Tweeting TI9 as @WeAreBrisbane

I spent the last week shouting into the void as the @WeAreBrisbane rotation curation Twitter account, telling the good people of Brisbane (and everyone else that follows the account) all about Dota 2 and The International Dota 2 Championships, which also happened to be taking place that week. I thought it would be nice if I had some kind of record of what I said that was a little less ephemeral than a rotation curation Twitter account. Of course, rocur accounts being what they are, in terms of having a different host every week, and not wanting to embed the tweets directly with a different profile picture, what follows is a near-direct transcript of those tweets, with only light editing for layout and clarity.

Hello, Brisbane! It’s your new tweeter for the week, @bdyling. Long time follower of the account, but I’ve never thought of actually being Brisbane… until this week (more on this in a sec).

About me: I’m a late 20-something guy that works and lives on the north side. We’ll get to all of that over the course of the week, I’m sure. But strap yourselves in, because this week we’re going to talk about V I D E O G A M E S. Well, one video game in particular. Everyone has their passions, and one of mine is Dota 2, because I hate myself. Which brings us to…

As for why I’m curating this account this week instead of any of the hundreds that I’ve followed the account for, it’s because this week is special: it’s the week of The International Dota 2 Championships. And I promise you, it’s a real thing. Look, we get our own Twitter emoji and everything, which is how you know that It’s A Big Deal™: #TI9

Unfortunately, Twitter’s tweet embeds don’t show these custom emojis. Don’t ask me why, just click here to see it.

But what is The International? It’s one of the world’s biggest esports tournaments. For Dota 2 fans, TI is a true celebration of Dota 2. That it happens to feature some of the best Dota you’ll ever see is a fringe benefit, as far as I’m concerned.

To people who don’t follow the Dota 2 scene, the one thing that blows their mind, every time, is the prize pool. That a video game can have a a $33.4 million (and counting) prize pool is crazy enough, but that’s not even the craziest part. No, the truly crazy part is that of that $33.4m, players like me (and maybe even some of you?) have contributed $31.8m. And that’s only 25% of the total amount of in-game cosmetic sales that have happened since May, which means we’ve given Valve ~$127m in 3 months.

Before we get into the first day of the #TI9 main event, I wanted to give y’all a quick Dota 2 and TI primer. Dota 2 is an action real time strategy game. It’s similar to League of Legends, although Dota has much more of a focus on overall team play and strategy. Each Dota match kind of goes like this. You control a hero (one of four on your team), and by hitting creeps, killing enemy heroes, earning gold, buying items, you make your hero stronger. Rinse and repeat until your — or preferably the enemy’s — ancient is destroyed.

What a lot of people like about Dota is the incredible depth of gameplay that it gives you. There are 117 heroes, each with four or five unique skills, and over 160 items that all do different things. 10 heroes in every match (5v5) means lots of hero + item possibilities. The combination of your team’s heroes, their items, and the enemy team’s heroes and their items, is where the strategy comes from. Everything is situationally good, and anything can work, but it all depends on your ability to execute.

Dota has a ridiculous learning curve. There are so many mechanics and interactions, it’s wild. Once you start reading about it, once you start playing it, it’s like sticking your head in a puddle and discovering there’s an entire ocean down there that’s waiting to be explored. Day9 is a popular Starcraft player and more recently Hearthstone streamer. He started playing Dota a few years ago, and ended up being one of the hosts at TI7. This 2 min video from him tells you exactly what Dota is like: Dota is a game that hates you.

If you’ve ever wanted to feel accomplished playing a video game, and not necessarily because of your incredible reaction time, or perfect game sense, but maybe because you’re a master strategist or can help guide your team to victory, Dota is for you.

OK, that just about scratches the surface. Back soon for a TI primer. Let me know if you have any questions about anything! I’m not very good at actual Dota, but I know a bit about it.

So what’s this International thing all about, anyway? We’ve got about an hour until the opening ceremony, so here we go. This year is the ninth iteration, and there’s a few interesting things about it, starting with the fact no team or player has ever won TI twice.

Up until last year, there was a real East vs West thing going on; a Western team would win it one year, and a Chinese team would win it the next. But now, Western teams have won two years in a row. Maybe that’s why TI is in Shanghai this year? Home court advantage, and all that.

