Aug 212015 Tagged with , , , , ,

TI5 Photoblog

I don’t want to read any of your stupid words and I just want to look at some pictures. So I am going to click this link and go about my day.

For those of you who do want to read my words…

Hey Now~

First and foremost a little apology for the time it took to finish this. Lots of re-writes happened. You’d thing that I was trying to publish a novel or something with the amount of red pen I took to this. But it took me a while because I feel as if I have a lot to say, and I didn’t want to write that novel. So here it is, in all of its glory. My photos and personal stories from my adventure to TI5:

When the GA tickets were released to the public for TI, I was hiding in the back room at work. I manage a Lazertag business, although it sometimes feels like reddit is a full time gig, and I vividly remember giving an unhappy customer like ten free missions because I really needed her to go away so I can run back to my cave and try to get tickets. I was on my phone, work computer, laptop, on skype with my friends, and really didn’t want them to slip away. Refresh, refresh, f5, refresh, f5 f5 f5 f5 f5. I got fucked. My other three friends got tickets, and this was a bit crushing. Valve previously denied press tickets for reddit when I sent them an email prior to the GA release. I knew even if I wasn’t going to be legitimately there as press, I was going to go as GA and work my tail off to do things for /r/DotA2. But more importantly it was going to be a vacation with three of my best friends, so I was kinda bummed.

However I knew that something would work itself out. Eventually it did, and through the magic of Reaver both him and I found ourselves on the press list. It was a little dicey, because I had a flight and airbnb booked before I had the conformation. I guess whatever was in the back of my head was right about it all falling into place. This is where the theory crafting started in regards to exactly what we wanted to do at the Main Event that would provide some value to the community. Yes we already finished the subreddit redesign, Hellspawn would be working his ass off on daily threads and the survival guide. Intolerable implemented a bot that allowed us to make live match threads much easier than before. But even with a new coat of paint, all of these things are just standard practice for any major event for us. To do something new and special for TI it was decided to do a Reddit Live thread.

Reddit Live allowed us to do a few things, in theory. We could provide text commentary of the games, live updates from the venue, break news about what’s going on that the camera is not addressing (say G losing his lunch), re blog the best content form other creators at the event, create a “second screen experience” (god I sound like some Apple exec), but most importantly for me, give people a feeling of what it’s actually like to be at the venue. Pictures and snippets from the Seattle Center that gives someone at work or sitting at home some realization of what the people at the event are seeing and doing.

People have told me through a myriad of channels that they absolutely loved the Live thread. However personally I feel like it failed quite hard. Honestly I feel like I did a much better job of doing this on my twitter feed. If you haven’t seen it and are interested I’d recommend a quick scroll-down. It did feel shitty that it was easier to do what I wanted with my phone on twitter and periscope than it was to share this experience on Reddit live. But why do I think it failed? Simply put we maxed out at 700 people having the feed open. With the sticky and promotion that felt real poor, and I attribute that a lot to just not providing something that more people wanted. Now it’s not like I wanted to have a Ferguson level of people with the tab open, but it did feel real lackluster. I do think that a Reddit Live feed could be really cool for some events tho (The Summit, ESL), and I do not want to trashcan the idea completely just yet. Fingers crossed I can try again soon, and iterate on the idea.

What was however moderately more successful, was our snapchat story that we got up and running. Thanks to the assistance of /u/theclothesthief for giving us the software to make this possible, we ran a live snapchat story. Yes it was not the official one that we all hoped Valve would pay for with official filters and being broadcaster to everyone’s app as a default. That would have been legit. But for those who wanted to see live snaps from the event regardless, we had over 5,000 followers and accrued a shit ton of seconds watched. That project felt like a much bigger success to me as we received oodles of snaps to push to the story. Between those two projects alone, it was quite a bit of work at the event just to maintain those in addition to the daily (heavy TI traffic) grind.


Anywhoo, a lot of you noticed that the title said “Photoblog” and you might be disgruntled at all of that text with no photos. Well here have some damn pictures. I took 2,000 of them over the week and cut them down to 180 in the imgur album at the top of this post. Let me share some with you here, by giving you what I wanted to do with the Live blog; here are the sights of being at the main event.



