TI8 opens with a stutter

Day one of The International 2018 produced some amazing gameplay and even a couple of surprises, but the show was marred by production issues, including stream drops and a lack of commentary on games, as Valve’s flagship event opened on Canadian soil for the first time. Alex ‘Machine’ Richardson’s introduction to TI8 itself saw a brief interruption, and the concluding parts of some matches went unseen by many as the streams broke off intermittently.

There were some fantastic moments in the opening hours of the tournament, with Fnatic stomping Team Liquid in almost record-breaking fashion to tie up their series 1-1, but Valve will be unhappy to see the jewel in their crown obscured, even momentarily. The causes of the issues are not clear at this point, but the fact all of the streams to drop simultaneously seems to suggest internet issues in the venue, rather than production, were the cause of the problems.

That is good news for PGL, who are rumoured, but not confirmed to be taking care of production for the second year in a row, having worked with Valve to make TI6 and TI7 a reality. This may be due to the fact Valve have change their production process, as they did for 2017, and PGL aren’t involved, although many on social media assumed it is the Romanian company.

What isn't likely to be down to the internet in the venue is the way audio issues on various streams seemed to occur, including a lack of commentary on games. The scenes backstage are likely to be frantic until the event has got back on track, although the fact this is not the 'main' event will be of some comfort.

UPDATE: The official account for Dota 2 tweeted the following later in the day, explaining that the problems had been caused by power issues at the venue.

Changes to production process in 2017

As mentioned, in 2017 Valve made changes to their previous model, where PGL had taken care of the production for the game publishers. In an interview with Cybersport, Toby ‘TobiWan’ Dawson, a commentator at TI, confirmed that a local TV company had been brought in to run live production, rather than PGL. If that is the case for TI8, it would make sense, with Valve using a temporary base while their ‘home’ in Seattle, the Key Arena, is being renovated.

This isn’t the first major esports event, or even International, to experience hiccups on the first day, and with the resources Valve have at their disposal the scope for improvement is certainly there. They will be pleased to have learned about these gremlins prior to the main event, and it may also be that more resources have been dedicated to the latter stages than the early rounds of a tournament that runs for ten days.

As expected, when given the chance, the presenters and commentators on show did a fantastic job, handling the issues professionally and never missing a beat, which makes sense given that Valve have assembled a dream team of esports talent. The new qualification system seems to have produced a terrific standard of play too, making for a perfect storm of Dota 2, if they can just get the wrinkles ironed out of the broadcast.