PC Gamer

Three Lane Highway is Chris' weekly column about Dota 2.

Watching ESL One New York last weekend made me realise just how long ago The International was. I mean, sure, technically it's only been three months. You
could say that, if you were going to be that guy. The guy with a calendar. In Dota time, though, three months is forever. This was one of the first major tournaments of the 6.82b (now 6.82c) era, and the first high-profile LAN in the west since the team shuffle process began after TI4. That great switcheroo is still ongoing, but for me this was the first time the game has felt anything close to stable in its new identity.

It was like watching a different Dota. Not simply because of the patch or the players but the effect that the two have in combination. Dota feels fresh again, a welcome sensation after the deathball doldrums that set in during the latter months of 6.81. This is in spite of a spate of embarrassing technical issues that riddled the tournament with interruptions. Maybe they helped, in fact: you've got plenty of time to ponder the state of the game when it's paused for two minutes out of every twenty.

Spoilers follow, naturally.

The long war

The best sets of the series
Alliance vs. EG in the quarter finals, EG vs. Vici in the grand final were defined by games that the casters simply couldn't call until deep into the midgame. This was extraordinarily rare in the previous patch, and demonstrates that the update has been successful in holding off the '8 minute GG' issue (at least for the time being). Longer, closer games mean that greater emphasis is placed on super-lategame carries, as demonstrated by Loda in Alliance vs. EG game two. Vici's Black^ said afterwards that this patch was going to be about three-core strategies with a single farming hard carry, and TobiWan put it a different way when he described Vici's winning strategy as "four-create-space-for-one" (a twist on "four-protect-one").

What was striking about this change for me, however, was that matches haven't become more passive as they've gotten longer. In some cases the early game is less active than it used to be it certainly doesn't outright the determine the rest of the game as it sometimes used to but we're seeing more brilliant, close teamfights in the midgame as teams wrestle to claim map control. There's something to be said for game-determining teamfights and they still happen but I appreciate the number of close trades we saw, particularly in the final. It's funny that the solution to a game that was losing some of its drama was to effectively curtail the long-term signficance of certain engagements, but it really works for me. More fighting is better fighting, after all.

The age of the support

This general shift has interesting implications for support players. I've seen the argument made that 6.82's lategame focus makes supports less relevant as fewer matches are decided by early rotations, but I don't think that's quite right. A combination of interesting Aghanim's Scepter upgrades and more gold going to supports in general means more interesting plays coming out of position four and five later in the game. Vici Gaming more or less won the tournament on this basis, whether that's fy's Skywrath Mage saving Super's Ember Spirit with an Ethereal Blade or the same player picking up Diffusal Blade on Sand King in two separate matches to counter Omniknight's Repel. I'd probably argue that Vici Gaming won the tournament because of fy in general, but there you go.

It's great to see lategame supports being given more to do than 'get your ult off' and 'don't die'. There seems to have been an increase in the skill ceiling of the role in general, and I love that many of the biggest plays are coming out of heroes with no gold in their pockets. It will, inevitably, take a long time for this line of thinking to filter down into pub play if it ever does. But with the rise of Omniknight as a ranked matchmaking 'win' button and Jakiro's steady shift from support to core, there's a rethink coming that should hopefully impact how people perceive these characters and their importance to the game.

Despite this, many people will still first-pick Faceless Void.

Size isn't everything

In terms of the game itself, then, ESL One NY convinced me that the next couple of months are going to be really exciting. The heroes that have clung to their top-tier positions from one patch to the next Brewmaster in particular are generally the ones that are the most entertaining to watch, and I'm happy to see Razor and Death Prophet (slowly) make their way back into the box of spares.

On the other hand, the tournament highlighted a few things about the growth of the sport in general that aren't entirely positive and I'm not just talking about the technical issues. The choice of venue is a sticking point for me. E-sports have always chased the old-media legitimacy that comes with being on TV or occupying a famous venue, but I'm not convinced that 'old-media legitimacy' is something that anybody actually wants. Going for Madison Square garden might have got Dota into the New York Times, but is that the real measure for success here? When high ticket prices and limited spaces are the consequence of a high-profile venue, I'm not sure it's the best thing for the game.

