PC Gamer




















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

My PC's power supply exploded a few hours after the patch notes for version 6.82 were released, which should tell you a few things about how significant this update is—even if it ultimately teaches you nothing about the relationship between correlation and causation. Post-International patches are always a big deal, but this is

the

big one. Sweeping changes to the map, and in particular the structure of the early game, mean the death of the deathball and a refresh to which heroes can be laned where. Combined with a fresh set of nerfs and buffs and some silly new Aghanim's Scepter upgrades and, well, it's time to start learning again. We are entering the era of 6.82.
So let's start with the small things. Shadow Fiend's remodel has arrived, a long with an Arcana that more or less turns him into Ragnaros: a rare example of a hero derived from a Warcraft character being turned into a

different

Warcraft character. I like his regular new look, though. He looks like Sauron's little brother who you remember from when he was a kid but then you see him years later and he's been working out and picked up an attitude. You realise that this kid you used to know (who collects souls) is a grown-ass adult and you look over at Sauron and realise how old you both have become. You say something stupid like "hey, Shadow Fiend, how's college" and he good-naturedly tells you that actually he finished a year ago; he's looking for a job; he's considering becoming a personal trainer

or

curating a library of stolen souls. You wish him well and then you and Sauron get blind drunk and he won't shut up about hobbits and you wish you were hanging out with his cool kid brother and the first deep fractures form in your friendship.
Anyway. There is a Dota patch!
On the safelane and in the jungle

I'm not going to cover specific changes as much as themes and the way I think the game will shift, particularly in the early stages of a match. It's useful to focus on specific lanes to do this.
Runes now spawn at both ends of the river, and one is always a new 'bounty' rune that grants bonus XP and gold. This reduces the amount of luck involved in finding runes but equally makes securing the rune spots—already the difference between a good support and a great one—even more important.
Ideally you do not want either rune to go uncontested. On both sides, I suspect that trilane supports or junglers will play a role in securing runes closest to the safelane, vying with mids and offlaners for the advantage. Teams will have to make a decision about letting supports take bounty runes or leaving them for core heroes. Both approaches are viable. With the nerf to tier one tower gold, bounty runes will become an important source of early income for supports that can't jungle, and they'll also incentivise early roaming. In general, playing safelane support will be a lot more active, even in pubs.
The new position of Roshan makes Dire's tier one tower on the offlane really important. For this reason, where push strats survive I expect to see them on the Radiant safelane. Shadow Shaman would do well here, and it'll be interesting to see what happens to Lycan. Despite the nerfs he's still a strong pusher, and by evening out the Dire Roshan advantage he may find a new home as a Radiant safelaner. This is also where Terrorblade is useful, but despite being in Captain's Mode he's not terribly strong at the moment.
I'm really looking forward to experimenting with new trilane combinations. Bloodseeker's changes lend him great opportunities to synergise with other heroes, giving him a place in a trilane either as a core or - perhaps, I'd need to experiment - as a support. His damage amp is also potentially a heal, and he has a huge AoE silence. A Disruptor, Bloodseeker, Shadow Fiend trilane could make an offlaner's life very, very hard.
In mid

The rune changes, coupled with downplayed bottle charges, make mobility important again. Expect to see Queen of Pain and Puck. Ember Spirit isn't going anywhere, either, because his ult is one of the few spells capable of moving him between rune spots in time to snatch both. This is also a direct buff to the mid support Io strategy popularised by Fnatic: with a fast bottle and a good team, Io can reliably secure a lot of regen.
The increased importance of runes makes mid less independent from the rest of their team in pubs, because they can no longer comfortably win their lane alone. This means that drafting mid will need to take into account a map-wide strategy for securing an early lead, which isn't often the case at lower skill levels.
I don't think you can totally count pushing and farming midlaners out, though. Now that teams are heavily incentivised to use Glyph of Fortification on their tier ones, being able to pressure multiple towers at once is useful because it means that the enemy will need to pick where to defend after the glyph wears off. Having a mid who can threaten a tower solo, like Dragon Knight, could secure advantages elsewhere.
On the offlane

