Dota 2 is really good, you guys. And it's cracking to watch when played at its best, such as at Valve's big annual tournament this weekend, The International 3. Watch who what when where how why? I'll explain.
The International 3 brings together 16 of the world's best Dota 2 teams, competing for a prize pool of over $2.8 million. The winning team will scoop at least $1,429,240, but that figure's ever-increasing as fans buy Valve's TI3 Compendium (essentially a sticker book for Dota).
The main event started on Wednesday, following preliminaries, leading up to Grand Finals on Sunday. If you'd like to watch, there are two main ways.
Matches start at 12pm Pacific each day, and will run until they're done. Check the schedule to see what's going down, though given that a Dota match can take anywhere from 30 to 80 minutes, it's only a running order rather than times.
The fancy way to watch is in-game through Dota 2's splendid in-game spectator system, which has built-in commentary streams and everything. If you don't have Dota already (and why not?), grab it through Steam. Then, when matches are on, fire up Dota 2, go to the Watch tab, then Tournaments, select The International, and games will appear on that page for you to connect to.
Personally I'm watching the talking heads stuff on Twitch then going in-game for matches.
You can also watch past matches by going to the schedule and setting it back to the past. From there you can watch a video replay on YouTube or click 'View replay' to have it fire up Dota 2 and watch in-game.
If you're a little new to Dota 2, don't worry: you're not alone. Interviewing players and roving around is Kaci Aitchison, a TV news anchor and reporter who doesn't know Dota and is therefore well-suited to, you know, getting players to actually speak like people.
Valve's going a fair way to tackle the difficulties of Watching People Play Video Games For Money. It may still be hard to follow at times, and is perhaps impenetrable if you don't play Dota, but it's one heck of a show and awfully exciting for fans. Do watch, and especially play.
Here's the Twitch stream, if it's live when you read this. If not, hey, while you wait I can recommend watching the astonishing game 1 of Alliance vs. LGD played on Thursday.