The Summit 1 – point of view

I recently returned from helping out at BeyondTheSummit’s first event — The Summit (June 5-8, 2014), hosted in a fashion inspired by Starcraft II’s Homestory Cup, wherein players and organizers mingle in a close, casual atmosphere with little to no live audience. Here’s the event from my point of view…

Wednesday

A mountain on the flight there… heading BeyondTheSummit. Ha.

We arrive late at night at the Ontario airport (making sure many times during the trip that we weren’t mistakenly flying to somewhere in Canada instead), get to BTS house for a short greet, and see iceiceice and Mushi still there playing pubs. Iceiceice and Mushi say hi. “I didn’t know you would be here,” says ice. “I didn’t either, not until a few days ago,” I reply.

“I don’t know if I should hug you or what, to say hi,” he offers, deadpan. Me neither, but I suppose that’s the beauty of it. Am I here as a friend, a helper, a translator, or all of the above?

Merlini drives us to our hotel after stopping by a drive-thru for us to get some food — we hadn’t eaten most of the day. By the time we check in to the hotel it’s past 1am, and the matches start around 8am which means we have to be ready before 7am. LD and some of the other BTS crew get even less sleep — no sleep at all for some of them, and the night is short.

Thursday

Easy life… for now

It’s a 6-something am start in the morning, and we get to the BTS house around then. I take a quick look around the entire house and get acquainted with the surroundings. There are a couple lounges set up for players to just relax in between things (some had cameras and others did not), and it is here that I discover DK, having already arrived bright and early.

After some of VG’s matches on this day, we did an interview with Fenrir. The easy and perhaps obvious VG player probably would’ve been rOtK, but I’ve been trying to get Fenrir to take a proper interview since D2L in Las Vegas earlier this year, so I was determined to make it happen… It took some convincing, but Fenrir is well-spoken and organized in his thoughts, so I knew it would be good. In his own words, “I feel awkward in front of a camera, I don’t know where to look.” But it ended up going pretty well, I think.

Early in the day, we’re chilling with DK in one of the lounge rooms (we were on stream at some point), and BurNIng is playing a mobile game that Mushi introduced to him. It looks like a fighting game, but BurNIng is just button mashing, and winning easily.

Still easy

“What is this? Boring!” he exclaims with a grin on his face. Shortly after that, “I could play this with my feet and still win. I’m gonna delete this.” Mushi laughs, BurNIng keeps playing it for a bit, and then they want to get on the wifi. BTS didn’t want people just getting on the house wifi due to concerns of Skype and leaking the IP, but Mushi is desperate. “Please LD!!! I love you!” After some convincing, LD smiles and agrees, but in the end it doesn’t matter anyway as for some reason, Mushi and BurNIng’s iPhones can’t connect to the BTS network at all no matter what was tried.

As the other teams play, I manage to catch a pretty rare — and special — agglomeration of former EHOME members. It was a pretty cool moment, or nostalgic at least, and for those of us prone to nostalgia, it had a lot.

EHOME…

Later in the day, the BTS guys also wanted to get someone from DK for an interview/chat. Not being able to get the players at the time, I suggested we get their coach 71 instead. Honestly he’d been a ‘target’ of mine to talk with regardless, so I’m really glad we got this one. It seems like viewers enjoyed it too. The answers were long and a serious challenge for my sleep-deprived brain, but I’d say I did… okay with the translating. Not great, I know I could’ve done better, but it was alright I guess, and hopefully his insight was at least somewhat shared.

While I had met and knew both VG and DK from before, their two coaches — 357 and 71 respectively — I had not met before. It turns out both are quite nice, approachable, and generally jovial people. 357 is soft-spoken but seems easy to get along with, and both the VG and DK players (some of whom were his former teammates on both DK and EHOME) get along well with him. 71 jokes and makes fun of and with players, says what’s on his mind, and is generally very conversational.

DK Racing

Late in the afternoon, Mushi, my girlfriend Tiffany (who had come along on her own cost to support me and help a bit with the event), and I played some Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros Melee. Mushi hadn’t played either before, but he does well in Mario Kart. In SSBM, he unplugs both our controllers, takes a bunch of kills whacking away on our defenseless characters whilst laughing maniacally, and declares himself the victor when the round finally ends.

Around 4pm it was time for DK to play Fnatic. I’m sure this game was talked about plenty and needs no further description. Regardless, the loss against Fnatic was one they took very seriously and according to sources, they spent lots of time and energy having a detailed and somewhat impassioned team meeting after getting back to the hotel later this night. Thus perhaps setting up their choice of Fnatic again after…

Friday

……VG lost to Fnatic, and DK subsequently secured top spot in group by defeating EG.

Prior to the match against EG, DK were setting up when Mushi noticed that LaNm had special purple effects in-game. Asking what it was, LaNm explained that they were TI4 effects from the Compendium, specifically by upgrading the Compendium’s levels. Mushi wanted them, and made his desires known. Declares BurNIng, “win this event and I’ll upgrade your Compendium to level 300.” So the game loaded, the draft went, and Mushi got QoP and the rest was history, as they say.

This is the back outdoor patio… where many meals and hangouts were had

At lunch, Mushi and I talked about playing basketball when rOtK walked by. We invited him to potentially play basketball some day in the future, as Mushi explained that even though they were all based in Shanghai in previous months, Mushi and rOtK had not been able to play as they were far apart on opposite ends of the city. Mushi also suggested soccer, to which rOtK laughed his big laugh and said, “None of us know how, basketball is okay but definitely not that!”

Afterwards, before DK’s upper bracket match against Fnatic, I came across Charlie the Monolith of EG chatting up DK coach 71 in the afternoon sun out in the back patio of the BTS house. As Southern California is, it was sunny and warm, but in the shade it wasn’t hot, and as 71 smoked, we sat around and chatted in a meandering way for some 30 minutes. There was some really insightful conversation, where the two esports managers shared experiences on topics ranging from salaries, to club structure and sponsorship, to Twitch streaming, to the difference between the different scenes, to other things that I shouldn’t share… I sat and helped communicate and even became part of the conversation. That was undeniably really cool.

After he finished his second cigarette, 71 noted the time and excused himself to get back with his players prior to their upcoming match against Fnatic. Kuroky then sat down next to us and remarked about 71, “He’s one of the best people in Dota.” Evidently the respect for the coach remains from his EHOME days. “He’s a straight talker and good guy,” Charlie and I agree. Kuroky nods and pensively puffs on his cigarette as I take my exit as well; the Southern California sun is finally getting too warm for me.

Throughout the event I would hang around different hotspots where players gathered to view matches and just try and listen in on what people were saying. VG and DK often debate various merits of things spiritedly, making bold predictions. They’re funny — BurNIng predicted Sylar’s Weaver to not die a single time after seeing the draft in a game (spoiler, he died something like 7 or 8 times), while Mushi disagreed and offered to a wager (bragging rights, it turns out). BurNIng declined, and soon Mushi’s prediction came much closer to the truth than BurNIng’s.

After DK played Fnatic, we tried to get MMY or LaNm for an interview, but neither of them are prone to agreeing to interviews — not really for any specific reason, but just as a matter of habit/preference. LaNm in particular is a Chinese forum fiend and his reasoning was that whenever any of them says something in an interview, it gets blown out of context by Chinese fans and their words ‘get taken for a ride’, so to speak. MMY is, well MMY. Maybe at TI4? So we got BurNIng instead, who is always so professional in the way he is willing to accept interviews, and the way he approaches said interviews with his answers, as well as in the way he’s able to stand up and do interviews for his team when the rest of them don’t want to.

Then my girlfriend roped BurNIng into playing some Smash Bros with her, apparently. And BurNIng picked Pikachu, they went to Hyrule Castle, and BurNIng died because he didn’t know how to jump properly with Pikachu and fell to his death repeatedly. So she beat BurNIng in something gaming-related; impressive.

Saturday

I managed to play a pub with BurNIng in the morning — we had a five stack, BurNIng, some friends, and myself. I played Skywrath Mage (free Compendium hero challenge win) as a hard support. It was an honor to support the B-God, who played a typical pub Razor that dived, got kills, and died. “Raahhh I want to kill people!” he’d exclaim as he dove tier 3 towers. We won fairly handily in the end, and now I can say I’ve warded for BurNIng.