TI1, 2011: Cologne. Winner: Natus Vincere, from Ukraine
TI2: Seattle. Invictus Gaming, China.
TI3: Seattle. Alliance, Sweden.
TI4: Seattle. Newbee, China.
TI5: Seattle. Evil Geniuses, USA.
TI6: Seattle. Wings Gaming, China.
TI7: Seattle. Team Liquid, EU.
TI8: Vancouver. OG, EU.

Being in Shanghai is great, because it means that the games are at a reasonable time for us Aussies. I take the week off to watch anyway, but it’s nice not having to get up at 3am, watch Dota until 3pm, then sleep and do it all again the next day.

The playoffs look like this. Every day of the TI main event is brutal and unforgiving, because every day, teams are eliminated. All the games are played BO3, except the first round of the lower bracket, which are BO1, and the BO5 grand finals.

There’s a little Australian involvement in TI, both as commentary talent and players. @anadota99 is a 19 year old from Mel that won last year, playing for OG. @kpiidota is from Syd, and came second with Newbee the year before that. Aussie doto, best doto. On the commentary side, fellow Queenslander @tobiwandota has been casting Dota since the beginning of time, and @btsgodz from that remote place in Vic I can never remember the name of has been doing it for a similar period of time. Love your work, fellas!

Looks like the stream has started a few minutes early with a few recaps/stories from previous TIs. Watch on Twitch: or if that’s blocked for you, Steam.TV is also good

Oh wow, just got up. #TI9 didn’t finish until 2am, and as much as I wanted to watch The Late Game — a really great, live-streamed talk show with players and personalities from the Dota scene — I was very tired from a full day of just watching. 4 teams were eliminated yesterday! Gonna catch up on The Late Game before today’s broadcast. I said last year that TLG was easily my favourite part of TI, even thought it was only introduced last year. It’s fun, interesting, and a super-casual way to wrap up one of the biggest esports tournaments in the world.

Just while we’re between series, I wanted to give you a few more reasons why Dota is awesome: constant balance patches. They’re one of the reasons the game stays fresh, even after all this time. We don’t get many “content” patches, and we only get 1-2 new heroes per year, but balance patches tweak the game in small but subtle ways, gradually shifting the “meta” (most popular/successful strats) both for pub games, and at the pro level. With as many heroes and items that we have, along with all their skills and talents, I’m constantly surprised at how balanced the game actually is. Maybe not perfectly balanced, as all things should be, but when you can make the case for pretty much any strat, that’s balance.

At #TI9, of the 117 heroes in the game, only 7 remain unplayed, although admittedly, it’s hard to know wether this is an example of a well-balanced game or whether it’s just diversity in hero picks and teams believing they can win with any particular lineup. Sometimes I play other games with friends, and often I hear complaints that this gun/card/item/whatever is just way too good, whether it’s because it spawns too often, or does too much damage, or whatever. It’s OP, they say. At those times, I think to myself: wow, it’s great that Dota doesn’t really have this problem. Everything can be countered, and everything can work. It comes down to timing and execution as much as it does picking an “OP” hero, or building some “OP” item.

Another crazy series down, and those last two games between Secret and EG were ridiculously close, but also markedly different in how they played out. One was a 60-minute back-and-forth with crazy team fights, the other was just a great comeback.

One of the reasons I love following Dota’s pro scene is that in the beginning, when we weren’t consistently the most played game on Steam, when we had far less heroes and items, is how the game has changed now that we’re popular, particularly what stories are being told. In the beginning, it was all about skill. If you were mechanically better/faster than your opponents, that was a huge advantage. But at the pro level, now that the ceiling has more or less been reached, it’s all about team play, and how pros handle the pressure of competition.

You can see this shift in the content pieces at #TI9 – the conversation is always about how new pros handle the pressure of playing at the most prestigious Dota event in the world, or how older, more experienced teams are focusing their improvements on non-game aspects like comms. Anyone can play, like, thousands of games of Dota by themselves and have a solid understanding of the mechanics. But it takes so much more to become a pro. At the pro level, there’s so much other stuff you have to do to even be considered for a pro team.

As Dota becomes less about mechanics/reactions, and more about team play and strategy, it’s one of the reasons I’m all for lowering the skill floor, and making Dota more accessible for new players. Dota is already a ridiculously hard game to get into, so anything Valve does to make it easier for new players is always welcome. The skill ceiling will always be there, for those that want to reach for it.

