We were summoned to Westin’s grand ballroom A at 8.45am this morning. The purpose? To be briefed by Eric Johnson (the man!) about matters pertaining to the tournament. Mainly, we got briefed about how the tournament would be and other housekeeping issues. The only juicy thing was that we were informed of the confirmed participants of the 1v1 mini tournament as well as the all star match.
If you don’t know yet, iceiceice will be playing in the 1v1 championships. This will be held tomorrow night during a players’ dinner hosted by Valve so expect lots of pictures of a drunk XBOCT tomorrow. Oh what the heck, here’s a picture of XBOCT looking drunk already at 9am this morning. And a picture of two people who will be very shit-faced at tomorrow’s dinner.
Everything moved pretty fast after the briefing. Teams were divided into two bootcamp sessions. Zenith was in the earlier session, starting the bootcamp immediately after the briefing and will play till 4pm. Teams in the later session will start at 4pm and play till 10pm.
Equipment was collected from each and every player in boxes and guarded by Valve. Seating arrangement was also fixed by each team and given to Valve – ie, from left to right: iceiceice, xFreedom, Ice, YamateH, xy. As per last year, Valve handlers will set up each room/booth for the teams including their own set of peripherals. So all the players had to do was just to waltz into the rooms at the appointed time and sit their ass down and start playing. Very classy treatment, I must say.
I overheard that the Westin was chosen this year over the Hyatt because Valve was specifically looking for a hotel which had space for them to hold the preliminaries. Westin had, Hyatt didn’t. And I must say, it made the preliminaries all the more convenient for the teams. It might not seem like much but it’s a great thing to have your tournament venue in the same building as your hotel room. Whenever it was necessary, players could pop upstairs for a quick snooze or to grab a piece of gear they forgot. Yet another little detail Valve took care of.
If you were following our Facebook/Twitter updates earlier in the day, you would have known that we were assigned to the ‘Kunkka’ room for both days of the bootcamp. And the significance was not lost on us…
What significance? For those who might not know, Kunkka was actually the name of the legendary artist who drew the original DotA 1 loadscreens. In recognition of his contribution to the DotA community, Icefrog named a hero after him. And this artist is Kendrick Lim, a Singaporean. Also, the very same artist that drew us our ‘Compendium of Heroes‘ artwork printed on our shirts. I do not know if this was intentional but it felt special to be a Singaporean team to be playing in a room dedicated to a hero named after a Singaporean artist.
Not many might know this but Zenith played against Orange.Neolution for 6 straight games during the bootcamp today. It was not deliberate but every single time Fnatic was free, we weren’t. And every time we were done, Fnatic just started their game. The teams in the vicinity were Fnatic, Tongfu and LGD.cn.
It was a productive training day for Zenith. One learns a lot just by sitting behind the 5 players and watching. One would notice how iceiceice takes charge of the game and his lane.
“Stand in front, pressure him, I don’t want him to get a single drop of EXP” or “let me solo him now, I can dominate him, go roam and help the other lanes” or “YamateH, how’s mid doing? I don’t care actually, you better be owning”(paraphrased, of course).
One would also notice xy being exceptionally focused on solo-ing his danger lane. Gone are the days of roaming and I GOT RAVAGE; instead it’s more likely to hear “I’m doing good!” or “taking fire, need assistance!”.
YamateH would be the most exciting to watch simply because he is the solo mid. He has a way of systematically zoning his opponent out and then outfarming them. He also has a knack of trash-talking his opponent, no matter who it is. Even when his opponent cannot hear him. If any of you see him at the Benaroya Hall, his two favourite English phrases are now “GREEEEDYYY” and “BRAINLESS!!”. Feel free to yell that out to him. Just don’t tell him you read it here.
Ice and xFreedom would be having their own private conversation, roaming and ganking wherever necessary. “Ah cai, take the sentries”, “Nic, I’m buying next sets of wards, get your arcane boots up”, “mid ready? Smoke now?”.
They operated like an organized unit now, a far cry from Zenith three months ago. It really felt like a well-oiled machine with every component falling correctly into place. It took a lot of effort but the players seem to be settling into their roles comfortably. And this couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time.
Bootcamp ended at 4pm and we were promptly ushered out of the room while Valve sets it up for DK to start practicing. The team lingered to mingle with other players before heading out for some fresh seafood.
Zenith (except xy and xFreedom who knocked out and cannot be woken up) went to our regular place called McCormick & Schmick’s for some oysters, halibut, trout and salmon. Today, we also discovered some creme brulee to die for.
Tomorrow, there will be a short bootcamp session followed by the first official match of this year’s tournament. Expect more pictures as all the players convene in the dining hall to watch Rattlesnake and Quantic. I shall leave you with two videos. One, an inside look of how Zenith’s media day went. Two, a video walkabout of the Westin event area done by our beloved manager, furryfish*. There should be two things that you take away from the videos – 1) do not let xFreedom drive 2) what an amazing job Valve is doing with this event so far.