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Dota 2 essentials & my experience at the ESL Berlin Major

Link’s very own Ivelin got the exclusive opportunity of attending the Dota 2 ESL Berlin Major with a media pass and has chosen to share that experience with us all.

What follows is an article written by Ivelin himself that explains what Dota 2 is and why it should be a game all of us should consider playing and his own experience at this event in particular. There will also be a follow up article in which Ivelin has gotten the opportunity to interview prominent figures within the world of Dota 2. In that article we will be highlighting the top 3 interviews and have links to all the other ones for those interested in a more in depth view.

Written by Ivelin Zhelezchev & edited by The Link News Team

With all of that said, Ivelin will be taking the word from here:
Why should you play Dota?
A simple question with an even simpler answer – you should play Dota 2 because it’s fun. I know that sounds very generic and every gamer thinks that the game they play all the time is fun (unless you are addicted, then please get some help) but Dota 2 is really fun.

To start, what is Dota 2? Dota 2 is a MOBA or a Massive Online Battle Arena created by Valve around 10 years ago. The basis of the game is quite simple. You have two teams of 5 players whose ultimate goal is to destroy the enemy team’s ancient. That’s where the name of Dota comes from – Defense Of The Ancients. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, the core of the game is a bit more in-depth than this.

The map of the game is divided into three lanes with either one or two heroes playing on each lane. Unlike other MOBAs like League of Legends though, the lanes are not even and that’s why players don’t call them just top-mid-bot but we call them safe-lane, mid-lane and off-lane. The idea behind those names lies in the differences between them. Both teams have their specific side to play – Radiant has the bottom left section of the map and that’s where their ancient is while Dire has the top right section of the map and that’s where their ancient is. The way the lanes work in Dota is the following: The safelane of Radiant falls on the bottom side of the map and it connects with Dire’s offlane which is also on the bottom side of the map. The lanes are reversed on the top section of the map.

The sidelanes in particular are of big importance for the heroes in Dota because each of them have different characteristics.

The safelane is longer and considered “more safe” and that is where the carry and the hard support usually play. It has no real objectives around it but has a jungle area where the carry can go and farm if they’re pushed out of the lane by the offlaner.

The offlane is a lot shorter and is thought to be the danger lane. This is where the offlaner and the soft support begin at the start of the game. There are two objectives around the offlane – every seven minutes a Wisdom Rune spawns and gives XP to the hero that collects it and every 10 minutes, starting at 20, a Tormentor spawns which when killed drops an Aghanim’s Shard [Some heroes get a bonus ability and others get some form of adjustment to an already-existing ability with it] to a random hero of the two with lowest net-worth.

Most heroes are flexible in-between multiple roles, but the grand scheme of things is that the positions in Dota follow the order of farming priority.

Position 1 is the carry – the one who farms for the late-game, the one you rely on to lead you to victory. Usually played on the safelane. Depending on the hero sometimes might be played on Mid.

Position 2 is the midlaner – the 1v1 machine, the one who is meant to take the lead in the early to mid game and create space for the carry to get online.

Position 3 is the offlaner – the role has gained increased versatility with new patches. Sometimes the hero played can be a tank, other times can be an initiator, nowadays it can also be used for potential scaling into a third damage dealer on the team. They have the lowest farm priority of the cores.

Position 4 is the soft support – starts the lane with the offlaner and contributes during the laning stage primarily with harassing the enemy team. Also is the one who usually rotates to mid to help out the midlaner.

Position 5 is the hard support – usually the poorest players in the game. Their whole purpose in the game usually relies on protecting their team whether it’s through spells or items and in general make the game safer and easier for their carry.

And that’s the Dota basics. With this knowledge any person can queue up into a game and probably get flamed for no apparent reason but isn’t that the beauty of multiplayer online games?

Now, on to the real experience of Dota and more in particular – the in-person Dota events. The Dota professional scene is called the Dota Pro Circuit with 3 major tournaments spread out throughout the first half of the year and a big culmination event called “The International”, this year hosted in October, in Seattle.

Basically the whole idea of the Dota Pro Circuit is that players compete in their regions to get invited into the 3 major tournaments – this year the first one was in Lima, Peru, second one was in Berlin, Germany and the third one will be in Bali, Indonesia. After the conclusion of all 3 tournaments, the teams who have accumulated the most DPC points will be directly invited to The International and the rest will have to compete for the 6 slots left through Regional Qualifiers.

Now, thankfully I managed to snag up tickets for the Berlin Major and with the support of TSEA Link, I got accreditation for a media pass. The Berlin Major, hosted by ESL, happened on 5-7 May in the Velodrom of Berlin.

Words cannot begin to describe the amazing tournament that was organized. It almost felt like a celebration of Dota with the amount of effort put into it. The group stage was played out and in the playoffs we managed to meet in person the top 8 teams but still the whole show seemed immaculate. From the lights changing when the day and night switched ingame to the screens showing visual effects when certain heroes used their ultimates. Everybody from the gaming community somehow managed to collectively agree that this was one of the best tournaments in 7-8 years.

Let’s just ignore the quality of the games for a second (which is something not to be scoffed at, a new patch released a week before the tournament and every team was trying out new things) everything production wise was just beautiful. There were multiple booths in the hallway of the arena with multiple activities. There was an ESL Shop for merch whether it was team-related, Dota related or even ESL related they had it. The stock was a bit limited and the prices were a bit steep but overall seemed like a nice play to invest in. Then there was a balloon artist who could turn any dota hero into a balloon in seconds! There was a Monster booth where you could get a free Monster [we are gamers after all] and they even gave out free tattoos although they were booked the second you walked into the arena. An Intel booth where you could challenge your friends to a 1v1 Street Fighter was available. There was even a DHL booth where you could make signs to be shown on camera! And last but not least there was an airbrush tattoo stand where you could get a tattoo of your favorite team to show your support! I personally was rocking at least two logos on my hands every single day.

And on to the actual usage of my media pass, I managed to make 6 different interviews that will be posted on the website in the next few days. I also took some pictures and videos including a full video of the introduction ceremony right before the grand-finals (I went outside to get food after an interview and they had blocked off the entrance to my seats. At least I managed to see the person walk out of the tunnel closely!)

And that concludes my experience at the Berlin Major. An amazing experience that I think could have been enjoyed even by people who didn’t really know much about Dota. If anyone somehow gets inspired to play Dota 2 after reading this article, good for you, you’re entering the realm of a game with numerous possibilities and an endless future. Good luck and have fun!