A lot of heroes became viable solo offlaners in this patch. Leshrac was already strong, and the buff to his ult means he benefits from early levels even more. Ogre Magi has health regen all day. Legion Commander would work here too, particularly on Dire where her counter-push will be most useful. I'd expect to see the rise of Undying continue, and maybe even offlane Puck and Queen of Pain for their strong harass and ability to secure runes. Windranger is more viable too, which I'm very happy about. Earth Spirit's rune control makes him a big winner as well.
There may be a place for Huskar here somewhere, but it's an outside chance. Poor Huskar.
Opening up the pathways around each offlane tower means that defensive engagements—and aggressive roaming onto the enemy offlane—will be more interesting. One of the first tasks will be to determine optimal new ward spots to cover these approaches, because there are many new blind spots.
I love the way these new changes interact with the offlane. I'd felt for a while that it was too easy to solo, and that making it hard again would defang characters like Void and Doom. What we got is, on paper, better. The offlaner now has more to deal with, from securing runes to preventing the enemy from being in a position to pressure multiple towers. Dark Seer is another character that benefits directly from these new objectives. In short: passive heroes out, active heroes in.
Tomorrow's wombo

It's way too early to break down exactly how 6.82 is going to affect the small details of battle. So, instead, I'm going to pitch a number of silly combos enabled by this update. These are not particularly viable, but they would make good YouTube. I would like to try them.
Surprise! Double Surprise! Triple Surprise! MONSTER SURPRISE!

Make the grandest possible entrance by stashing Lifestealer inside any hero. Then, put that hero into a Tusk Snowball with Earth Spirit and Phoenix. Roll at the enemy, and at the exact moment that the hero emerges, pull them into an Aghs Supernova. Defend the Supernova. Then, as the hero is reborn, turn them into a Stone Remnant and kick them at any surviving enemies. Finally , Lifestealer may emerge.
The enemy will experience this as a snowball that becomes the sun; the sun that becomes a statue; a statue that becomes a hero; a hero that explodes and becomes a zombie. Who needs acid?
Hero Centipede

Create a mobile chain of digestion by having Io Tether to Phoenix, Phoenix cast Sun Ray at Pugna, and Pugna use his Aghs upgrade to vomit health at an ally. It's like a disgusting laser hose that saves lives!
We're Just A Bunch Of Big

Guys Who Make Each Other Stronger

Draft Beastmaster, Lycan, Sven, Bloodseeker, Troll Warlord for a manly draft full of dudes who

really

enjoy each other's company. Farm up an Aghanim's Scepter on Sven to maximise the good times by ensuring that everybody is properly hype.
It's a soap opera as well as a pocket strat. Sven wants to buff Lycan, but he takes

so

long to get ready these days! Troll Warlord and Beastmaster get on now, but who's going to feel most useless when they hit attack speed cap? Bloodseeker might have impressed Lycan on the drag racing strip before, but the old wolf's faster than ever. Perhaps if he gives Blood Rage to Lycan and only Lycan, sensei will finally notice him? Find your own answers! Inevitably lose your own games.
The sun is tickling me to death and I can't even

If Phoenix uses Supernova on Bane during Fiend's Grip, and both have Aghanim's Scepters, does anyone who attacks the sun get affected by nightmare? Because that would be broken as hell. Let's hope so.
To read more Three Lane Highway,

click here.






PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Three Lane Highway: patch 6.82 and the Dota 2 of tomorrow">Three Lane Highway







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



My PC's power supply exploded a few hours after the patch notes for version 6.82 were released, which should tell you a few things about how significant this update is even if it ultimately teaches you nothing about the relationship between correlation and causation. Post-International patches are always a big deal, but this is the big one. Sweeping changes to the map, and in particular the structure of the early game, mean the death of the deathball and a refresh to which heroes can be laned where. Combined with a fresh set of nerfs and buffs and some silly new Aghanim's Scepter upgrades and, well, it's time to start learning again. We are entering the era of 6.82.



So let's start with the small things. Shadow Fiend's remodel has arrived, a long with an Arcana that more or less turns him into Ragnaros: a rare example of a hero derived from a Warcraft character being turned into a different Warcraft character. I like his regular new look, though. He looks like Sauron's little brother who you remember from when he was a kid but then you see him years later and he's been working out and picked up an attitude. You realise that this kid you used to know (who collects souls) is a grown-ass adult and you look over at Sauron and realise how old you both have become. You say something stupid like "hey, Shadow Fiend, how's college" and he good-naturedly tells you that actually he finished a year ago; he's looking for a job; he's considering becoming a personal trainer or curating a library of stolen souls. You wish him well and then you and Sauron get blind drunk and he won't shut up about hobbits and you wish you were hanging out with his cool kid brother and the first deep fractures form in your friendship.



Anyway. There is a Dota patch!



On the safelane and in the jungle



I'm not going to cover specific changes as much as themes and the way I think the game will shift, particularly in the early stages of a match. It's useful to focus on specific lanes to do this.



Runes now spawn at both ends of the river, and one is always a new 'bounty' rune that grants bonus XP and gold. This reduces the amount of luck involved in finding runes but equally makes securing the rune spots already the difference between a good support and a great one even more important.



