Opinion - Open booths, yay or nay?
RedBull ECL opened our eyes to the possibility of using Open Booths and trash talk as entertainment for spectators. This opinionated article reflects upon the viability of open stage booths replacing closed player booths in major Dota 2 LAN tournaments.
Open stage booths were widely used in many tournaments all around the world (except for WDC) until Dota 2 came along and things started getting a lot more serious. The player booths were first used in The International 1 and their main purpose is to avoid noise and sound that may distract the players from playing their best. Player booths were also used to ensure that the players do not hear what the commentators are saying which have cause a smoke gank and Roshan sneak to go terribly wrong. For example, "The Play" probably would not have been as exciting if LD and Lumi were restricted from calling out the smoke.
From my recent talks with some of the players in G-1 League, many complained that the player booths did not serve its purpose and they could hear commentators rather clearly inside the supposed sound-proof booths. Apart from that, players could also hear the crowd cheering inside the booths but this isn't a bad thing. With the booths not serving its true purpose, it makes me wonder if they should be removed altogether.
The recently concluded RedBull ECL had a very unique approach to the problem by not installing player booths during their five day LAN event in Beijing. This was followed by the removal of the casters from the event hall and had them cast the games in a separate room for the online viewers, only. This meant that the voice of the commentators could not be heard in the event hall, but if you think the move decreased the level of excitement in the arena, you are unfortunately, badly mistaken.
ECL placed microphones in front of every player and in fact, encouraged them to trash talk and shout as loud as possible because nothing is better than hearing your idol screaming at the top of his lungs after he pulls of a spectacular stunt. This video easily summed up what happened when ECL. ROTK clearly won the fight, although his team placed fourth.
As you can see from the video above, the players seem to have enjoyed the experience and so did the fans. I asked LGD's manager about LGD.Int's experience in RedBull ECL and he told me that the players absolutely loved it.
With that said, should we have more open booths with microphones or should we stick to the usual player booths? I actually like the idea of the open booths so I'm gonna argue my points here. Feel free to discuss more about it in the comment section though.
1. Trash talking as a motivation tool
If you were to join a Dota 2 game right now and perform mediocre at best, you will most probably receive a lot of trash talk from your teammates or worse, your opponents. There are two types of trash talking in this scenario. First, you have players who laugh at you for the silly things you do while the second trash talk, the serious hate-filled speeches that sometimes makes you wonder why you are solo queuing to begin with.
The trash talk the professional players have is sort of a mix inbetween the two because while they have a serious rivalry going on, most of them are also friends in real life and will in fact just laugh it off after the game. This is often called friendly banter and it is a tool to motivate your teammates to perform better in the next fight and to demoralize the opposing team. The last thing you would like to hear after you missed a RP is to have someone rubbing it in your face, that would really hurt your morale.
2. Entertaining for the crowd
Sure listening to LD and Lumi casting "The Play" is entertaining but I believe the interactions between players of opposing teams could be fun as well. This does not apply for everyone but Dendi's reaction to "The Play" was one of the most epic reactions anyone could display after winning a game-changing team fight. Having rewatched it for about 20 times now, it still gives me goosebumps. Watch the video above and tell me if you don't want to know what Dendi said at 0:20.
I did not go to the RedBull ECL nor have I been to an open booth tournament with microphones attached to each player, but from what I can see on the stream and photos, the fans and players sure seem like they were enjoying themselves.
As much as I am a fan of this open booth and interaction system, there are flaws to the open booth system ECL had.
1. Players may be caught up in the moment and go overboard with their trash talk. I don't think any spectators want to hear their idols shouting over the line insults. A guideline on what can be said and what cannot be said should be useful here.
2. Spectators will not understand trash talk of a language they don't speak. For example, American spectators may not appreciate ROTK full going at Mousesports in Mandarin. It can probably only work in local tournaments or in China.
3. Players can hear the crowd and that itself could be "play-calling" by itself. Assuming that a team is moving into the Rosh pit and the crowd starts cheering, the opponents will know something is up.
Regardless, I would like to see a few organizers take this brave step and host such a setup, placing microphones before players for them to trash talk. I believe this is a refreshing change from all the tournaments we have seen so far. If it doesn't work, we just have to accept that the system will only work in China.