For our coverage of the ESL One Birmingham Dota 2 Major, GINX has enlisted the help of Jorien van der Heijden – or, as you probably know her, Sheever – to conduct player interviews at the event. Of course, this is not her first rodeo. She’s been casting Dota 2 since 2012, with plenty of stints hosting and on the analysis desk too.
With experience like that, we were obviously keen to quiz Sheever on everything ESL One Birmingham. Read on for her predictions for the knockout stages!
GINX: ESL One Birmingham is the first major Dota 2 event in the UK (besides IreLAN of course) and tickets sold out almost instantly. What do you expect from the crowd here at the event? Do you think they will be able to rival the SEA crowds?
Sheever: To rival the SEA crowds is a big ask. I think the first step is to rival any European crowd, which I think Birmingham can do. If football matches are anything to go by then we know that the UK fans are passionate and loud. I hope that they will bring that to the arena and make a case for themselves on why we should have more Dota 2 events in the UK.
Twelve teams will be competing at ESL, with DPC dominators VP and Liquid making their first appearance after a few weeks off. Do you think that breaks from playing will strengthen these teams, or disadvantage them?
Breaks work different for different teams. With the patch system the way it is I would imagine that playing the game as much as possible would be a good thing. At the same time, you can’t be giving your 100% day in, day out. Whether the breaks will strengthen the teams or not is a matter of what fits the teams best. After having watched the group stage it seems that VP has got their fire to win back, while Liquid hasn’t yet figured out the current patch.
What team would you pick as the favorite to win? Who is the most likely “underdog” team that could cause an Ad Finem/Fly to Moon style upset?
All the six teams still in the tournament at the moment look very strong. One team that people might be surprised to see do well is Pain Gaming, but since adding W33 to their roster the squad has looked very good. To see them in the top 6 is not an oddity at all. Based on what I have seen in the group stages I think that OG and Optic make a good case for themselves to come out ahead. For Optic this is their last chance to make it to TI based on DPC points so they will give it their all.
Biweekly patches have made some of these questions hard to answer with results so much more challenging to predict. Do you think teams are struggling with consistency in an ever shifting meta?
I would not call it struggling, but it definitely is a challenge that has been placed before them that they are/ were not used to dealing with. Going from a patch every few months to a patch every two weeks requires a lot of adjustment and practice. With the tournament schedule being as packed as it is, it can be tough for teams to get the amount of practice in that is needed to fully understand the patch and the changes that it brings.
What is it like as a personality trying to cover Dota when it changes so rapidly? Is this current system more challenging or has Dota meta always been fast paced?
Dota has always been ever evolving. The current patch system accelerates it for sure though. For myself it is not that bad to keep track of the changes, as I normally get to ask analysts what their opinion is. The tricky part is to pick out the changes that actually have a big impact on the games being played. Do changes in playstyle happen because of the patch, or because of the ever evolving meta as it were. This patch system is mostly challenging for the teams at the end of the day, and we as talent watch them and see what they do with the changes made to the game. All we can do is theorycraft off the back of that.
The last several patches have turned the game into being more and more team fight focused. Do you think this has made games more viewer friendly?
I wouldn’t say that the patches are heavily focused on team fight. The most recent patches seem to promote the midlane to go back to a typical 1v1 match up (as opposed to 3v3 with supports rotating in). I feel we are going back towards a more structured Dota 2 with a relatively clear early, mid and late game. That on itself is something that makes the games more viewer friendly.
What gameplay strategies just aren’t working right now? (Split push, late game four protect one, deathball, rosh centered lineups, etc)
There are a lot of strategies that can work at the moment, which is mostly due to the fact that the dust after the patches hasn’t settled yet. Something that probably won’t work for anyone is a level one Rosh. The other strats you mention still exist and are successful when executed properly, but you will be more likely to see a combination of the strategies. In the games that we are seeing lately, teams try to have a little bit of everything in their draft. Going all in on one strategy is generally too obvious and therefore too easily countered.
Everyone jokes that this International is China’s turn to take home the Aegis. Should the Western teams be scared? Does China have a chance?
China always has a chance, they had a chance last year as well. If you look at the current top 8 of DPC the Chinese region is making a good case for themselves of being the strongest region of all. I don’t think that western teams will be scared, but the competition is definitely fierce.
Many teams (like OG, LFY, and Pain at ESL) are not eligible for a main qualifier slot for TI8 due to roster changes after the lock date. How do you think Valve will structure their open and main qualifiers this year to adjust for all the teams that changed rosters?
I hope that Valve looks at which regions have done well and which teams are expected to do well at TI if they qualify. They could adjust the number of qualifier slots based on the results of the last few months.