Getting into the World Cup spirit…
B-god lost at FIFA, I think

After lunch, VG found a PS4 newly set up in one of the lounge rooms, and they played some FIFA. Kuroky and Puppey came and sat down to hang out and watch, and KKY took the next game against Fy, with Kky using Spain and Fy using Portugal. VG’s players watched intently, shouting out suggestions to Fy, while laughing at his mistakes. Everyone cheered loudly when Fy scored to take the lead, then cheered some more after Kky equalized in the second half. The match ended 1-1, with the two sides shaking hands and showing good sportsmanship. At some point this day, even BurNIng got in on some of the footballing action, in which he looked much less in control than he does in Dota — but he had a good time as well, just like everyone else…

rOtK wants MMY’s nuts ;o

Prior to the match between DK and VG, MMY and rOtK were hanging out in the back patio, with rOtK begging MMY for some of his betel nuts. MMY gave him two, but rOtK wanted more, eventually going as far as trying to bargain by offering to feed kills for each additional betel nut MMY shared, including first blood. When MMY quipped back that there was no guarantee rOtK would be able to successfully feed first blood before iceiceice potentially fed, rOtK replied, “I’ll TP straight to mid and meet you there, no way someone can feed faster than that!” We all laughed, in the end rOtK got no more betel nuts from MMY, and soon afterwards DK vs VG was under way under normal circumstances.

Sunday

Breakfast on Sunday

This morning I picked up Mushi and iceiceice early as Mushi had wanted to get breakfast with us at some point. We went to a diner-style place somewhere quite nearby, and true to his Twitter profile, iceiceice got ribeye steak, plus pancakes and some other stuff. He did not finish his food, remarking that “This is a bad habit of mine,” whereas Mushi neatly cut his meat and eggs into proportional matching pieces and ate everything, one piece of meat for each piece of egg.

I’ve always thought that the teams people prefer playing with in soccer (football) games reflects on the person’s style and personality. Fy would always pick technically adept teams, first it was Portugal, and then eventually he stuck with Argentina. He’d try tricks and flashy moves and more often than not, it paid off — he won most of the games that I could see, including a 8-0 trouncing of 357’s Manchester City. Conversely, the one time Fy used Germany, he did not like it.

Apart from rOtK and Super, who were both arguing for different games (NBA 2k and Tekken respectively) to be played on the PS4, all the other Chinese players seemed to have some experience with the soccer simulation genre. Specifically, Pro Evolution Soccer (Winning Eleven in Asia) — I found myself with something in common with them, as we all initially struggled with FIFA’s control scheme, until we set the controls to mimic that of Pro Evo Soccer, and then it was game on. According to 357, he’d played Winning Eleven 4 way back in the day, while others in VG said that Winning Eleven 8 on PS2 was the best, and I agree.

Noms

One thing that should be noted and applauded enthusiastically is the amount of preparation and organization BTS had for the event, especially involving food and general hospitality. They had a team of people making sure refreshments were always available, the house was always tidy and accessible, and lunch and dinner would be handled in full with a variety of food — both Western and Asian style. Quite the hospitality and from the conversations I had, more than a few of the Chinese players were very appreciative of both the accommodations as well as the casual and relaxing venue and style itself.

After VG were eliminated and while DK were preparing for their upcoming finals showdown with EG, rOtK was lured off to the pub event viewing party thing, and that was the last I saw of him for the weekend. I heard he had a lot of fun there. In the next hour my attentions were focused on asking — or pestering, depending on your viewpoint — the VG players for at least one of them to play in the 1v1 mini-tournament. In the end, Fy’s own desire to shine — despite his initial declines, I could see it in his eyes — combined with the promise of a cash prize played into my coercion, and he agreed.

Of course, after DK lost, we joked with VG that “At least Fy has won something for China.”

Following a fairly intense post-mortem kind of team discussion out in the back patio after their finals loss to EG, most of DK — sans iceiceice — made to leave and head back to their hotel. One thing I noted — and I don’t really know whether this was something or it was just something I’m overthinking — is that while DK sat out there for over half an hour, Sylar wandered outside after sleeping for most of the afternoon. He’d been sick, feverish, even, and his reasoning for coming outside was that it was warmer outside than inside where the air conditioning had been on blast all day to try and keep things cool with all the computers. He and I sat peacefully at the table next to where DK were gathered, and part me wants to think that Sylar was out there in silent support of BurNIng, his self-confessed idol and the player he models his own playstyle after. Anyway, I’ve always liked Sylar — he’s a sincere, polite kid, very considerate of others while quiet and unassuming. We chatted a bit, then his team were ready to leave the BTS house for the last time, and we said our goodbyes.

Victorious celebrations

As night fell on Sunday, things wound down at the BTS house, with various teams either heading back to their hotels and getting ready for their flights out the next day, or teams and players going to the pub event for appearances with fans. EG went, and from all indications, were appreciated by the fans and seemed to enjoy themselves there as well. Good job to them — and DK and the other Chinese teams will need to work hard to figure out EG, and specifically RTZ, who always seems to give them problems.

Soon after that, DK were ready to go as well. Iceiceice convinced them to allow him to stay back, as he wanted to hang out, relax, and stuff like that. In BurNIng’s words, “Just let him have fun tonight, we’ll have to discuss things together when we get back home anyway.” So iceiceice ended up coming with us to check out the pub event for about half an hour, where he was mobbed endlessly in a way that simultaneously makes you appreciate the passion of fans, but also want to sit back a bit and hide. Or at least, that’s how I think I would feel if I were him. Pro players in this day and age really are celebrities of a sort, and the public scrutiny can be tough for some, I’m sure.

Hanging out at the pub event for a few minutes…
They’re playing Munchkin. I think Dendi was behind at this point

The night ended off for me after we headed back to the house and hung out for a while. Puppey and Kuroky had come back and iceiceice wanted to spend some time chatting with Puppey, and by this time it was quite late. Dendi and Fly and XBOCT and a few others were playing Munchkin, there were dozens of pizzas on the kitchen counter, and the atmosphere was light hearted mixed with some fatigue. I said my goodbyes and then off I went back to the hotel as well, for the first real sleep in quite a few days.

The Summit was, as BurNIng said in his interview, the most unique event I’ve ever been to. And it’s not that I haven’t been to many events… Well, I haven’t, but that’s not really the point. The point is that this was a really chill event. Stuff like contributing at events is fairly stressful, and I can only imagine how much more stressful it is to actually compete, yet the players and I all seemed to share the sentiment that this event was more relaxing than it was intense even though the quality of competition and prizes at stake were quite impressive. So good job to BTS and all the awesome people helping — most of whom I met.

Shoutouts to all of you there, and everyone supporting and watching on stream near and far away! Lastly thanks to BTS for having me there. See you all at TI4…

Chinese Social Summary: Feb 7 — Feb 17, 2014 (and tributes to Zhou)

The past few days have been increasingly busy, as teams and players gather back following the Chinese New Year holidays. This edition of the summary has its usual fluff, plus hints at what may be in store for the Chinese scene in the next weeks. And of course, storied carry Zhou announced his retirement, so Dotaland has reactions from around the scene translated for your perusal. Explanation of add oil here.

Fy

Birthday: It was Fy’s birthday on Feb 12.

ZSMJ

Low priority: “Dropped twice from games in one day, twice put in low priority, what’s up with that? :'(”

IceFrog

Holiday spirit (with pics): “Today at the mall, I attended a traditional Chinese New Year performance. There were even some Chinese kids performing dragon dance.”

Ferrari_430

Snow: “Just woke up, heard it snowed in Wuhan, went out and saw nothing”
Valentine birthday (with young Ferrari pic): “Happy Lantern Festival, Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone~~~~ And also, happy birthday to me~ :D:D:D”
It’s cold at iG team house: “I thought I’d be able to play without worries after getting back, who knew the heat would break down, I’m freezing like a dog!”

At the same time, ChuaN is also cold…: “Freezing like a dog” (could they both be at the iG team house?!)

Sylar

Matchmaking woes: “Straight lost 200 points, what a disastrous day”

Tributes to Zhou (not comprehensive, but a good selection)

Pikaxiu (tournament admin, contributor): “If I said I understood you, perhaps I don’t know you enough, I haven’t competed professionally before. If I said I didn’t understand you, I think I still can feel what’s going on inside. I remember that day, you and I chatted from an entire afternoon on QQ, we exchanged a lot of experiences and heartfelt thoughts. I feel you are a very sincere person, and I hope your future path is just as your competing career was, one height after another.”

Ferrari_430: “Add oil, the road ahead is long”

Mu: “Big Zhou add oil! I look fondly upon those short few months where we were teammates”

Faith: “Zhou add oil!”

banana: “Zhou-god add oil, your future path is very long”

LaNm: “I wish you success in your new life, just as your career was brilliant”

BurNIng: “Zhou-god add oil”

ChuaN: “Add oil, I wish you success in your new career”
Zhou’s words for ChuaN: “ChuaN, I don’t want to lecture you, but you should really work hard this time coming back.”

