Hey, guys! As you may very well know I'm a big fan of DOTA 2. A few years ago I used to play semi-professionally: me and my buddies had kind of a team, played and trained together for a while and even participated in some local scrub tier tournaments. Life goes on, I don't really play the game anymore. But I still have the passion for it and watch a lot of tournaments. In my opinion, esports are much more exciting to watch than normal sports, and among all esports DOTA 2 events probably have the best production, and it's great to watch even only for the show itself. So when I finally got a chance to visit the biggest DOTA 2 event and first official Valve DOTA 2 Major in my country, I just couldn't say no to it. And even though the decision to go was spontaneous, I don't regret going even one bit. So here's a kind of report of my trip with words and pics, mostly pics. The journey started with me taking a tram to the train station early in the morning - my train departed at 9am: This is the main hall of the train station: There was a random souvenir shop that had DOTA 2 and Na`Vi mugs: Then I boarded an express train to Moscow, here's how it looked at 250kmph: At the end of the 4-hour trip from my seat I saw one of the tallest towers in the world - Ostankino TV-radio tower: After check-in in the hotel I decided to visit the place EPICENTER took place in, it appeared to be literally 5 minutes on foot away from my hotel: After having a lunch and stocking on some füd for the next few days in the local shopping mall I decided to go to the city center. Much to my regret I couldn't get to Red Square as I wanted - it was fenced off in preparations to the parade on May, 9. So I ended up just checking out a few places around Kremlin. Lubyanka Square with weird pink fluffy trees: Some artists in Zaryadye Park painting Kremlin: Birzhevaya Square with a fancy fountain: Nikolskaya Street, very nicely decorated and probably looking great at night: I wanted to stay in the city center for longer but the next day I needed to get up early to get the presents from EPICENTER among the first visitors. The presents included an A3 format poster, a badge, a set of stickers with team logos and, what's the most important, tickets to autograph sessions with teams, and I really wanted my poster signed by Virtus.Pro players. Next morning I got up at about 7am, went to have a breakfast, returned to my room, made a couple sandwiches for the day, grabbed a bottle of water and went to Ice Palace. At about 8:40am (20 minutes before the presents giveaway started) there were already the first DOTA 2 fans hanging around: After getting my presents I returned to the hotel to drop them off and then headed back - my ticket allowed early entrance at 10am. A lot of people who had early entrance tickets already formed a line: They announced that non-factory packed food isn't allowed, so I spent my time in the line consuming my sandwiches. Good thing I had a light breakfast in the hotel - would be a waste of good sandwiches. After getting through the security check I started exploring the arena. First I saw a few cosplay girls taking pictures with visitors and promoting an electronics store: Then I saw some Virtus.Pro fans snacking before the opening ceremony and discussing the group stage matches and results and speculating on how the playoff will go: I myself bought an energy drink. I don't really like Monster, but they were running a lottery with Na`Vi T-shirts as the main prize. I didn't win anything other than stickers, although I saw quite a few lucky people getting better prizes: Between games I was roaming around the arena, and in one of the corridors I saw a couple of guys in very special Virtus.Pro T-shirts: I tried to take some pictures of the stage, regrettably the camera on my phone is pretty bad, so here's a shot of the main stage screen, and let's leave it at that: The next day standing in the entrance line I saw one of the cosplay girls very close: Inside Ice Palace I decided to check out the upper floor this time, they actually had very nice foodcourt overlooking the area in front of the arena: Since it was Saturday there were more promoters than on the first day. Here's a Vega Squadron promoter taking pictures with the team fans and just random people: Also reporters started showing up all over the place, the next day I myself gave an interview to some random guys explaining them what "hooking with Pudge" meant: Even though it's difficult to underestimate the potatoness of my phone camera, here's a shot of the Russian analyst desk on the main screen, you can see the trophy at the bottom: On the final day of the event I tried to make as many pictures as possible, so here we go - merch and device store: A line to "Hookmeister" (a crane game), I participated myself and won a discount coupon for