The alarm goes off at 6am, and I groan as I contemplate throwing it against the wall. I’ve got a three hour drive from West Palm Beach to Winter Park/Orlando, FL, here we go. I get there a little early, about 9:30 (check-in is at 10), so I decide to grab a cup of coffee and wait in the lobby. At 10, I approach the woman at the front desk, who of course has an attitude, and sends me to room 113. I’m walking around for 15 minutes before I finally find it. Room 113! Lo and behold, it’s a class full of students glaring at me. I freeze, and without a word, do an awkward moonwalky thing back out the door. I go outside. That’s when I see a huge sign, MAJOR LEAGUE GAMING OCT.18 & 19… on the building next door!

There I meet with some MLG reps,

who were very accommodating, and helped to get me settled in. The venue was pretty impressive. They were using a studio called, Full Sail Live, that I’m convinced had every piece of audio, video, and lighting equipment known to man. I walk around to get the lay of the land; it was still pretty early and empty aside from the production crew and some of the DotA 2 players getting in practice time. We’re then taken on a tour of the upstairs control room, where DotA 2 casters, GoD and Merlini were hard at work.

By this time, we’re getting close to our first game, so after a quick (and friggin’ delicious) Korean bbq sandwich, I take my front row seat for a whole day of awesome DotA 2 matches.

godz and merlini casting MLG Full Sail Invitational: Day 1   DotA 2 Drama

Game 1

The first game was between Team Dignitas, a veteran team with experience at blockbuster tournaments, like the International, against a relatively lesser known underdog in Typical Mistakes. Mistakes came out very strong, surprising the crowd with early aggression, taking two towers within the first 3 minutes of the game. The packed Full Sail venue was definitely favoring them, as every kill made was echoed with a roar of applause. For the first 10 minutes or so, they looked poised to take down Dignitas, until a 3-1 team fight victory for Dignitas scared Mistakes, causing them to back off. From there, Dignitas took control of farming and the game as a whole. Behind their team captain, Korok, Dignitas took every team fight in dominating fashion. 5-2, 4-1, and finishing in a way fitting to the rest of the match, Korok forced the GG with an ultra kill. After the match, Team Dignitas’s Bdiz said that they knew the other team was going to come out aggressively and if they were patient they could hold them off and come back in the mid to late game.

Winner: Team Dignitas

Game 2

Going into game 2, featuring the Joikernaut vs. NoM, all eyes were on noM’s star player, Relic. His play in the solo-mid position carried the team through the fall season and was considered, by many, one of the best solo-mids in the nation. This is something that the Joikernaut knew and was keen to capitalize on. With superior ganks in the early game they were able to completely shut down Relic. He was unable to get the ball rolling on any sort of effective gameplan without protection and support from his team mates. Relic was consistently left in 2v1 or 3v1 matchups that he couldn’t win. The Joikernaut had the lead early and didn’t lose it at any point. Following behind their leading troll warlord’s ultra kill, they pushed all the way into noM’s base fountain forcing the GG.

Winner: The Joikernaut

Winner’s Match

With convincing wins from both teams, the Joikernaut and Team Dignitas were set to have a great match. All of the fans cheered for both sides, but wanted to see the Joikernaut upset the favored Team Dignitas. With momentum from their last game still fresh, and the crazy crowd on their side, the conditions were perfect for them to pull an upset. Well, I’ll make this short, that didn’t happen. Team Dignitas absolutely crushed the Joikernaut, starting the game off 9-0. From there it just spun out of control and Team Dignitas took the Winners match 21-5 at just 23 minutes.

Winner: Team Dignitas

Loser’s Match

One of the more closely contested

and exciting matchups actually came in the loser’s match between noM and Typical Mistakes. For someone like myself, who respects the game of DotA, but isn’t necessarily a fan; experiencing the crowd’s passion and energy for a game they love so much was a pretty exhilarating experience. The two teams kept the match close, and the crowd ate it up! Nearly every gank had a counter gank, and for each one, the crowd would erupt. It was a back and forth battle for the entire 35 minute game. RyuUboruZ had one of the more impressive performances of the day finishing 17-3 and, ultimately, lead Typical Mistakes to victory. In an interview with Typical Mistakes’ jubei, he showed a ton of confidence, saying that he knew they were going to win against noM and that they would also go on to beat The Joikernaut on their way to face Team Dignitas in the finals.

