Hey everyone so I got back from The Internationals 4 (TI4) about 2 weeks ago and been meaning to share this experience. I haven't even finished unpacking yet due to how much stuff I bought and been figuring out how to place this story to you.
We all know Newbee took the game home from Vici Gaming for those who tuned in but I gotta say the whole event was pretty intense from beginning to start all the way to the end with the things happening around.
The 4 days I was there was packed with stuff to do and check out in the vicinity at Seattle's key arena. There was also A Bite of Seattle happening right next to the arena which was a food festival that was held that weekend so not only was there The Internationals happening at the arena but massive food stands and trucks everywhere right across the block.
//insert food pic
Day 1 was just getting there, getting our tickets at the event and watching early Upper Bracket elimination rounds. I spent most of my first day in line to the Secret Shop at The Internationals just to buy swag and get some TShirts I wanted. Sadly most of the fanart T Shirts were sold out on Day 1. Especially that darned Windranger one by Artgerm. Damn!
Getting our tickets on day one and finding the place was part of the adventure what's weird was how many people were soliciting outside trying to buy entry tickets to the event. Another nice notion was most older people kept asking us with the lanyards what's The Internationals at the event.
Many found it hard to believe that there was a competition going on for $10 million dollars for playing games. Half the time I just answered their questions with "Digital Sports" and they just go "ah." LOL.
When we got our ticket the entry was also well guarded. You had to scan in your ticket to enter and scan out when you EXIT.... I thought that barrier was a little overkill but it was nice to feel so exclusive entering the event and also prevented overflooding of the Secret Shop as well as indoor seating to view the games. As if it wasn't flooded enough by just the guests. There were approximately 16000 registered people at the event from what I remember from talking to staff.
I lined up for 4 hours just to spend over $150 USD. The line was f***ing long. It literally circled the entire key arena the first day. Some things that weren't really good was that in the circular halls the TVs weren't working so they didn't display the game, until you reached the outside of the line. So how it went was that you joined a line to enter another line. They had 10 registers in operation and you had to fill out an ORDER form to get items from the Secret Shop.
My purchases of Day 1......
Every day a special gift was given out from the Secret Shop simply for purchasing something.
The first day was Bracelets.
The only thing that saved me from extreme boredom was breaking the ice with any stranger at the event was extremely easy because you're all there for one thing; DotA.
At that gruesome 4 hour line I met 3 strangers one VIP and two general admission guests like myself. VIP tickets cost 500$ and get an early access day to the Secret Shop meaning the event started for them long before the rest of us. General admission only gets you entry from the 18th-21st of July which was the event period for TI4. The VIP guy told me one guy spent $7000 USD on the early access day buying stuff. Absurd.
The other two were lining up just like myself and having many facepalm moments at the length of the lineup time. We mostly discussed ranked MMR things, and favorite heroes and such. Pretty easy and reminisced about dumb moments in the game or funny combos and things. It's DotA that's what the talk is mostly about, hero choices, strategies, close moments, big flips, super throws, reporting, feeding, dominating, and various other traits the game brings with the community. Even speaking about trolling or doing the worse with the person right next to me was pretty fun because we've all done it here and there so it just garners a laugh at our worst and best moments in a game.
During exploration of the event I also stumbled across a Juggernaught Statue lifesize. Pretty slick.
The day ended with me and our friends checking in to our condo. The place was nice and big for a group of 6. There were also TI4 attendants in that same building as us. Most of the championship teams and players stayed at the Westin Hotel near the key arena. They even had a computer gaming room to practice at the hotel... o.O.
Day 2: We went back to the arena at about 7am and it was crowded like mad where we tried to make early entry to the place so we could skip the Secret Shop lineup. Everyone else had the same idea. The gates opened at 8am to let people enter the arena and the matches start at 10am. During the 2 hour period things are being set up and people are let in to prevent overloading of when the match actually starts. The news castors and commentators set up their panel within the viewing arena. I went to go line up at the Secret Shop again, this time a lot further in in the line. I made it to the register in about an hour and a half wait compared to 4 hours the day before.
