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Dota 2: The Local Experience

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During my 14 years of gaming, I have always been drawn to Real Time Strategy (RTS) type games much more than any other, but when the first Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) like game, Aeon of Strife, a MOD created in the StarCraft map editor was released, the genre was created that would become my favorite, as well as the favorite of countless other players for nearly a decade.  

It was not until Defense of the Ancients (DotA) came along, first created by Eul in the WarCraft III map editor, that an eSport was born and with that, a highly competitive community formed in South Africa as well as the rest of the world. In DotA, we had local servers for WarCraft III and therefore automatically had the servers for the DotA map. This however, was not the case for Defense of the Anchients 2 (Dota 2) because it is a complete game created by Valve. Like all transitions from one game to another, DotA players took some time to move over and adapt to Dota 2 and for a relatively small community compared to other countries, it took South African players a bit longer.

I took an extended break from Dota 2 to focus on some StarCraft II, so the last time I really played was during the beta. When I came back to Dota 2 about a month ago, I was extremely happy to find that local servers have been added to the game. The lack of local servers was one of the main reasons I took a break from Dota 2 in the first place, so this news was a great relief. You can read all about MWEB’s hosting of the Dota 2 servers when it was first announced here.

This article is, as you might have noticed, about Dota 2 and the experience of Sillinoob as I venture into the unknown world of Dota 2 local servers, finding both joy and frustration as I take a 35 game plunge.

High latency, you shall not be missed

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Lagging out at the worst possible time is one of the reasons I did a rage quit from Dota 2 before the appearance of local servers.

During my time in Dota 2 when it was still in a closed beta phase, the adjustment one had to make to compensate for the high ping was just so great and some things that were relatively easy on local servers in DotA such as denying a tower became almost impossible when playing on 200ms versus someone on 30ms. The frustration I felt in my first 20 or so games on international servers did go away somewhat with practice. When I joined my first game on the local servers of Dota 2, it felt so good that I vowed never to play on an international server again, ever! It felt like I was playing a completely different game, finally denying and last hitting was down to my skill and not to the latency advantage of other players.

Jeremy Clarkson’s facial expression while testing a supercar is pretty much the same way I looked when feeling Dota 2 in low latency for the first time.

Queue times and the apparent growth of the community

Many players that I spoke to told me that the queue times for Dota 2 local server only is very long and frustrating. However, during my 35 games I have not once had a wait time longer than 8 minutes, while EU West servers took around 2-3 minutes. Keep in mind that I queue for all game a mode, so trying to find a specific one takes a bit longer, but honestly not that long at all.

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Queuing with some local friends is easy and it does not seem to affect the queue time that much, just makes it a bit easier to find a game in my experience.

The growing local community could be attributed to a lot of things, but I believe that smooth and stable local servers have been one of the greatest reasons for the growth. The gaming going out of beta officially also helped a lot and as more and more local tournaments are popping up, players are banding together to form clans and practice against other local players, further helping the community grow. Getting to know a group of players and seeing the same players in multiple games during the course of my 35 game marathon made me feel such a sense of community, building relationships and a reputation in the local Dota 2 scene, something you obviously cannot get by playing on international servers.

The lack of Russian players


Except for the higher latency of international servers, one of the main reasons Dota 2 became so frustrating was that no matter what server region you joined, u where always met with Russian players. It has to be said that I have absolutely no problem with the Russian people in general; in fact, I love both their Vodka and their women.

However, only seeing Russian chat 10 games in a row and not being able to communicate with any of your team mates while queuing solo is a big turnoff from the game. This is not limited to Russian players; any language you do not understand could become frustrating while trying to communicate in a team based game. Local servers fix this issue for the most part, even though in my third local game ever I was matched up with 4 Russian players who queued for every single region, which in turn almost made me throw my keyboard and mouse through the window.

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Afrikaans is my first language, but please, if you can speak English rather do that, because some people from South Africa cannot speak Afrikaans or understand you, causing you to become the Russian.

Even though this sometimes happens, playing on the local servers I have encountered such language barriers much, much less, making the whole game experience more enjoyable. Just because of the language issue, playing on the local servers is so much better than playing on the international servers.

Local tournaments

The inherently competitive nature of Dota 2 is what makes it so fun and addictive for me. One thing that an eSport needs for a community to grow is great tournaments which we have plenty of for Dota 2, such as the 2013 Telkom Do Gaming League (DGL) and the All Otaku Magazine Dota 2 Cup which I watched on Sunday, 25 August 2013.

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Energy eSports vs Bravado Gaming in the All Otaku Magazine Dota 2 Cup Finals

Having local servers for Dota 2 means that everyone, including our top teams can show us much better games, displaying their true skill at low latency and being just an absolute pleasure to watch. Without low latency the local servers provided, Dota 2 players would not be able to pull of such amazing combinations and display such great skill the likes we are seeing from our top teams at the moment in the DGL and various other tournaments.

A player has declined your match

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One of the most annoying this about queuing for a Dota 2 game is when the queue finally pops, you get this, a 9/10 Ready, player has declined the match and back to queue you go. I cannot remember a time that this has not happened to me on the international servers.

For some reason, this happens less often on local servers in my experience. When it does happen, the wait might be longer until the next game pops up, but it only happens once for the most part. For the life of me I cannot figure out why it happens so much less on the local servers, but I guess it can be attributed to a smaller community so in turn we will have less trolls!

Closing thoughts

Playing on the local servers is a joy, pure and simple. In my opinion, some of the small negative aspects are overshadowed by the positives like low latency and local tournaments. The past 35 games have been an absolute blast and I urge everyone who has not yet played on the local servers due to preconceived notions to do. Add Lustedsilli on steam if you want to see some next level failure by Sillinoob!

Has your experience on the local servers been different? Who do you think are the positives and the negatives about playing on the local servers and do the positives outweigh the negative aspects for you? Let us know what you think in the comment section below. Permission was asked to all players in the in game screenshots used in this article.  

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd

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