I have never played Dota 2. I have never played the original Dota. I have never watched a Dota stream. I have only briefly played LoL casually with friends and is my only MOBA experience. I have never had any interest in any MOBA.
I have played Starcraft since I was in middle school living in Korea. I have watched Proleague, OGN and MBC broadcasts on TV. I have watched Professional Korean broadcasts on Youtube (Jon747 Wifebeater Nevake etc) ever since I came back to America. I have played SC2 and watched SC2 since the original WoL beta. I religiously watch SC2 streams, follow tournament brackets on Liquipedia, and tune in to matches in basically all major tournaments.
When I decided to watch the International 2 yesterday, I wasn't sure what to expect. The Team Liquid staff seemed to deem it worthy of it's blessing, the stream numbers were absurdly high for all the streams available in the sidebar. I had never had any interest in playing MOBA games (and I'm afraid I probably never will). I had read the main article covering the International 2's various teams from all regions, and key players and heroes to look out for; and was geniuenly intrigued by the event. It was the last day, I would only be watching the final games.
I was completely amazed at how much better the casters were compared to their SC2 counterparts.
Starting with the hero selections I was completely astounded by how knowledgeable the casters were. They discussed and analyzed each of the selection and ban choices the teams made, extremely quickly and on the fly as heroes were chosen and tossed aside. With every decision made, the casters would instantly be on the ball, discussing what the next "move" would be, what the team's general strategy or logic would be considering the composition vs the opponents.
I felt completely embarrassed when I thought about how blatantly simple SC2 casters discuss maps in their broadcasts; it usually amounts to "this map is big, so X race is favored here" "there's rocks here" "broad vague term and buzzword",
The amount of items and heros in Dota 2 was unreal to me, it seemed like there were infinite pieces to this puzzle. And yet the casters knew exactly what every single item is, what it does, what each hero's strengths and weaknesses are, and even more impressive: they knew how they interact with one another as a team, and how that combination would interact with the opponent's. As I was watching, more and more they commentators would continue to impress me with just how knowledgeable they were about all the seemingly endless combinations of spells, heroes and tactics involving them.
SC2 casters in comparison, for the most part, don't seem to understand the purpose of a lot of build orders. They oversimplify what each players is doing, they don't understand the fine details or logic that each player is displaying in their builds.
When they see a player move out, they'll just say "oh they're moving out." When they see an upgrade being started, they'll just say "he's getting these good upgrades." Rarely will you see casters who aren't top end discuss why the players are making these choices, and what logic they use to justify them.
They also knew so much about the players. They would describe their particular playstyles, what they like what they don't like, where they are strong and where they are weak. They know how the Chinese play, how the Americans play, how the Europeans play, what the trends are.
Let's be honest: Most SC2 casters don't know anything intricate about players, teams, or general regions. It's mostly "He's Zerg/Toss/Terran."
As the heroes began to move across the map, the Dota 2 casters seemed to be on top of the ball from beginning to end.
They'd keep track of each of the 10 heroes, where they are, where they're going, what they're trying to accomplish, what they actually have accomplished. They'd keep track of what each team's position on the map is. How far have they pushed up these various lanes?
They would have to quickly translate what is happening on the screen to the viewers. SC2 it's a lot easier to see what's on screen, because it's entirely "units are being killed." But for Dota 2, with the variety of spells and animations, it's much harder to keep track of everything. Even in the big battles, when the entire screen seemed to flash in a bunch of colors and lights, they would astoundingly announce the important actions of the players in a matter of seconds.
Probably the most impressive part of the Dota 2 casts for me was that they understood how the early, mid and late game was playing out. They kept track of where the advantage lied for both teams, what momentum and rhythm each team had, what the other team would have to do to get ahead or get back into the game.
Many times SC2 casters can understand the early game and mid game because it's so common, because it's not as intricate. There's not as many decisions being made. But they struggle a lot to discuss the late game where it's all about decision making and being a smarter player than the other.
It's true. I actually have no idea about Dota 2 and I probably never will. Maybe I am completely wrong about the Dota 2 casters and am just giving them a bias. Maybe I just don't like SC2 casters.
But still, I can't help but feel that if these "foreigner" DOTA casters can show such an apparent wealth of knowledge and insight, then SC2 casters have no excuse for not giving us better analysis, and just a better show.
I miss Korean commentary. I hope SC2 casters can prove me wrong.