The Summit 4 in my view

Another tournament, another writeup! TS4 took place in December 2015, and was a lot of fun and went by entirely too quickly as as result. Here’s a glimpse into the behind the scenes from my point of view…

Tues Dec 8

After an early morning flight, we’re in Ontario airport in Southern California once again.

Right away we’re shuttled off to BTS house – it’s a new house and significantly roomier, though it is further away from Ontario airport (with the tradeoff that it is closer to LAX, which means everyone flying in

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Southern Californiaaaaa

internationally gets a shorter trip from airport to house, which is nice). Once I get to the house, I’m informed that I’m needed for an interview, done with theScore esports (where I am behind the camera and their guys later transcribe/subtitle things based on what I say) first with LaNm and then with old chicken. LaNm seems to grow, or evolve, with each event I see him at, and he just seems to be more and more comfortable with the camera, media, and whatever gets thrown at him. Kinda the veteran aura, I guess. When he first sees me, he stares me down a bit then grins his big grin when he’s laughing, and then he actually laughs and we greet each other before we go to his interview where I’m translating for him…

Next up is old chicken, whom I’ve never met before, and who hasn’t been to that many events before either. Despite his relative newness, he doesn’t seem nervous, but nonetheless his answers in his interview are kind of short, though it’s more because it seems like he just doesn’t think he needs to say much more. Yet he’s always giving his answers with a kind of smirk on his face like he thinks something is really funny. This was the guy that, after all, made a joke about Chinese Dota being dead on stage at the Frankfurt Major.

After that, media day requirements for EHOME are done and they split off to their own thing. Some of them go shopping, the EHOME coach 71 wants to go get a tattoo of the EHOME logo on his shoulder: “This is something I’ve thought about for a long time now, and it is something I want to do”. EHOME has been his project and, well, home in esports for the greater part of a decade now and his words seem reasonable as I help him figure

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New kids on the block

out the logistics of it all over the phone later that afternoon…

 

What follows is some relatively carefree catching up with various people through the day – KotLguy says hi and we chat about his recent travels and work in Dota: “I do like hosting, but I also like casting because that’s what really rewards me for doing my research on the game and knowing about things.” Winter wants to go bowling again (callback to the time we went bowling with some of DK during TI4…), LD says hey buddy! in his usual friendly way, Slacks already wants me to help him with a completely goofy but somehow interesting interview with kaka and 71 of EHOME, I congratulate Kuro on his Defence win and Fly on his Frankfurt win…

The completely unserious interview that Slacks had me help him with was one where I would marginally ‘teach’ him how to ask certain questions directly in Chinese, and the interviewees would answer to the best of their ability based on what they thought they would be hearing out of Slacks’ mouth. In the end I don’t think this piece aired because it probably doesn’t transition very well at all onto a stream, but it was kind of funny seeing 71 and kaka from EHOME trying to figure out what Slacks would ask. One question was “Do you wanna go to the zoo?” and after some deliberating they thought it meant something to do with food, or something…

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The crown prince and the emperor

Then VG arrives for their media day stuff. While filling out forms, VG’s players do absolutely nothing and leave it all to their poor manager JaL, who to his great credit, has all of their relevant bank and personal information on hand to fill in for them. When he asks them to double check it, even when he warns them that he might have certain things incorrect, they all tell him “no need! we trust you!” Instead, they spend all their free time playing, as usual, free to play mobile games that are more pay2win than they are free to play. Asking some of them how much they’ve spent on some of these games, and the figures are relatively obscene.

Then it’s nighttime and the sun has set, and we head back to the hotel.

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A bright ending

EHOME guys want to eat, and of course they want to find some Chinese food. The only place within walking distance is a Mongolian Grill place, and they have fun putting together their dishes and having the cooks there cook it up, marvelling at the cooks’ skill in sweeping the ready food in one swoop off the grill onto their bowls. At the table, chatter is boisterous and loud as is often is, with LaNm and 71 going at each other with casual banter and insults: “shabi!” rings out frequently and it’s just as well that we’ve gone to the restaurant near closing hour, as their shenanigans threaten to disturb no one else as we are the only customers still there. The topics vary widely but with some guys it seems topics often run backwards in time, and LaNm and 71 spend a good part of the night reminiscing about old players they’ve interacted with: Ksss, xiaot, and so on…

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EHOME eating

Weds Dec 9

VG 2-1 VP, then VG 2-1 OG. Games are close and relatively interesting, where BurNIng in particular plays well. For post game interviews, it’s relatively hard to get them to come out for interviews – VG often plays a game of ‘let’s push the interview onto someone else’ until someone inevitably shouts that everyone will have to do an interview at some point so putting it off today just means you have to do it tomorrow, and then Super gets to do an interview. This kind of thing has been happening to Super since his time with DK at TI3, at the least. (Back during TI3 they even tried to send their manager before finally Super was the one forced into an interview)

After their matches, iceiceice notices the shirt I have on and goes, “whoa. Nice shirt.” It’s a DK iceiceice shirt and it is indeed a nice shirt!

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This pic is from later but that’s the shirt and that’s the iceiceice

Thurs Dec 10

 

EHOME go first against Liquid, and before the match they’re just chilling. Half of them are watching random Chinese streams and the chat. There’s some girl streamer that some of them are currently particularly infatuated with. Kaka is practicing his Wisp and 71 points at him and says “professional wisp”. Hah. They see old chicken’s pose on the BTS stream and all laugh at him for a minute while LaNm and CTY run down to imitate the pose on the camera downstairs by borrowing Tiffany’s glasses for the task.

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Teaching moments

EHOME lose and afterwards LaNm is immediately loading up the replay and gathering his players around him to debrief, pointing out everything he sees as the other players listen… “Come here and watch the replay!” is the command and the rest of them obediently gather around their captain.

