Whether you're a fan of Dota 2, eSports in general or you just happened to log onto Steam recently, it can’t have escaped your notice that Valve’s Dota 2 documentary, Free To Play launched earlier this month. If you haven’t already watched it, now would be an excellent time to carve out a 75 minute tea break and hit play on the movie, which you can watch right here.
If you’re new to the MOBA scene though - or just haven’t got an hour to spare – we’ve got a handy primer to ease you into the excitement of the pro scene, with a selection box of quotes from the movie, some thoughtful, some fun, some TobiWan.
Dota is a combination of football - soccer for the Americans - and chess.
– Su-Leo Liu (Star commentator) on explaining Dota to his parents. Other possible analogies include ‘it is like Twister crossed with laser quest’, ‘it's like five-a-side football with magic arrows’ and ‘it's like that bit at the beginning of Hitchhiker’s Guide except Arthur Dent has four wizard friends to help him defend his house and he might actually win.’
It gives you the ability to become someone else - someone who is powerful, who can take down five opponents, express their creativity, break the rules without actually getting arrested.
– Tammy Tang, pro gamer and manager of the first all-female Dota team, Team Asterisk, explains the appeal of games like Dota 2 and the wish fulfillment aspect of mashing a robot in the face with a giant anchor.
He’s going to get sick and tired of sitting in front of that computer playing – he never did.
– Karen Loomis (Clinton 'Fear’ Loomis’ mother) comes across as a lovely and supportive parent but also not great at predicting the future, so do not ask her to pick your lottery numbers.
Danil every time would look at what we do [on the computer] and every time we tried to push him away but he'd come back and look again.
– Artem Ishutin (Brother of Danylo ‘Dendi’ Ishutin) on encouraging his sibling’s early interest in gaming. Dendi is now part of Na`Vi, arguably the greatest Dota team in the western hemisphere.
It felt like the start of something big – a revolution.
– Tammy Tang on the first International’s record-breaking prize pool which saw the winners walk away with $1 million (€725,000) in prize money. Brows were raised across the internet and shocked emoticons were deployed in droves – now such prize pots are becoming increasingly common in top flight gaming.
It's kind of a scary thing when you see your kid putting their whole life into gaming and not college and not the traditional things. What if nothing comes of it?
– Karen Loomis on trying to support her son’s choice of career in an untested and untraditional field. Now part of the Evil Geniuses, Fear is doing just fine.
With pro-gaming that's one of the toughest parts – living game to game.
– Jeremy Lin (NBA basketball player and Dota enthusiast) explains that professional eSports players tend not to have the benefits of a stable income and that they’re dependent on staying on top of their game if they want to keep being able to pay the rent.
It's tough being a gamer.
Benedict '‘Hyhy’ Lim Han Yong reacts to being teased by his aunt. It’s even harder being a Dota 2 pro gamer. Hyhy left the game in 2012, and is now working his way up the ranks in League of Legends.
We’re not just playing because we’re addicted. There’s a goal, a motive, that we can reach out and grab if we’re good enough.
– Tammy Tang explaining that playing eSports shares a lot of the motivating factors of traditional sports; that gaming shouldn’t be easily dismissed or compartmentalised.
There are a few teams that have individual skill that’s unbelieveable, then there’s a big group of other teams that have good individual skill – not top notch – but who win through good strategy and teamplay.
– Troels ‘SyndereN’ Nielsen on The International’s inaugural crop of competitors and how team building can work. A solid roster of good players can beat a team built around one spectacular player... and vice versa.
He’s trying to retreat - HE TURNS INTO A PIG!
– Toby ‘TobiWan’ Dawson commentating a match with his trademark understated eloquence.
I never felt this outplayed in my entire life.
– One team captain is less than upbeat after encountering the regimented discipline of EHOME and other Chinese teams.
If you have a losing draft you lose the game.
– Benedict ‘Hyhy’ Lim Han Yong on the importance of getting the drafting phase of the game right and not, perhaps, drafting an easily counterable Shadow Fiend when you’re trying to win a major eSports event.
I spend more time near the computer because I could not think about it.
– Dendi on dealing with the death of his father from cancer. Part of the movie covers how gaming was part of coping with grief, as as it provided another focus for his attention.
I got kicked out of my house because of my gaming career.
– Clinton ‘Fear’ Loomis on discovering the (understandable) limits of his mother’s patience.
It was the last hero left and I never played it before.
– Dendi on his team’s selection of Enigma in the 2011 grand final. The hero was chosen for his abilities rather than any of the team being well-versed in how to play him. At all.
That’s very, very stupid.
– Zou Yitian of EHOME on that Enigma pick. EHOME went on to lose to Na'Vi and their Enigma pick.
That kid who you thought played too many videogames is potentially going to be on a path where he's earning $250,000 a year salary, he’s flying the world he’s going to be endorsed – gaming’s the biggest entertainment industry in the world, so if you’re a star you’re potentially one of the biggest stars in the world.
Commentator James ‘2GD’ Harding summing up where skill, determination and a mouse and keyboard can ultimately lead.