The International 2018 is a few weeks away and whilst teams are busy practising and coming up with new ideas, we've BTS hosting their flagship tournament; The Summit for the ninth time which also happens to be the last event before TI8.
We sit down with David "GoDz
" Parker, one of the co-founders of BTS for a little chat and discuss on a smorgasbord of topics such as Summit 9 and its short list of attending teams, DPC season and its effects on casters and team organizers specially with the way Minors and Majors have been setup for the upcoming season, predictions and expectations from The International 2018 as well as the Summit 9.
Hi David. Before we begin, I’d like to express my gratitude on hosting such a fabulous TI8 qualifier hub. How did it come to fruition? Did Valve contribute towards setting up the hub? Who were involved in deciding the talent line-up?
We've run BTS hubs for many years now for both TI qualifiers and the old Majors as well. They're always a lot of fun, and a chance to bring in a ton of talent from all over to work together. The hub itself itself was ran independently from Valve so all the decisions regarding the show, talent, & more was done by people at BTS.
Summit 9 will be the last tournament before TI8, however, only six teams will compete. Was this number predetermined on having a low-key event with lesser number of teams?
We set out to run an 8 team event and also to include the top DPC teams such as VP, Liquid, Secret, & LGD. Almost all teams we contacted wanted to come to LA for The Summit, but many were prevented due to visa processes for TI8 with it now in Canada instead of Seattle.
As far as I know all teams have approved visas, but they have to wait to get their passports back from the Canada embassies (so nothing to worry about). We're still very excited for the teams we do have competing and know that it'll be a great event with the 6 teams in attendance.
Are you not worried that TI attending teams will use Summit 9 as an opportunity to experiment, try out new things with their focus not particularly being of winning? To keep it simple, what are your expectations from the attending teams?
I think we used to worry about this a bit. But now, we welcome it. VP showed when they won The Summit a year ago using a different 5 heroes every game (until game 5 of the Grand Finals), that experimenting and playing Dota while 'hiding strats' is just as entertaining , if not more entertaining, than regular competitive Dota when you're running a laid back event.
The Summit still has a $100k prize pool and these players are all very competitive. Many used to be on teams with each other, have past histories, and I'm sure none of them want to lose or do poorly at their last event before TI8.
Let’s talk about the new DPC season. When I asked Capitalist about the entry of new talent into the scene, he was of the opinion that Dota 2 has already peaked as an esport and advised that new casters try their luck at other games as opportunities have grown narrower over the years. What is your take on this topic?
I read Cap's interview and love the point he ended on: cast Dota if you're doing it for pleasure and because you enjoy doing it, don't start casting Dota thinking it will become some career for you. I'm not sure if I fully agree with the state of Dota as an esport, according to Twitch our viewership has increased from year to year, but as far as talent go that is sound advice.
The other main piece of advice I always tell talent ties into how I started casting full time: don't quit your job or make streaming/casting your sole source of income until you have a steady flow of gigs and income from it that you can support yourself with.
Many casters believe if they put more time into casting and made themselves always available (ie: quitting school / their job) they have a better chance of making it, and while there is some truth in it, you can always find enough time to cast around work or school hours and should see how you are received in terms of popularity and what kind of paid gigs you can get before you decide to drop everything else.
Speaking of which Cap has moved his base to Los Angeles, California. Can we expect him to be a part of BTS production more often?
You missed out on TI7 last year. May I know the reason?
I was at TI7 last year, I didn't stay for the full event, but I was casting group stage games with Winter, and then decided to spend some time with some family since we don't get many holidays or much downtime during the year. So I spent time with my partner and her family instead of being at TI for the last 5 days.
I love TI, and I've been a part of every TI except for TI1, but I've been trying to find more work life balance over the past year or two. Casting TI and being at the biggest event of the year doesn't mean everything to me like it used to 3-4 years ago. Unlike most casters, I'm probably unusual in that my goal each year isn't to attend TI anymore, although I am also in a different position since for many talent, events are their sole source of income and TI is the biggest event for that.
Somehow that completely went off my radar. My apologies. That being said, will we see you at TI8? Have you been invited?
I'm excited to be going to Vancouver for TI8; I'd be going whether I'm invited or not by Valve which I can't talk about until it's announced.
