Written by: Jon Gray
I’m here to tell you the esports hype is real.
Like many members of the SHIELD team, I’m what you’d call a traditional sports fan. Soccer, basketball, baseball, these are the sports I grew up playing. I love video games too, but these days I only have time for Ultimate Chicken Horse with coworkers or Rocket League through GameStream on SHIELD. I can understand paying money to see Steph Curry drain threes or Neymar score a screaming goal. So why go to a TI Final JUST to watch total strangers play video games?
It’s incredible. That’s why. I was wrong. Turns out Saturday was one of the more memorable days of 2017. On par with any sporting event I’ve ever attended. Welcome to a day in the eSports DOTA 2 Grand Finals.
There is a massive crowd outside just watching the semifinal matches on a big screen. It was feeling muggy outside, but despite it I have to admit I’m impressed with the turnout.
My first view. This place is completely full. Bright lights, beautiful HD screen, the crowds are chanting their favorite teams’ names and it’s not even 11am yet…
The semis are about to come to a close and it’s Team Liquid vs. LFK. It’s LOUD in here. The crowd is hanging on every strike, every battle, every kill. When players combine kills it only amplifies the noise. This place has an energy that rivals any sporting event I’ve ever been to. To really immerse you in the moment, we shot footage of the arena in 360 degrees! Now you can watch this and many more 360 videos for the first time on SHIELD. This feature also works great with the SHIELD Controller using the left and right sticks to navigate your view.
There’s a great international feel here too. North America, Europe, and Asia are all well represented. There are some great cosplay costumes, colorful team jerseys, and international flags. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the atmosphere. And despite the strong passion, there’s a lot of respect between fan bases. No cursing, no drunken behavior, unlike many other sporting events. It’s nice to just focus on the action itself without the other distractions.
Wow, that’s a full classical orchestra coming out to serenade the crowd before the finals. Valve is pulling out all the stops here.
The finals are starting and the fans are taking it to another level, which I didn’t think was possible. The intensity is growing. Newbie and Team Liquid are competing to take home $10 million dollars! Imagine the pressure of knowing one wrong move could cost you and your team a fortune.
The guy next to me is rooting for Team Liquid and I hope he doesn’t have a heart attack, he’s screaming at the top of his lungs. His excitement is actually getting me pretty pumped up too! We scream in joy at the same move and high five in unison. Sports do bring people together. Look at the intensity of that crowd!
A break between games. Name me any other sport where a world class athlete can compete in cargo shorts. Awesome.
IT'S OVER! Team Liquid has defeated Newbie to win the DOTA 2 TI. No waiting for a velvet rope. No commissioner to hand the trophy over. Team Liquid celebrated briefly, shook hands with their opponents, then immediately went over to claim their trophy. Instant gratification. It’s pandemonium inside the arena.
Sports are ultimately special because they allow you to become part of something bigger than yourself. They are a common ground amongst strangers and unite people from all walks of life. Exiting Key Arena, exhausted from such a tense ordeal, yet happy and fulfilled, I became a part of this community. Now that I’m back home in San Jose I’m playing my first game of DOTA 2. Hope to see you out there.