Sky (of Warcraft 3 fame): “Sending my good wishes to Zhou-god, you will find success in your new field. :)”

YYF: “Add oil, I hope you find even greater success”

Yao: “Good wishes”

King (ACE head): “Retiring isn’t an end, it’s just a new beginning. Zhou-god add oil”

LongDD: “Many of my viewers ask me, you’re so good, who were you most fearful of facing? And I can only light a cigarette, think a bit, and every time I think of you, Zhou-god. Add oil”

ZSMJ: “Zhou-god’s results and achievements speak for themselves. Even if we are no longer on the same paths from today onwards, we can still support each other. No matter what you do in the future, I hope your passion never fades.”

rOtK: “Add oil big Zhou. Wait for me a few months and we’ll commentate together hand in hand :)”
Zhou’s response to rOtK: “That’s not so good, Chinese Dota 2 needs you”

2009: “Zhou-god add oil!”

CuZn (TongFu manager): “I used to feel that Zhou-zhou’s external appearances were cold, but after working together for a period, I found that he is someone with a fire in his heart, and is full of passion towards Dota 2 and life. Of course, after that he became part of our TongFu jokester squad! I hope you can create new glories for yourself in your new field, just as you said yourself: persevere towards your dreams, step by step. Good luck.”

Zhou’s added thoughts: “Through the course of my career, anywhere I may have offended anyone, here I want to sincerely express my apologies. I hope to receive your forgiveness. And I hope that my friends who are still competing can add oil. I won’t ramble on more, but TI4 will be China’s! I want to once again see our flag rising in Seattle, that beautiful city.”

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Chinese social summary — Chinese New Year edition

Link to previous issue: Dec 29 — Jan 10

Everyone’s home celebrating and stuff so there’s actually not much… Took a selection of Chinese New Year wishes and some other random stuff.

rOtK

Basketball (with pics): “Since going on break I’ve been practicing hard for 10 days now, after the break you’re all done!” [mentioned ChuaN, LaNm, Mushi, fy, and Yao in his challenge]

IceFrog

Dog and invoker: “Every time an Invoker uses Chaos Meteor, my dog barks”
Chinese New Year customs (with pics): “My girlfriend decorated my room, and gave me a red packet, telling me to put the packet beneath my pillow. But why does the packet need to go under your pillow?”
Chinese New Year wishes: “Happy Year of the Horse everyone, good luck and success to all!”

Ferrari_430

New year and travels (with pic): “Gone home for the year. Results in the past year haven’t been that satisfying, hope the new year brings better tidings. PS: The Wuhan airport doesn’t even have any checks in place for luggage, what if someone accidentally or purposely took someone else’s?”

ChuaN

Kyxy should get this in his cosmetic item set: “Kyxy WR Aegis”

ZSMJ

New Year wishes and item set: “Happy New Year all! I’ve got a Storm Spirit set made for me, go help and click like, don’t leave me with no new clothes to wear in the new year! Remember to like and comment and all of the pieces and favorite! Love you all, and I wish you all riches and happiness.”

Fy

New Year party (with pic): [At the VG Chinese New Year party,] Fy, for an iPhone 5s downed an entire cup of baijiu, what a man, good job!

xiao8

Mahjong (with pics): “Dragged my luggage with me to come play mahjong, I’m a charity gambler”
G-League thoughts: “Even though it was a 3-0, but I feel Chinese events are more fun to watch than foreign events”

Ruru

LGD’s Chinese New Year party (with pics): “Happy year-end party! Hope that 2014 is a wonderful year!”

ddc

Terrorblade: “TB is indeed the hardest late game carry.”

Zhou

TongFu porridge (with pic): “New year gifts”

Sansheng

Chinese New Year: “I wish everyone happy new year, success in your goals and results in your endeavors!!”

Faith

Chinese New Year: “Happy New Year to all. Good health, joyousness, and I hope every day can be filled with laughter, hahahaha~”

Mushi

Chinese New Year: “Happy new year! I wish everyone great luck in the year of the horse! Smooth sailing, and to get everything you want”

Bonus ZSMJ gif: 460

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D2L S4 in my view

Prefacing note: Big thank you to the fans in Vegas who helped out in various ways. Getting food for the teams, helping me out, etc. You guys are great. On that note, same goes for the fans at MLG Columbus last year, who I don’t think I thanked enough either. Thank you. Thanks to all the passionate fans that come out to these events to show support in each of your unique ways. Thank you to D2L and EG for the event in Vegas here and letting me be a part. Below is D2L S4 in my view.

It was another early morning flight out of Seattle for D2L in Las Vegas. A quick two hour flight meant that I’d arrive in Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport before noon on Jan 6. Upon arriving at the hotel we’d all been booked at for the event, Harrah’s across the street from Caesar’s Palace, the first thing I saw was all of VG checking in at the front desk. I’d been in contact with their manager JaL beforehand, so I went up to him, introduced myself, and made sure they weren’t having any problems with anything. We chatted a bit about their stay in Vegas so far — they had arrived a day earlier on their own expense in order to be better prepared.

After we got everything checked in, I got a call from the VG manager saying they were gonna go out for lunch, asking if I wanted to come along. With nothing else going on for the time being, and needing to make sure we got VG to the venue at Caesar’s around 3pm for their sponsor interviews (the one where rOtK told someone to kiss his ass), I decided to tag along. Some Chinese fans who had made their way out to Vegas graciously took us to a Yunnan Chinese restaurant a few minutes away by car, and we had a pretty tasty lunch there.

Lunch with VG

While eating, another completely different group of dudes came into the restaurant to eat, and upon entering, one of them muttered, “Aren’t those Dota pros?? What are they doing here?” To which his friend deduced, “They must be here for a competition!” When we went to get the check for our table, we were told that it had been paid already, with the waitress gesturing towards the back of the room where these guys had earlier gone to sit down. This was after the Chinese fans who took us to this restaurant in the first place were insisting on paying for us all in the first place, and the various camps of fans joked that they were competing for the players’ love at this point. Anyway, Sylar looks to rOtK and suggests that they should send someone over to thank this other group of fans. ROtK agrees, tries to get Sylar to come along, ultimately failing in doing so (Sylar seems to be satisfied at having suggested it), and goes over on his own to meet and greet and pause for a few photos with the fans.

Everyone

Shortly afterwards, we leave the restaurant and hang around outside for a bit, with the players mingling with the fans and taking a few group photos. I should note here that all of VG were very gracious and approachable with fans. I might be ruining Sylar’s quiet badass image but he’s a nice kid that isn’t afraid to make a joke here and there, and he smiled more than anyone would’ve imagined him to be capable of (if all you see of him is on streams). I’ve liked Sylar since first meeting him at TI3, really, I think he’s misunderstood sometimes. Fy was exchanging cigarettes with a fan (Chinese smokes), rOtK chatting about local attractions, and Super and Fenrir both casually hanging out. 3pm approaches, and loathe as I am to break up what has turned into a pretty relaxed hangout, I herd everyone back onto their respective vehicles, the destination being the Emperor’s Ballroom at Caesar’s Palace.

Hanging out

Caesar’s Palace is freaking huge — most everything in Vegas is freaking huge — and once my vehicle arrives, I know we’ve made a mistake in not clarifying exactly which part of Caesar’s we should gather at. The manager, my girlfriend, and I disembark only to see zero trace of any of the VG players. They could be anywhere, and the only one of them that has local phone service is the manager. We split up in three ways to look for them, and in some dash of luck, everyone is rounded up within minutes. After a fun (as would be seen later), and pretty short and painless, interview session, I make sure VG know their schedule for the next day (room opens at 9AM for early practice, first match at 12PM), they head back to the hotel. Later that night, we would run into all of VG again at the McDonald’s next door, as word got around that this McDonald’s was one of the only places nearby with free wifi. ROtK made plans to go see a David Copperfield show, which it seemed he enjoyed, but the rest of his teammates declined the opportunity.

