. I will throw many dollars at you Valve, and I will be happy doing it.
Oh wait, its not Fallout 4 time yet
Lastly, this year thanks to some outside help & circumstance, we were able to take a plunge into the International after party at the EMP.
Thanks for reading this blog, please leave any questions comments or feedback below. The rest of this will be more pictures / video from the main event & after party. What a job this is...
Myself with xboct, in a SB 49 Tom Brady Jersey (yes, I snuck it in with my swag bag) in front of the "We are 12" sign. Party on!
Entering the after party "dungeon" located at the EMP
Deadmau5 stage when we first arrived. He would have a much better ~3 hour set here compared to the Key Arena gimmick.
Hanging with Aresnio, he gets paid to shoot plushies at people & much more
Blurry Iceiceice on the stairs. The casual flip flops
Dinner buffet transitions into a tater tot bar at 11pm sharp!
Dance floor and stage getting warmed up
View from the upstairs bar of the EMP after party.
Now the dance floor is in full swing
Very nice witch doctor cosplay
Crowd of people waiting to meet Puppey
Meepo Kappa, very Kappa
The "remote office space" and yes, we did play Rocket League on the hotel TV thanks to the laptop that is the HDMI cable going up on the right. BAM
Everything must go on the last day. This is pretty early that day it would crowd up with more traders later :(
This guy set up next to me. Bought these and a bunch more for $30 each and ends up trying to dump for $2.50 a pop on the last day. No goldens, bad RNG here.
Refueling late at night at the The Masonry, a great little pizza spot.
Stumbling upon a pretty fun Belltown Block Party just a few blocks from Key Arena, Yaoooo Jeff
After party went late. Not a happy train rider at 7:45 am here
Nap time for E on the train ride back to Portland
Made it to the end? Noooice! Did you enjoy reading this? Let us know below or on our social media pages. We'll do our best to get you, our community, more content like this in the future. Tell Jimmy to send Eli or other Antlion crew on adventures for you and he will listen-