Four days before the event, The International Dota 2 Tournament announced that there would be no live audience. Although Valve tried to recreate the excitement of a live audience, the fans aren’t cheering for the in-game applause.
Spectator cheering is a new feature that fans can use to give virtual cheer to their favourite team by clicking on their name in-game or Twitch. These cheers create a virtual crowd roar and can be intensified when there is a particularly hot play.
These disembodied crowds are not popular with fans in practice. There are many complaints on the Dota 2 subreddit about the crowd sounding artificial. A few fans spam the cheer button, making annoyingly repetitive applause throughout matches. It’s also a bit frustrating that there is no way to turn it off and not completely disable game sounds.
Despite this, cheering is a popular pastime. TGSesa, a Redditor, believes that the crowd lends more weight to the event. However, he admits that it takes a lot of work and has an option to turn it off.
“I believe I should have some interaction to feel special. The crowd thingy does that for my part to some extent. Although it’s not exactly the real deal, it doesn’t feel quite the same. It’s more than nothing, however.
Crowd discourse reveals that esports have, just like other sports, struggled to cope with the absence of live events during the pandemic. Data might have wanted to follow the Overwatch Leagues and Call of Duty is making tentative steps back towards stadiums but has been forced to cancel crowds at the very last minute.
The valve may want to keep that stadium atmosphere. There’s still time to refine the game before the grand finals on October 17. Let’s hope it allows us to stop the applause.