I sit here in my room in Dublin, Ireland, trying to finish up a few things for LiquidDota before I leave for Seattle tomorrow. This will be my first visit to The International, an event I have followed religiously the last 4 years. And I couldn't be more excited.
For those of you who don't know who I am: I'm the current editor in chief for LiquidDota. Togther with Nazgul, Heyoka, TheEmulator, and Tephus I run this site. The day-to-day operations of the site are up to me and TheEmulator but we often use the rest of the guys listed above for feedback and ideas. I have chosen to focus on the "behind the scenes" stuff, and rarely post outside of the private forums and skype chats we have going. I do read everything that's posted when it comes to our content and relay points of improvements to our writers.
This year I had the opportunity to go to TI and I couldn't turn it down. So tomorrow at 11:55, local time, I will leave for Seattle. The trip won't be my first to the states, and it won't be my first live esports event (went to ESL One Frankfurt last year) but.... this is TI. This is something special. This is like going to the finals of the world cup for a football supporter. And up until 30 minutes ago this all felt so unreal. All through this week I have gotten questions from friends asking me if I'm excited to be going. I have replied that I am extremely excited, but I haven't had that feeling in your body.
But boy has that feeling hit me in the last 30 minutes. I don't know what it is that excites me so much. I probably won't have a lot of access to the players. And at ESL One Frankfurt I saw the amazing pajkatt double dunk. But this is TI. You expect something a little bit extra, don't you? I'm almost in a state of panic, cause I don't know how to let all these emotions out. It's kind of strange that a computer game can invoke these kind of feelings.
But in a way it also feels normal for me. I have been an ESPORT supporter for close to 15 years now. I started watching and playing CS when I was 15, I turn 30 in April next year. Since I was terrible at the game (and I'm not kidding, I was SHIT) I instead helped out by managing a local team. There was no money in it back then. Especially for the team I managed who mostly played to be the best team in our town. Since I had an interest in computers I helped one of the guys set up a server in his room and then I looked for praccs/scrims for them. Throughout all this I kept on playing brood war with a guy from the team, we had no clue when it came to strategies. After the team kind of imploded I started getting into BW for a little while, before giving it up when I realized that this was another game I sucked at.
Then in 2006 I had some big changes in my life. I moved to a completely different city, where I knew no one, and I started playing BW again. Then I heard about iCCup and after getting my ass beat really hard for the 100th time in 100 games I asked my opponent what I did wrong. His reply was simply "Everything. You have no build, no micro, no macro. Go check out TeamLiquid". And so I did. I started going through the articles, I downloaded VODs, was active in the IRC channel, and when streaming came around (in a semi-acceptable way) I got up at ungodly times to watch. And after 3 years of this.... I was still shit.
Luckily TL had this strange community feel to it. And I started playing with a couple of guys. Soon I found this dutch dude called Pholon. When liquipedia started in 2009 he was really keen on helping out. I was too, but I was D+ on iccup. For those of you who never played on iccup the ranking was Olympic - A+ -> D-, keyboard. Yeah. That's how shit I was. But there was one thing I could do properly: I could push drones though minerals.
Pholon, already staff at that point, said that he didn't know how to record his screen and asked me if I couldn't make a video showing everyone how it's done. I did. And after that he asked me if there was anything else I could help out with (knowing full well I watched ALL foreign and korean starcraft). I said "I watch a lot of starcraft, that's where my expertise stops". Well he brough me in and we I started creating pages for foreign tournaments like crazy. And suddenly I was staffed on liquipedia. If you read the "How to create a tournament page" tutorial, the sample tournament is still called "Julmust's Awesome Tournament". That always makes me smile. The tutorial looks nothing like the one I created, but that part has stayed.
I stayed on for a few years, but when I started university I had to cut back on some things and LP had to go. My time at university wasn't too great for actual studies. Instead of studying I'd party and play Dota 2, a game I had written off as "too casual" back in my elitist days of playing brood war. I still saw the staff forums on TL and I started helping out a bit with the Dota 2 stuff. Together with Robin (teams manager) and a few others we started the terrible idea that was TL.net Dota 2 inhouses. It was fine at first, but the idea behind it was that everyone could play. No matter what skill they were. We had a few good players play. Think I remember SingSing and Blitz both being in there. SingSing didn't talk much and mostly did random shit, but still won cause he was so good. Blitz was just the friendliest guy. He saw that I was struggling and used to help me a lot. Never got the possibility to thank him for that. Should do that this week.
But the inhouses turned shit when we had a lot of new players come in and though it was a competitive league. We alienated the newbies by being to hostile, and we scared away the pros by being too casual. We were left with, mostly, people who just... can't control themselves when playing Dota. I will never run an IHL again. You will not believe the shit people will say to you behind a keyboard. I see some of you around this site, and I'd like to say that if it was up to me I would ban your asses so hard. But, luckily, it's not.
After that little failed adventure, I was still around and I started talking to all the new people on Liquipedia staff. I'd like to think I at least played a small part in starting LP for Dota 2. The project started right after TI2 (iirc) but most of the work was done in the months leading up to launch (which was just before TI3). That's kind of how we roll. Right after this I took on a job at the university and once again I cut back on working for LP. During that year I managed a bunch of people and learned to not be as scared of conflicts that I had been in the past, I learned how you can never request more of the people working for you if that means they'll be working more/harder than you and I learned that working with volunteers can create something so much better than working with people you can order to do things because you pay them.
It was kind of the perfect storm leading up to the, now famous, blogpost "This site sucks". I wasn't at all involved with LD at the time (still had the forum access) so I waited for a couple of hours before starting a thread in the staff forum. I knew nothing of what was going on, but I gave my general input. I started talking to people like Plexa and I asked what I could do for the site. He said they needed an EIC and I accpeted. But not before googling the abbreviation. I had no idea what I got myself into. One of the first things I did was the whole "12 Days of Christmas". I had no idea how to manage it and it was crap. We let with something we shouldn't have. We rushed stuff out. I ghostwrote stuff. There's a reason I don't link you that article.
But here's the thing with me. I've done a lot of mistakes during these months since I signed on. But I have never done the same mistake twice. I believe that the site is moving in the right direction. I'm planning on writing a long post about the quality of our content, so I won't talk about that here.
My upload is now done, and I have to get back to doing some more behind the scenes stuff. I doubt many people will have read this far. For those of you who did, thank you.
TI kind of marks the end of the year for Dota. Next Saturday we will have our new years eve. Lets hope it's going to be a good one!