Winner: Typical Mistakes

Deciding Match

Typical Mistakes came out swinging when player ima_sheep(sux) drew first blood. The Joikernaut answered back with a gank of their own. At the 8 minute mark the score was all tied up 5-5. But one thing team Typical Mistakes had going for them today was their superior maneuverability. They would constantly juke and dodge to take better positions, and that helped them to win fights where they were outnumbered and/or against stronger heroes. They started to pull ahead and were able to capitalize on a Roshan mid-game. Their two farming heroes, Sleisel’s Lifestealer and RyuUboruZ’s Viper, started to pull away from the rest of the pack in regards in survivability and damage; neither were easily killed in any team fights, even when outnumbered. Ryu’s Viper and the rest of Typical Mistakes pushed far into the opponent’s base for a commanding 34-14 win.

Winner: Typical Mistakes

Finals Match (Best of 3)

Game 1

Dignitas wanted to key on Ryu and cripple their midlane by taking him out early, but Ryu’s Storm Spirit saw the gank coming from a mile away and dodged it with ease. After the early miss, the game settled in a bit and we didn’t see our first kill until a 4-man gank on Korok at about the 7:30 mark. Ryu was able to take advantage of the 1v1 in the midlane and outfarm Korok. Meanwhile, Cak3z’s Bounty Hunter was going off! Stealth killing heroes in the jungle and helping with ganks in multiple lanes. At 16 minutes, Mistakes were up 12-0! The crowd, and even the casters, were getting into it. Everyone was rooting for a Cinderella story; for the 4th seeded Typical Mistakes to take out the unstoppable Team Dignitas. Dignitas was finally able to get their first fill, but not without some serious effort. Ryu had the play of the game with, hands down, the best juke of the day. Dignitas couldn’t land kills on anybody and GG’d at under 20 minutes. The team that averaged 21 minute wins just got a taste of their own medicine.

Winner: Typical Mistakes

Game 2

Dignitas drew first blood within the first 2 minutes and looked to take a commanding early lead, but Typical Mistakes was not going down quietly. Cak3z, again, was all over the map, smoking into advantageous positions and getting ganks on unsuspecting Dignitas heroes. Dignitas chose a lineup that was heavy on early game pressure, but for every tower assault or hero that Dignitas killed, Mistakes answered with a kill or multi-kill of their own. Mistakes’ great engagements kept the match close at 14 to 14 in the midgame, but under the surface, Dignitas was pulling away in farm and their heroes were growing in strength. Soon, every team fight for Mistakes became a scramble to survive against Dignitas’s stronger heroes. But not only did they survive, they were getting kills, and the crowd was going absolutely nuts for Mistakes to pull out a miracle comeback win. But the superior farming eventually became too much for Mistakes to handle and they were forced to GG.

Winner: Team Dignitas

Game 3

It was the final game of the day, the series was tied up 1 to 1, and the winner would take home $10,000 and a spot at the MLG Fall Championship in Columbus, OH. Up to this point, the teams were pretty nonchalance about the whole tournament, laughing and joking with each other; but going into the final game, both teams changed in their demeanor and were 100% focused on winning. On of the more surprising draft choices was Korok going with an Ursa as his last pick, a hero he was 7-1 with prior to today’s game. Dignitas started out with smart protection for their three farming heroes and allowed them to get ahead early. BLeek, Korok, and Inphinity were allowed to keep leveling and, eventually got to a point where they were almost unkillable. The crowd had accepted the outcome, as I heard several mumbles of, “it’s over” and “they can’t come back from this.” Well, Mistakes wasn’t going down without a fight. They were able to win a clutch team fight, killing Korok twice in a row. Then initiated a 5-man smoke gank on him, again, for an extremely difficult triple kill on one hero in less than a minute. They had one chance to push midlane while Korok was out of the game, but the rest of Team Dignitas was too strong and kept the assault at bay. Dignitas was able to follow up with their own pressure and got the GG from Typical Mistakes.

 Winner: Team Dignitas

img 8514 MLG Full Sail Invitational: Day 1   DotA 2 Drama

It was an exciting day for DotA 2. The crowd was amazing. The passion and tight-knit community between the players, casters, and fans was really encouraging to watch. Our industry gets such a bad wrap for having anti-social and aggressive gamers, but this community showed me that there are still a lot of good people and camaraderie in the gaming scene. Even though it was a very long day of matches, I would gladly do it again… oh wait, I am. I’ll see you guys tomorrow for Call of Duty: Black Ops II.