Thanks, Marcus – a Dyrus obituary

Some of you know that eSports is something I came into by accident; it was never supposed to be a career, but more a hobby.

Marcus helped pull me in.

I started playing League of Legends casually in 2010, a little bit before Season 1. Garen has just been released, putting my start date around April of that year; I was garbage at it, and to a certain extent, I still am.

Marcus helped me get better.

I picked his stream out of a lineup of the popular players of the time; I started with Chauster, migrated to TreeEskimo, then finally found a chill stream with a monotone guy who wasn’t above the occasional trolling.

Marcus wasn’t (and isn’t) totally emotionless; you just had to grasp the subtleties of his happiness, frustration and triumph. When he did emote, you knew it was something both serious and worth paying attention to.

Like that stoic dad who never needed to raise his voice, it became easy to respect the guy behind the keyboard because a lot of us could empathize with what someone in his position faced.

That’s particularly what draws me to eSports: seeing how young men and women with a very specific skill set deal with a massive amount of attention and expectation. Marcus did as well as anyone could have hoped, but also seemed to hide his struggle behind a barrier that few of us will ever really pass by.

And that’s fine. He’s entitled to.

This weekend we saw Marcus’ tearful goodbye speech at the 2015 League of Legends World Championships, along with an outpouring of gratitude and memories. While his statement was somber — he thought he had let his fans down — it felt like he didn’t need to apologize. He tried his best, stayed true to himself, and that was enough.

While some might argue that he isn’t worthy of the praise that people might heap on him now that he’s done, I think there’s value in someone who’s performed at a consistently high level during his career, represented his generation of players and stayed loyal to his teammates.

When others stepped to criticize TSM, Marcus was one to defend them. When people thought to speak for him, he realized that people could never see the whole picture. Like I said before, he was stoic until he needed to be otherwise, and even if people disagreed, they tended to listen.

Despite never winning a Worlds, Marcus will be remembered by the League community as a unique personality and voice. However, as he retires, a number of his posts seem to point towards a period of rest and reinvention.

After giving so much of his time to this game and seeing competitive League of Legends evolve from fighting about players streaming weekly online cups to competing in a full-year, unified league, I would not blame anyone for wanting that time.

While the Internet tends to reward those who go “all in” on their passions to make a living, there’s a sad problem where it tends to suck the fun out of it. For a little while it’s been more evident that long-time players are tired, burned out, and that can cause negative feelings to seep into something they once loved.

Trust me, that really sucks.

Despite League being such a unique and vibrant phenomenenon, sometimes you just need to step back and find out who you truly are. We might see Marcus step back to the spotlight soon, or we might see him fade away and be more comfortable watching from the outside.

I don’t think anyone should blame him for taking either route.

Thanks, Marcus. You were different, in a good way. I hope you find the peace you deserve with the people who support and love you. You gave me a personality to empathize with and follow as I waded into the shallow end of eSports, and you were still there while I tread water in the deep.


Matt Demers writes about eSports from Toronto. Follow him on Twitch and Twitter.

Experiences with the Valve/HTC Vive VR

This past week at The International I managed to get some time with the Valve/HTC virtual reality project, the Vive. I’ve never tried VR before, but tales of friends who have Oculus Rift developer kits and the general progress that the industry has made really got me interested.

The Vive is a combination of a headset/visor and earphones that you wear; it has a “tail” of cables that come out of the back of the visor and really gives the vibe of being plugged into The Matrix; keeping in mind where the cables are when you’re moving around the Vive environment is crucial, not only to break from immersion, but because I wanted to keep from possibly breaking the demo model.

>After signing into a desk for the demo, I was taken into a room alone with the presenter; the room had four laser projectors on poles, which I was told were to coat the activity area with something for the headset to reference. In essence, it was like the Wii, where an IR emitter (the Wii bar) was used with a sensor (in the remote) to determine where you are, what you’re facing, and what to show you. After some research, it looks like these emitters will be mounted on walls in a consumer usecase, because I’d imagine setting them up in a house might be awkward.