BUT Just as I f***ing reach the register THEY HAVE A SYSTEM PROBLEM and their inventory & cash register server decided to flip the table and not do shit. So my wait got extended to another 2.5 hours for their system to reboot and and relaunch every thing. MAN... If only I was 5 people ahead I would've gotten my stuff and got out of there... THAT'S HOW CLOSE I WAS TO MISSING THIS ISSUE. *cringe*
Those who were at the event and in that line on that day. You know exactly what I'm talking about. They even handed out freebies to people in line. There were umbrellas handed out because it looked like it was going to rain and water due to the heat and more bracelets.... So not worth that downtime =.= sigh. But being dedicated and a hardcore fan of the games I suffered through that wait.
So in the end after another day of 4 hour wait I ended up blowing another $200 USD this time around even more than the previous. Jesus.
The second day was official artwork posters. I got myself a Slark one. Pretty neat.
After that gruesome lineup for a second time I sort of crappily vowed to never go into it again. But I went again the next day so... there goes that.
The second day I spent most of the afternoon watching the games it was fun to sit in a giant theatre staring at a 40ft screen emitting the game and having the 2 teams down below with giant portraits of the hero they're playing in front of their team booth.
Here's some shots to give you an idea of what it looked like.
Most of the matches of Day 2 consisted of the Lower Bracket of teams participating and fighting one another. I think on one of the matches or maybe it was Day 3, SingSing of Cloud 9 dodged like 3 Laguna Blades from Lina as Ember Spirit in one match. Yes I'm a fan of SingSing... couldn't even get his autograph card =.=...
Oh one thing...
Most of the championship players had Autograph Cards you can obtain them simply by going up to them and asking them for it and hope they'll give it to you. They each had about 1000 to hand out if they wanted to even hand them out. SingSing handed out very little and was pretty hard to find from my experience. Probably not in a good mood, the only time I saw him outside signing/giving out card was after C9 got eliminated :/. His card is worth $55 USD on the market so expense and I think he's a great guy.
The crowd was going wild throughout that day for lower bracket fights and matches. The castors and commentators were ok. Being a player and knowing what's going on in the game you sometimes watch the minimap on the huge 40ft screen and you see things going on and it's a little annoying when the commentators focus elsewhere and curiosity hits at what's going on at the confrontation at another part of the map. But I guess there are replays for that.
What's funny though was we saw a lot of Doom being picked and Enigma and Faceless Void and my favorite Sand King. Everytime a Black Hole went off or a Chronosphere and/or Epicenter people were just going "OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH". Roshan fights were fun to watch too.
The 5 man smoke ganks were great to see and it's awesome to take in the perspective of how championship players go about. From where most of the average player plays DotA2, these things are rarely seen in a game due to uncoordinated and/or uncooperating team mates. It really described the dynamic that DotA2 has in its game with the hero selection and even how picks and team compositions are made along with numerous different strategies that multiple same heroes in a team composition can do.
A fairly experienced player with knowledge of every hero can generally see the strengths and weaknesses of a team composition some teams can have extreme early pushing power like Vici Gaming's strategies. Others teams like to play it out for a lengthy time and get powerful carries to their active point and dominate in huge fights and topple the other team with long respawn times at late game.
After the event ended for the day with 1 of 3 matches being played to end the Lower Bracket teams had to finish the next day over on Day 3. Talk about pressure they have a whole night to consider their next day's opponent strategy and wiill be up for elimination or round 3. Past that I left the arena and went to go eat tons of food at the festival and check out nearby venues.
Day 2 I bought a lot of plushies and demi hero statues and some economy cards and an Invoker mouse pad.
Day 3: I attended some workshop I had been meaning to go since Day 2. But unfortunately thanks to the damn Secret Shop lineups I missed most of them and went to watching the games instead of attending workshop in spare time between certain matches I didn't want to watch.
The workshops generally went about how to make things for the game, some tips and strategies from starting from nothing to something. I know for sure I'm going to participate in contributing to the DotA2 community in the very very VERY near future(like as in next week being a 3d artist and all). They also expressed about following style guidelines and the like to get submissions noticed.
You can either be a serious contributor or a joke contributor or a mediocre one. Valve generally selects serious contributions of course. Couriers are more up in the air... have you seen the Hwytty & Shyzzard courier? ... NO I'm not trading.
