Posté le : 28 février
ou may not know the first thing about competitive Dota 2 concepts like “jungling,” or “creep stacking,” but you’ve probably dealt with illness, heartbreak, or high expectations in some form. Valve pulls at these relatable, human threads in its new documentary, Free to Play, to share a true and understandable story about the burgeoning eSports scene – and the fascinating players at its forefront.
Danil “Dendi” Ishutin. Clinton “Fear” Loomis. Benedict “HyHy” Lim. These three professional Dota 2 players, from Ukraine, the United States, and Singapore, respectively, have wildly different backgrounds. But in 2011, each player had one common goal: to win the first 16-team International Dota 2 tournament and take home the $1 million prize.
Each story unfolds through touching interviews with the players, their families, and their friends. Nothing feels forced or coaxed out, and at many times within each story, I felt like I was seeing unused footage – the stuff I wasn’t supposed to see. Ishutin’s incredible dexterity and skill in Dota 2 have earned him the nickname “Dendi the Superman,” but there was nothing inhuman about the past he and the other players shared.
Gluing each sub-story together is a larger plot of the International tournament. Free to Play does a great job of contextualizing the growth of eSports, the success they’ve already seen in countries like Korea and China, and what the massive $1 million International prize meant for eSports’ future. Dota 2 commentators, whose jobs are to break down matches play by play, interviewed for the film and helped make sense of the tournaments and the competing team’s histories.
Dota 2 isn’t a bad looking game at all, but for Free to Play, Valve rendered standout moments from the biggest matches with much better animation and detail than the game can achieve. These clips are all about the spectacle, but they do that job well, and they cap off intense team fights with a satisfying bang.
Free to Play is not just a documentary for Dota fans; it’s for fans of people, their aspirations, and the struggles they’ll inevitably face. That the documentary condenses such a complicated game and scenario into a clear, engaging package is a tremendous accomplishment by Valve.