Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I was browsing youtube the other day, and I came across a highlight reel of DotA.  The video listed top 10 plays and it was quite entertaining.  But what really caught my attention in that video was this one small clip of Morphling (head to 2m20s):

No doubt a great escape, and indeed a sick play.  The hype is even greater when Morphling disjoints the incoming snipe from a Sniper.  The video even emphasizes that moment to make sure you understand how sick it was.  This got me thinking.

Let's be clear of one thing: The Morphling player never intended to disjoint the incoming snipe.  It happened by a chance; luck.  Even if Morphling had saw the snipe debuff on him, he was highly likely to waveform in that spot anyway because he was a hit away from dying, and Spiritbreaker was on him.  It was just unfortunate for the Sniper to be in that position, to get his ultimate accidentally juked and become the victim of a highlight reel.  But this sort of thing does happen (and in this case, it's actually what made that clip, haha).

This is what I call an accidental.  An unintentional outcome that either makes or breaks the situation.  It often disguises itself as skill, but it's just luck.  Anyone who's given any thought would understand how it really is no more than a dumb luck (though, it is pleasing to the eye, I agree).

The user above seems confused as to why the play was only listed at 8th.  I mean, that snipe juke was so sick, how could it not be any higher?  For what it's worth, the video does a good job of misguiding players into this thought as well.  This user obviously does not understand that the highlight part of the clip was an accidental.  The video makers probably knew the nature of snipe disjoint, and listed the clip at what they thought was an appropriate placement.

So then, why do players think like the user above?  I think it has to do with the frequency of these accidentals in DotA.  It just doesn't happen often enough for people to actively think about these things.  The clip was about 10 seconds in duration.  Even if it took double the duration, that's only 20 seconds in a 30-45min game of DotA.  Players just don't get to see these often enough to really carefully assess what just took place.

I used to play Bloodline Champions, a game that is largely based on skillshots (imagine Pudge, Mirana) and the accidentals happened all the time.  I was constantly hit by, and hitting things unintentionally and it affected the outcome of the game.  Since it happened at such a high frequency, the players were fully aware of this phenomenon, and often made fun of it, especially because the game promoted the idea of "all skill, no luck". When an accidental was to be pointed out by a (dumbfounded, and reasonably an upset) player (who just got ruined by the accidentals), the joke was to respond with "no luck in blc".

Unlike Bloodline Champions however, the level of importance these accidentals have in DotA are minimal.  It's very rare that an accidental decides the outcome of a game and that's a good thing.  Because who enjoys gimmicks winning game?  (I mean, people already hate being cheesed so much in SC2.) 

And if by any chance one is to lose due to an unfortunate occurance of an accidental, the real question would be this: Why have you allowed a game to reach a state where a single accidental could potentially decide the outcome of the game?  Ther game is normally 30-40min long.  You have all that time to influence the outcome of the game.  For the most part, a team who fashions a superior strategy, draft, and execution will win the game.  Mark of a good game?  I think so.

I think I'll write a follow up on the subject of accidentals, but I think I've talked enough for this entry.

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