A few years ago, they used to have a newbie stream at TI with casters explaining the play-by-play, what all the skills did, and how they affected the game. It was nice, because people new to the game could watch the games and not be completely bamboozled by what was going on. Unfortunately, they stopped doing it for some reason. I think it was because the casters didn’t like explaining the same thing over and over again, starting from scratch every match, even if the same heroes had been seen a few times before. It was a tough gig. And it’s hard, you know? Getting someone into Dota is so hard, which is heartbreaking because you know how good the game can be, and how much fun you can have. But the challenge of holding their hand through their first tens, hundreds of games is a big one. It’s rough.

Don’t get me wrong, getting better at Dota is why a lot of people play, particularly those that watch pro games. “Not being bad” is a massive motivator for a lot of people that play, myself included. I’ll never be a pro, and I’m OK with that. But it would be nice, you know, to not be completely terrible at something I’ve poured thousands of hours into. It’s the worst feeling.

Oh wow there’s actually Late Game in Chinese and Russian this year. Super cool of them to adopt something that was started by the English talent RU: CN:

I’ll get back to the Dota and #TI9 in a bit, but I have a confession to make: I’m not from Brisbane. I mean, I live here now. But I only moved here from Hobart in 2015, after accepting a job with my current company. I love pretty much everything about Brisbane except the weather. It’s far too hot, making it basically unliveable about half of the year. When I was looking for my first place, the condition I had was that it had to have AC. If not, deal-breaker.

As a Brisbanite, my hobbies now include a) complaining about the weather and b) rustling Queenslander jimmies by making snide comments about why an Eastern capital city doesn’t do daylight savings, and/or why the timezone is different for no apparent reason. I only do esports, so I have no real opinion on sports teams. But I’m sure there’s a joke in here somewhere! I don’t drive, so I can’t complain about public transport @soniaahhh. I’m sure people have their own valid complaints, but from where I’m sitting: trains are awesome, and it’s pretty cool how much dedicated bus infra Brisbane has.

One of the reasons I love Dota and TI is how it brings together players from different countries and cultures. Obviously, Real Sports does this as well, but they’ve had a much longer history than esport has. Esports is still in its infancy, relatively, and it will only get bigger. It doesn’t matter what country you’re from or what your background is, if you play Dota, you can play with anyone. It transcends language, to some extent. Everyone that plays knows what the aim of the game is. Dota is accessible on the world stage, too, like few other games are (although it’s possible that I’m just ignorant in this regard). I feel as though It’s much harder to do that in Real Sports, where physicality is often a barrier for getting better/playing with the best.

If the internet has been good for something, it’s bringing people together to play Dota 2, or just to bombard you with tweets about Dota.

Dota isn’t unique in this regard, as other esports have teams/players from other countries too, but Dota has always had a huge presence from basically every region: NA, EU, CIS, CN, SEA, and recently, even South America (who now have a team in the top 8).

I love that #TI9 is in Shanghai this year. China has been such a large portion of the Dota player base since the very beginning, and I feel as though that’s something we don’t really see all that often, either in Real Sports or otherwise. It was high time for them to host TI. Which is also why the Chinese audience booing a certain team is so disheartening. It’s sad to think that targeting one player because of a racist comment he made over a year ago now sets the tone for the most prestigious Dota tournament of the year, tarnishing the experience. And to what end? Calling him out? Making him more aware of the consequences of his actions? Like many things, it’s possible to find negativity everywhere when you’re looking for it, it’s just sad that the celebration of Dota that is TI has this overshadowing it.

I’m sorry that some of my tweets end on a somewhat bitter note, but tbh, it’s kind of representative of Dota as a whole. Crushing defeats, miserable losses, all of that disappears with that one excellent game. It’s a game of the highest highs and lowest lows.

I’m buying my first place soon, which is exciting and all, but I should really start arranging my home loan. Anyone have any great advice? I should go see a mortgage broker, right? From what I’ve read so far, it seems to be all much of a muchness. As a Dota player, I understand that everything has pros and cons, just wondering if there’s anything specific you might have done differently with yours.

I’ve been doing pub trivia recently, but we haven’t found a place that ticks all the boxes: great atmosphere, maybe slightly younger demographic, varied trivia that’s not too easy, but not too hard. Anyone have any recs? Any Harry’s place is usually great trivia wise. I rated Saccharomyces pretty highly on all counts, but my trivia buddies weren’t that keen. Stones Corner had over 20 teams the night we went, and although we won at The Boundary, we were 1 of 3 teams.

Always hurts to see your team eliminated from #TI9. I really thought they had what it took after taking that first game off OG — they looked insanely good against a team that seemed nigh unbeatable — but alas.

