Last week, Valve released the Battle Pass for the International 2017. Along with the usual celebratory fare—new sets, new terrain, player cards, etc.—this year’s Battle Pass includes a series of famous Dota 2 audio clips attached to the in-game chat wheel. Though the intention—giving players new ways to express enthusiasm for their teammates’ best plays—behind these clips is surely good, top players are already finding new ways to put these to use in one of Dota 2’s oldest, most storied past times: talking shit.
Though we tend to think of metagame as something that refers merely to the ebb and flow of optimal strategies, the concept applies to virtually anything in the world of esports. From memes to commentating to shitposting, just about everything has a metagame in one way or another, and bad manners, which have been elevated to an art form most of all by North American Dota 2 pros, is no exception.
That’s a good thing. Bad manners among elite Dota 2 players aren’t always flattering to esports, but they do infuse the game with a kind of anarchic glee. In particular, the all-chat call out is a time-honored tradition in Dota 2, especially in North America. Peter “PPD” Dager’s infamous post-First Blood “gl hf” in the grand finals of StarLadder Season X instantly spawned its own meme, while Alder “Beesa” Beano’s classic “sister = protected” turned a routine victory into a very public takedown of the disgraced Ravindu “Ritsu” Kodippili, whom Beesa had recently accused of stalking his sister (among other things).
Until recently, though, the all-chat callout was strictly a textual affair. While Dota 2’s chat wheel has long offered plenty of sarcasm-soaked options to mock opponents (“>well played!, >good game well played!,” etc.), they have been relatively easy for players to ignore merely by looking away.
But the short audio clips included with the Battle Pass are new frontier for bad manners. And while there are real concerns that these clips are being used without the permission (or compensation) of those who originally uttered them, they are already taking the all-chat callout to new dimensions. Avert your eyes all you want, but you’ll still hear David “LD” Gorman’s goofy “Waow!” from The International 2 in your headphones.
So far, “>It’s a disastah!”—Toby “TobiWan” Dawn’s iconic, multi-register reaction to the $6 million Echo Slam at The International 6—has been the line of choice for top Dota 2 players. It’s hard to know who, exactly, pulled the clip out first, but Team VGJ’s Xu “Fy” Linsen used it in the final moments of his team’s victory over Newbee in the Chinese qualifiers for Epicenter on Sunday. Not to be outdone, the ever-innovative Jacky “EternalEnvY: Mao pulled the clip out mid-game against compLexity following a questionable series of early game rotations by coL.
For now, at least, no pros have expressed serious opposition to the inclusion of audio clips on the in-game chat wheel. Dota 2 wisely limits how often you can use the clips, making it impossible to spam them the way one might spam all chat with text (and thank goodness for that). Still, the message is clear: The more tools Valve gives to players to express themselves, the more ways that players will find to taunt their opponents.