 

VG went shopping in the day because iceiceice made his team promise to go shopping with him if they won on the previous day. Fenrir has a Gengar t-shirt on and I say that’s my favorite Pokemon, and he says hey, me too! The rest of them lounge around, except for BurNIng who is apparently shopping some more on his own (shopping addict). Fy and I play some Pro Evo Soccer, but evidently according to Fy, Benzema is imba and after two games Fy calls it quits in the face of laughter from their manager JaL, who finds it funny seeing Fy lose.

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Another Summit, more Pro Evo..

Later there is an iceiceice cast in which he pretends to be muted for the first minutes, but isn’t actually muted.

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Heh

Fri Dec 11

On the way to the house this morning, we’re riding with VG. They are discussing their respective ages, with BurNIng wondering if he should be considered 27 or 28. “My mom calls me and always tells me I’m 28 now,” he says somewhat resignedly. That’s kind of old, especially in esports, but I’m thinking that these guys are all mostly younger than I am anyway so what are they complaining about? I think, honestly, age doesn’t and shouldn’t really matter as much in Dota. As an entire generation of players are growing older, and perhaps finally realizing that they needn’t force themselves to retire (we ended TI5 without nearly any premature retirement announcements, after all), we may see a lot of these players going on into their 30s.

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Captain LaNm

After their match against DC, EHOME present LaNm for the post-match interview on the couch. After that, there’s another interview with theScore esports, and it’s once again LaNm. I comment that he sure does get interviewed a lot, especially on this team. Compared to when he was on DK, it’s a lot more interviewing, but his role in both teams has always been pivotal – it’s just that with EHOME he is much more visible because he’s surrounded by newer players that are still learning to come into their own in the scene…

Late afternoon and some of the VG guys want a snack, so Grace makes them some chicken nuggets in the oven. Fenrir eats, by his own admittance, probably 50% of the entire tray of chicken nuggets and announces that he is the “chicken killer” because

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\o/

he loves eating chicken.

 

At night, it’s the Gang Beasts tournament, which was pretty hilarious even though it had little to do with any of the other happenings at TS4. Tiffany wins it all in the end, and a few of us do in fact go to In-N-Out afterwards.

Sat Dec 12

Kaka wonders how much a house around LA costs, and 71 says, “after you move here I’ll come visit you, and I’ll tell you to come pick me up at the airport but you have to come in a helicopter, cuz I don’t wanna be seeing any plain old car picking me up.” I wonder aloud if kaka has a rich family or something, but it remains unclear whether or not he does, as at first he strongly denies it, but then later thinks that spending 50 euros on a single cigar isn’t necessarily expensive at all. I’m no expert in modern cigar pricing but I think that’s kind of a premium level price for one. Or maybe it’s ‘esports inflation’: everyone in the scene is making a lot nowadays?

The EHOME guys are pretty casually getting themselves into the atmosphere of their big match against OG, or rather, it would seem the match isn’t that much more important to them than an average match. After all, LaNm has said that they still need to grow a lot as a team and their newer guys are still undergoing that process. According to their coach, he already briefed them on what they needed to know last night and so today he isn’t going to be doing anything additional – a pretty large contrast with the high pressure world of an International, for example.

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The King of Fighters

They’re playing classic King of Fighters, LaNm vs eLeVeN, but LaNm loses pretty much every single game yet they continue playing for an hour. Seeing a Lycan in the Liquid vs VP matchup, CTY pipes up that his Lycan would be most excellent in this situation, claiming that he’d build Blink Dagger and Vladmirs – to which the rest of his team laughs at him heartily.

RTZ and 71 chat upstairs on the balcony – RTZ says “why’s CTY so crazy? control your players!!”, specifically mentioning CTY’s TA in an earlier game and 71 laughs and says, “it’s okay, he just wants to play aggressive… mostly”

Later in the evening, after EHOME has lost to OG, iceiceice and Fenrir show up, and seeing some EHOME guys in the kitchen, iceiceice quickly points and laughs at 71. 71 feigns outrage but iceiceice points out that EHOME had done the same to VG when they had lost in Frankfurt, and soon the next match is underway.

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Yes hello

Everyone chatters animatedly while watching the VP-OG matchup. At one point Fenrir is talking about iceiceice’s Night Stalker from the day before: “One minute after the game starts, we hear from his part of the room – oi! I can’t play anymore! Help!!” and 71 points out that every time they put iceiceice solo against Universe, he gets owned, and furthermore laughs at VG’s decision to put a Night Stalker solo against a Brood at all.

Upstairs, the rest of EHOME are on practice PCs just hanging out again, with LaNm feverishly practicing King of Fighters alone while eLeveN has been downstairs watching the games with us. Observing the two of them playing King of Fighters again later, LaNm still loses far more than he wins but his enthusiasm remains throughout.

At night back at the hotel, we’re going again to get In-N-Out and EHOME’s 71 and LaNm decide to come along too after hearing that

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More In-N-Out

In-N-Out is a California classic and staple of the local scene. While waiting for 71 to get ready, LaNm is playing some Hearthstone on his phone – he plays it very casually, he says, and he’s running what he calls an unorthodox deck so if he loses, it doesn’t matter, and if he wins then it’s funny.

 

True to his attitude towards the game, when 71 is ready we leave the hotel right away and thus LaNm loses connection to the hotel wifi and disconnects from his current Hearthstone match without a worry about ranking or record. On the way to, during the meal, and then on the way back the two of them are chattering about Dota and their team. These two are the masters and veterans of the team by far and there’s a steady strategic strand to their conversations as they flutter from one topic to another, never straying far from how everything relates back to their team’s performances and status.

