Traditionally, The International has always been scheduled in the same way. Teams play against each other on-site with no crowd in the group stages, and then after a short break, the playoffs and finals kick off at the main venue. It’s a format Dota 2 players and viewers are familiar with.
However, things changed at The International 11.
The group stages were the same, but the playoffs and finals have been divided. The playoffs took place in a smaller venue, Suntec Singapore, while the finals are set to kick off in a larger venue, Singapore Indoor Stadium, on the weekend—a week after the playoffs ended.
Puppey and Monet are two of many players and retired legends who think it’s a bad thing. Their reasoning is different, but the conclusion is the same.
“It’s really bad. You start not focusing on your objective, which is winning and playing Dota 2,” said Puppey. “When you have a five day break, you start thinking about other things. You start thinking about your life, and it starts making you feel kind of depressed.”
The feeling is worsened by the fact players have been in Singapore for almost a month, stuck in the same hotel room, eating the same food, according to the Team Secret captain.
“I would want to finish this thing and then go home and live my life. Instead you just have a break for no reason,” he added. It’s not necessarily a break for you. You want to finish. You want to do your job till the end.”
Team Aster’s Monet echoed the sentiment. “This format is really weird for me because I’ve never experienced it,” he said. “I personally prefer the previous format where it’s games every single day. You get to know who wins or loses faster.
“With the five-day break it feels like everyone is caught on a cliff-hanger and you have to endure the next five-days before you get to know what happens next. It’s not a good feeling.”
It’s unclear why Valve decided to go against the grain and add a long break between playoffs and finals. It’s not the only tradition they’ve ignored, either.
Some suspect it had something to do with a scheduling conflict with a now-postponed Justin Bieber concert, while OG CEO JMR Luna thinks the venue might have only been available for short-term bookings.
But one thing is certain—it’s taking a toll on players, and they hope it won’t be a lasting trend.