A decade ago, the first The International (TI1) was played, and back then Dota 2 didn’t have chat wheels or sprays to tilt the enemy. Instead, teams had to rely on other methods to play mind games and get inside their opponent’s heads.

Team Secret captain Clement “Puppey” Ivanov’s recently revealed the tactics teams used in TI1 to unnerve their opponents in Valve’s TI Memories video series.



Dota 2 and The International were very different a decade ago

Dota 2 early released heroes

Dota 2 has changed a lot in the past decade. Aside from gameplay changes such as additional heroes, mechanics, and balance updates, Dota 2 has also had many additions such as cosmetics, chat wheels, HUD updates, and terrains.

The competitive scene was different a decade ago as well. Back then tournaments were often arranged in cybercafes with modest prize pools. Even TI1, the most prestigious event at the time had both teams in the same booth, sharing the same table with only a glass wall separating them.

This shared space between rival teams led to interesting mind games being used during the days of TI1.


Desks and trash bags were all part of the mind games at TI1

Dota 2 The International 2011's winning team, Natus Vincere featuring Puppey, Dendi, and, XBOCT in one of the first Dota 2 documentaries, "free to Play".
Credit: Valve

With competing teams sharing the same booth and desk during their matches at TI1, this led to rivals trying to get into their opponent’s heads during matches through rather unorthodox means.

Puppey explained that during their matches with Chinese teams, the Chinese teams would shake the desk whenever they got kills or made plays. This desk shaking was eventually stopped by tournament admins due to how disruptive it was to all players.

Puppey wasn’t going to take these tactics lying down. NaVi players would counter desk shaking by standing up and yelling anytime NaVi got a pick off. With only a thin glass wall separating the teams, NaVi’s opponents would see and hear this.

To avoid NaVi’s mind games, Chinese teams started to bring large trash bags to cover their side of the glass wall. This way they can avoid seeing their opponents during matches. An interesting way to avoid playing mind games altogether.

The esports scene has evolved a lot since the days of TI1. It will be fascinating to see what happens in the next 10 years and how the competitive scene will continue to grow.

Hungry for more Dota 2 action? Check out the Heroes of the Game documentary presented by foodpanda.

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