Then I made the mistake of watching the Dreamhack tournament finals the other day between teams Quantic and Alliance. I don't know anything about those teams, I couldn't follow very much of what was happening and why, all I know is that it was exactly the kind of thing I love to see in games.
There is a complicated series of drafts, bans, and counter-drafts that precede tournament DOTA apparently, and while I know nothing about the game, the commentators did a fantastic job of quickly summarizing each hero and their role in the meta game, the likely strategies they'd be used for.
Quantic organized a fiercely aggressive line-up. Lots of lane clearing AoE, tough ganking heroes (characters that specialize in taking out enemy player heroes), with solid mixed support.
Alliance on the other hand picked out a motley crew. Judging by the commentators, it seemed like they had been a little screwed by the draft bans and were scrambling to come up with a backup plan. They organized a team of traditionally weaker units. Lots of strong support like the fragile Wisp, and a bizarre Cleric character called Shen that works as a odd support character that is capable of converting hostile NPC mobs to his side.
By the commentary, it seemed like the game had already been decided. That Alliance effectively committed suicide on the character select screen and barely stood a chance against Quantic's roster of heavy hitters.
Then the unthinkable happened. A total blow out. Alliance started off cautiously, but soon began a steam roll the likes of which you only see in the lowest dredges of pub games. The freak team of glass cannons and oddball support units took down one of the strongest teams WITHOUT A SINGLE DEATH.
It was insane. Like I say, I don't know jack about DOTA, but I know that was amazing. THAT is the kind of thing that gets me pumped for a game. When unconventional strategies can trump cookie-cutter builds, when even at the top level of play there is room for major upsets and dramatic wins.
So today I spent hours pouring over newbie guides, setting up hotkeys, and picking out a few interesting heroes on the DOTAwiki.
The scope of the game is staggering. Intimtading. One of the first resources I stumbled upon was Welcome to Dota, You Suck, an introductory guide that's straight up honest about what a new player is getting into. Hundreds of heroes to learn, thousands of abilities and items, countless match-ups and strategies, and an entire language of jargon and slang that has to be penetrated to even know why your teammates are screaming at you.
It's intense. But it's also the sort of thing I can see myself getting lost in.
So farewell everyone, it's been nice knowing you. I think I'm going down this rabbit hole, and I don't know where I'm going to end up.