Nahaz: 'I would much rather have a double elimination Major announced months in advance'

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Thumbnail image courtesy of StarLadder

In the second part of our interview with Alan "Nahaz" Bester, the Dota statistician and university economics professor discusses the single elimination format for the Majors, which teams are the most promising in Dota right now and his future career as an analyst.

Related: Nahaz on Kiev Major predictions

Speaking of Valve's decision making, the single elimination format is returning for Kiev. What do you think about it?

Obviously I would be happier in a double elimination, statistically. When you look at the steepness of the Major prize pools... First of all, I feel like most Dota prize pools are too steep to begin with in terms of the amount of money going to first and second place teams vis-a-vis the rest of the field. But when you look at the fact that, statistically, single elimination is still pretty meaningful for the top two, top four teams, you still get plenty of information there, but the rankings of the teams five and below is very noisy compared to double elimination. When you're talking about the amounts of money that are riding on the line, and when you're talking about the number, location and accessibility of LAN tournaments in Dota, it's hit or miss.

Sometimes you get a number of high quality LANs. Relatively speaking, we had a decent number of high quality LANs between Boston and now to base our decisions. We had relatively few LANs, almost none, between TI and Boston. For me, you want that information. When you talk about Wings not finishing in the Top 8, okay, they lost their opening series against EG and they're gone. Does that give you any information about Wings? That's the thing about invites. If you're going to talk about excluding a TI champion, if Wings had done what they did at Manila and absolutely flamed out and finished bottom four in a double elimination format... hmm, then you think about it. But if you're talking about losing a single elimination best-of-three series to EG, a Top 4 team, how much does that really tell you?

Do you think they'll bring back double elimination for TI7?

Absolutely. 100 percent. Single elimination, they wanted a couple of things. Number one, they the Majors to have a softer footprint in the rest of the schedule. Again, Valve being Valve, Valve doesn't want to announce their schedule of events six to eight months ahead of time. There were a number of tournaments that were severely affected because the Majors were announced three to four months out. If you look at the schedules for a double elimination Major, that's a two week commitment for most teams. When you talk about bootcamping, qualifiers, with a double elimination Major as you had last year, that's a full month out of the schedule, when they were saying, "Hey, we don't want to be competing in other tournaments." And there was a lot of uncertainty regarding when that month was going to be. When ESL is booking stadiums for their tournaments, they have to do it six to eight months or more ahead of time.

Most tournament organizers aren't Valve. Valve can just pour a pot of money on the problem and say, "Okay, we're willing to pay for whatever rate we need to because we want this particular venue and we're Valve." Most organizers can't do that and still make money on their tournaments. The single elimination format was an attempt to decrease the footprint of the Major within the overall schedule, especially for top teams. I don't like it, I would much rather have a double elimination Major announced months in advance. But again, Valve being Valve, they like to take their time and make decisions with as much information as possible. So much of how Valve runs Dota has been about how Valve has been successful as a company. As much as you wish it may be different in some respects, you can't ask the leopard to change its spots.

Is there any particular team that excites you right now in Dota?

B)ears. In terms of a team that is not counted among the very top right now, I am very excited about B)ears. I've told a number of people that I see the kind of upside in them as I see in 5Jungz and (monkey) Business, eventually would become Liquid and OG, I see that same kind of chemistry.

I think that if they continue to improve and stay together, I think Team Onyx could be very, very good. I've looked at that team a bit, and they're not where they want to be quite yet and I'm not sure that they can make the adjustments before the Kiev Qualifiers. B)ears has a chance to be, if they can come through that absolutely brutal EU qualifier, they have a chance to be good right away. If Onyx sticks together and keep improving through Ti, could be a Top 8 team at TI.

Really? Top 8 at TI?

Abed is really good. Jimmy has grown up a lot. A lot of people still give Jimmy shit, there's a reason for that, he's earned some of it, but he's a smart guy and a pretty good player. And he did not captain a team to the Top 8 last TI by accident. And I still, I've said this and I've continued to say this, you ask me who the smartest guy in Dota, who would I bet on in any kind of theory crafting or drafting contest, it's gonna be BuLba everytime. Everytime. It doesn't always necessarily translate to success in game, but in broad Dota IQ, I'm telling you BuLba is.

I would say that he is a very talented drafter. I kind of wish that his time on Liquid went better. I think Liquid are fine with GH right now.

The other part about BuLba is that he's a strong personality. He's a strong and very unique personality and he needs the right team environment. And that Liquid roster, when he was a part of that team, they needed someone who was a little more low-key.

It's been awhile since you've attended a LAN event as an analyst. Should we expect to see you at more in the future?