“Kiss my ass”

During the rest of the afternoon on Monday, EG’s Jay Todorow and I have been trying to figure out the time we should go pick up LGD at the airport. Apparently no one had their exact flight info, and some of what we did have ended up being incorrect. Earlier in the morning, I had seen a Weibo post from ddc saying that they’d been delayed six hours in Shanghai, which meant they would ostensibly be at least six hours late getting into Vegas as well. In the end, I confirmed their flight information by way of snooping Yao’s Weibo, where he had posted a boarding pass, and by confirming this information with LGD’s boss Ruru. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to all, the earliest post I’d seen from ddc regarding the six hour delay was the one with the real information we needed — LGD had been delayed taking off in Shanghai, which meant that they were to miss their connecting flight, which meant that there never was any chance of Jay and me finding them at the airport on the two occasions we went and tried. Eventually, I got in touch with a local contact whom LGD had contracted to help with the team. After much waiting and checking on statuses, we were told that LGD would be taking ground transport from Los Angeles to Vegas due to them not being able to be on the original flight out of Shanghai, with an ETA of around 5AM on Tuesday morning. Crazy, but it actually worked. Big thanks to ReborN, the LGD contact for Vegas, for helping me handle this situation and for all the work he did in helping LGD.

820 and LGD in the house

The next morning, I headed over to the venue around 10am and caught up with VG on the way, who were making their way over a few hours early in order to get set up and warmup before their match against Alliance at noon. The machines provided for the event seemed to have just been used at another event in China, and some of them were loaded with random Chinese software that caused compatability issues all through the event. Additionally, there was no shortage of crashes, lockups, and lag spikes, which hopefully is an explanation for the too many pauses that occurred during the two days. VG get setup, and around noon LGD shows up at the venue to watch the match and get ready for their later match against Fnatic. Accompanying the LGD squad is none other than legendary captain and heart of 2010 EHOME, 820 himself. In the LGD interviews later on, I would get 820 to answer a question as a part of LGD here. Xiao8, as has always been, took the lead for his team in arranging the interviews. Upon first seeing me at the venue, DD waved happily, and I waved back. For the rest of LGD’s interviews, they were professional and down to earth, as has been the norm for this old school team.

Interviewing with xiao8 and Yao

After VG’s match, LGD were up, so I helped them get setup just as I helped VG. Once LGD were on stage, I went and sat next to 820 for a brief while and chatted randomly with him for a bit. Asked about him returning to the scene, his words were, “There’s not really any chance of me coming back as a player, I never said I would, that must’ve been something some editor made up somewhere. It’s definitely possible for me to continue being a coach, but no guarantees yet which team it will be in the future.” We chatted a little bit more about the drafts and games as LGD played, but I was soon called away on some other duty. 820 is a chill, approachable person who isn’t afraid to chatter, very down to earth guy.

While LGD were playing, Twitch.tv’s Eleine came and asked me to invite VG to a dinner paid for by her, so I did, and VG decided they would go back and take a nap so as to be more awake in the evening. Only Fenrir stayed behind, watching the LGD vs Fnatic match. By the time LGD were done playing, I was leaving the venue as no more Chinese teams would be involved for the night, yet Fenrir was still staying behind. I guess he wanted to watch Fnatic vs Alliance as well, and he didn’t come for dinner, instead just going straight to bed afterwards.

Dinner was originally scheduled for 8pm, but got pushed back to 9:30pm due to everyone being passed the hell out and me not being able to get anyone up until then. By then, the original planned destination of Caesar’s Palace buffet was closing up, so we just went to the buffet in Harrah’s. Out of VG, only rOtK seemed to eat much. He looked at my clam chowder and asked what it was, then resolved to go get a bowl of it for himself as well. The rest of the players just sat around after one plate of food and chatted. Sylar ate all of a few pieces of fruit, and then announced that he’d go straight back to sleep after dinner.

The atmosphere was lighthearted and laid back, and we slowly meandered from one topic to another. We asked rOtK if he knew about what ‘DK’ stood for, and he said he had no idea, though theories were thrown out, including ‘Dota Kings’, ‘Donkey Kong’, ‘Dragon Knight’, and ‘Da kuan’ (pinyin for rich guy). We prodded fun at Super, who had just turned 21, and on his first day in Vegas had spent over $300 gambling only to have lost it “within two minutes”. I joked that it was a birthday gift to himself, and we all laughed. Super elaborated, “Manager and I went to the gambling floor and we observed for over half an hour trying to find an easy table (blackjack). We singled out one that we felt was the most noob, I went in, and came out two minutes later $300 poorer.” At one point, Sylar noticed that rOtK and I were amongst the last ones eating, and noted the fact. I said to him, “I haven’t really eaten all day, not even breakfast,” and he was like, “Wow, that bad?” with a look of compassion. Like I said, Sylar’s a good kid.

We wrap up at dinner and the players head back up to their rooms. ROtK and the VG manager take up our offer to come up to the executive suite which Twitch.tv’s Eleine has rented out for the event, one of the only places within the hotel that has wifi, and they come up to get their fix of internet for a while. We chat a bit more about random things, amongst which is the current meta-trend on the Chinese servers. “Alchemist, Slark, Earth Spirit, Doom, and Broodmother,” they explain, are the most imba heroes that are seen in every single game. Looks about the same elsewhere too, I guess. ROtK is playing some games on his iPad, including Clash of Clans, if there’s anyone out there that plays that game (I know it’s popular).

VG’s rOtK and manager JaL hanging out after dinner

The next day it’s LGD vs VG in the upper bracket finals. VG gets knocked down while LGD continues looking strong, and everyone is surprised that Fnatic has taken out Alliance. In the words of Fenrir regarding the last game in Fnatic vs Alliance, “Don’t even know how to lose, yet Alliance lost”. Of course he went on to add, “We have those games too, where we think we don’t even know how we can possibly lose, then we lose anyway.” The day is strewn with technical issues as lag, update problems, hardware issues, and more abound. Between doing interviews (both on stage for the event and off stage for Kingston), helping resolve technical issues, and running after players to make sure they’re on time, I don’t eat nor rest much for the entire day.

View of the stage

In the end, VG crash out at the hands of a Fnatic team that no one rated highly, yet noticeably grew in stature with the event. VG quietly filter out to the side room, where they sit in contemplation for a good half hour, then they all come back into the venue to watch LGD play against Fnatic in the Finals. ROtK sits next to 820, and on and off through the games, they chat about what’s happening on screen. Sylar and Super go back to bantering about things, Fy mostly sticks to his phone screen, while Fenrir eventually heads backstage to get on a computer back there and chat and watch the games himself. During one of the finals games, I corner him in this setting and we have a really nice chat just about random things. Life, what brought us to this spot at this point in time, EMS One, etc. “It’s been really nice having you here this time, in Poland for EMS One it felt as if we were on a different planet. It was like we were back in the Stone Age, we could only communicate by hand gestures,” he offered, after I explained to him why I’d be here and how someone like me might be fluent in both Chinese and English. EMS One was his first time overseas, and Vegas was his first time in the US. “Keep qualifying for international events and you’ll eventually learn plenty of English too!” I suggested cheerfully. He chuckled. He told me about how their team owner gets really happy whenever they win anything, and after their successive first place finishes in the Sina Cup 2 and EMS One, they were all given bonuses and gifts, but their third place finish here might mean they get less Chinese New Year bonuses.

VG watching as LGD fight in the Finals against Fnatic

On stage, LGD are playing the Finals against Fnatic. During this event, between every game, they went off-stage with their coach 820 to discuss tactics and approaches. After this first loss against Fnatic, 820 is forcefully stating his thoughts, “Just take each game one at a time, don’t worry about anything else!” He addresses each player individually, giving them a sentence or two on what he wants them to improve or focus on in the next game. “Xiaotuji, you’re a more fighting-focused carry, remember that for next game!” he says to the carry, then he reiterates to the whole team, “Fnatic are indeed aggressive, but that doesn’t mean you can shrink back in the face of it! You need to increase your own tempo, dictate the pace!” Xiao8 answers this with a shout, “Let’s go! Anyone that still feels drowsy, go splash some water on your face and let’s do it!” LGD head back on stage, 820 shouts one last time at them from below the stage, “Get excited! Get into it!” and as the horns sound across the speaker system, first xiao8, then Yao, answer back, both to their coach and to themselves “Let’s do this! Add oil!” Yao and xiao8 are making calls, shouting, and just generally moving their team along. The rest is history, as LGD takes the series 3-1.

