With the second International starting to creep up onto the horizon, things are stepping up in Dota 2. Valve released a patch last night that adds some minor tweaks to both the spectator dashboard and the in game spectator mode. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s going to make a pretty massive difference to Dota 2 as an E-sports title.
The first change is to how you find a game to watch. While the same highly skilled games will show up in the homescreen of the ‘Watch’ tab, you now have an option to select based on tournament. At the moment we’re in the midst of the East and West Qualifiers for the tournament, taking place all of today and tomorrow, so those are the games that you can jump into right now, as well as the two categories available to sort by.
Getting in the game isn’t quite as simple as it should be, because Valve is still sorting out server infrastructure, so be prepared for a few failed connection attempts on the most popular games, but once you’re in it’s incredible how many options you have, and quite how much freedom you have to follow them.
On the right you can select camera mode, both the standard Directed, Hero driven or Freecam affairs, but also from any of the broadcaster’s perspectives. You’ll see their cursor, their readouts, everything that they see, you see. And there are the audio streams to accompany it, meaning you don’t have to rely on streaming services to watch the big matches; it can all be done from within Dota 2.
Taking the faff out of finding somewhere to watch these games is going to be pretty huge in getting attention from casual players of Dota 2 who aren’t necessarily going to be massively fanatical about the International, but if one of their friends who is watching it is visibly doing so from within the game, it’s more than easy to join them. And with it being so easy for broadcasters and commentators to be accessed and listened to, the International could turn from a weird quirk of the game into one of the main attractions, come August.