What Science Says about the TI Letdown

posted by Chris.Warrior, 100 days ago
The ever vocal, but not always tactful, community has made a few things clear on reddit and forums: this was the "Worst TI Ever." But why was the most expensive, most watched International so badly received? Well, hop on board for the social science express, where we're going to look at TI with some theories used to explain the impact the same way we might with the World Cup or Superbowl.




Note: This is an opinion piece from an European student, so most of my points are from a western audience perspective. Since my knowledge about Chinese scene is insufficent, I felt like not including it into this piece. This is not about, if The International was good or bad, it is only about, why some people may have been disappointed - from a scientific point of view.

Parasocial Interaction in Dota 2

"DK should have won it" - "Why are the finals on a monday?" - "The finals were rigged." - "This wasn't worth the chicken wings I bought for it."

Between all these negatives post, there was another thread that popped up and caught my attention: Let's not forget the best part of TI4 with a picture of the EU Hub Lounge at the GD Studio House, where many different eSports personalities were to cast the International Qualfiiers. We could see them play Mario Party, do karaoke or just enjoy themselves and the people loved it, but why?

Watching the Eu hub is like having friends



In a technical sense, the phenomenon behind the success of the EU Hub is the so called Parasocial interaction, a one-sided interaction in which one party knows a great deal about the other (before the Internet, this was just called stalking). Repeating this over the course of two weeks creates a parasocial relationship (PSR).

Following this theory, many players profited of the EU Hub stream, especially crowd favorites like dk Johan 'BigDaddy' Sundstein or nl Weh 'SingSing Sing. This leads to a potential idenfitication with their respective teams. Teams that didn't do so well at The Internatinoal at all. Teams that didn't even make it to the Main Stage. When your favorite team drops out of the tournament, you usually choose another team to cheer for - most people make this choice based on which player they like most. How do they choose favorite players? It's the players that feels like their friends.

So we got an all Chinese Final. No, I am in no way a hater of the Chinese doto, but this was one of the worst finals we could have gotten (from the viewpoint of the live audience) for multiple reasons: Most of the Western Audience has little knowledge about the players from cn NewBee and cn Vici Gaming. cn Fan 'rotk' Bai was one of the few potential interaction partner, since he knows some English and gathered some fans during the All-Star match. Chinese teams don't spend very much time playing outside of China, so non-Chinese fans don't feel any communion with them. However, many Chinese fans have a love of Alliance, Na'Vi, and other Western teams, because the level of exposure there is higher.

In fact, we develop PSR's with many teams and players outside of EU hub: twitch streams, interviews, behind-the-scenes footage at other tournaments. But we (in the West) rarely develop it with Chinese teams (due to language barrier and a lack of availability).

This is probably one reason why Western fans are so much less happy with an all-Chinese finals than Chinese fans were for an all-Western finals.




A more diverse finals would have been better for Valve, as well. I'm sure they hoped to see us Evil Geniuses make their way to the finals. There's a significant realtionship between how well sport is received in media and how well the own national team is doing. Especially for ESPN, an American team in the finals could have potentially increased the viewernumbers. To go even further: Last year's broadcast on TV6 would probably have had way fewer viewers if se The Alliance had not been as succesful.

To interest a nation, engage their fans. The one force most likely to bring grizzled, war-torn veterans to tears over stick-and-hoop is patriotism.


Public Mood

Another popular theory in the reception and impact sciences of mass media is the so called Public Mood theory. According to that theory, people will be affected by their experience of being in a particular community - in our case being a fan of a Dota 2 team. Public mood is exactly what it sounds like: the emotional ups and downs impressed onto fans due to the effects of their society as a whole. In fancy-pants words:

We define public mood as a diffuse affective state, having distinct positive and negative components, that people experience because of their membership in a particular community

Wendy M. Rahn et al., A Framework for the Study of Public Mood, (1996)


There are many different studies that claim to have found a significant correlation between the results of political elections and how succesfull the national football team has been. Transfering this to the Dota 2 community, one could expect that folks right now are judging anything Dota 2 related in a more negative way than usual.

Interesting enough, here are a few results from different studies to that topic:
  • The effect was found to be bigger the more important the matches were
    With that much money on the line in the biggest tournament of the year, it is not suprisiing how people react now

  • It affects more the image of people, not of groups
    One might have been surprised by all the hate a certain Katie received, but looking at these results it might have been predictable


However, the public mood is a fairly short-term effect (regardless wheter positive or negative, it rubs off after pwning some n00bs in a pub). For the most part, the hype will be back for next year's The International!