LGD win

The ‘gg’ comes scrolling across the screen, and the LGD team huddles on stage for a quick team celebration. One of them shouts to go grab the coach, 820, and the six of them, ever so briefly, and perhaps for the last time ever, do a team hug. Then, also as a team, shoulder to shoulder, they bow to the live crowd in appreciation, and begin to pack their gear up. After the award ceremony, the team seems a bit muted (though LGD are generally a more reserved group). Twitch’s Eleine offers to buy them dinner as well, but after some debate, they decline and say they’re heading back to the hotel to rest. We end up finding them at the hotel cafe downstairs, and Eleine buys their tab anyway. As LGD are leaving, they find out their tab has been paid for, and they all come back to our table. Yao is saying “How can we accept this kindness, this is too much.” It’s okay, we explain, Eleine wants to do this. They all look at us, and soundly voice their appreciation. Xiao8 looks straight at us in his unique fashion and says the most determined “Thank you!!” I’ve ever heard from anyone.

LGD return victorious…

It’s nearing 2am at this time and after saying our goodbyes with LGD, the rest of us head back up to Eleine’s room for an afterparty of sorts. Everyone shows up, DeMoN, Fnatic, Aui, Merlini, Ayesee, even Alex Garfield. By this point I’m too drained to do anything much but listen. Thundertoss of SC2 fame has come along too, he’s a cool dude, along with a few other esports friends that we’ve picked up. Fnatic are some funny guys and Aui seems like fun to hang around with. Speaking of Aui, the Chinese scene thinks he’s pretty good. Anyway, it was nice seeing everyone again even though I’m 99% occupied with the Chinese teams during these events, one day I’ll do better with really getting to know the Western players and personalities, etc.

That was that for the D2L S4 Finals in Vegas. VG would head back to China on their own after scheduling an additional half day to spend recreationally in Vegas. The next morning as I’m leaving the hotel, I come across LGD waiting outside the lobby to head to the airport as well. Taking the opportunity, I go to them to say my goodbyes one last time. Yao looks at me goofily and says “Good morning!” enthusiastically, a greeting which I return to him and the team probably even more goofily. I make sure with them that all is okay, that they’re ready to head home, then I turn to leave for my own ride… but not before I turn back again. I sit down briefly next to xiao8; I look at him and he looks at me… “You’re leaving?” His reply, eyes unwavering, “Yes.” I’m not sure he hasn’t misinterpreted my question as asking whether they’re leaving Vegas at that moment, so I ask again, “You’re going to a new team?” This time his gaze shifts a bit, but his voice remains steady and straight, and even louder and more determinedly responds, “Yes!”

Blurry morning goodbyes

I pause for half a second, then I reach over and hug him, “Thank you. And good luck.” Standing up, I repeat the gesture, a light hug and a wish for them, with each of the other LGD players. Yao offers his thanks, and ddc offers to give me an Ursa micro-plushie, which I turn down and ask him to keep for himself. Lastly, I put a hand on 820’s shoulder, “Bye!” and that was that.

Out of the three events I’ve been involved with backstage, TI3, MLG, and D2L… D2L has been the only one where the players I’m helping have won the event. Even if for different reasons, this last bit means that D2L may be another bittersweet memory……

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Chinese Social Summary: Dec 29, 2013 — Jan 10, 2014

Link to previous issue: Dec 10 — Dec 28, 2013

Lots of stuff… New Year wishes, WPC-ACE responses, D2L responses… Translations of Chinese pros and personalities public Weibo posts and responses.
Description of ‘add oil’ here.

LaNm

Feed MMY: “Captain Duck hasn’t been given enough food, has become unhappy”
Regarding his WPC-ACE Finals keyboard smash: “No need to be concerned about my keyboard, lost a few keycaps, which will be returned to me after event cleanup for me to keep as a memory. In some future offline event, I’ll give them away to DK fans.”

xiao8

Regarding LGD’s WPC-ACE semifinal loss: “I’ll take all the blame. Sick and feverish for many days, and it’s affected our training. Sorry I’ve let down those friends who support us. On another note, would also like to wish everyone an early Happy New Year.”

DD’s response to xiao8: “Our captain persevered through sickness and still insists on taking the blame, this is too much, the blame cannot be yours.”

Watching DK vs iG at WPC-ACE Finals: “This…..”
A perfect ending with D2L S4 (with pics): “Thank you to my teammates, a perfect ending. 2014 will see a new beginning. It’s been more than three years with LGD, our Dream five forever.

820’s response to xiao8: “Add oil in the new place”
KingJ’s response to xiao8: “An end is another beginning”

Yao

New Year: “Another year has passed just like that. Ups and downs, joys and sorrows, in the end it feels like it’s just me alone with all of this, so tiring. There have been some negative emotions, I hope for understanding. Happy New Year to all, and good luck for the next year.”
D2L S4 win (with pic): “happy ending…”

rOtK

New Year and WPC-ACE: “Thank you to sydm for his best efforts in WPC-ACE, the matches are over for us so let’s not talk about that anymore. Tonight is New Year’s Eve, and I hope you all take some time to spend with family. To those I love, and those that love me, Happy New Year :)”
Entertainment in Vegas (with pics): “David Copperfield! Flashy, cool magic, the price of entry worth it.”
D2L S4 loss: “Things couldn’t always go so well for us playing overseas, but it was unexpected that we would lose in this manner. We played too ugly, sorry to everyone. Good luck to LGD in the finals, I hope for a good result.”

MMY

WPC-ACE Finals win: “We’ve completed a miracle, thank you to my teammates!”

820 response to MMY: “Awesome :)”

BurNIng

WPC-ACE Finals win: “This has been the most exhilirating match I’ve ever played!! Thank you to my amazing teammates!!”

Zhou response to BurNIng: “Never would have thought, a miracle has happened.”

Wishes for Super and VG: “Happy birthday (to Super)! Add oil for D2L!”

Black

DK winning: “Thanks to DK I can leave China happily 🙂 so happy!!”
LGD winning: “LGD DID IT!!!! wohoooooooooooooooooooooooo good job guys!!!”

820

Before D2L Finals: “The title we must bring back to China, we will do our best!”
After D2L Finals: “Mission accomplished, nice”

ddc response to 820: “A great coach of China!”
DD response to 820: “A 1-in-100 year rarity of an excellent coach”

ChuaN

On iG’s side for WPC-ACE: “I hope iG can win the title, add oil!!!”

Mushi

WPC-ACE Finals win: “Haven’t posted in a while! This post is to thank those who have believed in me all along, as well as to my family for staying with me! And my teammates for their hard work! We will work even harder in 2014! Thank you.”

Faith

Loss in WPC-ACE Finals: “We were indeed not as strong as our opponents. But what really makes me feel bad is the fact that 430 played through sickness for the entire day, he doesn’t even sound right anymore. And we still lost in the end.”
Talking about Alliance losing to Fnatic at D2L: “The patch changed so much :O”

YYF

Loss in WPC-ACE Finals: “We still aren’t working hard enough, let’s keep at it. We let our fans down again. Ferrari_430’s play today was excellent despite his sickness, but sadly we still lost. We will absolutely redeem ourselves in the future!!!”

DC

Watching DK and LaNm win: “At first, upon seeing LaNm slam his keyboard, I felt like it was funny, it was an act of excitement in a moment of impossible comeback. Afterwards, watching LaNm’s heartfelt shouts over and over on repeat, I somehow began to feel sad. Just as this match will go down in history, LaNm’s career has been filled with twists and turns. In comparison, 430, who came of age in the scene at the same time as LaNm, has had a relatively smoother experience in contrast. It’s been four years, truly hasn’t been easy for you. Old friend, fight on with all your battle scars!

ZSMJ

Comedian ZSMJ (with very good pics): “Going out with the girlfriend, a coat caught her eye. Upon seeing the price tag, she exclaimed in despair to me, “So expensive, it costs 3800”. I reply, “3800? It’s just the price of a Relic. Buy it! Wait seven minutes for me!” She threw me a look, and then, and then … there was no more~~~~ T_T”

Fenrir

D2L loss: “I wanted to be able to have a nice New Year but it’s so hard ~”

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71 has indeed joined DK

Previously we talked about the possibility of EHOME’s coach and manager, 71, returning to the esports scene after a long hiatus. 71 himself had said before that LaNm, BurNIng, and MMY are amongst his biggest prides in his esports management and coaching career, while LaNm and BurNIng have also publicly reciprocated, listing 71 as the most important person in their careers. Indeed, with these players as core members of his EHOME teams of old, 71 has long since established himself as a legendary contributor.

Recently, DK won the Fengyun Hegemony Cup, a mid-tier event, and just last night, they won their first large Dota 2 event, the million-RMB 2013 WPC-ACE League.

At the WPC-ACE League Finals, 71 was present and once again had an impact. His players thanked him and on multiple occasions outlined his influence in helping them turn things around, with LaNm noting that 71 had been with them and helping them since they returned late last year after MLG.

