A few months ago my wife and I made a drastic change in our lifestyle. We packed up what we could, sold what we couldn’t pack, and moved to Japan. Incidentally, DotA 2 was not of the things I was willing to leave behind. Before I moved I purchased a decent laptop for gaming so that I could still scratch the itch to play. After all, Japanese internet connections are known to be very good even in rural areas right? Other than playing with friends when time zone differences permitted, I was excited to experience what the Japanese server had to offer. Would the meta be different? How about the strategies? Maybe it would be exactly the same as what I was used to in the US?
I was not prepared for what I discovered.
Ok, so maybe not EVERYONE, but the practice seems considerably more common on the Japan servers. While I understand the appeal of “randoming”, ranked All-Pick does not feel like the right time or place. Even worse is when the players wait until fourth or fifth pick to random. The roles a team still needs to fill are clear at this point. If your team really needs a solid mid as the last pick, please don’t random into a Terrorblade.
It is difficult to comprehend how so many people don’t seem to care what they play in a ranked setting. Points are on the line, so shouldn’t you want to play your best? Then again, Japan is not a region that has an active DotA scene or following of any sort. The primary twitch channel “JapanDotaTV” has no set schedule, and less than 1,500 followers total. I have tuned into live tournament streams before that don’t even have a caster. Perhaps players in this region take the game far less seriously than those with competitive scenes.
Implied roles do not matter
Not only do players not seem to care what they play, but they also don’t care where their hero is supposed to play. One particular instance sticks out to me. Lanes were looking solid in the draft with a Necrophos mid and a Lifestealer/Lich safelane combo. All I was waiting for was an offlane partner for my Ogre Magi. But of course, it wasn’t meant to be. Our fifth and most wonderful teammate last picks Legion Commander and utters the last words I expected.
Sure enough, Legion grabbed an Iron Talon and Tangos and strutted down to the rune closest to mid. After fighting over mid for a minute, Necro realized the Legion was too stubborn to leave and shuffled to the off lane to join me. The mid lane went about as well as you could expect it to go against a Sniper with a roaming Spirit Breaker and Clinkz. By 14 minutes, Legion still only had boots and her precious Iron Talon. Dotabuff.com informs me Legion Commander has around a five percent pick rate in mid. This game reminded me why.
Bots are a thing… no really
I will admit that the previous two issues occur to some degree in all regions. In this case I am only trying to compare the perceived frequency of these kinds of incidents between the US West server and the Japan server based on my experience in both. That being said, bots are something that I never expected.
Their names are usually a random assortment of characters, which makes them easy to differentiate from real players. All they are programmed to do is walk down a lane and attack lane creeps. They have no sense of self preservation and will not fight back as you kill them over and over again. Fortunately they seem to be primarily contained to lesser played modes like Single Draft, but that doesn’t make them any less frustrating to run into. It is easy to see how they ruin games for whoever is unfortunate enough to be paired with one.
A few questions came to mind when I started seeing these bots with some frequency. First of all, do the random cosmetic drops after games really generate enough revenue to be worth creating these monstrosities? This is the only reason I can think of for their existence, and I suppose once the minimal coding work is done, it’s all free money since everything is automated. The second question is why hasn’t Valve done anything about it? Is it because the regions it occurs in have smaller player bases so it never takes priority? As a fan of Single Draft it still disappoints me, but I suppose I’ll have to live with it for now.
Better than nothing
I’ve invited my friends from the west coast to play a few games with me on the Japan Servers. It doesn’t take long before they start refusing my offers. While the less popular servers have their own special issues, I’m still happy to to continue playing DotA on them. After all, playing on US West with 300 ping is more likely to end in MMR loss than any of what I previously listed.
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