With the Dota 2 Pro Circuit heading into its final two months, is the real question: which casters will be invited to cast The International 8?
The Dota 2 Pro Circuit (DPC) has created transparency regarding the direct invitations to The International 8 (TI8). We know that the teams who have the eight highest point totals at the end of the last event of the season will be directly invited. Valve’s already told us the dates and venue for TI8. What can we speculate about now?
Which casters will get invites, of course!
Talent can be invited to commentate games, work the panel, or create content at TI for any number of reasons, many of which are subjective. In addition to availability, there’s chemistry between casters to consider, the desired tone of the overall product, and so on. I think invitations for talent need to factor in lots of different elements and require careful consideration.
What if caster invites were also transparent?
Note: I’m not endorsing this at all! This is a purely theoretical exercise for entertainment purposes.
I collected all of the casters and the number of Majors and Minors that they’ve attended from Liquipedia, including today’s talent announcement for StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5 (SL5) and the previously announced ESL One Birmingham talent list. I gave each of the talent 750 points per Major and 150 points per Minor. Why? Because I could. Also, 750 and 150 are the number of points a team gets for winning a standard Major or standard Minor, respectively. I’m equating working the event with winning—seems about right!
In total, there will be 36 different casters and analysts at 18 different DPC events, including Birmingham and SL5. At the latter tournament, we will see the DPC LAN debut of Neal “Tsunami” Khandheria. (I’m thrilled I was able to write that about a caster instead of a team.) Tsunami joins a list of 13 other one-timers. Some of these casters will pick up additional events before the end of the season, such as Nick “BreakyCPK” Caras and Darren “KillerPigeon” Elmy who are both slated to cast group stage games at EPICENTER XL due to winning that event’s Casting Contest. Note that the rest of EPICENTER’s talent list has not been announced at the time of this article’s publication.
Which eight casters collected the most points and are getting the nod in my completely fair and transparent system?
Check out my handy table:
|Position||Caster Name||Point Total||Total Events||Majors||Minors|
|1||William “Blitz” Lee||4950||13||5||8|
|2||Austin “Capitalist” Walsh||4800||12||5||7|
|2||Toby “Tobiwan” Dawson||4800||8||6||2|
|2||Owen “ODPixel” Davies||4800||12||5||7|
|5||Ioannis “Fogged” Loucas||4050||11||4||7|
|6||Alan “Nahaz” Bester||2700||6||3||3|
|7||Kevin “Purge” Godec||2550||5||3||2|
|8||Dominik “Lacoste” Stipic||1950||5||2||3|
Table 1.0: Top Casters by Attendance Points
To be clear, my table doesn’t award points for hosting, creating content, or reporting. It only takes into account casters and analysts. I was surprised to see Blitz standing out in front with 4950 points. Blitz will have cast at thirteen of the eighteen events included in the data. And it’s especially impressive because I’ve never heard or seen anyone suggest that we’ve had too much Blitz. Kudos to him! I think Blitz manages to tailor himself to the tone of each event pretty well; sometimes he can be snarky and sarcastic, other times his style’s purely analytic.
Looking at the eight, we have the classic Blitz-Capitalist and ODPixel-Fogged combinations. I would be surprised if these pairings aren’t casting at TI8. Blitz and Capitalist have long partnered as a casting duo, at least when Blitz hasn’t been coaching teams. ODPixel and Fogged have developed a fantastic casting chemistry, partially due to their long hours working together on DreamLeague. In addition to ODPixel’s rapid-fire play-by-play and Fogged’s smart insights, I think the two convey genuine enjoyment and enthusiasm for Dota 2. The last casting pair in the top eight would be Tobiwan and Lacoste. I’m not sure I’ve heard these two cast together, so that would be a novelty in and of itself.
This leaves Nahaz and Purge for the panel, work for which these two are well-suited. To balance them out, I looked at which hosts had attended the most events. The award goes to Paul “Redeye” Chaloner, who will have hosted eight of the eighteen events included, including a whopping five Majors. Clearly, he, like Tobiwan, understands the value in prioritizing Majors over Minors for the bigger point values.
Farther down the list, we can find David “Godz” Parker, who will be at six events of the eighteen, but all of them Minors. Because these were weighted with fewer points than Majors, Godz missed my top eight cut-off. There were a few other obvious fan favorites who didn’t make the list. Jack “KBBQ” Chen is in position nine, with four events, two of each type. David “LD” Gorman, who has been a TI staple since 2012, has only cast at two events so far this year: the Summit 8 and MDL Macau. LD wrote earlier this year to discuss how he’s stepped back from casting to focus on the business of running Beyond the Summit, but that he will certainly still cast when possible. His absence may have opened up space for new casters, but wouldn’t it be strange to have a TI without his distinctive style and voice?
LD, and other casters, can still pick up at points at the four events left in the DPC to announce talent lists: EPICENTER XL, GESC: Thailand, MDL Changsha Major, and the China Dota 2 Supermajor. Even without attending all those events, someone like Kyle Freedman, who debuted as an analyst at Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018 to much acclaim (see: Ken “Hot_Bid” Chen and Dakota “KotLGuy” Cox review Kyle’s performance in the most recent episode of their Beyond the Summit podcast Show Priority) could easily be invited to cast at TI regardless of how many events they make it to. Mind you, I’ll be shocked if Kyle doesn’t put together a new team before TI.
In all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if the top eight casters I identified are invited to TI8, alongside another dozen or so individuals. However, it won’t be because they’ve collected points for their work—it’ll be because they’re all very good at what they do. They’re talented, with fans of their own, and they understand that casting and analysis isn’t just about being informed, but is also about entertaining and communicating with the audience. And there are many, many more casters who are also talented, entertaining, and savvy in the full list of talent who have worked DPC events this year.
My points system is absurd, of course, but talent invites have stirred controversy from time to time. We all have preferences when it comes to casters, analysts, and the content we’re consuming. Add that to the significance of the annual International, and tempers can flare when a favorite caster isn’t invited.
Tell me below who your favorite casters are!