Valve’s True Sight documentary once again gives us a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes during Dota2’s most exciting moments. Here are some thoughts on what we’ve just watched.
Team Liquid’s victory in The International was such a feel-good moment for a lot of people, seeing how KuroKy’s patience and resilience has finally paid off. After four years since his first time setting foot in the Grand Finals of TI, he finds himself again in a high-stakes series that everyone in the Dota2 community dreams about. Four years later since his first Grand Finals match with Na `Vi, KuroKy returned with a new team, saying that this time, they will rewrite history. And they did.
Team Liquid’s run to the Grand Finals was even dramatic, making a great story to be told. They were knocked into the Lower Bracket after they lost in their series against Invictus Gaming just in the first round of the Upper Bracket. They were on the brink of elimination in each and every series they went into. But they persevered, re-emerged, and eventually won it all. You can see how Team Liquid was taking the situation they were in at one of their pre-match sit-downs as a team. They were laughing at it. It was absurd how they were forced to fight for their life for several games just because they lost a single series. To think that they even went into the Playoffs with the highest score in the Group Stages.
But they saw a silver lining; it wasn’t so bad falling into the lower bracket after all. They realized that they had to rethink the way they were approaching the tournament. They realized what was missing in their series against IG. They realized that they were worrying too much about losing that they have taken the fun out of playing. The solution to their problem was simple: start having fun again. Don’t mind losing. Think that it’s just another tournament. “Don’t give a f-ck” became the team’s motto. It was this kind of attitude that Kuroky credited in his article for their win.
Newbee also had a similar outlook into the game when they entered the Grand Finals. A “win or lose, we fight our best” mindset that led both teams to where they stood in the Grand Finals. Newbee’s journey to the Grand Finals, however, was the complete opposite of Team Liquid’s. Just like Liquid, they started the Playoffs in the Upper Bracket. On their way to the Grand Finals, they dropped the likes of Evil Geniuses, iG and LGD.ForeverYoung to the lower bracket. They didn’t drop a single series to their opponents, and they were so close in achieving their goal.
Somewhere along the Grand Finals, Newbee lost their course. Experiencing a tremendous loss in the first game thanks to a bad lineup, Newbee decided to call GG early to allow themselves to take a step back and regroup. They were decimated by MinD_contRoL’s Nature Prophet, a hero that has featured prominently in Liquid’s earlier games in the tournament. Newbee had planned to ban NP, but they guessed incorrectly that Liquid would try to shake things up in the first game of the series. Instead, Team Liquid chose up NP for their first pick.
The loss was so devastating that we saw a shaken Newbee exit the booths. But they haven’t lost their cool yet. They returned to the drawing board and tried to figure out what to do next. Back in the booth, they decided to place their hopes on Moogy, giving him an Anti-Mage. Early on, Newbee took a great lead, scoring multiple kills without giving any. But as Tobiwan correctly remarked during the game, “Kills don’t mean everything in Dota.” True enough, one slip was all it took for Team Liquid to tip the balance of the game. They had been taking down Roshan, and Newbee was slow to respond. It costed Newbee the game. When Moogy’s Anti-Mage was caught up and it turned out that he had no buyback, Newbee lost all of their defensive options, allowing Team Liquid to rush down mid and take Game 2.
This rattled Newbee. We see Kaka arguing with the team, stressing how they could have won if Moogy was quick to arrive to the Rosh pit to contest Liquid. The pressure was getting into them, and they were pressed to come up with a quick strategy to beat Liquid.
Meanwhile, we see Liquid laughing jovially, trading high fives and hugs. We see KuroKy’s bathroom pep talks, which he also mentioned in his article. They talked less about in-game strategy and more on psyching themselves up, making sure that everyone’s having fun, making sure that everyone’s not getting the jitters. “Don’t give a f-ck,” KuroKy would repeatedly remind his team. “Don’t think about winning, just focus on this game,” he said.
Newbee would then fall back to their comfort picks, and finally had a decent enough draft that could rival Liquid’s. They had a fighting chance, and they did get an overwhelming advantage over Liquid. But they made the mistake of going for Roshan at a time that Liquid could have easily responded. Liquid went in, destroyed Newbee, and took Roshan for themselves. All of Newbee’s gold advantage disappeared in an instant. In terms of statistics, both teams became equal again. But in terms of momentum, Liquid was winning a great deal.