Sun Dec 13

It’s the last day of the tournament, and by the time I’ve found a spot in the house to comfortably watch the first series, VG are already one game down. Before long, they’re two games down – and thus out, and so they head out to the back yard behind the house where they spend an hour and a half wanderingly discussing, and debating what went wrong while Fy kicks a soccer ball around next to them.

fy

Fy

I join him for a bit here and there, but mostly it’s to enjoy the California sunshine and get some fresh air. Then VG want to leave the house – some want to go back to the hotel, others I hear are going to the stores, or the casino, or something or other. Iceiceice is, almost as always, the only one of them to stay behind… so we hang out for a while in kitchen, bullshitting about this and that, here and there. When VP finally loses a game, ice remarks “VP’s on cooldown now..” and unfortunately for them, their CD ended up being really long and the night ended, again, with EG taking the title.

Iceiceice casts one of the games, but not before he tries to say that he’ll only cast if I cast (???), which came after he said that he would solo cast in both Chinese and English (a much better idea).

The night at the house winds down gradually but happily. Iceiceice and I play some Gangbeasts at some point, where we team up against the two other players and basically wreck them, which was fun because for once I wasn’t going against everyone else in the game. 😛 And then someone turned off the fun stream… so, sorry stream. I hope you guys had some fun when the stream was actually active, which I think it got more active as the week went on.

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Enjoying the end

In the late evening it pours down rain rather uncharacteristically aggressively for Southern California, and after the rain stops we’re ready to head back to the hotel. I make a round around the house to say my thanks and goodbyes – Kuroky wonders if I’ll be at the Shanghai Major, to which I reply “maybe.” He goes, “come on man, don’t give me maybe” I ask him if he’ll be there, and he’s like…. “maybe.” So I point out that “maybe” is a good word and he seems to agree, and he and I and a few others chat for a few minutes before I run off elsewhere in the house…

Back at the hotel, LaNm is enlisting my help to make a late evening trip to the store to help him find things he needs to buy for his new baby. And, well, apart from my ability to read English labels I’m (far) less well-versed than he is in baby-related things so we spend a while looking for stuff at the store but mostly get everything that he needs. On the walk back, he looks up and seems surprised: “are those stars?! I haven’t seen those for years in China.” Thus the conversation lands for a while on the topic of air quality in China, or the complete lack of any sort of quality thereof.

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LaNm buying stuff for his kid

Afterwards the topic changes: “Wow, I think a Chinese team hasn’t won a LAN since D2L Season 5…” I believe he’s right, or close to it. LaNm goes on, “But time eventually changes things, so after a long enough time even the best can become the worst.” Back at the hotel, we bid our good nights and thus another Summit comes to an end.

Mon Dec 14

EHOME and VG are scheduled to leave the hotel at 8:30 in the morning to head to LAX for their flights, so we go down to the lobby around that time to send them off and make sure everything goes smoothly for them.

Goodbyes are exchanged, everyone says “See you in Shanghai!” even though I don’t know if I’m going to Shanghai or not, and it’s a long ways away anyway.

Summit 4 was undeniably a success, amazingly well-run, and overall just a smooth experience. As BurNIng says, it’s an iconic tournament at this point, the fun-filled foil to TI and the Majors in some ways, but in production value and competition it doesn’t lose out at all. All in all, I have to once again send my thanks and appreciation to everyone at the event that made it happen. Every Summit is the best yet but somehow you guys manage to keep upping the standard. So thank you to everyone at BTS for putting on another great show, and thanks for having me at these events.

Thanks for reading.

2015-12-12 17.11.18

 Follow Dotaland on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Dotaland
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The Summit 3 in my view

After having gone to The Summit 1 last year prior to TI4, it seemed fitting that this year, somewhat before TI5 I’d find myself at the third iteration of the event: The Summit 3. I mean, there aren’t many other parallels on paper… the teams are all vastly different, the participants quite different, and even the tournament itself very different – in good ways, but more on that later (EE also had a good writeup to a similar effect here). Even as things changed so much after TI4, a lot of things remain the same. Everything… and everyone, felt familiar and real.

So here’s TS3 in my view. Who will even read this after my having been inactive here so long? No matter, I just want to get thoughts on paper again…

May 12 2015

Tiffany (the gf) and I flew out bright and early on May 12, the day that BTS had scheduled as their media day. I’d be needed to help with that, where they were to shoot some fun promo video bits, along with interviews. Having tagged along with me to various events in the past, often helping teams out as a friend when I was busy elsewhere, I think BTS made a good call in having her come along too given the three Chinese teams being present meant that there would be times where just having me may not be enough. I may be biased but this was by far not the only good call BTS made – TS3 ended up being one of the most organized and generally best events I’ve been at. Anyway…

Upon landing at the Ontario airport, we walked out to find a person gesticulating wildly at us through the windshield of a van. “Remember me?!?” he’d half shout, half laugh through the open window. I remember you SirActionSlacks, you’re the guy

Buggatis and stuff

that almost died of dehydration while interviewing people after the last day of TI4. Well, that’s not all you’re known for but I remember anyway. A short car ride later, we were again at the top secret BTS lair, where things were already in full swing in preparation for TS3.

credits to BTS flickr

Interviews were done, laughs were had, and somehow things felt like they’d never changed. I felt like I got back into the rhythm of things fairly quickly… Perhaps it is because of the casual atmosphere of the various Summits, perhaps it is players becoming more carefree, but when the BTS guys told the Chinese players to goof it up on camera — many of them were very receptive. Even players who traditionally project a very serious outward appearance such as BurNIng, xiao8, and Sylar got in on it. Even MMY — who is renowned for being awkward on camera — played along. This alone is an achievement of TS that I have not seen any other tournament manage.

