Esports for the mind

Free to Play: Dota 2 from inside

Feb 06, 2019
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Esports are not easy to explain, it takes hundreds of hours to understand the ins and outs of each title and describing their mechanics to a layperson is, well, let’s say complicated. It’s that difficulty that makes the documentary Free to Play such an achievement. The film puts the fears and concerns of professional gamers front and center, and you don’t need to be a pro-player or even a video game fan to feel for them as you watch how playing Dota 2 changed their lives. 

The film sees three players on the path to Dota 2’s the inaugural edition of the game’s famed tournament, The International in 2011.

That year was a watershed for the Valve, Dota 2, esports, and the International which featured a then unheard of $1.6 million dollar prize pool. Even today a tournament with a prize pool that large would make headlines. Over the years its grown to more than 25 million in 2018. 

The 75-minute film, produced by Valve, takes the viewer into both the universe of Dota 2 and the world of it’s competitive scene. It follows players' struggles and they make sacrifices in their professional, academic, and personal lives to train.

Released in 2014, the film focuses on three players from around the world, Benedic “hyhy” Lim of China, Danil “Dendi” Ishutin of Russia, and Clinton “Fear” Loomis of the US. Dozens of Dota 2 commentators, players, managers, and coaches make appearances in interviews and help contextualize the globalized world of Valves MOBA sensation.