In a stroke of luck, a double damage rune appeared just as Miracle- went to the river to check for one. Newbee knew that a Juggernaut with double damage would cost them dearly, and they moved everyone to contest the pick-up. Miracle- was force staffed in to take the rune, but Newbee immediately disabled Juggernaut, disabling him and focusing all their fire on him. But just when Juggernaut was about to die, he was able to cast Omnislash to save himself, and it was all over for Newbee.
The next scenes of True Sight showed how everyone in the arena was cheering the new champions. We see an emotional KuroKy crying as his dream finally came true. He lifts the Aegis. Everyone chants “Liquid” in unison. KuroKy and the team walks out of the stage into a supportive crowd only too happy to see their heroes walk out of Key Arena as champions.
Meanwhile, an equally emotional Newbee takes in their loss against Liquid. We see an emotional Moogy crying as he felt responsible for the team’s loss. We see tired soldiers who have done their best but have come up short despite their best efforts. They leave Key Arena without fanfare. They left without a crowd cheering them up and acknowledging their achievements. Everyone was cheering Liquid.
True Sight may have highlighted one key aspect of Dota2’s professional scene. There is some sort of “Winner Takes All” culture in tournaments. Second placers are nothing, apparently. Nothing else matters if you didn’t come out on top. Nothing else matters if you didn’t win TI. The fans will only cheer for you when you win your tournaments. Expect no support when you come up short. This sort of attitude towards winners reward success greatly, but it is just too unforgiving to the other teams who have done really well but ultimately fell short. Despite reaching second place, Newbee received no accolades, no standing ovations, nothing from the fans.
True Sight brings this issue further with the way it shows polarizing depictions of the teams. Many have cried foul over the same issue before in the cases of Virtus.pro and Fnatic, how they were unfairly shown to the audience. The documentary was allegedly cut into scenes that depict teams as complete opposites: the jovial, happy-go-lucky winners against the problematic and over-reacting losers; the positive mental attitude of winners against the pessimistic views of the losers; the friendship and camaraderie of winners against the in-fighting and squabbles of losers. But we all know that there are more to it than what Valve may be portraying.
True Sight may have given us a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes, but that’s all that- just a mere glimpse. We have to remember that these teams spend a big chunk of their lives improving their skills, refining their strategies and bonding with each other. What we see in True Sight doesn’t give us all the details of these teams’ dynamics. Therefore, we should look deeper into understanding these teams. After all, they’re all humans, just like the rest of us. They are not two-dimensional characters from some created story that can only be seen in black and white.
It could have been better actually if True Sight had some interviews with the teams, to give us more insights on how the teams were feeling at different points of the story. Although their body language and candid behavior do tell a lot about how they are feeling, it is also important to hear what they have to say. And it’s just as important for us to listen to what they have to tell. As fans, understanding what goes through the heads and what feelings course through their veins will exponentially increase our appreciation of their efforts.
In the end, both teams moved on after achieving what they had in TI7. In the last scene of the episode, we can hear KuroKy already talking about the Minors and the Majors. In fact, KuroKy has stated in his article that he is aiming for a second Aegis next year. Team Liquid have decided to stick together for another run in the upcoming season. Their win has granted them multiple direct invites in a lot of the events already, which gives them a great lead in terms of being able to secure enough points for the next TI.
Likewise, Newbee also decided to stick together. They have also been directly invited to multiple tournaments, as they still hold the reputation of currently being China’s best team. It is not hard to imagine seeing Newbee win a lot as well in the coming months, as they really are a powerful team. With their performance in TI, they have gained my admiration.
Earlier we saw Moogy crying because he felt like he could have done more in Game 2. He blamed himself for the team’s loss. And he really could have done better as Anti-Mage in that game. But we all have to remember that this was only his and Sccc’s first TI. And what a run did they have for their first foray into TI, reaching the Grand Finals and going all the way in the Upper Bracket. It would have been a great achievement if they had brought home the Aegis on their first try, but reaching that far was already a feat in itself. Imagine if, somewhere down the road, Sccc and Moogy would end up just like KuroKy who, after toiling and fighting for years, finally achieved the grandest of all achievements in Dota. Until then, I will be closely watching them, and I’d be rooting for them in their journey of their own.
If you still haven’t watched the latest episode of True Sight, you can watch it here.
Neutral has been playing video games since he was a little kid. He started being competitive when he and his brother would bet favors for each other depending on who wins at the PS2 game Naruto Shippuuden. Recently he has been playing Dota2 and Animal Crossing on his revived 3DS. It is his dream to be part of the formation of the eSports version of UAAP through UP Gaming Guild’s Impetus Intercollegiate Dota2 League.
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