Once one got to the venue you were greeted by the grassy lawn and the secret shop. The lines were actually short most of the time, probably because of the massive amount of pre-orders that people did. This made getting things a process that actually was not miserable. Additionally everyone got a legit backpack filled with extra goodies, and had the option to enjoy the games out in the sun.

HTC was around giving out demos of their new VR headset created with Valve. I was lucky enough to get to try it, which I will have a completely separate write up about.

Ontop of the secret shop you could go have some fun with the vendors. Steeseries, ASUS, Logitech, Redbull, and more were there with computers to play games, free gifts, music, and just a ton o’ cool things. There was also a beer plaza for those who wanted to drink outside and watch the games that was quite chill. Those brewmaster casks that you saw were up here being used as tables. The security guard made me delete a picture with him in it, he was old and grumpy.

Once you got inside (after the least-through bag check in the world, seriously I could have brought anything you could think of inside even with my bags being inspected) Key Arena was decorated quite well. There were informational signage about where things where, decorations for TI, and representation for all of the teams.

A lot of the decoration came from community artists / workshop artists concepts that were made into posters and slapped on the pillars.

DOTA was playing on every TV. Even the ten inch ones from the 90s.

A popular attraction was this panorama of the map that people were taking pictures in front of. It was located right next to the analysis desk and player elevator so this was a hot spot for loitering.

Said desk, sans talent.

It was much harder to find people for autographs or pictures, unless you were a VIP. But if you knew where to look, you could find most people who you were looking for.

You could also find preview cases of all of the merch by the bars. There was a strong positive correlation to beer sales and Secret losses. Fun fact.

There was always lots of cosplayers going around taking pictures and having a jolly time.

If ya keep making your way around the loop, on the opposite side of the analysis text there was the workshop creator area. Here people gathered around for art, signatures, live demos of creators making everything from in game couriers to loading screens. It was quite cool to take a break from the dota and see how some of the most popular workshop artists do their work.

If you got hungry there were always signs directing you to the food trucks.

Or you could pay out the ass for food from the venue shops. Special shoutout to this twat for making half the area smell like cinamon all the time.

Finally, upstairs, you could find the Juggernaut Plaza. This is where you would line up, so that you could proceed to wait in another line, to get your favorite pictures and autographs with pros and personalities. This was cool because as opposed to players being mobbed, there were scheduled metered appearances. You could get in game autograph codes, signatures, and professional pictures in front of the in-game panorama. A big improvement on previous years, even if there were less people around.

If you were confused, this is why it was called juggernaut plaza.

Most people really did spend all of their time watching the games in the arena. And who wouldn’t, even with all of the other cool shit we were there to watch some sick dota. Watching from the upper rows had a real nice view, as the four projection screens lead to a big viewing experience.

Downstairs was also nice, and what I perfected. The crowds came and went depending on the day and the interest in the teams playing. IG / MVP6 drew what might have been the thinnest crowd as everyone was bummed after the NaVi loss (and it was late, and it was like Monday). The section of seats behind the Chinese casters was filled with a majority of the Chinese fans. They got hype for their boys, and often times put the rest of the area to shame.

Sometimes sitting to close to the stage, while giving you a cool view of the stage, made your neck hurt like being at the front row in any theater.

You could however sit behind the three sets of casters which was cool. Seeing them work and their different little quarks. OD becoming manic, Blitz having coughing attacks and pounding around for his mute button, Capitalist standing, stuff like that. The other languages which were being cast had tables along the side that were less glorious, but they were still on the floor nonetheless.

If you had the perfect seats you could see what the casters were browsing between games. Owen approved of the dank memes while he was fending reddit, again.

The center stage aegis statue was cool too.

Except it did kinda look like Tiny had a giant rotating erection on the stage at all times.

Finally when you were inside you did get to see a lot of the players in their pods, pending their seat. The pods were all glass and had monitors on both sides to see who was who in regards to not just their names, but their heroes and status. Sometimes you got to look on and see happy moments.

Sometimes you got to see sad moments.


Remarkably every day was remotely the same. Not much differed from day to day except the cosplay, the autographs, and of course the games. With that being said, here are some extra fun pictures with some context:

Occasionally you get cute pictures of casters.

Occasionally you don’t.

NaVi walkin’ in.

They didn’t stay long.

Neither did Secret, amiright?

But VP was okay with that.

They actually got locked in their pod and didn’t know what to do for a bit.