Ideally you do not want either rune to go uncontested. On both sides, I suspect that trilane supports or junglers will play a role in securing runes closest to the safelane, vying with mids and offlaners for the advantage. Teams will have to make a decision about letting supports take bounty runes or leaving them for core heroes. Both approaches are viable. With the nerf to tier one tower gold, bounty runes will become an important source of early income for supports that can't jungle, and they'll also incentivise early roaming. In general, playing safelane support will be a lot more active, even in pubs.



The new position of Roshan makes Dire's tier one tower on the offlane really important. For this reason, where push strats survive I expect to see them on the Radiant safelane. Shadow Shaman would do well here, and it'll be interesting to see what happens to Lycan. Despite the nerfs he's still a strong pusher, and by evening out the Dire Roshan advantage he may find a new home as a Radiant safelaner. This is also where Terrorblade is useful, but despite being in Captain's Mode he's not terribly strong at the moment.



I'm really looking forward to experimenting with new trilane combinations. Bloodseeker's changes lend him great opportunities to synergise with other heroes, giving him a place in a trilane either as a core or - perhaps, I'd need to experiment - as a support. His damage amp is also potentially a heal, and he has a huge AoE silence. A Distuptor, Bloodseeker, Shadow Fiend trilane could make an offlaner's life very, very hard.



In mid



The rune changes, coupled with downplayed bottle charges, make mobility important again. Expect to see Queen of Pain and Puck. Ember Spirit isn't going anywhere, either, because his ult is one of the few spells capable of moving him between rune spots in time to snatch both. This is also a direct buff to the mid support Io strategy popularised by Fnatic: with a fast bottle and a good team, Io can reliably secure a lot of regen.



The increased importance of runes makes mid less independent from the rest of their team in pubs, because they can no longer comfortably win their lane alone. This means that drafting mid will need to take into account a map-wide strategy for securing an early lead, which isn't often the case at lower skill levels.



I don't think you can totally count pushing and farming midlaners out, though. Now that teams are heavily incentivised to use Glyph of Fortification on their tier ones, being able to pressure multiple towers at once is useful because it means that the enemy will need to pick where to defend after the glyph wears off. Having a mid who can threaten a tower solo, like Dragon Knight, could secure advantages elsewhere.



On the offlane



A lot of heroes became viable solo offlaners in this patch. Leshrac was already strong, and the buff to his ult means he benefits from early levels even more. Ogre Magi has health regen all day. Legion Commander would work here too, particularly on Dire where her counter-push will be most useful. I'd expect to see the rise of Undying continue, and maybe even offlane Puck and Queen of Pain for their strong harass and ability to secure runes. Windranger is more viable too, which I'm very happy about. Earth Spirit's rune control makes him a big winner as well.



There may be a place for Huskar here somewhere, but it's an outside chance. Poor Huskar.



Opening up the pathways around each offlane tower means that defensive engagements and aggressive roaming onto the enemy offlane will be more interesting. One of the first tasks will be to determine optimal new ward spots to cover these approaches, because there are many new blind spots.



I love the way these new changes interact with the offlane. I'd felt for a while that it was too easy to solo, and that making it hard again would defang characters like Void and Doom. What we got is, on paper, better. The offlaner now has more to deal with, from securing runes to preventing the enemy from being in a position to pressure multiple towers. Dark Seer is another character that benefits directly from these new objectives. In short: passive heroes out, active heroes in.



Tomorrow's wombo



It's way too early to break down exactly how 6.82 is going to affect the small details of battle. So, instead, I'm going to pitch a number of silly combos enabled by this update. These are not particularly viable, but they would make good YouTube. I would like to try them.



Surprise! Double Surprise! Triple Surprise! MONSTER SURPRISE!



Make the grandest possible entrance by stashing Lifestealer inside any hero. Then, put that hero into a Tusk Snowball with Earth Spirit and Phoenix. Roll at the enemy, and at the exact moment that the hero emerges, pull them into an Aghs Supernova. Defend the Supernova. Then, as the hero is reborn, turn them into a Stone Remnant and kick them at any surviving enemies. Finally , Lifestealer may emerge.



The enemy will experience this as a snowball that becomes the sun; the sun that becomes a statue; a statue that becomes a hero; a hero that explodes and becomes a zombie. Who needs acid?



Hero Centipede



Create a mobile chain of digestion by having Io Tether to Phoenix, Phoenix cast Sun Ray at Pugna, and Pugna use his Aghs upgrade to vomit health at an ally. It's like a disgusting laser hose that saves lives!