Articles have stated that these emitters will be able to sense where objects are in a room and plan accordingly, so you won’t need to have a specific blank space to interact in. If you do reach a boundary inside the demonstration, a grid of light lines comes up, signalling that you’re hitting a “wall”.

Putting on the visor, I was taken into a test environment that had a lobby of different scenarios. It was kind of like the Wii’s home screen, but closer to an art gallery. I was given two controllers, and tested some buttons: eventually a ballon blew out of my left controller, and I was able to bat it around, watch it float upward, and blow new ones. The left controller also had a wheel to choose balloon colours, which was responsive and gave enough feedback that you felt you were actually there.

A large concern for me coming into this demo (and VR in general) was the immersiveness of it. Things like me wearing glasses caused worries that I would not be able to kind of lose myself in what was being presented; that ended up not being a factor at all (here’s a photo that I snuck of me wearing it).

All in all, I do not hesitate to say it was a life-changing experience.

Numerous demos showed off different things. I explored a sunken ship’s bow where minnows swam away from my “hands”, assembled a sandwich in a kitchen to show off interactivity between objects, painted with light in a 3D space and explored a Secret Shop, straight out of Dota 2.

Despite the environments not looking completely photorealistic, everything just kind of sucked me in. The audio and the resolution of the eyepieces were at such high quality that eventually I kind of forgot what I was doing; I was largely pre-occupied with the demos, but I remember having the biggest grin on my face because one of the most attractive tropes of science fiction was actually here.

The controllers have thumb pads for things like menu selection and fine manipulation, as well as side and bottom triggers for things like grip. There was never any virtualization of arms or legs, but sometimes the implements made a big deal, since menus and options were projected onto them.

With the light painting, I could spin menus on my left implement with my right, dabbing as if I was choosing paint off a palette. In the Secret Shop, I got my own light source, and moving it around the environment cast dynamic shadows and could cause reactions from simulated characters.

These moments just felt… amazing. Discovering new things and fighting the conditioning that you’ve learned from “normal” video games was exhilarating: simple things like reaching into a giant soup pot and realizing that there was no awkward collision mechanics just blew my mind.

In that cooking mini-game, I noticed how much I relied on games to fill in complicated blanks, which I actually had to do here. Reaching deep into a pot instead of waiting for an ingredient to snap to my hand, or just not having a “press A to pick up” prompt just felt alien; this is a good thing, because it signals that this medium will actively change how we approach interaction in a digital space, and from a futurism perspective, it’s crazy to think that it will be available now, instead of twenty years.

I know they were just tech demos, but I couldn’t help but think about the possibilities of using a Google Sketchup open-source marketplace to design and publish models that could be brought into a VR environment and then manipulated, annotated, or studied. I thought about the blue whale I saw on the ship’s deck, and how we could simulate an aquarium without the need to house animals.

I thought about the implications of a virtual reality-influenced existence, where people may get addicted to an ideal, controlled environment.

That last point is obviously a job for more accomplished philosophers than me, and is kind of scary to delve into.

This demo instantly made me a believer that VR could be done right, and has kickstarted a little bit of a fire in me. I want to see where this medium goes, and I want to grow up alongside it, so to speak; depending on the price, I might just be an early adopter, but I can’t wait to see what five or ten years will do for it.

Until then, it’s just a matter of waiting.


I’m Matt Demers, and I write about tech, eSports and more. Follow me on Twitter, Twitch and Instagram for more like the post you just read. Subscribe to Matt dot 808, my weekly newsletter, for recommended reading, streaming schedule and mini-thoughts that don’t make it to my blog.

Dota Reborn is out! Here’s things I like so far

I recently had the chance to play around with the Dota 2 Reborn beta after it launched earlier this week. Obviously, being a beta, there’s a bunch of stuff that needs to be improved — things like connectivity issues during custom games, spectating and Hero MMR are all kind of struggling.

However, I thought I’d write a bit about what I did like, which was quite a lot; as I said before, in my previous blog post, the main enjoyment I’m getting out of this is knowing that Valve are implementing and improving Reborn so quickly that it doesn’t feel like I have to just deal with the crap for the foreseeable future.

