On the first day we (me, nixer, shiaopi) arrive at the arena ~1½ hours before the games are set to start, which is 30 minutes before the doors open. The line we see if nothing short of amazing. It must have been 3-400 meters long and actually wen around the block. At 8:30am. On a Thursday morning. I tried taking some pictures of this but without a drone, or a skycrane, it was impossible to do the fans justice. As we were standing around looking confused V1lat drives up with his car (for whatever reason the parking was in front of the venue) and we just hear this roar of the line as 50-100 people break off just to catch a glimpse of him and, hopefully, a picture to immortilize the moment.
So they were hyped. And not only that, they weren't fanboys (or girls, there was actually a surprising number of girls there). These were fans of good Dota. No matter if it was Liquid mounting a huge comeback versus Newbee, or Faceless showing who's the top dog of the SEA region, the crowd showed their appriciation of all the teams and all the plays, no matter who performed them. Nothing short of amazing and, with the demonization of CIS (pub)players going on in the western scene, so not what I was expecting. Now don't get me wrong the crowd showed their love of Virtus Pro, I can still hear "Vir...tus.....pro" in my head from time to time. So kudos to you CIS Dota. I hope I have to chance to return for another major, cause you guys deserve it.
Another thing dawned to me as we were sitting in the arena (for something like 16-18 hours a day #worth). While the Russian audio in the arena wasn't an issue, they have some great casters who get you hyped up, the in-between games was lacking. It was basically just their panel discussing things. No other content was made. And that's when I realized how amazingly lucky we in the western scene are to have someone like SirActionSlacks. I'll be honest and say I've never been a huge fan of Slacks. I've found him to be over the top and annoying. During Kiev... I wouldn't say my feelings changed (still think he caters to the lowest common denominator of the community) but I came to respect him immensly. Wherever you went he was always around filming a new segment. He worked harder than anyone else at the event, I'm fairly sure, and even with his few, precious, minutes off he came down to the press room and joked around (he knows how to get people laughing, I'll give him that). So kudos to you Slacks. You do you!
So I've talked about the good. What about the not-so-good? Well I'll start off by saying I understand V1lat's blog about the venue now. Don't get me wrong the spectating area of the venue is about what you'd expect from a major. There was nothing wrong there. My issue was with what was available outside of that. When you go to these events you'll reach a point where you kind of overdose on Dota. It's day three and you've watched every single minute of the event so far and just want to do something else. While it's unfair to draw a paralell to TI, I'm gonna do so. In Seattle they have a nice outdoors area where you can sit and chill, with a food court like... 2 minutes away. There are street vendors and an activity area where you can try stuff like the Vive. There's also amazing Dota artwork all over Key Arena that you can walk around and look like. In Kiev we had a Secret shop and about 5 resturants in close proximity. Nothing to write home about. The venue wasn't in a very central location either, so there wasn't any point in just strolling around.
That's about it for the negatives really. I wasn't a big fan of the set up for press, but I won't bore you with those details as that's feedback for PGL.
All in all, Kiev was absolutely amazing and I really hope I get the chance to return some day.
I want to end this blog by telling you all the story of why we stopped wearing out Liquid gear. All three of us are big Liquid fans and have gear. So we wore it to the arena... well for a few days. In the short span we were there people stared at us like they were trying to figure out if we were a part of the team or not. Some of them failed. ShiaoPi got asked if he was EternalEnvy. Nixer if he was Miracle. And me... ehm I wasn't really asked if I was X, but I assume they thought I was a taller, fatter, version of Mind_Control? We had people come up to us asking for pictures and when we said "We're not famous at all" some of them walked away with a disappointed look. What really made my day though was the few times where the person, who was asking for the picture, woudl go: "I don't care". He just wanted a picture of a random person in Liquid gear! So after Liquid was eliminated we decided that enough was enough with the gear, it's actually uncomfortable having people stare at you all the time, and ditched our fandom