“There’s already been a great deal of discussion about TI4 but I figured I’d throw in my own opinion to the variety of ones currently swimming about. In a few short words TI4 was both under, and over, whelming. I’m sure it sounds strange to read it when it’s laid out like that but for those who attended I think they’ll have an idea of what I mean.

On the underwhelming side, as a General Admission attendee, I had access to seats in the upper sections of the arena, the Secret Shop and the various other activities laid throughout the remainder of the arena (the Workshop section, the Juggernaught Lounge, etc). This meant that I was able to enjoy the vast majority of what was great about TI4 (seeing the games being played out live in person, meeting fellow DotA players, availing the Secret Shop of its wares) but it also meant that my friends and I were very aware of our position in the very last tier of attendees. We didn’t have much of an opportunity to meet pro players or commentators unless we happened to come across them whilst they were walking around the arena (and weren’t sticking to their separate floor, it was pretty easy to see how actually wanted to meet and talk with their fans and who didn’t because of this) and often times we found ourselves in seats that were not optimally situated for acoustics or visuals.

To Valve’s credit, watching the games in the arena was still an incredible experience. When big plays were made and the crowd roared and clapped as their heroes fought valiantly on the huge monitors laid out in front of us there was an irreplaceable atmosphere that made the experience seem completely surreal. However, due to the poor audio setup (I heard that they were pressed for time in setting up and didn’t have the opportunity to set it up exactly as they liked) there was a significant drop in energy in between games when the analysts covered what had just occurred as well as during the drafting stage. Since it was near impossible to fully comprehend what they were trying to say most people took to chatting to their seatmates or going out for bathroom breaks and trips to the Secret Shop. This left the arena with a strange dichotomy between the grandeur of the presentation laid out below us and the behaviour of those in the stands. Honestly, I can’t really complain because we still got an awesome experience for several days for around the price of a typical concert ticket but I want to contribute to next year’s event being even better. So, consider this to be constructive criticism!

For next year’s event, something definitely needs to be done about the audio in the General Admission seats so that people can clearly hear what the casters and analysts are saying. Otherwise, the analysts will be left with the unfair and unpleasant task of attempting to perform in front of an audience that largely isn’t paying attention to what they are saying or are struggling to follow what they are saying. Having had to perform in front of an audience myself, I know how important crowd reactions are and how difficult it can be to continue on your anticipated track when they aren’t responding in the fashion that you had expected. Another, admittedly less major, issue was the projectors cutting out for the overhead screens and the image occasionally falling in and out of sharpness. This made what should have been an easy choice between the screen right in your field of view and the screen all the way in the front unnecessarily difficult. Additionally, the need to scan in and out of the arena made for a few traffic jams when influxes of people were trying to enter or exit. But that’s an issue that couldn’t be solved without a major change in the Arena’s setup and wouldn’t be within Valve’s control. As for the lack of access to personalities at the event, that is something that is totally understandable but I would advise attendees to come with the expectation that they’ll have to work hard to find the people that they want to meet and talk to and they won’t simply be strolling through the arena bumping into one person after another.

Having aired those grumblings I am now free to rave about the overwhelming side of things. I got a chance to meet some of my most beloved personalities like Dendi (so incredibly kind and generous), Bruno (has a Masters in Computer Science and is just as smart, witty and kind as you would expect), Pyrion Flax (a great guy to chat with and hilarious even when he’s not trying), Draskyl (super smart, awesome sarcastic sense of humor, very pragmatic) and Ixmike (representing despite his team’s elimination in the qualifiers and quite the momma hunter) and they were just as wonderful as I’d expected they would be. Some of the games were absolutely electrifying (especially the EG, C9, Na’vi and DK series due to my cheering for them specifically) and the production value was excellent. In the arena we were able to see the main action in the middle of the screen with an enlarged minimap on the side, key stats on the right and awesome hero portraits in front of the player booths. Though the lineup for the Secret Shop was insanely lengthy (5ish hours at most points during the event) the merchandise there was of an impressive level of quality and the complimentary daily gifts were beautiful (at least the concept art and comic book that I got). The arena food was awful, both in terms of price and quality, but fortunately TI4 coincided with a food festival being held just outside so attendees had the opportunity to pursue alternative sources of nutrition close by.

Despite its flaws, TI4 was a fascinating, beautiful experience that I will certainly be aiming to be a part of again. I heard from several people who watched the event online or happened upon it on ESPN 2 and were inspired to give a shot at playing or had their interest in DotA 2 reinvigorated.

Hopefully by the time next year rolls around I will have made enough of an impact as a caster, writer and DotA 2 lover that I will have secured an invitation. If not, I’ll be grabbing those General Admission tickets again and making the best of the experience!

That’s all for now. Have a pezant day!

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