He was also the one in this gif, first celebrating outside the glass, then rushing into the room to celebrate with his players. 71’s joining seems to have been that final push that DK needed to break their long-standing streaks, and the ingredients are certainly there for 2014 to be the year of DK… just as 2010 was the year of EHOME.

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Chinese Social Summary: Dec 10 — Dec 28, 2013

Link to previous issue: Nov 27 — Dec 9

Translations of random snippets from Chinese Dota 2 scene social media… for fun and light reading, etc. Not comprehensive or representative of anything.

Black^

Got a haircut (with pics): wants to know which is better?

ChuaN

ChuaN’s prediction for next G-League champion: “Looking at history, iG will win”

iceiceice

What to eat?: “What am I gonna eat for lunch?”
This doesn’t taste right…: “Fuzzy duck is not tasty” (MMY = mao mao ya = fuzzy duck)

On Meracle: “Meracle truly lives up to being the 1v9 man”
LaNm’s response to iceiceice’s Meracle comment: “He’s scored 6 goals in 3 minutes of added time”

KingJ

Foes of the Chinese servers: “Every day I am fighting the likes of Broodmother, Earth Spirit, and Slark!”
Ranked ladder woes: “Life is tough!! Ladder is too hard!!!”

LaNm

It was LaNm’s birthday: “Thank you for the wishes from everyone, each and every one of your wishes will be my motivation, driving me to never slow down. Merry Christmas to all.”

MMY

TongFu porridge before playing against TongFu: “I’ve just eaten a bowl of TongFu porridge last night… Hope there won’t be problems tomorrow!!”

rOtK

On Meracle Naga: “Just got back to base this morning, and after waking up, I watched Naga-bro’s play in the second game. I’m amazed… truly amazed. In the past watching his Naga Siren play I knew he was pretty good on this hero, but this game showed that he fully and perfectly understands the hero… So this is how Naga Siren is supposed to be played! It would seem that every player, and every team, has their own understandings of various heroes. Like Fnatic’s Enchantress, LGD’s Venomancer, iG’s Furion. Let’s all work hard at being ourselves! Add oil!”

Old friend: “I haven’t lost a friend, the feeling is pretty nice. We must each work hard to get what we desire! @BurNIng”

xiao8

Earth Spirit in MM: “I’ve now been beaten silly by Earth Spirit in solo queue…”

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Famed/funny Chinese quotes and their origins

This should be a fun little bit on some Chinese Dota memes and inside jokes. Not all-encompassing or particularly politically correct, but fun.

1. “Who do I pull! Tell me! Who!”

Originates from the Taunt King, rOtK.

In a match, xB/rOtK was on his favored Batrider, and was confidently taunting and shouting this. And then… he grabbed a creep, and the whole world looked on in awe.

2. “Give me Spectre, if I lose then I’ll chop my hand off!”

From Hao, when he had first broken into the scene for not long. As the saying goes, a young calf does not fear even a fearsome tiger, and so against a strong opponent, Hao confidently requested his team pick Spectre for him. From then on, “Chop hand Hao” was born.

3. “Just that, sometimes when we lose, I feel like my teammates aren’t strong enough.”

A certain Xu Zhilei, or BurNIng. With the recent game version changes, as well as DK’s “1 kick 4 drama” in their big post-TI3 roster change, accompanied by some fluctuating performances from BurNIng himself, some people brought this quote up again, and used it to suggest certain things about BurNIng. The quote itself originated from a G-1 League some time ago.

In actuality, after the quote he went on and said, “But still, Dota is a 5 person team game…” So of course, losses should be the responsibility of everyone. This shows the power of taking part of a quote, out of context.

4. “You’re like a farmer/peasant!”

Shouted Zhou at a certain offline event a while back. This was directed at none other than xB/rOtK, who of course had been busy, and loud, shouting and taunting throughout. Zhou, frustrated, resorted to this retort — one which must have angered all the hardworking farmers in China. In the end, his retort did not affect rOtK, and ultimately led to Zhou being given the “Farmer Zhou” nickname.

Sad…

5. “I really feel bad for Sansheng!”

Right after Zhou’s farmer response, rOtK comes back with this. It is in reference to the fact that just prior to this event, Zhou and his new team, iG, had decided that Sansheng was surplus to requirements. “I really feel bad for Sansheng! Sansheng, is this nice or is it nice??” and in the audience, a chorus of “nice!!” sounded in response, officially marking Zhou’s taunting as a failure in the face of rOtK. (rOtK trash talking the fact that iG was losing and had kicked Sansheng, perhaps Sansheng still deserved to be on the team)

6. “Come to Dota 1 and see if I don’t beat you till you cry?”

The famed words of a largely unknown player, NL_KS, a high level pub player and occasional semi-competitive participant. At the time part of a team called Greedy. Due to coming to Dota 2 relatively late, they were on the losing end of a lopsided bloodbath, and viewers were mercilessly making fun of their performance. Our NL_KS couldn’t stop himself any longer and sent this message out in-game, storming his way into the ranks of eternal infamy.

7. “I’m sorry, this competition I have to win.”

From 2009. In a solo mid competition some years ago, the finals was 2009 versus LongDD. Upon 2009’s Alchemist getting a courier kill in the river, he confidently typed out this message. Of course, in the end he did in fact win.

8. “I wasn’t even the most noob!”

Once again, words from rOtK. In this year’s big DK roster change, everyone except BurNIng was slated to be replaced. RotK, as the offlaner, had long been described by fans as a feeder and a weak link. In a subsequent interview, rOtK, unable to accept his new reality, gave us this quote.

9. “I’m not a fucking dumbass, I personally took her to the plane!”

From PIS in a fairly recent incident revolving around a girlfriend of his. Rumors were that she had gone off to cheat on him in another city, so he responded with this quote in a YY stream, showing us all that he is a real man and knows what is going on around him. Unfortunately, in the face of more evidence, a mere two hours later he was back on his YY stream saying that, “yes indeed, the rumors are true, I’ve been played, let’s leave it at that my friends”.

10. “We gave this competition away for free!”

Once again from rOtK (dude you’re all over this thing). RotK had just come to VG, playing his same offlane role. Tutu was the carry at the time, and hadn’t been playing well, but was showing signs of improvement. VG was playing stronger and stronger, but still, Tutu was under pressure of family illness as well as the threat of being replaced, and VG ended up losing in the NEST. Afterwards, rOtK felt that it was because of Tutu’s various issues that caused this loss. And thus, fans nowadays will say “We gave this away for free” whenever VG loses.

11. “You can’t let Haitao Tread Switch.”

Originates from Haitao, famous Dota caster, personality, and maker of guides and VODs. The legend goes that Haitao, once he gets Treads, the game is over, you lost. He once killed a Centaur with 6 Hearts only by Tread switching on his CM. His APM goes over 600 with Treads. In actuality the quote came about because he often talks about how Tread switching has many versatile uses, and he goes on and on about how Treads are great if you can switch them properly, as if Tread switching is the key to being a great player. While it may be important, his fans seized upon this to poke fun at a generally well-loved personality.

12. “We will never 20 minute GG.”

Words from Zhou. In an interview where he was asked about the differences between Dota and LoL, Zhou’s brain short circuited, and, delivered with a small smile, this was the best he could come up with. The tragedy is, in immediately following matches, Zhou’s iG ended up GGing in 16 minutes, and thus this quote became one that Zhou cannot escape. In reality, Zhou later clarified that the quote was one that he was instructed to say by the organization for promotional purposes… but at this point, who cares?

13. “Shadowfiend doesn’t suit this version anymore.”

Says Danche, or Nekomata, famed retired pro player and current Gamefy commentator. In a game against forum fans, the opposing mid player picked SF. After some thought, Nekomata picked Huskar, his favorite, and uttered the words, “I want to prove that Shadowfiend is no longer suited to this version.” The result was that before he hit level 6, he had already been dismantled, with a 0-5 stat line. “How could that Raze have hit me?” “It’s okay, I am not the kind of player that completely falls apart for the rest of the game!” And then he continued dying, and continued writing this page of his legend.

Next to him, fellow commentator BBC quipped, “It looks like Shadowfiend is still pretty suitable for this version.” From then on, Huskar became closely connected with Nekomata!

14. “Apart from B-God, all the other carries are about the same”

These words of praise came from LGD’s xiao8 during a WPC-ACE interview. This was not only a shoutout to BurNIng, placing him as the benchmark for carry play, it was also a confirmation of LGD’s ability, suggesting that no matter what carry comes, LGD is good enough to perform at the top level with the player. However… due to some inconsistent play in recent months, some fans took this quote and twisted it to mean that all the other carries are about the same, and BurNIng is the lower standard…

15. “I am wargod 7, I will trade you one for one!”