I hope so. That's not up to me my friend, that is not up to me. Look, everybody right now, all the tournaments want the same top teams, and all the tournaments want the same top talent. For better or for worse, getting invited to TI is the kind of, you're in. Not getting invited to TI is, "Hey what's going on here?" So it goes in cycles. I have plenty to do, I'm going to be devoting more of my time in the next couple of years to doing esports related projects. I'm still going to be teaching of course, I still love what I do. I would love for some of that work to include LAN appearances, but that's not up to me. That's up to the community and the people that plan the events.

Have you ever had to turn down a LAN event because of your job as a professor?

Yes. I have had to turn LAN events down. I should have probably... I go back to last fall, or the year before last at Frankfurt, I got sick and I had to leave the desk. That was a long time coming, I was pushing myself too hard then, trying to teach a full schedule of classes and do multiple weekend LANs in the same term. The fall tends to be a very busy, very stressful period because you try to do as much of the course prep as you can for the year towards the beginning. By the spring I generally have most of the material for the classes set anyway, so the schedule is less crazy.

Have you found a better balance now?

For sure. It's unfortunate. I think if I had to do it over again, I probably could sustain that schedule. Honestly, for a number of these events I came in over-prepared. I was kind of riding the wave, I was really excited to be doing this, I was very passionate about it. And I would have all this stuff ready, and I would catch myself at these analyst desks, like, just trying to put all of that out there. And it's the classic mistake.

It's ironic because, when you teach PhD students, the first thing you teach them is not every regression you ran, every analysis you did. Your paper is the one that is relevant to the point that you are trying to make. I myself fell into that trap with a lot of these Dota events. I had so much that I would lose the train sometimes, and I feel like that's part of why it's nice having these videos and having some other outlets where I take a lot of the analytical problems that I want to work on, have an outlet for those. And when I do events concentrate more on the now and the super relevant stats that tell the story of where these teams are right now, rather than making these longer points at a desk that just don't fit.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Green Bay Packers LB Blake Martinez reveals the 4 NFL players he would form a Dota 2 team with, how Dota has helped him with football

by 1d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Dylan Buell / Getty Images Sport / Getty

On any given Sunday, Blake Martinez can be found tackling ball carriers at the frozen tundra known as Lambeau Field. But in his spare time, the Stanford alumnus turned Green Bay Packers linebacker likes to kick back and relax by streaming Dota 2 matches for charity.

Related: Packers LB Blake Martinez: 'I want to speak to our president about sponsoring [an esports] team in the near future'

But Martinez's Dota fandom far exceeds loading into a couple of solo queue games a night. In fact, the young linebacker actively follows the competitive scene and, considering that he named the original No Diggity squad as his favorite professional team coupled with the fact that he participated in and helped cast MoonDuckTV's Kiev Major Qualifier Hub, he's far from a casual.

So naturally, when asked which four NFL players he would draft to his Dota 2 team, it came as no surprise that he picked the reigning Superbowl MVP, one of NFL's most fearsome defensive linemen and two of his Green Bay teammates to play alongside him.

"I would pick Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Mason Crosby, and Ndamukong Suh," he told theScore esports.

"Aaron would be our mid laner and shot caller of the game because of his smarts and skill! Also, he would pick up on Dota quickly. Tom would be the support (Position 4) because his vision is so good we would never get caught out and could make plays as Earth Spirit. Mason would be our position 5 support because he would be able to have a ton of time to strategize since all he does is kick at practice. And Suh would be our beefy offlaner/frontliner like Centaur and Axe that no one could get passed. EZ TI win."

Sure, Dota 2 and football are two very different games, but Martinez does think there are some similarities and even goes as far as to credit Dota with some of his growth as a leader.

"I think the ability to communicate and process a lot of information quickly is the two traits/skills that are extremely similar in both Dota and Football! I think Dota has helped me tremendously in just being a better leader for our defense," he said.

Touching on his rookie season, Martinez said he was encouraged by the way his year turned out — he notched 69 combined tackles to go along with one sack, one interception and four pass deflections — and looks to build on last season as he heads into his sophomore year.

"I think it went really well! It sucked to get injured near the end of the season but excited to grow from my rookie year! The way I want to grow is just seeing formations and plays quicker, stay healthy, get stronger and faster, and improve on the mistakes I made as a rookie and just grow from my experiences."

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Sean Tepper is the Senior Supervising Editor at theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Conrad Janzen on Dota 2's top-heavy scene: 'I would just love to see more tier 2 support'

by 2d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

Conrad Janzen, former Cloud9 player manager and current Twitch partnerships team member, has a few ideas.

Appearing on theScore esports Podcast Monday, Janzen spoke on everything from why he thinks The International’s prize pool will break its own record (again) this year, to how Valve can improve the Major system.

When asked about whether the prize pool for TI7 would exceed TI6’s massive $20.7 million purse, Janzen said the company behind Dota 2 would find a way to make it happen.

