Thursday, August 11, 2016

Puppet Panel at International Dota 2 Championship

Dota 2 is a very cool multiplayer online battle arena game made by Valve. Every year, there is an International championship, and this year the championship is held at Seattle's KeyArena.

The championship is a huge deal. Gameplay is broadcast on, YouTube, Steam broadcasting, and WatchESPN. ESPN picked up the tournament due to its large audience (estimated at over 30 million) and large prize pool. 

This year the prize pool is in excess of $20 million -- that's more than the prize pool at the Super Bowl!

There are color announcers during the games, and other analysts commenting on the games in between rounds. 

This year Valve decided to have the analysts in one of the in-between game sessions played by puppets, and I got to be one of the puppeteers!

We had a rehearsal on Sunday, when we found out what we would be doing. We sat at the desk with the real analysts sitting behind us. We would then sync our puppets' movements to what their human counterparts were doing. 

We got to watch our movements on video monitors (as did the human analysts), and the human analysts wore headsets so they could hear each other. 

I got to handle the puppet version of Ted "Pyrion Flax" Forsyth, who has an extensive YouTube channel. He's also a fun, funny guy. 

The hardest part of the gig was not telling anyone what was happening between Sunday afternoon and the performance Tuesday morning. So. Hard. 

It was worth it, though. The reaction when the puppets appeared behind the desk was fantastic, and it apparently was very loud inside the arena itself when they showed up on the Jumbotron. 

It was so loud, in fact, that it was difficult to hear our human counterparts!

The reaction online was good, too. An article appeared in titled "'DOTA 2' International 2016 Has Puppets Analyze and Interview, What Is Happening?" while over at Twitter, someone tweeted "Puppet Dota is best Dota." 

I agree. 

The puppets will definitely be back on Saturday, August 13, for the final day of competition, and we may be back earlier. Keep watching for us!