From War God 7, AKA sydm, the coach. In his cameo appearances as a pro player with teams this year, just as his Chinese ID suggests, he often gets tunnel vision. As a solo mid player, he is often seen jumping into 1v3, 1v4 fights (of course he loses them). And he especially seems to love going for trades with opposing supports. Maybe he just can’t stand anyone that tries to provoke him. So he goes in and trades himself for one of the other team, any one! His skill is there for everyone to see, and we hope that everyone can continue supporting him on his endeavors in the scene, and support an aggressive, talented player!

16. “Kill kill kill! Help help help! Oh fuck!”

Inactive pro player ZippO, active streamer. Good oldtimer, former 5 position for DK, BurNIng’s babysitter.

Imagine this scenario: ZippO is charging into the opposing side, shouting “Kill kill kill!” but then finds that he is not BurNIng and cannot 1v9. Almost dead, a panicked ZippO starts shouting “Help help help!” instead, and his teammates, seeing that he has gone into feed mode, fail to heed his cries, leaving him to sigh “Oh fuck!”

17. “Our pork balls contain beef product!”

From 2009. Having made it in the pro scene, the intelligent 2009 started his own web shops, one of which sells snacks and food products. Sharp-eyed fans, however, spotted that his Beef balls were not in fact made with beef, and actually were mainly pork. 2009, in response, replied with this.

18. “I only ask, are you satisfied?”

rOtk. In an offline match between DK and TongFu, no sound barriers, full taunt and shout environment.
“Feed! Feed! Feed! Do you even know how to play!”
“Kill me! Kill me! I’ll eat you in two bites!”
“I only ask, are you satisfied?”
“Had enough or not!?”

Poor banana and Hao had never seen such a sight before, and must’ve been scared silly…

19. “They play as if they could win!”

longDD on his YY stream. During his streams, he often runs into all kinds of adversaries and foes. These opponents, every game, come at him trying to take him down! But our longDD is, after all, someone with mafia connections, a certified badass, and in the end these kids all end up losing to him. Chewing on his betel nut, sipping on his soup, he lightly utters this, fully showing how insignificant they are to him.

20. “Fen shou kuai le, Zhao jie shi wo de le”

From Dendi, meaning “Enjoy your breakup, Zhao Jie is mine now.” Upon winning a game against LGD, Dendi says this in front of tens of thousands of viewers. At the time, Zhao Jie was still xiao8’s girlfriend, though things were unstable and were heading towards breakup. Xiao8 writes back, “Sha bi!”, or “Dumb cunt!”. Afterwards, Dendi apologized, saying that someone else had taught him this to say, and he had no idea what it meant. As for who taught him? Some said it was Zhao Jie herself, others said it was Ferrari_430’s former girlfriend, but who was it really? Just laugh a bit and move on~

21. “At most it’s 50/50”

LongDD, once asked in a cast by Sansheng, to give his thoughts on the game at hand. At the time the score was 26-3.

Source: http://dota2.uuu9.com/201312/459383.shtml

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UUU9’s One Page Book series talks profit and interests in Dota: “Who took my Cheese?”

This piece from UUU9 looks at profit and conflict of interest in Dota, framed by a look into the history of esports in China.

One Page Book series: “Who took my Cheese?”

Professional players, then and now

The earliest professional players made their livings in very simple ways. The club pays for a simple place to live, some food, and then maybe 1000-2000 RMB in salary. If prize money was won then there’d be a small split of that as well. This period, relative to now, is fairly ancient, and usually refers to the ten year period between 1998 to around 2008.

With pro players just barely scraping by like this, casters and commentators were even worse off back then. People did not place as much importance in them either, and apart from a few larger events that might pay a bit for travel expenses, many other events would simply go by without much in terms of proper commentary. Overall, in these ten years, people involved in this industry were by large representatives of ‘the poor’.

The first wave of salary increases: This all continued on until a ‘new’ game appeared, that game being Dota. The earliest Dota teams followed the same paths, a club sponsoring living and food expenses, then a minimal salary, with prize money split between players and the club itself. Afterwards, because of severe inflation domestically in China, the salaries grew accordingly, allowing typical clubs to settle around 3000-4000 RMB in salaries. Smaller, second and third-tier clubs remained around 1000-2000 RMB.

The second wave of salary increases: 2011 saw a large occurrance which brought further change — the iG ‘poaching’ incident, in which iG bought an entire team. Their offer of 10,000 RMB per month, compared to the old salaries, was considered astronomical. This not only hit LGD hard, it also brought lasting impact to all of the other clubs. After all the dust settled, practically each and every club went about increasing their salary offerings.

The third wave of salary increases: Just as everyone felt that increases had been sufficient and all should be satisfied, The International appeared on the scene. When Dota 2 first was announced, most clubs had made no indication of wanting to switch over; the teams simply crammed a bit of pre-tournament practice in immediately before TI and went in. The result was EHOME taking home a cool 250,000 USD in prize money for their second place finish, and everyone witnessed NaVi scooping a full million-dollar prize. Beyond astronomical figures. Upon seeing this, Chinese clubs, almost all at the same time, began to seriously consider the switch. But the Chinese servers still weren’t up at that time, and everyone continued participating in Dota 1 events, while getting used to Dota 2 in training. In between TI1 and TI2, salaries generally saw another increase, and thus most first-tier teams provide salaries of around 10,000 RMB per month.

Salary increases have largely come to rest at this stage currently. Apart from a rare few big-money transfers, salaries have been fairly stable at this level, but of course, the trend continues upward.

Coming into 2012, upon seeing some retired players making decent money streaming and making VODs, some clubs also went into creating their own official channels, the idea being to have their players stream pub games within. For example, YYF was often seen streaming pubs, but with slipping results in his team’s professional play, the pressure meant he had to put that on hold. Still, we sometimes see pros streaming pub games on YY. As for the income, this remains unknown.

Apart from male professional players, there are actually a few female players. Even though the esports industry is generally a sausagefest, there are still the occasional girls that appear. In the past, there was SsKaoru, MISS, who actually competed at relatively high levels. Nowadays, there are teams such as the ‘LGD Girls Team’, though their main purpose seems to be for promotional purposes. So in this case, instead of a competitive team, they’re more like a marketing team. What their salaries are, I don’t know, though these ‘teams’ appeared around 2010 at first, so the level of pay can’t be too low.

Commentators, then and now

Previously we talked about how early tournaments and events in China did not place much importance on commentators and cassters. Especially for smaller events, at most it would be just to find someone who understands the game and can talk, and off they went. That is, if they even had someone. In that day and age, when even professional players are looking at just a couple hundred to maybe a thousand RMB in average money, commentators would of course not see much for themselves either. That was, until one person emerged: Haitao.

It was near the end of 2009, Haitao had just quit from PLU (a Chinese gaming site and media company), and was at the time unemployed. With nothing else to do, he began doing Dota commentary. Because he had experience as a host for both Gamefy and PLU, he had a good voice, interesting commentary, and happened to just get in when Dota was most popular, so he almost instantly gained lots of fans.

But even with this following, Haitao, still lacked any sort of direct benefit to himself. All the way until a website called “17gaming” approached him, asking to add a short clip at the beginning of his VODs, did he finally begin to make some money. Afterwards, he managed to put in additional advertising for a Taobao/Tmall online shop, and thus began a stream of advertising for various companies. Perhaps inspired by some of this, he himself opened his own Taobao shop, selling mainly computer peripherals, and custom designed clothing.

Afterwards, gaming commentators entered the age of online shops. There are two types of involvement with Taobao — the first being essentially a spokesperson for a shop, wherein a shop is named after a personality and is thus ‘their shop’, but its actual everyday operation is managed by others. In this, a percentage of sales goes to the personality, all he needs to do is advertise it in his VODs and whatnot. The second type is where the personality is the boss as well, and handles all operations in addition to publicizing the shop.

The first wave of shops mostly sold clothing and computer peripherals. Clothing was mainly t-shirts, because t-shirts are low-cost and easy, with screen printing quite simple, profits were potentially quite high. As for peripherals, because pro players would be seen using them, there would be many fans who see and only desire to purchase them for their expensive novelty, and thus sales on these were quite good as well. Eventually, though, peripherals no longer sold as well. Originally the main products were from Razer, Steelseries, famous foreign companies, and the profit margins on these were very little, while costs were high. Even though we all love having high end gear and thus seeming high end ourselves, the costs of these were still too high for the masses, and thus sales eventually died down. At the same time, Chinese-produced products began to appear, with much lower prices, and in some cases boasted flashier, better feature sets than things like Razer’s products.

