Day 3 of the Main Event at the Kiev Major has just finished, with a stream duration of just under 17 hours. Day 1 and 2 both went for about 15 and a half hours. I think this is an incredibly unhealthy habit that we're getting into, and the community and everyone involved needs to make it clear to Valve and other event organizers that it has to stop. No one benefits from these kinds of conditions.
First and foremost, the players are the stars of the event. I assume they aren't required to be at the arena all day each day, but even so, with the lengths of games being variable, I expect some players are spending at least 8+ hours at the venue. The mental strain of a high stakes three game series must already be immense, but to do it on the back of consecutive long days must be soul crushing. Take a look at Arteezy's post-game interview: it's just after 1:30am local time, they've just won a BO3 and made it to the semi-finals, and he looks absolutely wrecked. Keeping the players in top shape for the best performances should be the number one priority at any event, but it's clearly not the case here.
Talent and Production
I admire PGL, Paul and the rest of the panel a great deal, they put on a brave face and host a superbly entertaining show the whole way through, but there's no way this is okay:
Just a casual 18 hour day— ReDeYe (@PaulChaloner) April 29, 2017
4 hours 30 til alarm goes off o//— ReDeYe (@PaulChaloner) April 29, 2017
And I don't think he, or any of the talent will stop, because they love this game so much they'll do whatever it takes make these events as great as they can. It's up to us as the viewers and supporters of these events to recognize and call it out for what it is: excessive and unhealthy. The same goes for the casters: both Purge and syndereN cast 6 games today across 10+ hour periods. I'm not saying they didn't do a great job, but I don't know how any analyst can be at the top over their game after multiple days like that. V1lat has been tweeting quite a bit about the conditions at this event, and while I agree that inviting more talent to share the load is a potential solution, I don't think it's the correct one. If each day of the event only runs for 8 hours, no one has to work for 15.
It goes without saying that sitting in front of the TV or computer 15+ hours a day for several days in a row isn't a good idea. But that's beside the point, because who could seriously do that? I love watching these big tournaments; the phenomenal effort put into production takes what is already great Dota to a whole other level. And while the global reach of the game means that often timing isn't going to be great, I try my hardest to make time to watch these events, and I'm sure a lot of other fans do as well. But one does not simply block out 16 hours of their day for Dota.
I'm pretty lucky; for this event, the stream starts at 4pm in Japan, so I get my work done for the day early, grab some food and spend the evening watching. But I am human and need sleep, so when OG vs Faceless finishes at 11:30pm, I'm forced to call it quits. The fact that I woke up 8 hours later and the stream was still going just blew my mind; how could anyone have kept on watching that whole time? And I'm sure people in other timezones have it worse.
As Arteezy mentions in the interview, a lot of the crowd had dispersed by the time they were playing their final matches. This is totally understandable, given the time in Kiev and the length of the day; but it sucks for the morale of the teams, staff at the event, and for the fans who paid good money for those tickets but don't get to see the whole show because they have other commitments (or just need some sleep).
Yes, I know we can go back and watch the VODs later, but I want to see it live. I want to shitpost in Twitch chat when someone makes a misplay, I want to join in on the post-game Reddit discussions, I want to see the wins and losses as they happen, instead of knowing the outcome before it starts. That's all part of the experience, and watching a week later just isn't the same. Besides, is "you don't need to watch it live" really the way you want to sell your broadcasts?
The fans are the reason these tournaments exist; if we didn't support and watch them, they simply wouldn't happen. Yet we're the ones hurt most by this format. Exhausted players, talent and production lead to lower quality events that we only get to fully experience half of (or less). To re-iterate, I don't think the Kiev Major has been bad, quite the opposite; the parts of it that I have gotten to watch have been great. But I really think that splitting it up into more, smaller days will make it a much healthier and more engaging experience for everyone involved.
How do we fix it
The only way that things will change is if the community makes their voices heard. One of the things I love the most about Valve is how responsive the Dota team is to our feedback, and I really hope they'll be the same on this issue. I personally don't think any LAN event should run more than two BO3's per day. At an event like Kiev, that's going to be 6-8 hours of broadcast each day which I think is plenty for everyone. Sometimes the dice may fall on two 2-0 stomps and lead to a short day, but that's life. I wouldn't think less of the event or production team when it happens, and I think the same goes for most other fans as well. We're here because we love Dota, no matter what the result.
If you agree and you want to see change as well, make your voice heard. Email GabeN or the Dota 2 Team and tell them you're not happy with the format of The Majors and TI. Email PGL and tell them you love their work but you think they could provide better experiences with shorter broadcasts. Get in contact with the organizers of upcoming tournaments you're interested in and tell them what format you'd like to see. Tweet your favourite talent lullabies and good vibes to keep them going. And make your own Reddit threads on the issue, or upvote others like this one.