Around noon, having a break in the action, I grabbed some food and joined VG on the couch in the fun stream room. Knowing that they counted many football (soccer) fans amongst their midst, I put on the Champions League semi-final matchup between Bayern and Barcelona. Support for the two teams seemed roughly split, even as old man 357 went on tangents about Batistuta and Rui Costa: “Where’s Rui Costa? Batistuta would have scored that!” accompanied by Hao and the VG manager JaL laughing at him.

VG watching FCB vs FCB

SSDs for everyone

There was some other stuff that happened on the pre-tournament day – BTS covered their bases in having everyone fill out tax and payment forms. For LGD, xiao8 took care of all their team’s stuff like the captain that he is, while Maybe had questions about everything (but not in a bad way). Afterwards, teams got scheduled time on the practice rooms and PCs, while teams with no scheduled time either went back to the hotel for the practice room there, or in the case of VG went to a nearby LAN cafe.

May 13 2015

This was the first match day of TS3. The day before, there had been a Hotbid interview with Super of VG with iceiceice doing the ‘translations’. Needless to say, certain meanings were distorted purposefully, and they enlisted my help to make subtitles to reflect the true meanings. That was fun.

On this first match day, VG registered – for lack of a better word – two fairly casual victories. They’d win their games, come out looking not too fussed, and then head downstairs to get food and play Pro Evo Soccer on the fun stream. There was an interview with Hao, always happy to talk and share his thoughts, and there was an interview with Fenrir who has come a long way from his early days of declining interviews back at D2L in January 2014. A long time ago, but not so long ago either… After his interview, Fenrir looked at me, and proudly went, “That was a pretty good one, eh!? I gave lots of good answers and stuff.”

At some point today the other Champions League matchup between Real Madrid and Juventus went down: Fy seems to be a Real Madrid fan, and more specifically perhaps, a Luka Modric fan as he’d asked about whether Modric was playing for Real Madrid and seemed a bit disappointed when told that he was out injured.

When dinner arrives for the night, Hao quickly returns with food, sits down and declares “This chicken is so fucking good!” in front of the 14-odd thousand viewers who are all tuned in to watching VG eat. After most of the day was over, VG decided to play poker in the fun stream room. Half of the stream seemed to be up in arms over this as it wasn’t their idea of fun (I hold no opinions on this matter). I attempted to interact with the BTS2 stream chat somewhat, to varying effect. Either way, it was fun for me as I’m not actually a twitch chat regular and don’t even have a twitch account. So to anyone on that chat: I had a good time, hope you guys all did too!

Later that night, I get word from iG that someone on their team is sick. It turns out it’s Luo, so with the help of BTS peeps I go about gathering some cold medicine and vitamins from the BTS house to bring back for him. Finding iG at the hotel, Faith and ChuaN immediately notice me and say hi. I hand them the medicine, and more concerned with making sure they know to relay the correct medical advice along, I go into the directions for how to take the each different item. Faith cheerfully repeats what I’ve told them and I’m satisfied that the information has been successfully relayed. Ferrari appears from the hotel practice room, notices my Wintersun shirt and wonders what it is.

credit to BTS flickr

The night is late so we all head together to the elevator. In the elevator, ChuaN bursts out laughing at BurNIng as he sees the picture from earlier of BurNIng grinning like a madman. BurNIng tries to explain himself, “they were doing all kinds of dumb stuff in that room so I laughed and got caught on camera, it’s not what it looks like!” But ChuaN is having none of it as he laughs his way out of the elevator and all the way to their rooms.

May 14 2015

Hao and the Newbee boss at an NBA game

Day two of TS3 matches brought a more serious atmosphere, as teams hunkered down into the competitive tension. The exception here being VG, as they would have multiple days between their appearance on day one of the event until their next match. Taking advantage of the lull in activity, Hao went with the Newbee boss (son of one of the richest dudes in China) to an NBA playoff match. Watching the actual match later, I tried to keep an eye out for them but someone else got a much better cap of them in sideline seats. Some people wondered how Hao got there – the Newbee boss arrived at the BTS house around 4pm (in a Rolls Royce) and took Hao with him through the LA traffic.

Throughout the duration of the event, there was a team from the GQ magazine on-scene filming stuff for what they told me would be an online feature into the world of competitive gaming. For this purpose, I tried to spend some time talking to them about the Chinese side of things along with just sharing some general information and advocate for Dota some, so to speak. They actually put me on camera and filmed me talking to them a bit about Chinese Dota, and since LGD was in the house that day they asked some questions about LGD.

LGD-Gaming

I wonder if that’ll make it into the feature, but it was interesting nonetheless that GQ would send a team to film for multiple days to get a story on esports. Pretty cool; I’m looking forward to see what they make of it. We did suggest to them to get Fy for a photoshoot because it’s GQ, and this is Fy, but I don’t know how that went. 😛

Around this time is also when I first discover the wonder that is Gang Beasts. Somehow I end up dominating everyone else at this game, which is interesting because I’ve literally never played the game before. It’s a hilarious game though.

May 15 2015

1v1 CS:GO

The first half of the day was rather laid back, as LGD and iG successively showed up at the house to prepare for their matches on the day. LGD hung around in the fun stream and out back on the patio, as the weather had finally gotten a bit better (it had been raining the past few days), while iG went upstairs to the practice room. They were spread around the room relaxing: ChuaN watching the games and joking around with people, BurNIng playing pubs, and Ferrari_430 casually challenging S4 to a 1v1 in CS:GO.

