interview: commentator DC talks Chinese eSports

Original: (technically the real original is from, but I can’t find that one, and didn’t look hard for it either)

Dotaland note: insightful look into Dota2’s place in competitive esports, the Chinese market, player development, and more, from one of Chinese Dota’s most experienced and well-rounded contributors… interviewed by a mainstream website’s gaming section.

DC, personal name Dong Chan, is a legendary Chinese Dota figure. Formerly played on EHOME, winning countless Chinese and international competitions, nicknamed Teacher DC. After retiring became a commentator, and is now a top Chinese commentator.

Q: As a veteran of Dota competition, how do you view the changes coming from Dota2?

DC: In terms of game quality, Dota2 has escaped from the limitations of the old game engine, and thus quickly achieved an overall improvement; IceFrog and his development team need no additional praise, and their future innovations on a new and limitless platform will be something we all look forward to. The transition from DotA to Dota2 has been a series of practical changes that lead to improvements, allowing Dota to be more stable, and more lively and open for creativity, it’s great!

Q: Dota2’s Chinese agent Perfect World has estimated that Dota2 will hit the market in 2013, will this affect the game’s domestic market share?

DC: The issue of Dota2’s official date of going open, has already become a major weakness. In the past two years, large amounts of Dota-type games have arisen, and in many ways have limited Dota1’s territory, even to the point of affecting Dota2’s growth. How to solve and conquer this issue will be the core of Dota2’s growth strategy. Even though Dota2 is an unparalled game of high acclaim and fame, when it does finally hit the Chinese market, perhaps it would be best to focus on its inherent production quality and superior user experience.

Q: Dota-type games, such as League of Legends, what are their current status in China? Are you able to make a prediction in regards to this segment of the market?

DC: League of Legends can be said to have chosen the right time to lay out all their cards. Its development was quick, its momentum is fierce, all to the point of having no equal. It was because of League of Legends’ momentum and growth that ultimatley pushed Dota2 to make its belated appearance, so the pressure is immense here. There’s no question about it, LoL on the Tencent platform will be a juggernaut on the scene for a considerable period of time yet. In the competitive scene it also has been very effective, and taking the lead Dota1 set, it has become a world-leading competitive title.

Q: When competiting in international competition, what exactly is the competitive level of Chinese players?

DC: In terms of Dota 1 and 2, Chinese players have attained a dominant level of performance in the world. Looking at competitions over the years, at the highest level, it’s common to see Chinese teams take consecutive championships, and sometimes even take all three top spots. In the recent International 2 in September, not only did Chinese team iG defeat Ukrainian juggernaut NaVi to take first place, all five Chinese teams made it into the top 8, and 3 out of 4 of the top 4 spots were taken by Chinese teams, once again recording a legendary feat. At this competition, players from all over the world gave high praise for Chinese players’ skill level, noting the excellent training environment and competitive atmosphere available to them.

Afterwards, many well-known international players expressed desire to come to China to train and develop, and top Chinese team LGD has already created an international team, currently training in Hangzhou. This Chinese-created international team, how well they perform exactly, will be a point to look forward to seeing.

Q: What are the prospects for professional players in China now?

DC: After many years of development and growth on the scene, current players in China now enjoy very decent compensation and benefits. From champions iG who just moved to Shanghai, to LGD who just moved to Hangzhou, as well as the kings of kings DK, situated in Yunnan… the players have access to excellent training facilities and conditions, and countless fans envy and follow them. And their incomes are continuously rising, with dense calendars of competitions and high prize pools, added to their good salaries, all allow them to completely focus on training and competition with no other worries. The most representative example here is team iG, who, after taking the 1m dollar prize, are now being called the million-dollar team by the media.

In summary, the players who are currently stepping into their career peaks right now, have conditions that are worthy of envy.

Q: What is the greatest barrier to the growth of a professional gamer?

DC: Lack of enough time and background support. For the entire player development scene, it is still very much a grassroots situation currently. There’s virtually no strict or organized system for developing and bringing up new players, so new infusions of talent into the scene is still in a confusing and random status. In the majority of examples, the rise of a new player relies mainly on that players natural talent and ability to work hard, plus an exceptional amount of luck, to be able to ultimately display a little bit of their brilliance.

The difficulties at this level perhaps require an organized, unified, and intentional administrative push to resolve and eventually create a positive and sustainable model for the scene, thus breaking our current awkward situation of the professional scene being a virtual ‘building in the sky’ type of isolation.

Q: After the national government made efforts to encourage professional work in culture and creative arts, were there any changes in this situation? Why or why not?

DC: For now, there haven’t been much noticeable changes. The entire industry, for now, is still relying on its own internal momentum, as well as pushes made by industry insiders for their own purposes. On this topic, there remains a considerable amount of conservatism; how we can accurately and fairly portray the difference between addiction to games and playing games professionally, how we can provide balanced news reports and publicity, and how we can engage in dialogue rather than plug our ears and embark on single-sided narratives, these will all be things that will have effects. If we want to build a concrete foundation for the entire industry, then we still need firm and strong leadership and support.

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