Believe it or not, there is more to TI6 than watching Dota for 12 hours a day. There’s eating, sleeping, but also things to do outside KeyArena. The event, over the years, has evolved to become as much a week long convention as it is a sporting event. It’s a congregation of fans, from all over the world, connected by the common language of Dota, who are here to celebrate not only their favorite teams, but also their love for the game.
These first two days of TI have been some of the most intense opening days of any International. It’s been a day of upsets. Usually, there is some time to take a break from the marathon of game watching—to eat, mingle, and breathe and comprehend what just happened in that OG vs. TNC series. If the pace of the first two days are any indication, there won’t be much time for a breather. While some can sustain the day long immersion of Dota in KeyArena, for everyone else there are a few outside activities that are worth taking a look.
Outdoor Viewing Area
The energy inside KeyArena has been incredible these first two days, but sometimes fresh air is nice. The outdoor viewing area is open to everyone, to families, curious onlookers, ticketless fans, but there were also attendees who just needed a break and a patch of grass. Food trucks outside offer a brief reprieve from concession stands of hot dogs, fries, and taco bowls. The nearby trading area is a great place to exchange emoticharms. The lawn is a great opportunity to meet and talk with people, who you’re no longer shouldered against, outside the darkness of the arena.
The VR Booth
The VR booth above the secret shop
Gabe Newell, Valve’s founder, during the opening ceremony talked about how he has been spending most of his time with the Virtual Reality team, telling the crowd “If you have a chance, go check it out, and let me know at [email protected] what you think.” The azure VR Booth can be found next to the outdoor viewing area, behind the Secret Shop. There you can demo the HTC Vive headset with games like Hover Junkers and Space Pirate Trainer. Dota fans would be more interested in being able to experience a game in virtual reality, via Valve’s Dota 2 VR Hub. Players can embed themselves on the battlefield, walk around among creeps and heroes, or hover feet above, like a drone. The schedule for the VR booth gets booked pretty quickly, as people are already lining up at 9AM (they open at 10AM) to make their appointments. There is a stand-in line, however, to grab the empty slots from no-shows.
The Autograph Area
Tuesday’s celebrity lineup
This year, there’s a new process to streamline the process of getting an autograph with Dota talent. You pick up a token to come back for the line two hours later. It’s like getting a Fast Pass at Disneyland. It segments the crowd of autograph seekers into discrete time slots, preventing the glut that can occasionally happen, especially this year when digital autographs (you’ll receive a gem that can inscribe an autograph) can net a sizable profit on the Steam market.
Quick! Name that player
The Hall of Heroes
If last year’s technological breakthrough was projection mapping, then this year it’s augmented reality. It’s a familiar concept for anyone who is aware of Pokemon Go (or anyone who has internet). The resulting effect shows Dota heroes projected right on the stage. To clarify, it’s not a holographic projection, but a post, digital effect shown for stream viewers and on the monitors in the arena. These effects have been reserved for the main stage and the analyst panel, but at the Hall of Heroes, fans can meet with augmented reality versions of heroes of their choice. It’s all connected to your Steam account, so the hero you choose will also have your cosmetics. It can be a little awkward to pose and interact next to thin air, using the monitor to gauge the space where you and the augmented reality hero is, but don’t worry, it’ll all be fixed in post.
By just sheer game time, we’ve recorded close to 16 hours of Dota over the past two days. That doesn’t count the downtime between games, between series, and analysis and commentary. There’s four more days of Dota, and attendees should find ways to stretch their legs and enjoy as much of TI6 as possible.