I spent most of Day 3 actually participating in workshops than watching the matches. I even got some autographed art cards/posters from artists who have created some ingame sets like the Vengeful Spirit's Fallen Vestements. Good thing I lined up for that just as they set up. Took me about 2 mins to get it, the line later exceeded over 35 people and signing and autograph + picture taking made that line last about 2 hours in length from the end to the artists.
The artists of these 2 skins^
Around the workshop area were mostly the tutorials happening and various artists hour to hour exhibiting their work that has made it into game and others that are pending.
By Day 3 The secret shop line itself had diminished to about 1/10th of its usual length. I suppose everyone got what they wanted by then or they simply sold out and most people knew about it for most of the popular items; t-shirts, dota hoodies, and plushies. I went to the line up in Day 3 as well but only waited for less than 5 minutes before reaching the register just to pick up a Sand King skin.
The third day was Comic Book of The Secret Shop Keeper in DotA2.
It was a fine piece of work and an enjoyable read to immerse myself in a different backlore of the game, with some cameos in the comic book of heroes like Traxex; Drow Ranger. It mostly involved lore and story about the Demon Edge and how it was crafted with Radiant and Dire parts and how Roshan stole the Aegis from the Shopkeeper(Way back in DotA1 Aegis was buyable for those who have played and remember such nostalgia~ :D). Pretty cool.
Day 4: The final day of my journey at TI4. With the final match between VG and Newbee there was only one thing left to do. Watch the game. No workshops were being held that day and the Secret Shop was only open until early afternoon. The matches ended fairly quickly as most of us know, somewhat anticlimactic. And the event was slated to only go until 2-3pm anyways. The other days they ended anywhere from 7-8pm.
I went to the Secret Shop one last time just to pick up the rest of the Demi Heroes I didn't acquire in the earlier days and decided to get them since I got myself a Golden Vengeful on Day 1.
The fourth day was Shopkeeper Collector's Pin.
The one between Pudge and Naga Siren
Although the pins are extremely well detailed and nice the Shopkeeper one is exclusive to the final day at making a purchase at the Secret Shop at TI4. Redeeming it gives it to you as an icon on your account also just for cosmetic or for showing off :P. The shop closed really early that day so I'm glad I got myself one because after the final match I wanted to make one last trip for some random other things from the shop only to find out it's already closed!
The games ended with a bang. A really loud one enough to make most of people in the arena jump and skip a heartbeat. Everyone sitting near me literally leapt from their seats for a second when the final match ended because an explosion went off at the top of the arena. And it was loud, and fiery.
I assume they were giant confetti poppers or something but man I missed it on my camera it was like an earthquake coupled with like i dont' know packs of dynamite and TNT going off with the bass from the speakers making the floor rumble and echo throughout the arena. Cheering went wild after about 2 seconds of silence due to everyone freaking out from the finish bang.
After that everyone departed from the key arena and spent the rest of the day meandering about the city. We saw championship players later that day buying stuff and shirts too. Saw Newbee team players shopping around as well and a few other teams that stayed behind near the hotels just chatting or doing stuff.
Sooo that was my first time at The Internationals. The 2014 one. The fourth one. Of course there'll be a fifth, and probably even larger capacity of guests this next time around... From what I gathered at the event last year there was only about 2000 people. This year it was about 8 times more... ~16000. Maybe I'll see ya there? I'm definitely going next year! Hopefully with some contributions to the game by then...
Here's some cosplays I came across while I was there. Good work!
Rubick, Crystal Maiden 2, Bloodseeker(F)
Dazzle? & Bloodseeker
Legion Commander, Strange guy, Courier
Other cosplays seen but missed @ TI4:
Anti-Mage, Saw a really wicked cosplay but missed him was in damn secret shop line..
Lina, plenty of linas walking around
Templar Assassin, was seen briefly and disappeared.
Faceless Void - he had a face..
Anyways! That's all everyone hope you enjoyed the story and enticed you enough to go check out TI5 when it comes out probably next year!
Demi Hero Set All 5 with an SSJ Vengeful Spirit lol