Gradually, almost all commentators and casters had their own shops. Competition for customers was fierce, and the products on sale were getting harder to sell. Peripherals last at least a few years usually, and t-shirts can only be sold in the summer. This had everyone wondering how else to make money.

Then, 2009 arrived on the scene. 2009 was a retired player from LGD, and after retiring he also entered the world of commentary. Riding on his credentials as a former pro player, he very quickly made a name for himself in the crowded world of Dota commentary. In doing so, he also started his own online shop. But he went with the type two model described above: he decided to handle everything himself. Yet he also met the same problem, sales were slow. Fortunately for him, he was innovative at the time, and opened a ‘snack shop’, something that hadn’t been done much before, and more importantly, food sells faster than clothing and peripherals. Additionally, his model encouraged mass purchases from customers looking to save on shipping fees, and so profits grew accordingly. Afterwards, imitators cropped up, and today we have the three main types of shops in clothing, peripherals, and food. And it is exactly this system of shops that has allowed commentators and casters to become financially established in esports, in some cases even surpassing players in terms of income. This could be called an esports miracle (and it’s a good one).

The emergence of browser and online games

In addition to their shop incomes, lots of people wanted to make even more money. In a time when shops were a dime a dozen, the search was on for less competitive ways to make money, and from here was born the browser-based web game model.

These browser-based games gained popularity by having low requirements, no installation, and ease of access. Due to the simple, instant nature of launching these games, they were popular amongst office workers looking to sneak some time in between at work, and thus the main audience was one that had little time, but lots of money. During this time, internet speeds across China remained in the 2-4mbps range, quite slow, and thus the quality of these games all remained quite low to accommodate for that fact. Thus, the games were generally quite bad.

A lower end game might only cost in the 5 digits to start up and launch, and could make that money back within two to three months, with the rest being pure profit. Low cost, high return, high profit. This was (and is) why there are so many browser-based web games everywhere. Someone had the idea to recruit famous personalities to come play their game, to play the game with other users, and thus market the game and bring even more players about. With hundreds of thousands of followings, esports commentators were natural targets for this. The model was simple: simply create a new server for the game, name the server after the personality, tell the personality that they get X percentage of the revenue from all users on this server, and leave the rest up to the personality to handle. Of course, if it were only to advertise the game, the results would’ve been quite average. So in addition, the personalities would schedule times to play the game with their fans. Once there were more people, there would be more spenders, buying things to advance, or open more chests, etc. Money, and it would be transferred each month to personal accounts.

In honesty if you wanted to see how many of these personalities actually liked or enjoyed these types of games, there would hardly be any. Being a commentator, you see lots of games, and naturally gain an understanding of what makes a game good. These were not good games, but they still got involved with them, for the money. If you look at it this way, it’s perhaps a little bit questionable.

LoL and its advertising

In 2011, Tencent took on a game called “League of Legends” and officially began running its operations in China. In the normal vein of things, a game’s launch naturally begins through traditional advertising.

Dota commentators advertising for other games in their videos was no new thing by this time. The one thing Tencent does not lack is money, and so many worked with Tencent at this time. EHOME at the time was invited to participate in an “All Star Match”, and the slogan was “By the original creators of Dota”.

Here, we can’t go without mentioning the fact that some people may have been short-sighted. Many Dota commnetators and casters went with it for the money, and didn’t think what might happen if this direct competitor to Dota got a spark and grew more popular. On this, Haitao has always been very clear-headed. The reason they are recruiting you is not because you’re good at LoL, or you’re a good LoL caster, but because you’re a good Dota caster, and your audience is seen as a potential audience for LoL. Once you’ve advertised for LoL, there will be a portion of your audience that goes to play this game. In the end, because of this, a portion of them move away from Dota and go to LoL, and thus your own audience decreases by that amount. Once that happens, you are only devaluing your own work as a Dota commentator.

Even though we can’t say that LoL only became popular because of this, but it should still be pointed out that the popularity of Tencent’s game has to give some credit to Dota commentators…

Nowadays, Dota 2 has been officially available and free to play for quite some time, yet some casters and streamers continue to stay with Dota 1, refusing to make the switch. Because Dota 1 currently still has a sizeable player base, if more Dota 1 streamers, casters leave to Dota 2, then that means that those who remain have a larger share of this shrinking pie. But it truly needs to be said, between Dota 2 and Dota 1, it is certain that Dota 2 will last longer. Therefore, only if Dota 2 grows and grows, can you make it in the long term. In the beginning you all advertised LoL, yet now Dota 2 is here and there’s nothing. Only if Dota 2 becomes the hot thing can you all continue on successfully.

The viewers

In the past, viewers served a simple purpose — to support and increase the confidence of players and commentators. After all, putting yourself out there on the internet, you would hope that your viewers support you and recognize you.

Early on, commentators and casters were doing the work out of interest, love for the game, and so if others liked or disliked their work, that was only a secondary consideration. After all, if you like it or dislike it, that doesn’t have much to do with me. But after profit interests entered the game, viewers suddenly became the gods. Streamers, casters, players, all put on a smiling face and never talk or respond back negatively so no one gets upset. Flame, berate… in the end, they are aware that the upset viewer might be a customer of theirs, or a fan of someone. So casters and players keep their popularity and their incomes and their sponsorships, while viewers feel within their rights to flame and flame to their hearts content, a win-win for everyone.

Concluding words

We’re approaching 2014, and the esports scene has grown to a very mature level. Interests and revenues are linked in very simple fashion, but create a strong barrier to entry for newcomers. The scene is crowded and the pie is already split. We see some god-tier personalities with massive success, but at the same time we shouldn’t forget those who failed, whose online shops were forced to close down.

Everyone in esports now feels like they’re a part of mainstream society, that they’re accepted. But if you pay attention to other forums and channels of communication you’ll see, many many people still view it as a low-level industry, one that is suited only for rejects from other parts of society. This not only is due to the long-standing bias against esports, but also due to the industry itself being too immature, too unstable, and too focused on money matters.

Source: http://dota2.uuu9.com/yysnl/

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Chinese Social Summary: Nov 27 — Dec 9, 2013

Link to previous issue: Nov 15 — Nov 26

Translations of random snippets from Chinese Dota 2 scene social media… for fun and light reading, etc.

BurNIng

Happy birthday to Mushi: “Mushi happy birthday. Come back soon!”
Mushi’s reply: “Dude! I took 27 hours of flights and today’s my first day back in Malaysia and you already want me back T_T”

ChuaN

Where Fy got his skills: In response to a call for interview questions for VG, “Ask Fy if he learned from watching my replays”

KingJ

KingJ’s words regarding being an MMY fan: “Really, being an MMY fan is a mistake!! There was a girl in the past that, regardless if it was a competition or a promotional event, followed him daily for over a year!! But in the end, MMY still just responded to her with his signature, a dumb little ‘hehe’!”
Sharing well-wishes with DeMoN: KingJ says to DeMoN, “fight! demon!”, DeMoN responds back, “hope to see you back in action soon! #RoadtoTI4!”, to which KingJ says, “u too!”

rOtK

Qualifying for D2L Finals: “Vegas!”
Winning EMS One (with pic): “Having this, I should be safely welcomed home, right :). In the first game of the finals, the opponents were shouting and yelling hard, pounding the table, kicking their feet. This instantly boosted our morale, we wanted to dish it back, we didn’t say much, just a ‘nice’ was enough. In the end, thank you to my teammates for bringing me to another title. Thank you to (various people), VG manager, as well as people on forums for your analysis and draft research, I carefully read it all, thank you everyone.”

Super

Qualifying for D2L Finals: “Nice!!! America here I come”

Sylar

Qualifying for D2L Finals: “Las Vegas!”
EMS One offline antics: “I’ve gone and done the table slamming again… :3”

Xtt

Leaving TongFu: In a post directed at his former teammates at TongFu, “Thank you for the care over the past three months, you guys add oil, and I will work hard too”

Yao

Romantic (with pic): “Some people, you clearly see the fire pit yet insist on staying nearby, using one foot tentatively testing the temperature, seeing whether it’s a pleasing warmth or a painful burn. How I so hope that I can now, and always, be that comforting warmth. Night”

YYF

Shanghai’s crazy weather/air quality: Cities across China recently have had terrible air quality, to which YYF posted, “This terrible weather in Shanghai, hopefully everyone can stay healthy”

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