The International 5 Blog: On the ground from Seattle

 

$18 million. Not only the largest prize pool in eSports history, but with Valve earning 3 times that much for every hat bought, The International 2015 boasts an impressive production value that definitely reflects the growing prestige of the event. Attending TI is an amazing barrage of nerdom, where cosplay runs rampant, way too much of your paycheck is spent in the Secret Shop, and there is never, ever a line for the women’s restroom (as a female, I greatly appreciate this fact). As I’m writing this, we just finished out Day 3 of the Main Event, so I’ll just share a bit about what it’s like here at TI.

 

I attended TI4 in Key Arena last year, but even in the same venue, everything just feels a just a bit higher quality and more polished, from the swag bags being handed out upon arrival, to the design of the arena. You can tell the production value that went into the stage and viewing experience in the arena. The player booths face each other with the coveted Aegis between, heightening the sense of the battle between the teams. The platform itself is a gigantic Dota 2 logo. During the games, it’s illuminated like the Dota 2 map and has custom effects for ultimates as they’re cast. So yes, it does read “Walrus Punch” every time Tusk casts his ult. Four jumbo screens are suspended above the stage, offering spectators great viewing from all around the arena.

 

A view of the arena design at TI5 with the illuminated stage

 

The stage displays a custom animation for Queen of Pain's ultimate as it is cast.

 

Strolling around Key Arena in between games, I encountered all sorts of interesting characters. Cosplay comes in all forms here at TI5, some very simple, some incredibly complex. There was a crazy complex Drow Ranger costume complete with bow that took weeks to to build. The shitty wizards on the other hand? Probably a quicker costume, but still fun.

 

 

Within the complex outside the arena is the not-so-secret Secret Shop. The pre-order system this year has helped cut down on the lines immensely for purchasing that precious TI swag. Beause I pre-ordered, I was able to bypass an hour or two of waiting. I walked right up to a counter and within 5 minutes I had my little bag of goodies. Sadly, no golden Bounty Hunter figurine for me. But I did score a Staglift courier.

 

My Bounty Hunter vinyl figurine stands guard over the rest of my Secret Shop merchandise.

 

The outdoor setup outside the Secret Shop was a pleasant surprise. There was a jumbo screen mounted in front of an open grass court. On a mild Seattle evening, it was awesome to grab a bite to eat, sit outside, enjoy the breeze and watch some Dota at the same time. For any native Seattlites, the outdoor area also lets anyone watch the games, without a ticket.

 

The outdoor arena set up next to the Secret Shop

 

But it’s hard to match the experience of being inside the arena when the seats are filled and the crowd is going wild. This year has been a great one for spectators with extremely exciting matches, and the potential for huge comebacks with the current meta. Early matches knocked some of the front runners like ChinaLGD and InternationalTeam Secret down to the lower brackets. The tension in the arena was almost palpable for the Secret vs. Vici Gaming series, with TI champions on both sides facing elimination.

 

I think one of the best things about this TI though has been the crowd support for all of the teams. Though they were eliminated early, UkraineNa’Vi remains a crowd favorite and CIS Dota still has Russian FederationVirtus.pro in the running. Because of the high percentage of American attendees, there’s always a big hype for the US teams, particularly United StatesEG, who is great at handing out free swag before their games. Still, there’s a large Chinese cheering section, and many who respect the well-known Chinese players like Burning and r0tk. Chants for ChinaEHOME were right up there with those for Secret, and the ubiquitous USA, USA!

 

Some EG flags handed out before their game. I think Na'Vi needs some yellow ones next year!

 

We’re headed into Day 4 and we’re now down to the Top 8 teams: EG and CDEC in the Upper Bracket, with EHOME, LGD, MVP Phoenix, Vici Gaming, Virtus.pro and Team Secret left to battle it out on their way back to the top. Can’t wait to see what the next few days bring.

AuthorSkandranon Date 6 August 2015, 10:28 Views2933 Comments0
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