The Interface


The interface for Reborn is smooth as hell, and that’s something that really makes me grin. With some games you just feel good going through the menus, and this is one of those times.

There’s less of a loading time going from tab to tab. Things load quickly, and assets rarely “snap in” unless there’s some kind of model to load. For screens like the hero select or the armory, you have an easy-to-navigate set of buttons that click, snap and shift with awesome effects.

Things like the “ready to play” button moving from “accept” to a list of icons to show who’s ready just look awesome.

The Friend Feed


These kind of features tend to be a little cyclical: if no one uses them, they fall by the wayside. However, I’ve made a habit of checking and commenting on friends’ stuff from time to time, just to give a bit of light-hearted ribbing or just see if it works.

Knowing that my friends are playing and progressing gives me an idea of where I stack up against them, and that’s always a motivator to get better. I’ve been playing more Dota over the last two weeks than I have in months, and having incentives like streaming, the Compendium and friends to play/compete with are really helping me get more out of the game.

It also helps to see who’s queuing up for custom games, and I’ve already found myself grabbing lobbies with people I haven’t talked to in years because “hey, what’s one game?”

The Game Itself


Reborn made a bunch of changes to the map, both aesthetically and functionally, and from the few games I’ve played on it I really enjoy it. It’s not something so huge that I’m sitting there saying “Damn, never again am I going back to Source 1,” but at the same time things feel snappier: I played a Viper game where killing creeps seemed simpler. I played a Keeper of the Light game where I was a bit let scatterbrained than normal. I had more awareness. I was more clutch.

Completely subjective, obviously, but that’s the whole point of this article – for all I know, playing on Reborn with the mentality of trying something new out could’ve given me a huge placebo effect.

I mean, that’s at least better than hating it, right?


I really can’t wait for Reborn to get to the point where the things I love about Dota 2 1.0 (heh) are implemented: I play a lot of Compendium Challenge games, and not having those count for heroes and challenges kind of sucks.

Like I said, though, I’m amazed that there’s been a wealth of changes already from Valve to fix things that players are noticing: this isn’t something that’s released as a novelty in order to sit on the shelf and rot. This is the next life of Dota 2, and hopefully one that will last as long as possible.

In short, it’s pretty awesome from the get-go, but what’s really great is that this is only the foundation from where things get better.


Matt Demers writes about eSports. He lives in Toronto, and works as a Supervising Editor for theScore eSports. Follow him on Twitter or Twitch.tv, where he streams Dota.

Dota Reborn: Three things I’m excited about

A couple days ago Dota 2 fans were treated to the launch of Reborn, a web page devoted to the updating of… a lot of things.

The first part focused on the out-of-game experience, which includes the client and the way we can watch matches from within it. This is really important, as it serves as a foundation for how we experience Dota: it’s like a city that needs good logistics, because otherwise it becomes a convoluted mess.

As someone who’s played League of Legends since beta, one of my main gripes is that its client is pretty much held together with duct tape. It also lacks certain features that other games — well, let’s be real here, Dota — do really really well. This update reminded me how much I value a good infrastructure and how much I love little bells and whistles.

Here’s three things I like about what the first part of Reborn brings to the table:

1. Improved Viewing Experience

Let’s look at this image. Real time graphs. Minimap. Chat. Ad space for tournaments. Side UI elements that (hopefully) can be hidden. Third-party streams. Hopefully real-time item build/timing information. I’m pretty biased because all this stuff really makes my job easier, but it also makes it easier to step inside the mind of the pro as they’re playing.

Knowing when/how pros get their timings make emulating them easier; obviously I’m not going to be able to be like them completely, but suddenly you have a concrete idea of what’s slow, fast or in-line with how the good people are playing.

2. Hero Tinkering

I’m going to confess that sometimes I play Dota 2 like a dress-up game. I like to see cool combinations of cosmetics, and if I want to test a hero I rarely play, it can be a pain to load up a custom game, make sure cheats are enabled, only to disconnect and recreate because I want to try something else.

