Marta J. August 21, 2019
Some Dota 2 fans haven't been too happy with how The International 2019 has been going thus far, and it’s mostly due to the fact the tournament is being played in China for the first time and is as such catered toward the Chinese domestic audience. With the start of the main event, those complaints turned towards the live audience.
With the TI9 main event starting on August 20, the western Dota 2 community has overflown Reddit with complaints about the audience attending the event live in Shanghai. Of course, most of the fans at the arena are Chinese, but some members of the community seems to be upset that they’re unabashedly cheering on the teams that represent their own country while offering little or no support to international squads.
Western fans are offended by Chinese fans supporting Chinese teams while giving the western teams barely any love, even when they made great plays. And while the fans are desperately trying to make this a Chinese-specific issue, some even going so far as to demand that Valve never again organize The International in China and instead stick to Europe and the United States, fans have been behaving like this for years no matter the region. There have at times been complaints about fan behavior at prior TI events, but never to this extent.
Some Reddit users are even going as far as to claim TI9’s main stream features fake crowd cheering noises because they seem out of sync with the video being displayed. However, since there’s a separate Chinese stream set up with their commentators and analysts casting live from the arena, it isn’t as strange the crowd heard on-stream is reacting to their live casting unlike those watching the English stream and listening to English commentary.
Even though it’s a common issue and is surely not exclusively to either Dota 2 or China, it's no surprise that the audience might decry teams they don’t relate to while cheering for their own, regardless of their in-game skills. It’s also no surprise that this might feel disrespectful or unfair to fans abroad who feel differently about the competing teams.
Valve could perhaps make an effort to make for a more welcoming live environment for all fans regardless of who they’re cheering for. But this could also dilute the live experience for those in attendance.
Fans showing bias in making their voices heard is nothing new in sports, and has over the years increasingly krept into esports. While not everyone may like it, as fans continue to grow more passionate and supportive of teams they’ve followed for years, this sort of behavior is likely to continue.