I’ve always thought more Dota 2 is better. More professional games means more entertainment for me and my fellow viewers. But is it possible for there to be too much of a good thing?
Most of us don’t have the time to watch every pro Dota 2 game. Between qualifiers running all day and night and back-to-back LAN tournaments, we all take a break now and again. If nothing else, we need to tend to day-to-day living: work, school, sleep.
So what happens when you do watch as much Dota 2 as possible? Personally, I start to experience viewer fatigue. I stop paying as much attention to the games, and stop paying attention to why they’re important or significant. Sometimes I skip games or even (gasp!) qualifiers altogether. I lose touch with what’s happening in tournaments or what the trends are at the moment. After I’ve gotten some distance, I can recharge and re-invest in the game, binging pro matches once more.
Now, ideally, I’d never hit that point where I need a break. And when I take time away or when there’s no pro Dota 2 to watch, I miss it. As a fan, I think having more is better than having less—I want to be able to consume new games whenever I’m in the mood! However, my bouts of viewer fatigue prove I have a limit.
Currently, there’s more than enough Dota 2 to satisfy diehard fans. With a packed schedule, I think it’s hard to watch all the available Dota 2 games. On top of the high volume of matches, there’s scheduling issues for viewers to contend with; group stages with multiple streams mean having to pick and choose which games to watch live and which to catch up on later in order to see all the action. As an example, I’m on the opposite time zone as the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018 and trying to catch up all the group stage games (67 after tiebreakers!) was a lost cause for me.
And no, using MultiTwitch or other sites that let you watch multiple games at the same time does not help.
Sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of what’s happening, and as viewer fatigue sets in, it becomes even more challenging. We need as much signposting from casters, analysts, and news sites as possible to remember what’s at stake for the teams involved. This is true during LAN tournaments with big group stages, but it’s twice as important during weeks full of qualifiers. Of course, this relies on other people to help out. What can we do to protect ourselves?
Strategies for Coping
Above all else, to avoid viewer fatigue you need to be selective. You can’t watch every game, so you need to determine which games are most important to you. While lately I’ve tended to follow specific teams and rivalries that have caught my interest, I’ve certainly used all of these strategies:
Focus on your local region.
Follow the top teams in the Dota 2 Pro Circuit standings.
Watch games cast by specific talent.
Ask for recommendations regarding which games to watch after the fact.
Read GosuGamers’ recaps.
All of these are potential filters to reduce the number of games down to a reasonable number to watch. Consume a more manageable amount of Dota 2, and you’ve got nothing to worry about.
What should you do if you burn out? I recommend taking a break. There’s so many great resources available now for catching up on game highlights, in addition to reading recaps, that taking a day or a week or even an entire month away from the professional scene doesn’t mean falling out of touch with what’s happened.
Long Term Solutions
Coping with viewer fatigue is one thing, but can we solve the issue of oversaturation? Should we, even? I’ve already said that I’d prefer to have too much rather than not enough Dota to watch. Expect Valve to tweak how the Dota 2 Pro Circuit works for next year. This could include fewer events, as well as scheduling that makes it easier for fans to follow along.
When I attended my first International in person last year, several people recommended that I remember it was a marathon and not a sprint. They told me to select games to watch rather than trying to view them all. I love Dota 2 and I don’t want to miss any games if I can avoid it. I toughed it out in the arena for the majority of the event.
I know I have to remember the season is long, and missing a qualifier here and there won’t ruin it. In fact, missing whole tournaments, though they seem so much more important due to the qualifying points, is absolutely ok. If we remember to pace ourselves, we can make it all the way through the season to The International 8. Watching the biggest event of the year will be that much more meaningful knowing what it took for the teams–and ourselves–to get there!