We're Just A Bunch Of Big

Guys Who Make Each Other Stronger



Draft Beastmaster, Lycan, Sven, Bloodseeker, Troll Warlord for a manly draft full of dudes who really enjoy each other's company. Farm up an Aghanim's Scepter on Sven to maximise the good times by ensuring that everybody is properly hype.



It's a soap opera as well as a pocket strat. Sven wants to buff Lycan, but he takes so long to get ready these days! Troll Warlord and Beastmaster get on now, but who's going to feel most useless when they hit attack speed cap? Bloodseeker might have impressed Lycan on the drag racing strip before, but the old wolf's faster than ever. Perhaps if he gives Blood Rage to Lycan and only Lycan, sensei will finally notice him? Find your own answers! Inevitably lose your own games.



The sun is tickling me to death and I can't even



If Phoenix uses Supernova on Bane during Fiend's Grip, and both have Aghanim's Scepters, does anyone who attacks the sun get affected by nightmare? Because that would be broken as hell. Let's hope so.



To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.
PC Gamer





















Dota 2

is about to change thanks to the new 'Rekindling Soul' update, which should be available right now. Along with all the promised 6.82 balance updates comes the new, metamorphosised Shadow Fiend. Not only does the fiend look different, but the update also introduces the Demon Eater Arcana variation, which turns the Shadow Fiend into a whole different beast. If you buy the Demon Eater set before October 31 you'll get the 'Exalted' quality.

That's only the tip of the iceberg, and if you're a Dota 2 player you'll probably want to pore over the thoroughly detailed update notes

over here

. For everyone else it's good enough to know that pretty much every aspect of the game has been tweaked to some degree, from the abilties of certain characters through to the layout of the world itself. That latter point is interesting, since it's the first layout change for years.

Full patch notes are on the

Dota 2 website

.






PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Dota 2 ‘Rekindling Soul’ update ushers in sweeping changes">dota2







Dota 2 is about to change thanks to the new 'Rekindling Soul' update, which should be available right now. Along with all the promised 6.82 balance updates comes the new, metamorphosised Shadow Fiend. Not only does the fiend look different, but the update also introduces the Demon Eater Arcana variation, which turns the Shadow Fiend into a whole different beast. If you buy the Demon Eater set before October 31 you'll get the 'Exalted' quality.



That's only the tip of the iceberg, and if you're a Dota 2 player you'll probably want to pore over the thoroughly detailed update notes over here. For everyone else it's good enough to know that pretty much every aspect of the game has been tweaked to some degree, from the abilties of certain characters through to the layout of the world itself. That latter point is interesting, since it's the first layout change for years.



Full patch notes are on the Dota 2 website.
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Three Lane Highway: exploring the expensive e-sports hype trailers of tomorrow">Aegis of Champions







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



Today I watched a very dramatic and slick and expensive-looking trailer for League of Legends' Worlds 2014 tournament. I thought about it in relation to the game of my own preference, and how I spent part of July in a basketball stadium getting really worked up about international wizard conflict more or less because a man with a deep voice told me to. I've written about the narratives that surround the rise of e-sports before. Today, for these reasons and despite many others, I felt compelled to do so in the form of a science fiction press release.



Here you go and I am sorry.



ISHUTIN STATION, EARTH'S MOON, August 17 2161-



The International 150 began in earnest today as Valve Software unveiled its latest demonstration of the ever-growing reach and relevance of digital sports. In a spectacle timed to coincide with both the 150th anniversary of the terrestrial Dota 2 tournament and the 45th anniversary of the first Lunar International, Valve's array of antique Overwatch satellites were fitted with high-yield nuclear weapons and explosively decommissioned at strategic points across the Mare Cognitum.



"Today, as it has ever been, e-sports are a vibrant and fast-expanding way to create value for our audience" said Valve co-founder Gabe Newell, speaking via the company's proprietary Steam Afterlife digital consciousness storage service. "Today, we create value for our audience by nuking the moon."



As glittering dust settled across scattered lunar colonies, the extent of Valve's explosive remodeling operation revealed itself: a vast plain of dark glass extending across much of the Moon's Earth-facing side. This, then, was the answer to weeks of speculation about hidden files uncovered in the game's latest update: a set of classic lunar spacesuit cosmetics for Techies; a new 'Nuclear Supernova' kinetic gem for Phoenix; a pre-emptive letter of apology to the people of Earth.



Then, the first images flickered to life across that blasted surface as beams of light converged from a ring of orbital projectors. Their lines traced the Dota 2 logo, along with all that it has come to mean since the great E-Sports Marketing Escalation Wars of the early 21st Century: wizards, competition, community, vast expense.



