[UPDATE: The 2012 Dota 2 International Championship has begun. If you're interested in watching it, you can do so here.]
Well, Valve certainly seems to be taking Dota 2 very seriously! And with good reason, I’d say.
You might know New Zealand-based prop and merchandise production company WETA Workshop, from their stunning work on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (though I guess I should start getting used to calling it a hexalogy, or something).
You might also know that they’re on very good terms with Valve – after all, they did create that amazing TF2 sentry gun replica which is still on display inside Valve’s lobby. They’re also the original designers behind the Dr. Grordbort line of Team Fortress 2 items, and real-life “aether oscillator” replica rayguns.
Well, now they’re going to start producing actual Valve-themed merchandise. Earlier this week, WETA announced that they would be creating and marketing “collectible statues, weapons and armor” from Valve’s very own Dota 2.
The first items in this line of WETA-produced Dota 2 merchandise will be on display at the 2012 International Dota 2 Championship, which starts tomorrow, on the 31st of August. In addition, WETA Workshop actually created this year’s International championship trophy, which will go to the winning team alongside the $1 million grand prize.
These WETA-produced Dota 2 items will be available for pre-order from WETA’s Dota 2 section, starting at 9AM US Pacific Time, tomorrow.
But that’s not all Valve is working on, with regards to Dota 2 merchandise. The honorable Matthew “Cyborgmatt” Bailey was recently invited and flown over by Valve, to attend the International in Seattle.
Just in case you were wondering, yours truly remains at home; patiently awaiting an invitation to the… Ricochet 2 International, or something – Valve, you’ve been warned.
But in any case – along with the competing teams, Cyborgmatt was invited to Valve HQ, where he took snaps of (and received) some very sensitive material (read: swag), including, but not limited to… Dota 2 trading cards! Much like the Team Fortress 2 trading cards before them, these things are… substantially fancy and indubitably shiny. I can now safely close my thesaurus, because it’s time to show you pictures of things.
That’s the trading cards. Next up are what seem to be store display panels for the International’s on-location swag shops.
They’ve certainly got a lot of stuff on sale! Note that they are bundling in-game Dota 2 items with some of the stuff being sold on location.
Looks like this… in-game Zonkey Courier (the terrifying lovechild of a donkey and a zebra) will be bundled with items #29 (the inflatable Donkey Courier, priced at $25 to $40) and #31 (the plush Donkey Courier, priced at $25).
Seems like a full pack of trading cards (pricey, $40) will contain one of the three exclusive International Couriers. You can only get these three guys during the International, through two other ways:
- Opening an in-game International Treasure Chest (there’s two types of International Treasure Chests: the Treasure of Champions, and the Treasure of Challengers – each type contains 8 different items), using a special International Treasure Key, which you can buy from the Dota Store;
- Or through getting Tournament Class item drops, during actual matches in the championship, by wearing an International Team Pennant.
But wait – there’s more! Apparently, WETA are not the only ones working on Dota merchandise, and theirs won’t be the only one being shown off at the International! Take a look:
Looks fancy – why, I had no idea Hellboy was in Dota! Here’s a closer shot:
Yeah, this guy looks cool. This means that NECA will be producing Dota action figures and such, while WETA will be handling the crazy stuff like armor, weapons and statues.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on the International, if that’s your thing. Earlier this month, Valve released the Dota 2 Spectator Client for free, to all Steam users, and that’s how you’ll be able to watch the International. The Spectator Client is offered as part of the actual Dota 2 game application, so if you’ve already got the game (through the beta survey, or through buying an access pass from the Dota Store), you won’t need to install anything else.
Strangely enough, they’ve also made Dota 2 available within the Valve Complete Pack. I suppose we can’t be too far away from its release now, and once that’s out of the way, who knows what’s next for Valve? Let’s not forget that Dota 2 is probably the biggest project they’ve ever tackled in a very long time. In fact, its development team is almost 100 employees strong, which is nearly a third of Valve. Although I’m sure a good part of the team will remain to handle post-release support. Which isn’t a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, though.
Let’s just hope we get to see some more newbie-friendly features within Dota 2 before it launches – hell, even CS:GO had a tutorial, as well as a L4D-style instructor!
News of Cyborgmatt’s sneaky picture-taking, via DotaN.