Local DGL Dota 2: What’s Happened So Far
Over the Spring of 2012, when the rest of South Africa was still emerging from its winter slumber–eyes tight and bleary, the Dota 2 community was all a bustle with many unproven warriors willing to pit their mettle against the country’s best after a long and gruelling off-season.
If you’re not quite sure as to what “Dota 2” is, then I suggest you remove your head from the sand and join the 21st century. Dota 2 is a sequel to an infamously popular WarCraft III mod, Defence of the Ancients. DotA is actually so unique that they coined a new genre for it, and the number of clones to follow–MOBA. The acronym MOBA means Multiplayer Online Battle Area and it is a sub-genre of the Real-Time Strategy (RTS) genre. What Dota 2 entails is the ability to control an upgradeable hero (the heroes range from morphing forms of water to a fire flying batrider) pimping him out and killing little minions and enemy heroes. You, along with four teammates, band together on the quest to destroy the other team’s ‘Ancient’.
If you haven’t played the game yet, don’t let such a roundabout explanation turn you away. Dota 2, according to the folks over at doGaming, is the most popular title so far for the 2013 season-–with a record breaking 116 teams (over 580 individual players) entering. While this number might not mean much to a lot of you, but for someone who has been in and around the DotA competitive scene a while, this statistic is simply staggering. To imagine that only three years ago the DotA scene consisted of weekly cups comprised of a maximum of 8-10 teams–yes, you can understand why I’m flabbergasted.
The explanation behind it all? Why, doGaming of course. Starting on the 10th September of last year, doGaming hosted the very successful DGL Dota 2 League which saw a record number of applicants and participants for any DotA competition, be a cup or league, in South Africa to date, hence there being several ‘divisions’. After concluding in early December, the winners were handed over their prizes from the tournament sponsors: Steelseries (5 Dota 2 Steelseries Kana Bundles), Telkom (five 2TB Samsungs HDDs) and Monster Energy (fives cases on the green juice). After such a successful turn out, the league was able to split itself into five sub-divisions with teams being placed in their respective groups based on a previous seeding tournament. These teams played in a round-robin with the top teams proceeding to a single elimination play-off bracket.
South African DotA has always lacked depth. There is no lack of willing players–no, there are probably too many of these. The problem arises from people unwilling to swallow cyber egos and learn from those more experienced than themselves. Unfortunately, years of nurturing has failed to eradicate the issue, so the trend of there only being a handful of teams at that compete against each other continues to persist.
The DGL Dota 2 Spring League was no different. The top four teams competing namely bvd.Dota2, BASH!, ASF and LEGS, were all comprised of South Africa’s most skilled and experienced players, most of whom have played with and against each other for a number of years. The preseason predictions were spot on as bvd.Dota2 consistently maintained their top spot throughout the group stages, with the other aforementioned teams also placing for the playoffs. As was expected, the ‘big four’ cruised through the semi-finals, where the DGL was left with an all Premier Division stand-off. After having beat ASF and LEGS respectively, bvd.Dota2 and BASH! lined-up for the ultimate showdown of 2012 and the bragging rights that come with finishing the year strongly. Both teams, interestingly enough, faced each other in the first place tie-breaker for the Premier Division. BASH! came out victorious and, arguably, walked into the final encounter with the mental edge.
In the first of a three game series, bvd.Dota2 utilised the push and teamfight-orientated ultimates of Chaos Knight and Shadow Shaman to constantly exert pressure on their opposition. After acquiring the Aegis of the immortal (an ancient artefact granting its possessor everlasting life – okay, not really, but you can die and come back to life free of charge!), bvd.Dota2 was able to steadily force themselves into BASH!’s base and claim the first game after an exceptional performance from South Africa’s very own Dendi–Anthony ‘scant’ Hodgson. The second game followed suit, with bvd.Dota2 acquiring two very strong picks in the forms of Bounty Hunter and Magnus and maintaining the upper hand. The advantage flowed between either team for a time, but once bvd.Dota2 picked up their core items, it was an easy push through to the title and booty. Dota 2 can be a cruel mistress, sickeningly kind the one day–and mercilessly torturous the next. A lot can go for and against a team in a Dota 2 match, but following in the words of Gary Player – “You make your own luck.” Doni ‘DoniBest’ Teixera, from BASH! was humble in defeat and stated that, on the day, bvd.Dota2 was just the better team.
I spoke to bvd.Dota2 star player–Anthony ‘scant’ Hodgson–about the previous doGaming tournament, the South African scene, and who to look out for this year.
The DGL’s Steelseries Spring League was a very exciting competition last year. Before the competition began, I was feeling very confident about my team. During the course of the competition it became clear that we were behind on practice and something about our dynamic wasn’t entirely right. Nonetheless, we fought on to the playoffs without any huge setbacks. The bracket set us up for an ASF [Roccat] semi-final, followed by a possible final vs [Immersion] Bashers. Our 2-1 victory over ASF gave us a massive confidence boost to take out Bashers 2-0 in the finals. I say we were a bit lucky because this was before Magnus was a common pick, or even a pick at all, I’d experimented with it in pubs and decided it was [overpowered], but without having any confirmation from pro teams yet, it was a bit of a risky call. It turned out that we were right and it was quite [overpowered] and our having practiced it gave us a big advantage.
Things to look out for this year:
This year, you should look out for Mfb, who will surely rise to the Premier League in no time at all, and once there may easily be the team to displace the cemented ‘top four’. Also, many of the top four teams will undergo changes during the current transfer window, the details of which I won’t discuss at this point.
Where the South African scene is:
The [South African] scene has exploded this year: with 116 teams signed up for DGL [2013 Summer Leg], we are probably the biggest domestic Dota 2 league in the world. A lot of people would say that what we now need is a way to convert more of those teams into top contenders. While this would be nice, I think this should not be our top priority and it’s also not an easily attainable goal. Rather, I would say what we need is to attract a larger audience and [thus] more sponsors for our leagues. More important than creating more big teams is keeping the ones we have, and creating incentives for them to treat their e-sport as professionally as possibly.
From what it sounds like, DGL have been able to run a smooth, efficient and entertaining tournament. And, from what it seems, they aren’t intending to slow down. The 2013 DGL Summer Leg is well under way, with bvd.Dota2 avidly trying to defend their title, with the ‘solid’ top four–ASF, Energy eSports (LEGS) and Team Immersion (BASH!)–hot on their heels. Additionally, captain of ASF, Wesley ‘odu’ Rose predicts that VnR and M21 have the potential to cause an upset or three in the upcoming season.
For information on doGaming’s leagues can be found on their website.