"Welcome to The International" boomed the voice of Robot John Patrick Lowrie as a hyper-accelerated montage of a century and a half of competitive wizard-clicking flashed before the eyes of every man woman and child on planet Earth. "Please stand for the national anthem."



Vi sitter h r i venten och spelar lite DotA



Synthesisers in the darkness. Then, from that bright blue world below, the traditional call-and-response.



I hear you, man!



Vi sitter h r i venten och spelar lite DotA



I feel you, man!



Great-grandparents wept as strains of familiar eurodance transported them back to their childhoods. They remembered days of innocence, when e-sports tournaments took place in football stadiums and not specially-constructed orbital thunderdomes; when prize pools capped out at a few million dollars and did not exceed the gross domestic product of the United States of America. A time when there was a United States of America, or indeed nations at all. Before civilization became a game played between supercorporations, before war became a battle to see who could produce the fanciest trailer for their digital sport. Before a video depicting teenage pro-gamers as magical lasers; before that first disastrous attempt to turn teenage pro-gamers into actual lasers.



Before the rise of the League Hierarchy and its on-again, off-again conflict with the people of the Dota Core. Before the Secession of the Storm and the exile of the Federation of Other MOBAs. Earth remembered, and listened to Basshunter.



"We really think that digital sport is only going to get bigger from here" said a masked and anonymous spokesperson for Valve, taking questions shortly after the event. "I mean, it's really big, isn't it. And it's only going to get better, isn't it? It's very, very, very important, and big, and good, and growing. That what everybody always says at these things, isn't it? Is this going well? Did I do it right? Please do not incinerate me."



This year's prize pool includes a gift from every extant human being, with the exact value of each gift to be determined via Compendium vote. Analysts are divided in their choice of favourite, but Earth Prime Team DK, Robo-Alliance and The Zephyr Memorial Medibears are all expected to do well. Na'Vi, most analysts agree, will come second.



The International 150 will conclude on August 21, 2161. In the weeks to follow the Earth will hold its traditional How Big Are E-Sports Really Festival, a celebration of traditional arts and crafts with headline events including 'Early 21st Century Gaming Op-Eds: A Guide' and 'Inside The Comments Thread: But Is It Really Sport?'



Riot are expected to respond by engraving the League logo into the surface of Mars or something later in the year.



To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Three Lane Highway: what tournament play has taught me about Dota 2">Tidehunter Ravage







Three Lane Highway is Chris' column about Dota 2.



You're always learning, whether or not it feels like it. I've had games of Dota where I've felt like I've learned nothing at all, where my mistakes have been obvious to me (and probably to everybody else involved) and my victories have been conducted against enemies too busy screaming at each other or eating paint to make it mean anything. There is always, however, a way to learn.



If you work on your ability to pick apart a situation to understand its various components which is something I've written about in this column before then it's possible to derive rules and principles that are tremendously helpful. This is because your performance in Dota is made of up two things. The first is the obvious stuff: the mixture of game knowledge and mechanical skill that comprises the better part of your matchmaking rating. The second part is more nebulous, because it's bound up in things that are personal to you. Whether you have an ego or not. Whether or not you are calm. Whether you can comprehend and act on criticism. You are always able to work on the latter, and you should, because it'll make you happier and better at the game.



I've been playing in a couple of tournaments recently. I'm part of a games industry Dota 2 tournament called The Rektreational that has been running for a couple of months. I'm on team Venomancer, I Hardly Know Her? with Philippa Warr of RPS, freelancer Phill Cameron, PyrionFlax, and shaneomad. We've won our first two matches and are through to the third round.



I'm also in a team called the Hot Dukes and last night we took part in the qualifiers for the Epic LAN EGX Dota 2 tournament, the finals for which will be held at the EGX expo in London at the end of month. We won our first game and got crushed in the second. We learned a bunch of things. We'll turn them into rules and move on. That's how this stuff works.



Playing in this way has reinforced a bunch of things that felt like I knew about the game and myself and corrected many others. I'm by no means a good player, but I think I have an alright attitude and slowly but surely I've arrived at the point where I think I've got actual advice to share about playing structured Dota.



The first piece of advice, which anybody who was watching the Epic LAN stream last night will understand, is 'don't blink directly into a Disruptor ult'. Yep. Learned that one. The rest of this is somewhat more elaborate.