I actually took more pictures of fng than anyone else.

Complexity got hype before every game by huddling up after the draft, chanting, dancing, and gettin in their zone.

People told me all week that I looked like Swindle. I don’t see it. At the pubstomp I actually signed something as Swindle because I thought it was funny.

Two non-Americans who just dun get it.

I tell you he’s a mad man.

Off to the right: Dank Stats.

It was hard to take good pictures of people inside the pods.

This was my fav cosplay.

Some of the staff members were trying really hard to understand what was going on. I saw people every day answering their questions about the game and such.

Bruno was always around the analysis panel. I think he was directing it? Regardless he’s the best.

I think Vlat cast every main stage game in Russian.

What a charmer.

That face when none of this was your fault and you just want to enjoy your birthday.

All Stars!

I also took this picture-


When everyone’s gone home

Last day, walkin the red carpet

My favorite sign of the event

PPD leads the squad into the grand finals

When you win a cool six mil

Everyone wanted to touch it all week, but he’s the one who took it down.

If only he knew he would be handing that thing over for the last time

Hold it real tight

So many things wrong with this picture, but so many more right.

Finally we closed out with this mouse


Ya still with me? I still got some more words to say. I guess kudos if you want to keep reading tho, I just hope I’m being mildly entertain to you. As this is still kinda muh blog I wanted to round out with what it was like to be press at the event, some of the problems, and some personal stuff. Ready, set go.

Being press at TI5 was kinda shit. In terms of how we were treated in comparison to the VIPs. Now that’s not that I am ungrateful, lets clear that up right now. I would have done it in exceeding worse conditions, but the ones that were presented to us was still disappointing. I realize that the players are the ones who did not want the press on the VIP level. Makes sense, as you could tell that this year is different than ones prior. People were more serious, less interaction took place, and overall it was less friendly for the media, and less access to the GA. This lead to a really imbalanced level of content that could be created. If you did not have a friend who could sneak you into VIP, your content was significantly worse off. People who were with a team, or work at a studio, or are an old boy, could easily get the best content because they had all the access that was being blocked off to other people. Additionally they got full catered meals multiple times a day. I got to live on warm soda, water, nature valley bars, pretzels, and cheeze its. Not even pre packaged ones, just giant bags that everyone got to stick their hands in. Mmmm yummy. I had to bug friends or lie and sneak past guards when I was in need of a real meal, as I was trying to do this whole trip on a shoe string budget. I only ever made it to VIP to eat and chill, never to work because I did not want to abuse power. Originally I wanted to do a “twitch_chat_reporter” esque spin to the reddit live blog getting people who the community like on vine and posting it to the feed. However unlike said reporter, I did not have people who I could pass the account off to who had special clearance to do this work for me. While I love what that product was, it sucked that without others who had clearance to bug people (who probably did not want to be recorded in the first place, hence the restrictions valve put in place) it would have not worked.

Don’t even get me started on the conditions for taking good pictures. All I wanted to do was be on the floor, or have a lenses with more than 250 zoom. Anything less than that you could not take player pictures. Even with the conditions were so poor with the angles, glass pods, metal struts in the pods, valve staff with their own cameras swarming, and everything in between. Hardest event I have ever had to take pictures of. Not because I was ill equipped, but because the setup was just kinda shit for taking a good picture of everyone. Real disappointing on that front.

Also press had three areas in the crowd where we got to sit with tables and power strips. I chose the less crowded option because I was running in and out a lot, but the security team was so lazy at checking badges I was scared about leaving my stuff there. Felt like a gamble every time I ran down, as routinely people would sit behind me who shouldn’t have been there. Not that some of you homies weren’t cool, but ya know leaving my laptop (or worse being logged into /r/dota2 on it) it only would have taken one asshole to do something….malicious.

Oh yeah and the wifi was garbage. I tethered a lot of the time because it was faster. I know some people went back to their hotel to encode. The fun part tho was being able to sit underneath the Chinese boxes. The IG suite went hard for their friends.   Also being able to enter key area through the player entrance (basketball player, not VIP/dota player) was quite nifty!