It may be the weekend, but the Dota goes on. We’re down to the top 5 teams, with another two going home today. Forgot to lock in my fantasy team before the cut-off, so missing out on those points 🙁

Now that my team has been eliminated, I can back every team besides OG. Despite OG having an Aussie on the team, one of the players is far too unlikeable.

Sure, I’ll tell you that I want to continue the storyline of a team/player never winning twice, and that a Chinese team should win the TI that’s held in China. But honestly, it comes down to a very strong dislike of one player, even though I’m perfectly fine with everyone else.

But enough Dota for a sec, how is your weekend going? I don’t usually get up to much on weekends, but sometimes I kinda feel as though I should.

No context Twitch clip of a great updog moment from yesterday’s TI panel

It’s the last day of #TI9 and there’s three teams still left in the running. The only Chinese team remaining is PSG.LGD, who need to beat Team Liquid to get to the Grand Finals, but Liquid are undefeated on the main stage in the lower bracket, with an incredible 9-0 run. If PSG.LGD can do that, they’ll face OG, who won last year and look like they have a very good chance of being the first ever two-time winners, as well as the first-time back-to-back winners. Great if you’re an OG fan, but it will end a few stories that make TI interesting. Otherwise, if Liquid wins, the Grand Finals will feature two teams that have won before. OG’s exact squad won last year, while Liquid has had a player swap since their win in 2017.

Oh man, it’s my last 12 hours on the account and I still have so much ground I wanted to cover. A week completely flies by when you’re watching games for 10-12 hours per day.

I’ve been to one TI before. TI5, 2015, in Seattle. I went with a Dota buddy of mine from high school, and it was there that I watched the team I was cheering for, Evil Geniuses, win the entire thing. It was beautiful. It was incredible, and the atmosphere and the chants from the crowd during the games is something I’ll never forget. I don’t mind watching TI live-streamed over the internet, from the comfort of my own home, but if I could go every year, I absolutely would.

Alas, getting tickets to the actual event is the hardest thing about going to TI. I wanted to go this year, being Chinese and all, but as you can imagine, tickets sell out pretty fast. Starting a few years ago, they do this weird thing and sell tickets based on days; one set of tickets for weekdays, and another for weekends (the finals). By the time I added weekday tickets to my cart, the finals tickets were sold out. Total time: two or three minutes. At that point, I decided it wasn’t worth going all the way and missing out on watching the finals, so I decided to stay at home. From what I’ve read, there have been a lot of scalpers and other dodgy-ness anyway. I’m miffed, but there’s always next year.

This timeline is super busy, but I’ve seen that a lot of you use the standard Twitter apps. I’m here to tell you about third party twitter apps. They remove the extra parts that Twitter wants you to care about, and put the focus back on the people that you follow and their tweets.

It might feel strange to pay for a Twitter app, depending on how seriously you take your Twitter. But they have:
– no ads/promoted tweets (from Twitter)
– great features that make your Twitter better, like extra themes, regex muting, etc

If you’re on iPhone, check out Tweetbot or Twitterrific, both also available for Mac. If you’re on Android, I hear good things about Fenix 2, Talon, and Plume.

If you still like Twitter’s own apps, but wish you could get rid of Twitter’s suggestions, or don’t want to see what other people like/retweeted, or who Twitter thinks you should follow, check these muted words out.

OK, time to wrap this one up. It’s game three of the #TI9 grand finals, and the teams are tied 1-1. For the first time in TI history, one team/org will win TI for the second time, and at least four players will be winning it for the second time. At this point I’m cheering for good Dota rather than any particular team, and boy, have they delivered so far.
I’m pouring one out (figuratively, as I don’t drink) for everyone else, even though they’ll probably be like

I can make an excellent case for the Harry Potter movies being the best movies series of all time on a pure continuation basis alone, although there are a few others that come close.

My fave Tumblr is Screenshots of Despair for the dark humour it provides from snippets of modern life.

My fave YouTube channel is Cut, for how well they showcase different perspectives on the human condition. It’s entertainment, sure, but it’s fascinating.

Maybe I should have led with these. Oh well.

Remember, it’s just like Cobb said: positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time.
Be the positivity you want to see in the world, and be excellent to each other.

Follow me over @bdyling for tweets about Apple stuff, video games, not nearly as many threads, as well as plenty of ignorance on a variety of topics, I’m sure. Thank you, and good night!

Tags: , ,