The theorycraft has no brakes



...and that can get you in trouble. The funny thing about Captain's Mode is that it looks and feels like the type of Dota that you see talented professionals playing. The thing is, you are probably not a talented professional Dota player. It is very, very easy to get carried away by imitating strategies you're not fully capable of pulling off, and to be led astray by a metagame that you think you understand fully but probably don't. That's the thing about the metagame: it's easy to learn because it's not, ultimately, about personal skill. It's about knowledge, and knowledge can be memories - and misused.



Adhering tightly to the same set of top tier bans because that's what the players you admire do can hold you in good stead when your opponents are doing the same thing, but it's not always right. If you know your enemy, banning out their favourite heroes is almost certainly better. If you don't, banning Razor, Viper and Void isn't necessarily going to save you. They might run Silencer, and that guy is a total prick unless you have the individual talent to outlane him and, later in the game, the team coordination to disengage from fights properly.



It comes down to humility, really. Don't bind up all of your hopes in theorycraft that you can't pull off. In turn, don't feel bad if your skill level restricts the kinds of strategies you can try that is just a fact of life. The moment you find yourself unable you pull off a strat you think you understand, you've identified something fixed and tangible that you should be trying to correct about your play. You've identified another rung on the ladder. Just expect to slip a few times before you get a hold on it.



It's okay to be a tryhard sometimes



This might seem contrary given what I've just written, but there are times when taking teamplay 'too' seriously is actually the best thing you can possibly do especially when it concerns all that ego and discipline stuff I won't stop talking about. Reining in your ambitions in terms of strategies and hero drafts is possibly a good thing. Learning to act and communicate like an actual team is, however, the best thing you can possibly do if you want to take Dota seriously.



When I started playing with a team we came up with communication rules that dictate how much we're allowed to rage at each other (we're not) and how we frame criticism and respond to problems. I've played in teams without these rules, and the difference is night and day. Around two weeks ago the Hot Dukes gave up four kills in the enemy jungle and went on to win from that disastrous start because we didn't freak out. A week later I played with a different team and gave up three kills in very similar circumstances. In that case, the game was lost from minute zero: people lost their shit, at themselves and at each other, and simply trying to coordinate properly was like fighting a losing battle.



The difference is that the former team had worked specifically to develop an attitude that could withstand an early game disaster. Ideally, we wouldn't have early game disasters at all. But being a bit of a tryhard paid off, and I'd thoroughly recommend it.



Figure out your tilt controls



Regardless, things will go wrong. They always do. People tilt, and games are lost because one setback is enough to send someone's confidence and with it, their ability slowly tipping over like a drunk at a house party. You need to figure out whatever it is that will make you feel better in that scenario, and more pointedly you need to work out if it's actually the best thing to do. It may be that your instinct, when you're tilting, is to mute your microphone, or sigh loudly, or play passively. There is a very good chance that these ideas are wrong because they broadcast your tilt to everybody on your team, exacerbating their own bad moods and worsening your collective position.



Your process for straightening your shit out needs to be quiet and internal, in this game if in no other context. That might mean stacking a few jungle camps and getting your next big item, doing some dewarding, or suggesting and acting on a rotation or a push. But it's on you to establish and follow the rules you set for yourself. Although it make you feel better, sighing your way through an uncontrolled tilt will lose you the game and make you feel worse.



Everybody throws



From the trench to the International, there are very few teams in the world that don't screw up from time to time. Even DK with their legendary control threw a game against LGD by allowing it to go too long. Everybody does this, even you, and even the opponent you feel hopelessly outmatched by. In team games, it is tempting to call GG after a few bad encounters or even a lost lane of rax the point, more or less, where the game feels like its over. It probably isn't. It is always possible for your opponent to make a mistake. Even if there's nothing you can do, simply surviving for an extra couple of minutes gives the enemy team a little more rope with which to hang themselves.



Most of the time they won't, and you'll be left to figure out whatever lessons you need to learn. But sometimes you'll go on to win the teamfight that turns the game and you'll remember that game forever. And it's not a cheap or chance victory, either: you got there because you stuck it out when other people would tilt or give up. You might not have the most effective trilane and your offlaner might keep blinking into Disruptor ults for no reason, but you kept your shit together. Good job, hero.



To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to ESPN boss claims e-sports are “not a sport”">International







In many ways, this year's Dota 2 International was a turning point for e-sports perception as a mainstream event. Not only did it boast the highest prize pool of any e-sports tournament, but it also found traction with North America's ESPN. The network broadcast the tournament through the streaming service ESPN3, and aired an exclusive grand final preview on cable channel ESPN2. But if you were looking to ESPN president John Skipper to validate a belief that e-sports are a sport, you're in for some disappointment.



