The TI11 Finals in the Singapore Indoor Arena showed us exactly the TI11 we should have had.
It’s about 12:45pm in the Singapore Indoor Arena, and the crowd is about to errupt. 12,000+ fans sit, eyes-locked on a titanic screen above ten Dota 2 players just hours away from a multi-million dollar prize.
And then the place explodes. It’s First Blood, and Remco “Crystallis” Arets’ Sniper has just died. Fans are on their feet. They’re chanting “Let’s go Liquid” and clapping. The floor shakes, and stewards attempt to get fans on the walk ways to not loiter and stare on their way to their seats.
This kind of atmosphere is one of a kind. And it’s one that was sadly lacking during the previous parts of the TI11 Playoffs. Set in the Suntec “Arena” in Singapore, it’s important to note for those not in attendance that this isn’t really a venue. In reality, what you were seeing was the top floor of a mall, that happens to be a convention center space.
The sound issues, which plagued the opening days of the in-person event, were exaserbated by the fact that next door, the Suntec center was hosting two different conventions. Bass from the music of those events reverberated through the Dota 2 venue. And while rotating stages and five-minutes between games is technically and physically impressive, the lack of stadium hurt, and hurt bad. That’s where the Singapore Indoor Arena experience beats it outright.
TI11 Finals at the Singapore Indoor Arena
From the MRT station exit to the arena entrance, there’s only Dota. It’s been like this at the stadium since October 26th, with stalls, stands, and opportunities for the fans. It’s a tiny walk, so for most fans, who are relying on public transport it makes so much sense. Right next to the Kallang Wave mall, which has one of the more famous Cyber Cafe’s in the Singapore scene, this location feels built for major esports events.
If there’s one bad part of the Singapore Indoor Arena, its getting into it. Tight security demanding all food and drinks being yielded is frustrating, with stadium prices crushing fans that have already paid through the nose to be here. But once you’re inside, you’d be forgiven for letting the atmosphere wash over you and forgetting that negativity.
The atmosphere here, to grab another cliche out the air, is electric. The sight of 12,000 Dota fans feels more like 100,000 crammed into this space. A free-for-all for seats means that some just sit in the aisle to sit with friends, but really, there’s space for everyone. That’s not the kind of thing that gets missed.
With the draft holograms, the Gaben welcome, and then just how incredibly this crowd has been, this is the TI11 we should have had from the start – At the Singapore Indoor Arena.
While the rumors of a Justin Bieber concert giving us this unwieldly break, with its later cancelation, being a easy scapegoat, its hard to not realize that we could have just had this from the start. With Dota in its current life cycle its hard not to expect this is the normal format going forward. We can only hope that common sense prevails, and that stadium TI’s remain the norm.