The best part of The International 2018 had nothing to do with Dota 2

And everything to do with its amazing community

Every year, despite barely playing Dota 2 at all anymore, I look forward to The International (TI). It’s the game’s premier event and the biggest in all of eSports. Millions of dollars are on the line each year, while the production value and competition continually improves. This year, both series between OG and LGD were absolutely insane, but that’s not what left the biggest impression on me during the week.

The Dota 2 community, at large, is phenomenal. The personalities and talents are top-notch and consistently bring a smile to my face, as well as the face of thousands of others. So while I expected some great laughs from Kaci and Slacks hosting TI, I did not expect to be shedding tears and feeling feels.

Sheever’s Story

Okay, I have other things to talk about, but this is what made me make this post. Jorien van der Heijden, aka Sheever, has become a staple in the Dota 2 community. Not only is she a lone female in a sea of male players and casters, but her personality (and epic Ravage plays) make her a warm, exciting person to follow.

It was for these reasons that her cancer diagnosis felt like a blow to the entire community.

I won’t go over any more details as not to overlap with the video itself, but seriously give it a watch. Both videos are very important to watch — the “live talent” segment is such a crazy mix of emotions from heartbreak to pure love and compassion. When Kaci says “we love the shit out of you,” I start to lose it, even a week removed from the event.

You rock Sheever, and this community is better because you’re in it. A special shoutout to Owen Davies, aka ODPixel, for being a support pillar for her in addition to an amazing caster (CEEEEEEEEEEEB!).

Gabe Newell’s Mega Kills Pack

Okay, here’s something to lighten the mood after watching Sheever’s Story. Gabe tends to appear in a skit or two during the International, and this year he stole the show. Enjoy the video as Kaci and Slacks deal with Gabe’s complete ineptitude while recording voice lines for the game. It’s surprisingly hysterical, especially with Gabe’s inability to say the number three.

A Heartwarming Father and Son

A lot of time was spent, either by Slacks or Kaci, chatting up random people in the crowd. These can get a bit awkward depending on the person, but one interaction definitely stuck out to me. Kaci was interviewing the little boy seen in the tweet above about his love of  Dota 2 and especially the team Evil Geniuses (EG) and their player Arteezy. The kid had such a big smile on his face, only outdone by that of his father behind him. The dad mentioned that his son is always begging to watch him play — it was adorable.

Then, to my surprise, Kaci returned to the pair later on in the tournament (I believe it was the same day). It was a quick segment, but she just had to show them with their new signed and game-worn jerseys (the idea of eSports “game-worn” jerseys makes me chuckle)! As you can see in the picture, their smiles were huge and it was a very wholesome moment to experience.

Mara Cup, aka Crystal Maiden Makes Salad

My final favorite moment was the Mara Cup, a Japanese Dota 2 tournament where you win oysters and beef instead of cold hard cash. Slacks’ and Mara’s newfound relationship is an absolute sight to behold (“NANI?!”), as is Slacks experiencing a boat for the first time (“DANGER, DANGER!”). The entire event is an exercise in saving Dota 2 in Japan while simultaneously having farming gamers “promote” their food.

As with everything on this list, this is an amazing event that happens because of Dota 2, and not in Dota 2. I could also make a list of big plays from the tournament (most of them would be from Team Secret or OG vs. LGD), but these communal moments of struggle, excitement, and comfort are the reasons that people love playing games in the first place.

I love the Dota 2 community, so long as I’m not playing with them in-game.

Patrick Hancock
During the day, he teaches high school kids about history. At night he kicks their butts in competitive games like Rocket League, Dota 2, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike. Disclosure: I've personally backed Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2, Dead State, SPORTSFRIENDS, Torment: Tides of Numera, STRAFE, and The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls. I have previously written for and continue to support them whenever possible (like HumbleBundle).