Skipper was asked about Amazon's acquisition of Twitch at the Code/Media Series: New York conference, reports Re/Code, and gave a full appraisal of his perception of e-sports. "It's not a sport, it's a competition," he said. "Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition. Mostly, I'm interested in doing real sports."



Previously, it seemed, ESPN were "delighted" with The International's performance. "ESPN have seen enough recent successes with e-sports and are about to double down," a source "close to ESPN" told The Daily Dot. "The numbers they hit with The International have only cemented the view that the time is right."



In other news: this.



Thanks, CVG.
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title="Permanent Link to Three Lane Highway: your Dota hero is having a good time and so should you">Storm Spirit







Three Lane Highway is Chris' column about Dota 2.



Dota 2 is funny, both by design and by accident. It's funny when people get angry. It's funny to screw up. It's funny to Force Staff your friends into the enemy fountain. It's funny to get a rampage as Axe. Laughing at the weird stuff that springs from Dota forms the basis of a healthy number of YouTube channels. It's as vital a part of the life of the game as the competitive scene or making items for the Steam Workshop.



Relatively speaking, the parts of Dota that are designed to be funny - particularly the writing - get less attention. This is a really interesting aspect of the game, specifically as it relates to a broad shift in the tone of multiplayer games over the last decade or so. In the 90s, competitive gaming on PC was characterised by grit. Quake looked like a prog-metal album cover. Counter-Strike was a Tom Clancy game given a shot of adrenaline. The early MMOs chased realism (elf realism, anyway) and Team Fortress Classic took place in some vague modern military otherworld where mercs with furrowed brows fought over the same flag forever.



Notable exceptions to this rule were games by Blizzard, which had always been funny, and, to a lesser extent, Valve's debut. The first Half-Life had a streak of black comedy running through it, though this wasn't something that manifested in the series' multiplayer until the second one allowed you to fire toilets at people. Then, all of a sudden, Valve became really funny. Portal came out, and Team Fortress 2 emerged from multiple attempts to create a 'serious' shooter as a kind of FPS Adult Swim cartoon.



This shift took place everywhere. Blizzard's sense of humour resurfaced in World of Warcraft and, as a consequence, comic characters and situations are now a stock part of an MMO gameworld. The lane-pushing genre grew out of Warcraft 3, inheriting Blizzard's tonal sensibilities along with DotA's game mechanics. The most successful games of this type, Dota 2 included, are cartoons of one sort or another. The characters may kick seven shades out of each other, but they do it while smiling.



To an extent this is done with the goal of attracting a large audience, but it's not entirely marketing-driven. In fact, marketing often complicates this general trend towards lighter, more accessible games - I can think of a number of games that might have had decent art if somebody in a suit hadn't stapled boobs to everything. Nor does it suggest that games have become easier or more infantile. Overall, the trend has more in common with the influence that Pixar have had on kids' movies.



Dota 2's character roster is so varied that it borders on incoherent. Its writers have always been reluctant to use backstory for anything other than flavour, and wisely so: it'd be quixotic to try to wring a plausible fantasy narrative out of a hundred-plus heroes. I mean, okay, yes, George R. R. Martin did it, but his characters are not - in the main - helicopters or bears. These characters, their backstories and their voices are designed to be emblematic of the types of things they do in the game, not to serve a function within a wider plot.



And yet, despite all of that variety, one remarkably consistent quality of these characters is how happy they seem to be. There's very little actual nastiness or complaining or strife, except - perhaps - from Troll Warlord, who is intended to be a send-up of his comments thread counterpart. He's one of the only characters that doesn't vocalise a genuine 'thank you' when the player types 'ty'. I mean, even Doom says thank you, and he's literally Satan.



There's a lot of funny writing in Dota, and the net effect of that funny writing is that the characters themselves come across as funny people. Windranger is funny. Storm Spirit is funny. Juggernaut and Brewmaster are funny. And so on, and so on. I'd go for a drink with most of these people. Hell, even Bane - I mean, he's a little weird, but everybody has a friend like that. That sense of personality plays an enormous role in balancing Dota 2's tone. If it was a game of tooth-grindingly serious battle between serious warriors I suspect it'd be unbearable: it's bad enough when you're stuck in a game with somebody who only wants to scream at you. If your character seemed to be hating the experience too, what would be the point?



But here's the conundrum - and, I guess, the irony. The way Dota characters speak and interact with one another sets a standard for behaviour that offsets the bad attitudes of other players but - in itself - doesn't succeed at influencing or moderating that behaviour. Nobody who is so self-serious that they're willing to scream obscenities at a stranger is going to be dissuaded from that path by the fact that the ancient undead ice wizard that they're controlling is actually kind of a nice guy. The game can demonstrate a model for competitive behaviour that doesn't involve being a dick, and it does so well - but most people ignore it.