S4 asks, “What’s your rank?” And Ferrari’s response was that he had no rank, he’s never played ranked. S4 laughs a bit, because apparently S4 is really good at CS:GO. We all expected Ferrari to get rekt but he held his own, at least partially due to S4 going easy on him. The highlight of the 1v1 came when S4 jumped down from the area above the CT spawn (is it called the catwalk? Or A-short? I only know these nicknames in Chinese…) while Ferrari was below and knifed him for the kill midair. The whole room exploded in cheers at that point, but ultimately Ferrari_430 held his own and only lost by a couple kills.

People were passing around a notepad having pros draw their favorite heroes. I came across BurNIng struggling to draw not Anti-mage, but Faceless Void, which I think he chose because it was slightly easier to draw. Ferrari specifically looked up an ‘easy version’ of Shadow Fiend and practically traced it off the screen, while ChuaN spent many minutes researching his ideal Rubick look and had it ready on his phone for when the notepad finally came his way. His Rubick thus was one of the more impressive drawings of the day, and he even asked for green pen to color in the green highlights of Rubick, but was unfortunately denied as there was no green pen handy anywhere.

Later on today iG was eliminated. I think. I’m pretty sure it was this day. One truth of working at events is that you hardly have any time or energy to really sit down and watch games and follow the tournament as a fan might. Sometimes, when you finally have some downtime you just want to relax and not stare at a game. Anyway, I think iG was eliminated on this day, by LGD I believe it was. After losing, iG were in no real mood to hang out and left the house in record time — understandable as despite The Summit’s casual approach, the competition is serious and so is the prize money and glory on the line.

Blurry practice room look

In the evening word gets to me that iG wants to reschedule their flights and leave LA early, to which I tell them that it’ll cost probably hundreds of dollars each, and they would essentially only be leaving a day or so earlier. Despite their bugattis and whatnot, a couple hundred dollars is still money and while these guys see handsome salaries and steady prize money, I’ve never known a Chinese player to be wasteful and so they ended up staying for the original duration. By the time I encountered some of them back at the hotel again this night, their spirits seemed to be much recovered and Faith brightly confirmed again to me that they would indeed not be leaving early. My next order of business was to try and convince some of them to try their hand at casting or otherwise hanging out at the house, and I spent a good hour or two on this. ChuaN said “I’ll cast if BurNIng casts with me,” but BurNIng got away without doing it and in the end ChuaN would come hang out and cast the next day anyway.

May 16 2015

I don’t know how he always sits like this

The competition is really starting to heat up and people are actually watching the games in the fun stream room. Watching EG vs LGD, VG’s guys talk about Aui_2000, “His carry was really good, and he was really good on that D-team… Dignitas? And that PotM team he was on was good too!” Then game 2 comes and ChuaN has arrived. Sitting down with everyone else, including the LGD manager and coach, we witness LGD buying back somewhat haphazardly and ChuaN nods in understanding, “I can relate. By the time it gets to this point, you just can’t stay calm anymore, you just have to buyback!!”

In the end LGD loses to EG and that’s the end of their Summit 3 journey.

Watching…

Sometime during this day we’ve introduced VG’s Fenrir and Hao to the wonder that is Crossy Road. Some of these guys are really into mobile games as a time filler (which makes sense since they are constantly on the move). Somehow this particular game caught their attention especially, and Fenrir and Hao spent at least an hour competing with each other. They both got near 200, but I think Fenrir did better. As Fenrir plays the game he makes sound effects for his chicken crossing the road, declaring as he dies a hundredth time “I’d rather jump in the water than watch my little guy get hit by a truck!!” Moral victories, I suppose.

And then it’s time for VG versus Secret, and they go with their team back out on the patio to discuss their approach for the matchup.

Aui won but had to go so forfeited his next round

VG versus Secret would see the result of ChuaN volunteering himself to join a cast on stream. A bilingual cast for an international game. It went alright, I guess. I’m under no illusions that it was unanimously loved, nor do I think it was executed perfectly, but it was pretty cool just because of what it was. I wrote out some of my thoughts on the general matter on reddit here if you’re interested.

Later on in the evening there was the Smash Bros tournament, but by that time most players are gone or leaving and everyone left at the house is running on fumes. I win one match as Game and Watch then lost the next round to the eventual champion, and I’m ready to call it a night too.

May 17 2015

This is the last day of the tournament, and just as things are reaching a crescendo you’re also becoming acutely aware that, well, this is it — the finals are coming. Win or go home, and… go home anyway. Because the tournament is drawing to a close. Everyone always has a good time at Summits, and even though VG loses to EG and ends their tournament third in what can be considered an upset, spirits seem to remain relatively high. They spend a solid two hours discussing as a team in the back patio but then they’re back in the house, hanging out upstairs in the practice room. Iceiceice and 357 set up to play some pubs together, even BurNIng shows up and hangs out for a while.

Secret win woooo

It’s almost like the grand finals are a sideshow, and perhaps to a great many of the players at this point it is. I get the last open seat in the room, and it’s next to FATA, who has his desktop background repeating an image of some dude. When I ask him who it is, I learn from him the “legend of kebap”. Later on Puppey comes and sees the desktop as well and for a few minutes it is kebap story time – apparently he was a player on mTw and loved cheese. Or something.

Iceiceice is playing Doom and has eaten the new rock golem creep, which causes mini versions of Doom to spawn whenever he dies. Every time he dies, he laughs like a maniac while trying to throw rocks at the enemies with the mini Dooms. BurNIng’s in the corner pubbing, but when I go look closer, he’s streaming… And he’s streaming on ZhanqiTV, and it’s lagging, and he’s constantly trying to make it less laggy but in the end it never really improves. We get him and some of the VG guys some In-N-Out, then BurNIng weighs himself on the scale in the bathroom and apparently he’s only 65 kg.

first time Super ever smiled

Fenrir, Fy, and Super hang out with us a bit and we chatter for a while. We talk about life and stuff… it was kinda deep. Then they want to go, but Fenrir keeps chatting, and Fy just stands there kind of blankly. He says, “I thought you guys were having a good time chatting so I was just gonna wait.” But we let them go, but not before I get a picture.