It looks like Dota’s going to make it easier to tinker with heroes, and I’m definitely all for that. I’m a huge fan of guides built in to the client (sometimes to a fault) and reading them before I’m in game and under a time pressure will be awesome. I’m also really curious about there being “more information to help you determine if a hero is right for you,” because a question I commonly ask my stacks is “what should I play?”

Sometimes you just need to be nudged in the right direction, and hopefully with the new information the game is going to be tracking on you (see below), it’ll be able to be accurate.

3. Playstyle Analytics

This is the big one for me. I’m not exactly a hardcore data geek, but I love looking at numbers and seeing my performance quantified — even if I suck, tell me where I’m sucking and where I can get better. Even if I don’t end up trying to fix things, at least I know where my strengths lie.

I think that’s why I’m kind of enjoying the 10 Hero Challenge in this year’s Compendium and the associated Coin Challenges; they give me a reason to step outside my comfort zone, and when I accomplish them, I almost always have a moment where I mentally remind myself that it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Sometimes it’s really easy to take those challenges and be self-defeating. With the integration of deeper stats and visualizations, players might at least be able to gain confidence to where they excel so that their shortcomings don’t hit as hard.

It’s this kind of information that helps me invest in playing the game for a longer span of time because I won’t hit roadblocks as hard; if I want to stay and play Dota 2 (which I do), I will have more tools to get more out of the game and learn from mistakes.


In the end, I’m happy to see Dota 2 getting a massive upgrade because it makes me feel that Valve cares about their player base; sometimes it’s easy to just feel like you’re funneling money into the game, but at least large, sweeping improvements like this show that complaints aren’t being ignored.

In the Reddit reaction thread to this update, someone said that this literally took concerns from the past two years and fixed them all at once. Then someone else reminded people that this was the first of three parts to Reborn. I legitimately felt like a game I enjoy was both secure for the future and in good hands.

That’s something I’m really not used to.


Matt Demers is a Toronto writer who is a Supervising Editor for theScore eSports. He’s also still waiting for replays in League of Legends. Follow him on Twitter and Twitch, where he streams Dota 2.

This hurts to write

Like many people my age, I got hooked on computers early on in my life. I remember playing games like Dangerous Dave, Monster Bash and Commander Keen, which led to Dota 2, League of Legends and others today.

I also was a pretty big journal kid. My parents divorced early, and I spent a lot of time writing out feelings because the privacy was attractive. Something secret, safe and secure meant that I could just vent. I felt like a spy, carrying important thoughts and information with me in a book.

The two combined, and here I am, writing. The problem, through, is that the last year has spawned issues with my hands. I sit down at a desk, start working or playing, then realize that pain is an inevitability. The back of my hands burn. My joints ache. My fingertips get numb.

Coming from someone who sees my grandma’s arthritic fingers stick out at odd angles, this is terrifying.

The easy thing (and what most people suggest) is breaks, but it feels like I cannot afford them. I have no complaints about my job, as they have been accommodating — what sucks is just a feeling of helplessness.

Silent keys means you’re not writing. Silent keys means you’re not playing. Silent keys means you’re not improving. Silent keys mean that other people are getting ahead.

Again: terrifying.

As a tall guy at six-foot-three, it’s hard to make things comfortable . Chairs, desks and monitors are all too short. I’ve had to improvise with phone books, exercise balls or jury-rigged shelving. It reminds me that my body is weird, non-standard, and clumsy. I don’t fit. Breaks exacerbate this.

If you’re trying to correct years of bad posture, the pain on back, wrists and neck can be a bit of a shock. You make these changes and tell yourself that it’ll pay off in the long run, but it’s easy to fall back into comfortable habits to stop pain.

But if you’re in my position, where your hands are your life, there can’t be a compromise. It’s either fix this, or shorten your time doing what you enjoy. It’s a tough choice, but a necessary one: I cannot afford to give up now, or leave the game early. I have a responsibility to myself to keep living this dream I’ve earned for myself while still having a (relatively) pain-free future.

It’s time to sit up straight.


Matt Demers is a Supervising Editor for theScore eSports. He enjoys tea and hip hop. Follow him on Twitter.