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:
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:
A monument to Vysotsky, a famous songwriter and actor (also pigeons):
A random nice looking building:
The Central Market:
A random spiderman:
A monument to Krupskaya, Lenin's wife:
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!