Summit 8 was awarded the minor status in the inaugural DPC season. However, since the number of events has literally halved at present, how positive are you that Summit will retain its minor status?
Minors, Majors, DPC... these are all words that Dota fans and teams know well and while we all follow these at BTS, we're more focused on how we can run a fun event that makes sense for us. It's not our first priority to be involved in the DPC, our first priority when organising these events starts with asking "what do the viewers want to see this event?". So, Summit will continue to return in different forms over the coming years, perhaps something special for Dota Summit 10.
How are TO’s in-charge of minors supposed to attract sponsors when the possibility of big name teams attending will be little to none due to new rules?
I don't imagine the new DPC will encourage new organizers to run events. Organisers like GESC relied on the fact they had EG & Secret playing their events to sell sponsors. To make matters even worse, TO's won't know the teams competing until roughly 3-4 weeks before their event, so it's the big problem of not having T1 teams at your event, and the secondary problem of only finding out your team list shortly before. Every sponsor or distribution partner we work with always wants to know which teams are competing at your event.
In your opinion, how can this issue be addressed?
Not sure of the solutions. Every Major has to take the team who wins the minor a week before them. You don't know who is going to win, so essentially you have to secure visas for all 8 minor teams, or have both the Minor & Major in the same country so they already have visas. Or, do the major in a visa-friendly country, but some teams from certain countries such as Russia or Philippines almost always need visas. I imagine it'll be a bit messy.
This also opens up opportunities for third party events like we had before. In a way, that's some sort of a silver lining , don't you agree?
Yeh, definitely, one of the big positives of the new DPC is that there is room for more non-DPC events. Teams will only be playing 5 DPC events at most throughout the year, except for the 5 teams who win minors and play at majors who could play more theoretically. There's much more room to get top teams competing at non-DPC events since they won't be happy with just playing at 5 Majors throughout the year and nothing else.
In your opinion, give us a brief outlook on the positives and negatives on the new DPC season.
Positives - As mentioned above, more time for organisers to run non-DPC events. More room for upcoming teams to play & win minors rather than the 1-2 invited teams who are top 5-10 in DPC winning everything. Teams don't feel pressured to play every DPC event, now they can only play in 5 DPC events throughout the year so they can set their schedule to be more relaxed and not get burned out like many players did last year.
Negatives - The chaos mentioned above with how things are scheduled, and getting a team who wins a minor to a major. Last minute visas and flight bookings sound wonderful. But overall, the new DPC is a great move in the right direction.
Moving on, TI8 is less than a month away. What kind of meta are you expecting this time around at TI since you’re one of the most knowledgeable casters in the scene.
No clue. Any caster or analyst claiming they do know is probably just bs'ing too. Casting and analysing TI group stages is always one of the hardest but also easiest things to do in some ways. Hard because there's no games to look at, no recent tournaments, no relevant info to understand where the meta is at.
You go from MDL to ESL Birmingham you know roughly where teams are at and what they're doing, even with the patch you understand that a certain hero might fall off or rise up because of the patch. You can figure stuff out. Then you go from ESL to Super Major and it's the same thing, you know what to expect, and you follow the meta changes throughout the event.
Going into TI8, everyone has been silently training by themselves, playing scrims. Even if you're a player who is scrimming the NA teams, who knows what the EU, CIS, SEA, & CN teams are gonna do. They could be the ones to set the meta. So yeah, it's impossible to prepare for TI8 as an analyst in many ways, in the past I mostly focus on getting to know the players, and their stories, since the Dota will overtime explain itself.
That's why the group stage is great, because it sets the tone for the main event which is what really matters. As far as it being easier to prepare for, well, there's not much to do! I don't find it helpful to watch replays and study team analytically before TI8 when I know they aren't gonna follow their same past trends of picks and play.
Predictions on who’ll lift the Aegis of the Champions?
Safe prediction: Liquid.
Bold prediction: Someone with VG in their name (that isn't Thunder)
That concludes the interview. Anything you’d like to say before we sign off?
TI8 should be awesome. The community is always at it's most crazy and captivated state during TI and I love it. Can't wait for all the new viewers to come watch Dota as well, please be welcoming to them. And be sure to bathe if you're gonna be at TI around me (smiles).
Note: The Summit will be held at the BeyondTheSummit Studio at Los Angeles, California from July 25, 2018 to July 29, 2018.
Feature image credits: Valve
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