As Dota grows I hope organisations like ESL see the importance of balancing prestige venues with locations that support the volume of people who want to see Dota live and who want to do so affordably. The Commerzbank Arena where ESL One Frankfurt was held was actually a good balance of the two, in that regard. It's possible to have both, but I believe that the entertainment value of Dota is substantial enough that it doesn't need the extra flare all of the time. It's natural for a new form of entertainment, particularly such a generational one, to look to adopt the trappings of the things that preceded it. Traditional sport established our model for what success looks like. But because this is a new and generational medium it is an opportunity to challenge a few paradigms and high ticket prices are one of them.

Which is not to say that Dota hasn't earned its place in Madison Square Garden, nor does it undermine the effort expended to get it there (and to make everything work, most of the time.) There is a real opportunity here, however, to serve the Dota community with events that lots of people can get to to the point where live Dota is a natural part of the hobby, and not an exceptional extravagance available only to the fortunate.

To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Philippa Warr)

Can't speak French but lets the funky warding do the talking

Part of a miscellany of serious thoughts, animal gifs, and anecdotage from the realm of MOBAs/hero brawlers/lane-pushers/ARTS/tactical wizard-em-ups. One day Pip might even tell you the story of how she bumped into Na Vi s Dendi at a dessert buffet cart.>

There’s a sensation I think a lot of people who play multiplayer games with friends will recognise. It’s that moment of realisation that the skill and interest levels of your friendship group have started to diverge.

There were a large number of people who arrived at Dota 2′s doors a couple of years ago in a flurry of excitement. This was back when the game was in beta. Every now and again Steam would joyfully announce you had new items in your inventory and you would rush to check them out. It would always be five new keys for Dota 2. Honestly, that game was basically the digital game distribution platform version of Tribbles.

… [visit site to read more]

Product Update - Valve
* Buyback cooldown increased from 6 to 7 minutes
* AoE Gold NWFactor reduced from 0.06/0.06/0.05/0.04/0.03 to 0.05/0.05/0.05/0.04/0.03
* AoE XP XPFactor reduced from 0.3/0.3/0.2/0.15/0.12 to 0.23/0.23/0.2/0.15/0.12
* Mystic Flare damage is now dealt over 2.4 seconds instead of 2.2 seconds
* Ancient Seal cooldown increased from 11 to 14
* Crypt Swarm damage rescaled from 100/175/250/300 to 75/150/225/300
* Exorcism cooldown increased from 135 to 145
* Juxtapose max illusions reduced from 6/8/10 to 5/7/9
* Bloodrage now only amplifies for half of the value when the dealer and the receiver are over 2200 range apart
* Primal Split cast time increased from 0.4 to 0.65 seconds
* Primal Split delay after cast time (while invulnerable) reduced from 0.85 to 0.6 seconds
* Ethereal Blade projectile speed increased from 1100 to 1200
* Song of the Siren cast point increased from 0.65 to 0.8 seconds
* Guardian Angel no longer provides HP Regeneration
* Metamorphosis movement speed reduced from 315 to 290
* Conjure Image damage intake increased from 300% to 425%
* Sunder no longer interrupts the target
* Sunder cast range increased from 250 to 325
* Haunt illusion outgoing damage decreased from 40% to 30%
* Spectre movement speed reduced from 295 to 290
* Chronosphere cooldown increased from 120/100/80 to 130/110/90
* Eye of the Storm Scepter interval increased from 0.55/0.45/0.35 to 0.6/0.5/0.4
* Static Link cooldown increased from 25 to 32/30/28/26
* Flaming Fists damage type changed from Magical to Pure (pierces Spell Immunity)
* Flaming Fists damage reduced from 100/150/200 to 80/115/150
Product Update - Valve
* Fixed a Meepo item exploit.

* Fixed various methods by which the IP of the game server you are playing on could be revealed to a third party.

* In the latest Steam Beta client, your IP is no longer revealed via unaccepted Voice Call requests.

* The Game Info feature on the Steam Friends List no longer shows the IP of the gameserver you are on.

* League games will now automatically pause when any player disconnects. It will remain paused for up to 24 hours if all players are disconnected.

* Local lobby league games can now be viewed through DotaTV. However, this is recommended only as a backup solution for league administrators, as locally generated replays are not fully integrated with the league system. This will be on the Test Client first and then merged to the Main Client next week.

