Captain’s Draft 3.0 is being played at the moment online. Compared to a number of other tournaments, including XMG Captain’s Draft 2.0 last year, it is relatively small and it features no Chinese or South East Asian teams, nor does it have a LAN final. However, despite all this I think Captain’s Draft is a very important tournament and I think it does a lot for the pro-scene at large.
Firstly, some background. Captain’s Draft is run and sponsored by Moon Duck and Dotacinema. Like regular tournaments, it has sponsors provide the prize money and it is broadcast on Twitch in English and Russian. Captain’s Draft 3.0, as mentioned, features less money than its predecessor but it includes more teams as it had open qualifier slots. However, it’s main selling point, the thing that sets it aside from other tournaments, is that it uses “Captain’s Draft” (CD) instead of “Captain’s Mode” (CM) for its games.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, CM is used in almost every other tournament and includes almost all the heroes currently in Dota 2 All Pick. CD however gives you a pool of only 27 to choose from for each team. Each team gets only 3 bans instead of 5 and has to ad lib with the remaining heroes as they don’t see the hero pool before they get into the game. It creates a bit more drama and tension to the picking phase, especially when you are late into a patch and all you see are the same heroes picked over and over again.
I think this is how the idea for the tournament started out. People get bored with “the meta” and want to see some different, lesser played heroes to see how they fare, but it’s turned into something a lot more, I think. Moon Duck Studios and Dotacinema are both vessels for fun. They’re not trying to give you in depth analysis or raise Dota 2 up to new heights as some superior esport that requires years of training, they are just trying to make you laugh. They bridge the gap between the pros and the amateurs and that feeling has followed through into this tournament.
Well known personalities are casting, big teams are playing and it’s not a game mode that is stuck in an obnoxious, boring meta state. You can just jump in and watch a few games and see if you like it or not instead of trying to jump into the pro-scene by watching normal, CM tournaments. People who watch CM don’t mind. I like watching my favourite team play and it is nice to have fresh heroes in a patch that is so desperately difficult to tame and dull to watch. People who don’t might find they quite like some of the casters and might find that they learn how to improve their own play, even if they find that they don’t like watching the pros play.
Moreover, it proves to tournaments that you don’t always need a LAN final to draw attention to yourself, nor a prizepool in the millions of dollars. I think it’s really important, in a time when esports are being taken more and more seriously, to not forget that these things are games that we all play for fun, regardless of whether you are in a team or not and that’s why Captain’s Draft is important. For pros, for players and, perhaps most of all, for Valve.