Finishing Thoughts

"Real sports" are studied with these kind of frameworks all the time (that's why the frameworks were studied and invented in the first place). I think it's time we start taking a look at eSports with the same scrutiny. I got the idea for writing this piece after hearing three sad Dota fans stating why their favorite team lost: "We didn't apply enough pressure". Identifying in such a strong matter that you are talking in the first person plural is one of the most typical phenomenons in real sport. This may be why CBC News claims that The International 2014, was "a competitive event so huge it's beginning to blur the lines between online gaming and traditional sport."


How did You like this year's International?
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This article was written by de Christian Baltes, joinDOTA's Senior Writer.
Chris.Warrior has been at joinDOTA for nearly two years, making him our most senior editor. Besides living for DOTA 2, he is currently studying Media&Communication and has lived in the UK,France and Thailand for a longer period of time.
Follow him on @chrissibaldi


 
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#1
Nyaro wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:03 CEST:
First
#2
Viper322 wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:04 CEST:
Volvo fix plz!
#3
j0te)) wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:05 CEST:
1st mdfks
#4
f20c wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:06 CEST:
GG !
#5
Moukaneleos wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:08 CEST:
Best International ever!
Kappa
#6
Immortal1423 wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:08 CEST:
first, and agree
#7
EvilExlax wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:11 CEST:
8rd
#8
.Budi wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:13 CEST:
Yes, next year don't let the best teams play against each other, instead chose the worst two teams of the International and let them play the finals, games will be full of mistakes and throws, but at least they are closer... right?

IMO best International so far, though Newbee was too good. Other teams need to step up their game.
#9
Toshirou wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:15 CEST:
Bad format, Vigi didnt play for 2 day's so that leads to a bad performance into the Finals
#10
Nick_Sensei wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:20 CEST:
The format sucked. I really still dont know why VG ended up in the finals. Or why the upper bracket was soooo short... VG had a fun playstyle but it was the same everytime. No idea why teams didn't copy newbees strat against them, and just ban out supers heroes, forcing him to play ember or dk who are both easily shut down. And picking up someone like shadow shaman yourself so they can't. Apply early pressure, keep natures from getting his tower gold.

Most of the best games were played without a crowd as well, so they didnt feel as important or hyped. The bubble bracket should have been in there imo, or something. It just wasn't nearly as exciting.

It felt short in a sense, and boring. No fan favorite made it, and most really important games weren't close. I expected most games to be like Alliance vs EG or stuff like that.
#11
Phant0m wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:22 CEST:
Toshirou wrote:
Bad format, Vigi didnt play for 2 day's so that leads to a bad performance into the Finals

Kappa
they played for 3 day consecutively. VG just got lucky to get into the finals. EG vs DK THE DREAM :(
#12
Miyagi-sama wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:23 CEST:
I was working and about to go to a pubstomp. Didn't even try to go there because games ended too early and the hype was gone.
#13
Overdrill.Wolfy wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:25 CEST:
.Budi wrote:
Yes, next year don't let the best teams play against each other, instead chose the worst two teams of the International and let them play the finals, games will be full of mistakes and throws, but at least they are closer... right?


You just don't understand. The bracket, the playoffs, THE FUCKING FINALS IN A FUCKING MONDAY. Everything was bad and wasn't worthy to watch.
#14
redpyro wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:25 CEST:
If there is 1 thing valve does right is listening to the community, and they will do everything they can to make it better next year, I think there where many hit-or-miss things in this one, for example the caster mix-up, what's the need to mix Tobi, Lumi, LD and Synderen around? Just have Tobi/synd and LD/Lumi and leave it at that.
Also, I think Valve feels too distant during the organization, the "faceless organization that makes the infrastructure for you to have fun" model is obviously not working, and yes, while they do know a lot more about this than us, they're still learning.
As for Katie Kate, is an unkown face, Valve could very well have hired a band that made covers from other well-knwon artists, but no, they went with a girl who nobody knows and who was oblivious as to who her crowd was, I think what happened to her is on Valve's hands. For example, Darude obviously knew why he was there, he was teasing sandstorm during all his set and he even shoutout to twitch chat.
#15
meph90 wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:26 CEST:
If the finals were more spectacular, it would have been worth watching.
But with Vici Gaming calling early gg in 3 games in a row, this was by far the worst finals in any dota2 tournament. Vici Gaming were much stronger in their way to the finals and could have won this.

