Its come down to this: Two powerhouse organisations. Both the top contenders for the title. The final is going the distance in more ways than one. The crowd on the verge of cardiac arrest and yet, simply cannot look away. It’s the final push. One last stand. The players leave nothing left in the tank. Desperation on a level that dwarfs anything that has come before it. The commentators scream the victor’s name. One team rejoices in the arms of each other. The other is consoled by their captain. And so begins, the long road to The International 4.
After 5 gruelling days and nights (many of them without sleep) as a spectator, feeling drained is probably understating it. I can only imagine what the players would feel when the stakes are so high. Even the captain of Na`Vi, Clement “Puppey” Ivanov requested his interview after the finals to be done sitting down, thanks largely to what I would attribute to a roller-coaster of emotions.
The International just may well be the crown jewel of esports. Assembling the 16 best DOTA 2 teams and pitting them against each other for a grand prize pool that exceeds over 2.8 million dollars. Add to that, the hundreds of thousands of spectators watching across the world with a multitude of commentators, streaming in four different languages; and you could say you have the recipe for a great tournament. But The International goes well beyond the numbers; its not simply a tournament, it’s an event by the fans for the fans.
The interactive compendium
It may seem hard to fathom a prize pool of 2.8 million dollars. But what’s more is that close to 1.3 million dollars was crowd funded through the purchase of an interactive compendium. Over 500,000 compendiums were sold, helping to drive the prize pool to the highest ever seen in esports. Through it, fans were able to participate in a fantasy league, make tournament predictions, collect and stamp trading cards, vote on the players they wanted to see in a 1v1 tournament as well as decide the participants of the all-star match.
For those who were lucky enough to attend the event, they were able to interact with many well known members of the community including content creators, casters and even players. Every activity at the event netted attendees in game items; from autograph sessions with players and voice actors to buying merchandise from the shop or simply watching the games. With so many things in play, it simply ensured the link between the fans and game never stopped.
Conversely, for many around the world who watched via the streams; they were treated with nothing short of an impeccable broadcast. The four man panel which included both a current and former professional player were more than qualified at previewing and dissecting the matchups. But what made them enjoyable as a team, was the organised chaos that they produced. From their insistence that they had been testing Half Life 3 in the back rooms, to the flamboyant nature of one Statsman Bruno and his outlandish wardrobe; they allowed not only a professional presentation but one that included plenty of quirks and personality to shine.
Statsman Bruno summons the spirits for help in the next matchup
Valve, who are innately aware of the complexities behind the game brought in Kaci Aitchison, a news anchor from a local television station. While she admitted not knowing anything about the game, her knowledge came a long in 5 days. As a reporter she got the most out of the players and fans, many of whom you could tell weren’t quite comfortable with the cameras. She brought a refreshing air of professionalism that I believe has never been seen in esports. Her presence was a reminder for those who were afraid at taking steps into such a confronting game, that it need not be all that daunting at all. She embraced the community and in turn, the community welcomed her with open arms.
Kaci Aitchison interviews a Team Liquid fan
It’s obvious that beyond showcasing the best teams in the world, it is a place where the community unites, whether they be at the event or watching through the stream. There is almost something strangely poetic about the game of DOTA. Starting as a mod and then subsequently taken by Valve; the game belong to no one, but has rather been given back to the community, for them to drive how they see fit. The game and its community has come full circle, and at the head of it all lies The International.
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