As a result, Dota 2 is a game where Satan is - more often than not - more polite to his rivals than most of the people you'll meet in solo ranked matchmaking. There's a punchline there somewhere, I'm sure.



To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Three Lane Highway: the seven stages of Techies">Techies







Three Lane Highway is Chris' column about Dota 2.



The patch could be here tomorrow. Maybe? Hopefully. By the time you read this you'll probably know more than I do. Valve have promised Techies by the end of August; Valve have promised a lot of things. Anything - and literally nothing - is possible.



It'll probably be tomorrow. If it is, we'll finally begin the process of accepting Techies into the game. Techies, the argument goes, are going to change how pub Dota is played forever. All Pick is going to become a (literal) minefield. The old ways will be gone. It seems appropriate that a hero with a reputation for griefing should attract a seven-stage process of its own.



Shock and denial



This is how you are going to feel the first time that an enemy Techies shockingly denies themselves to secure first blood against you. It will feel cheap, at first, and unfair. Techies can achieve with a single allied Tiny what the entire Dire team normally pulls off by rushing into the Radiant jungle before the horn.



"The novelty will wear off" you'll think, when the surprise fades. "People will get bored of doing it eventually." Now you're in denial: they will not get bored. There will always be new Techies players, just as there are always new Pudge players. The future looks like an endless series of level one suicide attacks. As you stare into the flames you perceive motion, like a pair of sunglasses descending; deal with it, the fire whispers.



Pain and guilt



You'll give in eventually. Change your name and queue solo and lock Techies before anybody else can. You'll fling yourself out of the fog of war at Crystal Maiden or somebody and - boom - there's your first blood. You'll mine the side shops and feed terribly. This might make you feel a little bit better at first but then the guilt comes: you're not that guy, are you? You never used to be that guy.



Anger and bargaining



Everybody else, however, clearly is that guy. After a week of contending with Techies in pub matches the novelty has very much worn off: who do these people think they are? Why doesn't anybody want to play Dota the way it used to be? Is everybody new? You suspect that everybody is new, and say as much.



When anger doesn't achieve anything - because it has never, in the history of Dota, achieved anything - you turn to bargaining. "pls no techies" you hurriedly type at the beginning of games. "i support if no techies pls". As a gesture of good faith you pick Witch Doctor and buy wards, courier, smoke, sentries. Then, somebody notices that Techies are free and repicks their hero. You sob quietly into your single Iron Branch.



Reflection and loneliness



Perhaps it is time to simply move on: to leave solo queue for a week or two and wait for the fuss to die down. You could work on your last-hitting, perhaps, or learn a new hero. Then, the notion strikes you: what if you work on becoming a really good Techies player? Someone respectable. Somebody the kids will look up to.



And so you practice. You read guides on bomb placement and work on finding farm with that awful basic attack in bot matches. You devote yourself to the theory and craft of Techies play, and slowly you improve. But there's no life in it, no spark. You realise that, as guilty as you felt at the time, there's something innocent and carefree about throwing your life away to troll a support. You start to miss the flames, in your own way.



The upward turn



When you return to solo queue you're no longer as aggrieved by the presence of little explosive goblins. You roll your eyes knowingly both at the players who automatically pick them and the players who get angry about the same: you've been both, you've moved past both. Your time practicing the hero has given you the knowledge you need to avoid the most obvious traps, and while from time to time you find yourself wandering into a nest of mines it stings far less than it used to.



Reconstruction



You've got your Dota back. It's a little different, and sometimes people explode, but it's Dota. When Techies show up in Random Draft or Single Draft games it's an opportunity to play something a little bit unusual. You and your friends work to include Techies into your plans from time to time: when playing with a stack the hero is just another tool in the box, and not the end of the world. You watch a friend wander into a shop full of mines and laugh the long laugh of the healed.



Acceptance and hope



You have been on a long journey, Techies and you. Dota isn't quite the same as it used to be, but it's always like this, isn't it? You remember back, way back to when Spirit Breaker was added and smile. It's just like that, isn't it? Why didn't you realise? For a while, all anybody wanted to do was charge across the map as an angry-looking cosmic cow. Now, all they want to do is explode. And just like Spirit Breaker, you are probably never, ever going to see somebody pick Techies in a professional match. You will be fine.



The game settles down, and you start to wonder: what next? By this point, a month has passed - perhaps two. We are entering the autumn. You cast around for something to get hyped about all over again. Then, it hits you: where the fuck is Diretide?



To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.
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