Another thing is that people dont want to emphatize with NewBee as they have a few RACIST PLAYERS as it has been reported here on joindota some month ago. (newbee telling other chinese teams to stop training with those teams that have malaysian players in it)
#16
iKnowUlikeDickgirls wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:26 CEST:
all that ppl that did hate the old chinese turtle doto calling them boring.. now that they gave us awesome games with super early agression and almost perfect execution.. ppl still calling them boring... wtf. u just dont want chinese ppl to win TI but they do deserve to win it. because chinese dedication into the game is bigger than eu players dedication.
i cant say that it was the worst TI ever.. i liked it but it could be better with a close final.. but it was VG's mistake.
#17
moodbrother wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:27 CEST:
good piece, intelligent and creative (the concept)... would love to see more of this content, dota is full of weird shit and player-fan interaction that is interesting to study
#18
redpyro wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:30 CEST:
iKnowUlikeDickgirls wrote:
all that ppl that did hate the old chinese turtle doto calling them boring.. now that they gave us awesome games with super early agression and almost perfect execution.. ppl still calling them boring... wtf. u just dont want chinese ppl to win TI but they do deserve to win it. because chinese dedication into the game is bigger than eu players dedication.
i cant say that it was the worst TI ever.. i liked but it could be better with a close final.. but it was VG's mistake.

I agree that people simply dislike the chinese, but as the author explained, it's not out of racism, is because China feels distant, and their approach to the game is different than everyone else's, most of the western players looked like they where having the best time of their lives, the chinese barely smiled (and it's not even being awkward and introverted, most dota players are obviously introverted, fuck, there's a reason they spend so much time playing video games, they're nerds the same as us, yet when you see the interviews they genuinely smile despite their fear for the camera, etc.).
#19
i-got-war3.eror wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:35 CEST:
The right team won the tournament. I had them as #1 on compendium. Newbee is currently in another league than any other team, that is why the finals was so fast and not even close.
#20
fredchen777 wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:35 CEST:
Toshirou is most likely referring to Newbee here.

I didn't like the format for the final rounds, but i liked the group stages and the bubble rounds, but i would have liked different timings, having a grand finalist after day 1/4 is quite disappointing.

VG did a really great job pushing through to the grand finals, they kind of were that cinderella story, being considered "one of the chinese top5", but in no way the favourite, crushing the group stages and then get pushed down to LB by Newbee in a rather convincing manner just to fight their way back up, but i agree with Chris here that the grand finals being chinese only kind of lowered the excitement for the crowd. (i was barkeeping at a pubstomp in germany for the GF).

Chinese dota was just superior this International (all 5 chinese teams placed top8) and thus the grand finalists were rectified, but VG and Newbee only picking 15 different heros through the 4 final games was REALLY killing the mood... game 3 and 4 just felt like game 1 again, i have no idea why VG thought they could beat the same lineup combination since they already lost to that during the first series and the first game of the GF...
#21
TheKingBaiter wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:39 CEST:
Please where is option : This TI su*ked hard!..

worst TI so far,, the chinese dota was just ridicilously retarded , the format was way worse.. i was happy alliance didnt make top 8 but even as someone who hates rat dota i would rather see games full of furions and phantom lancers than pugna death prophet or viper every game..

It wasnt that bad until i realised we will know finalist after first day of main event , bi GG est bullshit evah.. VOLVO PLEASE
#22
Valon129 wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:47 CEST:
Voted for format killing the hype.
It was god awful with super retarded decision like finalist known during the first day, half of the teams not even in the main event, BO3 split in half, winner braket with only 2 BO3.
The groupstage was cool but it was in an hotel which completly sucks, make them play in front of people not in a room. (I know it was like this before but this time the groupstage was way more important and again, half the team not in the actual event).

edited by Valon129 at 23.07.2014, 00:51 CEST
#23
BliksemBoemanBoeman wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:48 CEST:
No Navi in finals= No good international... STUPID Chinese teams!
#24
ZLoBny wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:49 CEST:
Shitty meta, shitty format, this is even worse than TI1.
#25
nyafk wrote at 23.07.2014, 00:50 CEST:
no tiebreakers - daed tournament
 
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