“If I had to bet on Valve, it’s always going to be more and they’re going to figure out some way to do it,” he said.

“Valve is going to figure out ways to steal money from my wallet every year in the best way possible,” he said. “They do a really good job of providing value and that’s the one thing I think Dota does a really good job compared to a lot of other free to play games as well as just games in general."

It's all about making the existing player base happy, he said.

“They provide a lot of value to their hardcore users, to their regular users and there’s always going to be somebody who’s willing to spend even more than I think I do.”

Janzen also commented on the Major system, saying that although it was overall beneficial to the Dota 2 scene, is isn’t not without its shortcomings.

“It is bad in some ways, I think it does hurt third parties,” he said.

“Obviously last year we saw Boston Major take precedence over DreamHack, and that was a very unfortunate case.” One solution, he said, would be to model things more closely on Counter-Strike’s tournament structure.

“Things I would like to see is maybe make the qualifiers more valuable, make them a LAN event very similar to CS:GO, right? Where you have all these teams coming in so it’s truly international,” he told theScore esports Podcast.

“What Valve is going to have to do in this case is take a step forward and be like, ‘This is an important part, we want to grow Dota as a whole.' So, very similar to the CS:GO system where they have a regional qualifier that mostly takes place online, and then they bring all those teams together to a major qualifying tournament,” he said.

Improving the Major structure would help showcase rising Dota talent that, at least right now, is getting lost in the shadows beyond the Majors' spotlight.

“I would just love to see more tier 2 support,” he said. “I think that’s the big thing we’re missing, is these up-and-coming stars are not getting as revealed as they used to be. In-house leagues, these sort of concepts, have disappeared," he said.

“To have a healthy, growing esport, you’re going to have to support those tier 2 players as well with smaller Cups, smaller tournaments.”

Colin McNeil is a supervising editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

EPICENTER's second Dota 2 tournament announced for June 4-11

by 3d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of EPICENTER

EPICENTER: Moscow returns with its second Dota 2 event, slated to take place June 4-11, the tournament organizer announced on Wednesday.

The event will see 10 teams compete for a $500,000 prize pool, with qualifiers being held in the European, CIS, North American and Chinese regions in a similar format to the first EPICENTER: Moscow event.

EPICENTER: Moscow's group stage will be held on June 4-7, while the playoffs will take place at the VTB Ice Palace on June 9-11.

The event will also host a cosplay tournament with approximately $3,500 on the line.

Further details are expected in the coming weeks, such as qualifier dates and invited teams.Team Liquid are an expected invite since they were the champions of the first EPICENTER event.

RELATED: Team Liquid defeat Newbee, win EPICENTER

While this is the third event dubbed EPICENTER: Moscow, this is only the second Dota 2 event, as the previous event was a CS:GO tournament. That was won by the former Team Diginitas roster now part of North.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah. You can follow him on Twitter.

Packers LB Blake Martinez: 'During the next session out in Green Bay I want to speak to our president about sponsoring [an esports] team in the near future'

by 4d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Dylan Buell / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Green Bay Packers linebacker Blake Martinez isn't just a big Dota 2 fan, he's also an advocate for the game and esports in general among his NFL teammates.

Martinez has been streaming Dota 2 for charity almost every day since mid-February, and he was recently invited to MoonduckTV's Kiev Major Qualifier hub and helped cast dozens of Dota games in the lead up to the Major. theScore esports caught up with Martinez to talk about how esports are perceived in the NFL, how he got into Dota 2 and his plans to pitch the Packers on esports.

How did you get into Dota?

The way I got into Dota was an interesting story because my friends were all playing in our living room my sophomore year of college at Stanford and kept egging me on to play with them but I was so focused on football that I didn’t take up the offer but after a week or so they finally got me to try and I fell in love with the game and was one of the things I do to get my mind off of football!

Do you keep up with Dota during the season? Either playing or keeping up with the esports scene?

I watch Dota 24/7 whenever I am stretching or in the ice tub or any down time that I get from film watching and all other football obligations. Also I only play on our off days because there isn't enough time on a daily basis during the season to get games in! It was tough my rookie year, I didn't play Dota for about 6-7 months.

What position do you play in Dota? Who are your favorite heroes to play?

I mainly play the carry role and the shot caller of my team when I am in solo ranked, but I know how to play all positions since a lot of Dota players like to instantly pick the core roles regardless of skill. My favorite heroes are Storm Spirit, Luna, AM, Earthshaker, and Juggernaut.

What was your worst solo queue experience?

Worst solo queue experience happened about a couple weeks ago, I had a offlane Underlord that went afk farming the whole game (key note was that we were still winning the game without him). Then at about 30 mins the Underlord came out of the jungle with a rapier and fed it to the enemy team and we lost the game. Then I asked him why he did that and he said "I hate Monkey King pickers so I didn't want to win...."