At some point Secret wins and the after party starts. Certain individuals get drunk and stumble around dangerously, doors are torn off walls, more people are on the floor than not at certain points in time.

see you

SmAsH smashing us all

After sending them off, I come back inside and there’s an impromptu game of Smash 64 going on. Except it’s not really a game, because it’s a massacre, and the massacre is coming at the hands of SmAsH of Not Today. Somehow I think we may have figured out the origins of his ID… Anyway, he’s coming out of a 4 player FFA with 3 out of 4 lives intact and 8 KOs on average per round. I try to 1v1 him after the others give up, the best I get is down to his last stock but it’s clear he is an excellent Smash 64 player, the best in the house, and he’s done it all with a giant grin on his face.

As the chaos swirls around us, BurNIng makes to leave in the night. He goes to find LD to express his thanks and bid farewell, then he’s off too. I go back upstairs to watch iceiceice play his pubs, and PPD comes over. He’s a funny dude when he wants to be and briefly sarcastically commentates on SumaiL’s pub game from over his shoulder. He also notes to iceiceice that “I was surprised when we beat you guys” and everyone just generally hangs out and exchanges pleasantries in a way that a shared interest allows. I find Kuroky and Zai at some point and say hi, then bye, because it’s getting quite late…

Eventually it’s sufficiently late that I feel like I should go too, and I run around the house trying to find and bid farewell to everyone I can, the BTS guys and gals, the people running camera and sound (for some of whom this is their first esports event), other personalities and whatnot, players… but I’m sure I still missed people. Regardless, this is a big thank you to everyone at the event and everyone working tirelessly to make the event what it is.

Thanks lastly again to BTS for having me here. As I mentioned in the short mini interview Toffees did with me on stream, it’s a privilege, and it’s always been a privilege, to be able to see all this at the ground level over the years and actually be a part of it too.

You can follow Dotaland on Twitter for occasional updates: twitter.com/Dotaland

2013 in review from a Chinese point of view

UUU9 had a pretty cool editorial writeup on 2013 Dota from the Chinese point of view… I took some small liberties and added a little bit to make things read better in English when translating here and there.

Foreword

The long-awaited Dota 2 servers came, competition domestically and international grew ever fiercer, new players emerged, old players persisted, viewers’ tears and players’ tears mixed as results pulled all our heartstrings. DK finally escaped two years of no wins, VG saw a meteoric rise, and the scene witnessed five strong teams fighting it out on the path to TI4.

This past year has been memorable, with sadnesses and triumphs, sweat and tears. We haven’t given up, we’re still moving ahead — where there is Dota, we are there, if only for a belief, a passion, we strive together.

Dota 2 servers, finally

The original and unadulterated (mostly) Dota 2 experience finally comes as the successor to DotA. A top tier esports experience, million-RMB prizes, Perfect World’s Dota 2 has finally taken off… The servers officially went fully free and open to play on Sept 25, 2013. This also marked the beginning of a new wave of a people’s esport movement, as internet cafe events, city-based events, media-sponsored events, and fan events all came together to kick things off on a national scale.

Long-awaited, ranked matchmaking comes

On Dec 12, 2013, the matchmaking system that fans and critics alike have been clamoring for finally came to Dota 2 along with Winter’s Wraith Night promotional event and new hero Legion Commander. With split matchmaking queues for solo and party, the system brings another level of self-improvement and engagement for players.

Events

G-1 League Season 5, the fall of China

Led by Loda, Alliance came and conquered, leaving as true winners after storming through the likes of DK, iG, and LGD, the traditional top three teams in China. In doing so, Alliance took away the G-1 title, a first for a Western team on Chinese soil. This was the early beginnings of a trend of weakness for Chinese teams through the latter half of 2013, and questions were raised regarding the drastic drop in competitiveness, with concerns aimed at ACE, a lack of offline events, and the falling behind of Chinese strategies.

The world celebrates TI3, as China laments

At TI3, Alliance showed to the world what their abilities were capable of. Undefeated in group stages, defeating three-time finalists NaVi in the Grand Finals, their outstanding performances earned them plaudits the world across. Just prior to these amazing Grand Finals, China would see its worst showing in an International to date. Only TongFu, who kept decent form throughout, managed to squeeze into the top 4. But still, as TongFu were eliminated, our hearts shattered. For everyone Chinese team this was a massive blow, and the losses still linger within. After these losses, the scene has seen much encouragement and work to improve on perceived weaknesses, with various players expressing their determination in fighting another year in hopes of redeeming themselves at TI4. We wish them well.

A historic WPC-ACE inaugural season

The 2013 WPCACE League was held in Shanghai in collaboration with the Shanghai Sports Bureau, Jingruis Real Estate, and ACE. Eight top teams from wtihin China, plus two qualifier teams partook, becoming part of this piece of esport history. LGD, iG, DK, VG, TongFu all participated, and in three months’ time starting in September 2013, they fought for a total prizepool of 1 million RMB. In the end, DK fought back from 3 games down in a best of 7 to win 4-3 against iG, and not only was history made in the results and the fashion it was achieved, but also in DK finally breaking their two year streak without winning anything.

