The TI6 Experience: The Secret Shop

Dota 2 Jodi “PizzaDog” Odgers

Some happy customers show off their favourite purchase from the Secret Shop.

Day one of the Main Event at TI6 played host to some great games. Upsets, early exits for big teams, and strong performances abounded. And yet, many people spent a large chunk out of their day outside the arena. Why? To get their hands on the sweet loot from the Secret Shop.

Building on feedback from previous years, the Secret Shop experience tries to be as invisible as possible, allowing people to get their hands on their pre-ordered items with minimal fuss. However, with thousands of fans attending the event every day, waiting cannot entirely be avoided. So, after watching MVP take down OG, I headed outside to wait my turn.

I was initially saddened by the length of the queue. The line of people waiting to walk away with their bags full of new swag snaked its way along the side of the park outside Key Arena. I foresaw multiple hours of waiting, which I didn’t seem to think was reasonable. After all, every single person had to have pre-ordered their items – there are no sales at the counter of the Secret Shop this year.

My doubts were gradually eased. Even though the queue was long, it moved fairly quickly. After about 30-45 minutes in the queue, I had reached a point where I could easily see the outdoor big screen broadcasting the current game (Wings vs DC at that time). Whether the fact that the last part of the Secret Shop queue had a good view of the screen was intended or a happy accident, it certainly made for a more interesting wait. Especially considering Wings decided to pick Pudge and Techies whilst I was in the queue!

The view of the screen from the Secret Shop queue. It only gets better as you get closer to the front.

When my turn came to pick up my items, the helpers at the Secret Shop were efficient and friendly. They quickly found my pre-packed box of items, we checked the presence of all of the items together, and I bid them farewell, happily toting my loot in a massive, TI6-themed bag.

Overall, the experience was a positive one. The queue never seemed to stagnate for long periods of time, and service appeared efficient. The Secret Shop wasn’t even using all of the booths for customers – half of them were empty, most likely to come in use during the busier Finals. My positive experience was shared by all of the fellow Dota fans I spoke to. No-one waited more than an hour and 45 minutes. People who queued during a series reported times short as 45 minutes.

Everyone seemed to love a different item from the Secret Shop this year.

Hats off to Valve and WeLoveFine. The Secret Shop got off to a good start, serving all who ordered rather well. If you plan on using the Secret Shop this week, give yourself 2 hours of your allocated pick-up time conservatively. If you want fastest service, head in during a major series. Either way, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by how quickly the queue moves, particularly once you can watch the action going on via the big screen. Happy looting!

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