* Customers who purchased an ESL One NY or WCA ticket will receive a free Treasure Redemption Token for each ticket.

* We've worked with the ESL team to collect the replays for yesterday's games that weren't broadcast through DotaTV. Replays are available here: http://cdn.dota2.com/apps/dota2/posts/ESL_One_NY_Local_Replays.zip

* The Singapore maintenance window will be moved from next week to later this month. Further details will be announced here as they are available: http://www.dota2.com/maintenance/
PC Gamer





Watch live video from esltv_dota on www.twitch.tv

The ESL One Dota 2 championship tournament in New York City is now live, with eight teams vying for the trophy and a prize pool worth more than $100,000.

The first-round match pitting Natus Vincere against Vici Gaming is already underway, to be followed by Team Secret versus Natus Vincere US, Alliance against Evil Geniuses and Cloud 9 against Sneaky Nyx Assassins. The tournament is following a single-elimination knockout format, with each match, including the finals, a best-of-three contest.

The ESL One tournament is the biggest Dota 2 event in the West since The International 2014. As broken down by Joindota.com, there have also been a lot of roster changes since that event.

To find out more about the ESL One New York City 2014 Dota 2 championship, hit up els-one.com. You can also follow the action on Twitch.

Product Update - Valve
* Made improvements to server network performance
* Added two new matchmaking regions in South America (Chile and Peru)
* Removed Captains Draft mode from ranked matchmaking. There were too few players in this mode which caused excessive wait times, imbalanced matches, and potential for MMR abuse.

The Singapore matchmaking region will be undergoing some changes next week. There will be a maintenance period from the 13th until the 16th Singapore time. On the 14th the region will be entirely unavailable, and during the other times it will be operating under limited capacity (fewer servers available for usage). We will be rebuilding the clusters on new server hardware and retiring the old server hardware. On the network side, we will be improving the router architecture, as it is currently too susceptible to packet loss under high load.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Philippa Warr)

Razor bringing the pathetic fallacy

Part of a miscellany of serious thoughts, animal gifs, and anecdotage from the realm of MOBAs/hero brawlers/lane-pushers/ARTS/tactical wizard-em-ups. One day Pip might even tell you the story of how she bumped into Na Vi s Dendi at a dessert buffet cart.>

This column is something I wrote early this year and posted on my own blog. It was about the way in which depression affected how I played Dota 2. I don’t tend to write about my private life beyond daft anecdotes so it felt a little unsettling but a lot of people got in touch to share their own experiences. I get the impression that it has been a helpful thing to have posted as, generally, depression is not something that’s particularly easy to talk about. With that in mind I’m posting a slightly updated version here so that it can be part of Dote Night and so that, if it is at all helpful for anyone, they can find it easily.

… [visit site to read more]

Product Update - Valve
- Fixed Ranked Matchmaking not obeying its level restriction
- Fixed a rare bug that allowed you to teleport and be stunned at the same time
- Fixed the hitbox for the Neokin Faierie Wards
- Added stack counter for the Flak Cannon buff
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Mine.

Whoa. Hey there. Sorry, I’m just coming round following the Saxxy Awards on Wednesday. I don’t even remember Thursday. There I was, seated between Morrissey and Prince, then I have a vague memory of Mozzer whipping out a hip flask that smelt like paint stripper and… nothing. It’s a blank. I don’t even know who won. I awoke in a cemetery this morning.

The Saxxies, of course, are the annual fan-voted awards for short films made in Valve’s Source Filmmaker. They’re short flicks about TF2, Portal 2, and Dota 2, but with the care Valve puts into developing characters and recording odd edge-case lines of dialogue, folks can be jolly creative.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Mine.

Whoa. Hey there. Sorry, I’m just coming round following the Saxxy Awards on Wednesday. I don’t even remember Thursday. There I was, seated between Morrissey and Prince, then I have a vague memory of Mozzer whipping out a hip flask that smelt like paint stripper and… nothing. It’s a blank. I don’t even know who won. I awoke in a cemetery this morning.

The Saxxies, of course, are the annual fan-voted awards for short films made in Valve’s Source Filmmaker. They’re short flicks about TF2, Portal 2, and Dota 2, but with the care Valve puts into developing characters and recording odd edge-case lines of dialogue, folks can be jolly creative.

… [visit site to read more]

...

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