Teams

DK — The winless finally escape their fate

The galacticos, the team that countless fans put their hopes and joys on, the team that let those fans down over and over again. Yet always there in the end, always a challenger to be feared. Ever since DK moved to Dota 2, it had been two years without any titles. After TI3, LaNm, Mushi, and iceiceice brought their star power to the team and thus created what some called a ‘dream team’. In the WPC-ACE League group stages they exhibited dominating form against other Chinese powerhouse teams. Ultimately they took the WPC-ACE League title, and thus escaped their two year nightmare.

iG — The meandering of a former world champion

iG, once king of kings, TI2 champions and dominating presence on the Chinese scene. They entered 2013 with a relative dearth of domestic events to compete in, and iG eventually could not escape the low tide in form that Chinese teams suffered in general throughout the year as a result. Their losses at TI3 led the world to doubt this once-proud championship winning team, and after TI3, iG brought in Hao, while banana found a rebirth here. In WPC-ACE they went toe to toe with DK, and ended up with a more-than-respectable second place finish. 430’s outstanding plays, YYF’s steadiness, Hao’s aggressiveness were all on display as we look forward to this juggernaut getting back on track…

VG — The fierceness of the newcomers

VG was founded in 2012, and they first entered our view in March of 2013. They first started with newcomers Fy, sydm et al. After TI3, they brought in Super, rOtK, and Sylar to create a mixed old and new roster alongside Fenrir. Amongst other good results, they went to Poland and won a major title in EMS One, proving that their choices thus far have been justified…

RisingStars — For the glory

Founded in January of 2013, Rstars consisted of former Noah’s Ark and DT Club players. Yet not much came of this team as they constantly looked to be on the verge of making the next step. A dismal showing in the latter half of the year, however, meant that eventually the club was disbanded. To this, their owner expressed dismay, because try as he might, it didn’t work out this time; we wish him strength in trying again for his dream in the future…

RattleSnake — Waiting to strike

In the beginning of 2013, various domestic events were all making the switch to Dota 2. Luo, along with former WE teammates Icy and Kabu, with LaNm and a new face in FAN, formed RSnake. After making it to TI3 but not doing much more than that, RSnake made changes to the roster yet saw little result, and currently the club retains no domestic roster for events in China…

LGD — The team of teams

With xiao8 as their heart, and the old Dream setup as their core, LGD has always been recognized as the strongest Chinese team in terms of execution. This has allowed them to hold on to their position within the traditional top three Chinese teams. Yet, their strong showing at TI2 did not transfer into 2013 and they failed to win any large titles, earning themselves the only title amongst Chinese fans as “forever number two”. Their TI3 performances were even less satisfactory, and after TI3, it was xiaotuji — a more aggressive fighting carry — that joined to replace Sylar. In relatively short amount of time since then, they have seen results with the new setup, with a good showing at WPC-ACE League (and a title at D2L S4 in the very start of 2014)…

TongFu — The sleeping tiger

With Hao, Mu, and KingJ as cores in 2013, TongFu achieved much in the first half of 2013. Because of LGD losing their direct invite to TI3 due to roster change, TongFu received a direct invite instead, and their fourth place finish at TI3 proved that they deserved it. As the best-placing Chinese team at TI3, TongFu were still unable to avoid changes, and Zhou, ZSMJ, and xtt joined after TI3. The two big-name Z carries have yet been unable to see TongFu emerge from a low ebb in form, and Zhou has even expressed a desire to retire if things don’t change, yet we still wish them luck and strength, add oil TongFu porridge…

Players

CTY: A bumpy path

CTY first entered our view as a wonderkid in 2009’s solo mid tournaments. With dreams of playing professionally, he joined VG, yet weak performances led to questioning of him as a player. After jolting around and ending up with RStars, we may have seen the last of him in Dota 2, as rumors abound that he will make the move to LoL. Things are never easy for newcomers to the scene, and we truly need them here…

Fy: Best newcomer aura

Fy’s first appearance on the main stage of our consciousness was perhaps him on Rubick. He lit the game up, and quickly earned a title as “Best Chinese Rubick player”. Afterwards, his career saw some bumps and ups and downs in a short amount of time, but he stuck with VG ultimately and has so far been rewarded with an EMS One title, accomanied with recognition as the year’s best new player…

ZSMJ: Dreams of the top in my return

ZSMJ’s original retirement left many fans with a sense of loss. One of the biggest anticipations for early 2013 was ZSMJ’s rumored return to the scene. From VG to TongFu, from carry to 4 position, his goal has only been to play to his utmost in hopes of one day standing again at the top. We can all see his hard work and his improvement, and perhaps the most reliable player on TongFu right now is none other than ZSMJ…

BurNIng: A thirst to prove himself by winning

B-God, ever since transitioning to Dota 2, had not won any major titles. In his heart of hearts there was nothing he desired more than a championship title. In this period, there were rumors around that he was thinking about retiring. Their faltering at TI3 was heavy and hard; in his tearful moments, fans empathized with his sadness but pleaded with him to play on for another year. After making changes to the team, DK seems to have found a new self, and the end of 2013 finally saw a smile visit BurNIng’s face…

Zhou: Searching for life within darkness

Zhou-god’s poor form has been bound to him since 2013 began and never left him. Still, he’s been featured on the loading screen seven times, and he holds weight as a player. After TI3, he joined TongFu alongside ZSMJ to redeem himself. We hope Zhou doesn’t give up, add oil…

MMY: Rebirth

Joining DK in early 2013, Dai officially became MMY and made the move to support. No matter what position MMY plays, his talent shines through. His Wisp, Rubick, and Visage are all shining examples, especially his Wisp, which could be the best in China. Following TI3, MMY’s play with DK has been a central pillar to depend on for the rest of his team, and within Chinese hard supports, he has been one of the most reliable, most outstanding ones…

LaNm: A legendary talent

Before he became a pro player, he was the king of pub players. After he became a pro, through all kinds of hardships and challenges, he has finally proven himself in this stretch of 2013 with a title. In the beginning of the year, RSnake with him and Luo had been well-regarded by people around China, but unfortunately they fell short. Post TI3, he joined DK to partner with MMY in support, reuniting with two other former EHOME players. This setup did not let us down, and after settling in with the team, LaNm has gradually displayed more and more flashes of his brilliance…

