Without the internet, there is no Dota, 1 or 2. This game is built on a legacy of organic participation and collective creativity that’s inspiring and affirming of the best aspects of the web. Its continued existence and the funding of professional competitions are also directly dependent on the engagement of its players. While I’d prefer to see more decorum and maturity among said players, there’s still a chance for these online encounters to bring disparate people closer together. Dota 2 allows me, a Bulgarian living in London, to watch an Australian in Berlin commentating on a match taking place in China between teams from Malaysia and the Ukraine. Calling this game’s headline tournament The International is as fitting a title as any in gaming.
The humbling experience of having your face repeatedly slammed in the mud is what builds the incredible loyalty and commitment that Dota 2 enjoys today. NBA player Jeremy Lin describes it as a lifestyle rather than a game, and my experience this year has confirmed that in every way possible. I have a relationship with this game. It’s built on the trust of knowing that every screw-up and every triumph is my own. At a time when gaming is growing more cinematic and prescribed, Dota is pure, unadulterated, interactive fun. No training wheels, no assistant popups, no pausing to gather your thoughts. Thank you, internet, for being this awesome.