The Dota 2 community was a bit perplexed when a man named Sean "Day" Plott was chosen to be this year's host of the Dota 2 International. While Plott was a huge figure in the Starcraft II scene, both hosting and commentating on several events, he hadn't been involved as a commentator host or analyst in any Dota 2 event. While Dota 2 fans didn't know who he was, they also didn't know how he would do as a host.
That said, Day's hosting is one of the main reasons why this Dota 2 International is shaping up as the best yet. Asking all the right questions, some of which to set up video segments, but most of which are to frame the teams in crystal clear terms so that anyone with even tangental experience in a MOBA can have a good idea of what's going on and why.
Beyond just Day, the production value of The International continues to rise. Little bracelets called Xylobands make their return. These were attached to every seat, and they light up in sync with stage-events, such as the beginning of the game and drafting phase, and they shine a bright red light as soon as First Blood is drawn.
Day (far left on the desk) hasn't lost his ability to host with the best of them.
The desk where all the analysts talk on camera rivals anything seen on Sports Center and NFL Network (and anyone who follows me on Twitter during Football season knows I know what I'm talking about). They even borrow from traditional sports media a bit of on-screen replays where an analyst can touch the screen, pause, start, and draw attention to moments that you might have missed live.
While there are the usual, cheesy moments, such as the actually-pretty-good opening segment featuring Sir Action Slacks and Kaci Aitchison getting sucked into the world of Dota 2, they also have the more genuine moments of highly-produced interviews and video segments such as the one below:
That said, there were several moments where Day was clearly struggling to get meaningful analysis out of his co-analysts. Setting up the above segment, he asked who some of the Dark Horses of the tournament were. Instead of pointing out obvious underdogs, such as Infamous, the first South American Team at the International, or highlighting teams that under-performed during the group stage, the co-analysts paused and basically said "Ummmm. I think they're all good."
Later in that same segment, Day was asked to rephrase a question about Newbee's and EG's strengths and weaknesses, and answered the question "What plays from Newbee stood out to you in the group stage?" with "I don't really remember ... I'm trying to think back to then." I mean, come on.
But then there's the matches: Already two huge, bracket-busting upsets in the upper bracket, where both Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses were sent down to the lower bracket, one loss away from elimination, advancing the apparently under-rated Chinese teams.
These games have some of the best moments in any Dota 2 International tournament, and it's only day one. The stakes are getting higher, and the matches will only get more intense. It's going to be an exciting five days of the Dota 2 International, culminating in the Grand Finals on Saturday, where the winning team will take home more than $10 million of the $23.5 million prize pool.
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