What's your favorite Dota team? Why?

My favorite Dota team was the original No Diggity team that Synderen started, because I love the underdog role in any situation and they proved to everyone how good they are. It was awesome when they made it to the main stage at TI.

If you could play a game with any Dota pro, who would it be and why?

The one person I would want to play a game with would probably be Fata from Bears because I have just heard how amazing of a player he is, and I would just want to learn from his play!

What prompted you to start streaming? Do you find it hard to balance offseason training with your daily streaming?

The main reason I started streaming was because I play this game so much and it is one of my favorite hobbies, so I thought it would be a great way to use it in a beneficial way! That meaning I use it to donate money to the Saint Jude’s children's cancer research program! All the money I make from streaming goes to Saint Jude’s also every 100 followers I get I donate $50 to the foundation as well!

What do you think of the growing interest from traditional sports in esports? Do you think the NFL is going to get involved, given that it's been mostly from the NBA so far?

I think it is awesome how much sports and esports are meshing together! I knew it would happen sooner than later, because every professional sports player plays video games of some sort and the competitive aspect always catches the eyes of the real sports players! I think soon the NFL will get involved, and it is my mission to be the one that gets that to happen as soon as possible! During the next session out in Green Bay I want to speak to our president about sponsoring a team in the near future.

Are esports and gaming things that people talk about in the Packers locker room?

A lot of us talk about gaming because everyone plays console games and we have massive tournaments in Madden, FIFA, and UFC, but not too many conversations about esports competitions until I got there! I think every day I got asked "what are you watching on your phone" and I would always have to explain what Dota is, what Twitch is and the grand scheme of the tournaments, prizes pool, TI etc... and after I talk to anyone about it they think it is the coolest and greatest thing so hopefully that is a good start in easing its way into the NFL!

What is the most played game among the Packers' players?

The most played game is probably FIFA, I think there is a tournament in our game lounge almost everyday!

What's it like casting the Major qualifiers? Is casting something you've wanted to do before?

Casting was an amazing, crazy experience because I had no Idea what I was doing, but the people at Moonduck were extremely helpful in teaching me the ins and outs of casting. Also they just made it a fun and enjoyable time throughout the qualifiers. It was always something I wanted to try but never thought I would be able to do!

Jeremy Lin is noted in the community for being a pro athlete with an interest in Dota, he even has a team named after him. Could you beat Jeremy Lin in lane?

Yes I could easily beat Jeremy Lin in any lane or game!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

theScore esports Podcast ep. 6: Conrad Janzen on The International, Dota's Major system and Kiev

by 5d ago

1:55: Conrad Janzen on Kiev invites, the amount of Chinese teams
3:09: Janzen picks OG to win Kiev, Digital Chaos as the dark horse
4:50: "100 minute games are very easily possible" at Kiev
6:05: Why teams won't be holding back at DAC
7:15: TI prize pool "always going to be more," Valve will find a way
8:30: On the future of Dota 2: "Have we reached peak Dota? I don't think so"
10:03: Ded gaem? Why Dota 2 won't go the way of StarCraft
11:53: How to improve the Major system
17:37: Teams like OG, EG and DC will benefit from 7.03 changes
18:23: "Monkey King is going to be a huge presence" in 7.03
21:00: The time Janzen and Arteezy got drunk and debated swords vs. guns
25:28: Kyle on being on SXSW's esports panel with Dyrus
29:21: Ryan hijacks the podcast and talks about Thorin
31:26: Enter Dennis Gonzales, theScore esports' Valve guy
32:48: What Dota's Major system could learn from CS:GO
34:21: Team Liquid, OG among the teams to watch at Kiev
35:44: Has Valve given up on NA when it comes to Dota?
37:57: Esports audiences are getting burnt out
42:03: Jungling in Dota? "I'd say you're kind of screwed"

Click or tap here to listen in on SoundCloud.

Pick your lane, oil up your meat hooks… and don’t think too hard about that metaphor, because this week on theScore esports Podcast, we’re talking Dota.

Hosts Colin, Ryan and Kyle sit down over Skype with former Cloud9 player manager and current Twitch partnerships team member Conrad Janzen to talk about The International, The Kiev Major, and the state of Dota 2 today.

Janzen breaks down his picks for who will succeed at Kiev and DAC, why The International’s prize pool will forever increase year after year, and gives us some insight into how Valve’s Major system could be improved.

Next up it’s theScore esports’ own Dennis Gonzales, who has his own thoughts on who’s looking hot heading into Kiev, as well what the competitive Dota scene could learn CS:GO.

Colin McNeil is a supervising editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

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