the merch store: A huuuge line for NaVi autographs, I feel like half the arena was in that line at some point: And when the autograph session started I was lucky to take a few pictures of the legend and in a certain way the face of DOTA, Na`Vi.Dendi: Thanos Glove which fy from PSG.LGD was awarded with as the tournament MVP: Then I saw one of my favourite cosplayers at this event, Phantom Assassin looked very cool: And two random CS:GO cosplayers, apparently noone told them it was DOTA EPICENTER, not CS:GO one: Poster art: I missed the first match of the day almost entirely standing in lines for OG and VP autographs, but I had a chance to take a picture of the main area from the 5 floor during a break. It is so spacious that I couldn't even fit it fully in a single frame, fully packed with viewers during games: The grandfinal bo5 match was absolutely crazy action packed skillplay goodness, a grandfinal match worthy of The International grandfinal match. In the end PSG.LGD defeated two-time champions of EPICENTER Team Liquid: After the champions were crowned, the last interviews taken and the viewers started leaving, it was the janitors' time to have some fun: EPICENTER XL is over, the gates are closing: At the end of day three of the tournament I was completely exhausted physically, but mentally I was absolutely euphoric. After a very long sleep I was almost late for the hotel breakfast. I still had a few hours before my train, so I decided to try to get to Red Square again. No luck that time either - it was still fenced off and guarded, and I took a walk from the city center to the train station. Along the way I was taking pics, so here you are. State Duma building: State Historical Museum with the abovementioned fences: Tverskaya Street, the main city street: A monument to Yuri Dolgorukiy, the founder of Moscow: The head office of Izvestia, one of the main Russian newspapers: A monument to Pushkin, the most famous Russian poet: Pushkinskaya Square and Rossiya Theatre: Strastnoy Boulevard: A monument to Vysotsky, a famous songwriter and actor (also pigeons): Petrovsky Boulevard: A random nice looking building: The Central Market: A random spiderman: A monument to Krupskaya, Lenin's wife: Sretensky Boulevard: A close-up on the flowers: Turgenevskaya Square with more weird pink fluffy trees: Academician Sakharov Avenue, the vastness and soullessness of constructivism: Komsomolskaya Square, or the Three Station Square, one of which my train was leaving from: So that was my first trip to an esports event of such scale. The energy and the atmosphere at the event was amazing - 6000 viewers plus staff, and everyone's all smiles. It was incredible to witness how "on the same page" everyone was no matter what team or player you're a fan of. I've never felt so comfortable among so many people before. Visiting an event like that is definitely a worthy experience for any gamer. I absolutely loved it, and I definitely plan to go to EPICENTER next year! Do you? P.S. For better pics from the event check out http://media.epicenter.gg/en/89/. You can even see me in a few!
I will be posting some more blog posts soon for the main site. This week I'm taking a break. My glasses broke and I am waiting for a new pair. I'm taking two trips this summer which will also affect my writing schedule. Other than that, I plan to write two articles / week. It seems that I'm going to be the only writer on this website for awhile, so I'll do my best to make the best entries I can.
I've had a roughly 10 year hiatus since I last painted minis in any meaningful way, but I'm getting back into it now. And I will endeavour to figure out how to take proper pictures and/or borrow (or steal) a decent camera. In the meantime, here's the minis that I am currently finishing up. The pictures are about a decade old, but the paint jobs have now resumed. Hive Tyrant - This guy is maybe 20% done. Also featured are a couple of Tyrant Guards, who're actually finished. Hive Guard with Impaler Cannon - This guy is actually finished. Brood Lord - This guy is 98% done, he just needs a pair of eyes and a couple of minor highlights. Genestealers - I apologise for the pretty crap picture, but this was a WIP of some Genestealers and 2 days ago I finished another 20 that looks exactly like these ones. So a bit about the pictures: the camera doesn't see things the way the eye do. The contrasts are much stronger in the pictures than in real life, and unfortunately the deep blues - the chitin shells on all the beasties are glazed deep blue - doesn't show at all. Furthermore, rather than dry brushing the boney bits like you normally would to save time, I have taken the opportunity to do this freehand, mostly as a learning exercise because it's relatively easy to fix the fuck-ups. But man does it take a lot of time to do it this way.