Bonus — a few top Chinese comments in response

1. Dai possesses the most natural talent, but the weakness of these tyeps of players is that typically they don’t work very hard. Back then he was playing WoW all day, but I think he’s gotten better nowadays. After losing LaNm, we finally saw how important he was as a player, RSnake went directly from competing at the TI3 level to barely being a semi-professional quality.
2. Why does LGD have such strong execution? Because what xiao8 says is what happens. So if they win it’s because of this, but if they lose it’s also because of this. LGD’s other four listen to xiao8 to a point of blindly following. I forget which competition it was, but xiao8 was initiating and dying instantly, and his other four teammates would just follow in one by one and die too. Sylar perhaps hadn’t yet completely bought into this, he tends to play it safe and just straight up bails if he thinks things aren’t going right, so ultimately he was replaced due to not matching up. This type of team execution has its good points, and its bad points. If it works then it results in perfect counter-plays, if it fails then it’s feeding. Even if the others have their own thoughts, in-game they all unconditionally listen to xiao8. Yet nowadays, this kind of execution perhaps has greater weaknesses than strengths.
3. Zhou, I think was a victim of iG’s recent styles. He’s been forced to play carry under a style where the carry has to face heavy pressure on his own and doesn’t get much protection, this has gone on for so long that perhaps he has lost some of his original carry senses. This is why 820 once said, if you’ve played too much 5 position then you end up forgetting how to play carry, your thoughts and your mechanics are focused on a completely different area.

The importance of team execution isn’t determined in just one competition. LGD, ever since 2009, has been one brain leading four obedient teammates, this has been the LGD style. This is also why LGD has been steady and stable no matter how their roster has changed. Honestly speaking, LGD with xiao8 has been greater than the sum of its parts, this is where we see the power of execution. You can question the captain’s decisions, after a match you can go and discuss, but on the field you just go and do what he says. Losing a match isn’t that important, it’s losing that collective heart. Right now DK is truly a dream team, at least in terms of its roster. But just as they are each great individual players, they will also each have their own thoughts, and this might be DK’s greatest problem in the future. If addressed, DK will certainly win over the entire world. Every strong world-class team, at their peak, has always had two things: strong execution, and a soul. EHOME had 820, Alliance has Loda, NaVi has Puppey (not Dendi).

Source: http://dota2.uuu9.com/2013/

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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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Chinese Social Summary: Nov 15 — Nov 26, 2013

Link to previous issue: Nov 1 — 13, 2013

Translations of random snippets from Chinese Dota 2 scene social media… for fun and light reading, etc. This issue includes some posts regarding the MLG Columbus Championship held over Nov 22-24. I also probably missed a few interesting ones from right before and during MLG.

My MLG writeup will be coming in the following days, stay tuned.

ChuaN and DeMoN

Let’s make a team!!: DeMoN posts this at ChuaN, but ChuaN’s response, “RETIRED”, and thus our hopes for a new international super team withered.

Faith

Diretide Roshan coordination: “Through farming Roshan, we improve our teamwork :D”

Fenrir

Relationship with CTY (with pics): “Public display of affection”

iceiceice

This is iceiceice with a puppy (with pic): “iceiceice’s son”

rOtk, Faith, and ddc

Response to G-League group draws:
rOtk: “What a nice draw Haitao (Chinese caster with G-League) has given us, oh well, we can only get in and go!”
Faith: “It’s gonna be bloody :o”
ddc: “Holy shit it’s gonna be bloody”

Xtt

Farming Roshan for weight loss:”I’ve lost 2.5 kg while farming Roshan”

MLG Columbus 2013 posts

BurNIng after losing final group stage game: “Don’t think any team would purposefully try to face NaVi in the elimination stage? Losing to Speed was our own problem, banpick and laning we all didn’t do well, and my own play was very weak as well, with lots of low-level mistakes. As for tomorrow’s matches I can only say: Let’s do this!”

rOtk watching DK vs NaVi: “NAVI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” “Worth staying up all night to watch, 1-1 is a new series. Hope DK comes through next game, this game XBOCT was too scary”
Of course, random people accused rOtk of being jealous of DK, to which he responded that he was purely expressing excitement at a good game, and later on predicted that DK would win the finals 2-0.

Black is a huge DK fan (of course): multiple posts consolidated in one link

xiao8’s prediction for finals: “DK 2-1 takes the title!”

BurNIng after finals: “Champion is not my fate.”
KingJ response to BurNIng: “It’s not that bad, don’t get pessimistic”

KingJ to MMY: “I know you’re really sad… don’t cry!! At worst, just start over again!!!” (MMY re-posted and responded “Yeah”)

Mushi: “The title passes me by. For someone like myself who has never been in a finals before, I can only say thank you to my teammates for bringing me into the MLG Finals. Let’s get back and continue working hard.”

LaNm: “Once again, one step away from champions. In the latter two games of the finals, I’d run out of stamina and my thoughts were a mess. Dota nowadays, unlike in the past, is truly difficult to just win all the way on the back of strong momentum. Tactics are more varied, laning and other elements can all determine the early game. With an early game advantage, snowballing farm with Midases, without a very resilient and flexible lineup it’s very hard to come back. I will focus on working on stamina, it is so important to be able to remain clear-headed. Sorry to my teammates, I tried my best.
DC (retired pro player, current caster) response to LaNm: “The scheduling we can talk about in private, but stamina is indeed something that wouldn’t hurt to look more at. Think about me, look at MMY, and you’ll have plenty of motivation to get out and exercise!”

Zhou: “eesama………..”

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