Salt aside, I had so much fun. I spent a lot of time on my feet walking around talking to people, taking pictures, and just hanging out with my friends. Every morning I would wake up in my tiny ass studio apartment and tip toe around my friends on the floor to make my way down from Capitol Hill to the monorail to take strait to Key. Some days I walked the whole way. Some day I took the bus. One night I took an uber because it was like 3am and I didn’t want to walk back with all my equipment alone.

The games were pretty good at the event. It was hard to pull myself away sometimes to go do other things. I tried to keep a low key profile when I was roaming around. Now I am a huge ham and totally dig talking to people, but when someone would be like “Oh hey it’s leafeator” and point to me, I was just berated with memes and necro love. When everyone wants to say the same thing it gets a little trying, so I’d rather just hide in the shadows. I did sign some things (which I promptly called my grandmother and told her about afterwards) and got quite a few necro plush gifts. Thank you to anyone who said you appreciate the work that we do to keep the sub running smoothly.

I was surprised that a few notable people came up and introduced themselves to me. Synd while we were playing pool recognized me from twitter which I thought was kinda cool/crazy. I had a bunch of good chats with a bunch of cool people, Toby, Redeye, Wronchi, now I’m just name dropping I’ll stop. Hanging out with people at the Weston was really fun tho, and one of the reasons that I loved starting to do these things in the first place. To shake hands and chat up people who you spend hours at home enjoying their work. While I feel like I did a damn good job over the years with Starcraft networking and bumping shoulders, I still feel like my dota Rolodex could use some work. Hands down my favorite moment when someone said hey to me was when I was taking a picture of the analyst panel. I felt a hand on my shoulder and then heard a voice say “Hey Reddit” and it was fucking Bruno. He picked me out of the crowd and we had a good talk and honestly it was one of the more memorable happy moments for me from the entire event. Three other people who I really enjoyed getting to meet that surprised me quite a bit was Turbo of reddit Empire fame, Toffees of podcast fame, and Noxville of stats fame. All three of those cats are super cool.

One of the more memorable nights was being invited to the Shitty Wizard Pubcrawl in downtown. It was kinda weird because they decided that I was a “noteable person” which felt all kinds of uncomfortable to me. Even tho I was on the list I did not party it up like the players or personalities that were there and instead just spent some good time talking to people. For the first time I got to meet both ReaverXai and Decency at the event. Weird finally saying hi in person to people who you have worked with and argued with and laughed with for a long time now. One IPA sends Reaver off the walls, and Decency has a fro that could win beauty contents. I really appreciate both of them a lot more now. Who knows what weird things they told their friends about me tho.

Another party I had to sneak into was the after party. Allegedly sneak into. I don’t want to incriminate myself, but apparently press wasn’t allowed in like they were in the past. It would take some fun lying and social engineering to get into that for networking purposes, I would imagine.

Speaking of differences at Internationals, I still do not know how I feel about TI5 vs TI3, the two I have been at. TI3 while smaller felt so much more homely. You got to connect and mingle with so many more people. It was intimate. TI5 while having so many improvements in terms of monetary backing, staff, and visual appeal, is just so sterile. Yeah it’s down right awesome to be at, but it is a completely different beast now.

All in all, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have the most fun getting to share the limited time I did with my friends who I stayed with. I think they are still sour that I took off for days at a time to network or do press things, but the time I had with them just walking around downtown or trying new food joints was simply the best.


Well congrats for making it all the way down here. Hope some of that was interesting for ya. I know that I enjoyed it all, so very much. I got a lot of encouragement to keep creating content and doing more than I am already doing. I will be doing probably two youtube videos a week, and streaming once I get back to school. I’ve always had a strong personal interest in those things, so I know I would be upset at myself if I don’t give them their fair shake and see if I can make things that people actually like. (I feel as if that comment about making more videos might just meme-trump whatever reddit comments this generates. No more satire builds. Maybe. ;) ). It’s encouraging to have people tell you that they like your stuff and think you’re cool. Also having an active twitter feed for a week was supreamly addicing. I now know why people with lots of twitter followers can use that thing like a drug.

Finally, a huge thanks to all the cool people I met, again. Wil for being fucking awesome, /u/watbe ( baby!) and /u/allthefoxes for helping keep the Reddit Live thread going with commentary and memes. Everyone else who I met because there are too many of you to name <3.

Here’s hoping we do a Major in Los Angeles so I can see you beautiful people again sometime soon.

Thanks for being awesome

<3 Joey “Leafeator”