Game Six

Game ID: 466733511 (download) (Place replay in the “replays” folder found in “steam/steamapps/common/dota 2 beta/dota” and it should show up in the downloaded replays section under the “Watch” tab.)

It Was Always Going To Happen

Someone asked me once about my perverse need to tempt fate. I told them that I owned a lot of wooden furniture.

Things had been looking good lately. The sun was out, the wind had stopped, and even my dark moods meant I could listen to some decent music for a change. I’m not saying it was the life of Riley, but I didn’t have anything to complain about. That right there should have made me nervous, made me wary. I’d always planned to go clean one day, and if I had known it could be this good I wouldn’t have waited so long.

She found me at my favourite little joint in Koreatown. I say “found,” because that’s what happened. Not to say I was hiding, but I wasn’t looking, either. She sat down across from me and put her story on the tiny lacquered table like I was supposed to care. I’d seen her type before: lanes that went all the way up to the river and towers in all the right places. With a setup like that she’d have an endless supply of creeps willing to throw their lives away for her. She called herself Radiant, and there was no reasonable grounds from which to argue the point.

So I listened. It wasn’t much of a story, but the important bits were in there: a sister, a really bad sister. And not bad in any way that’s fun. They had a beef going as far back as mattered, and now they had decided to finally settle the score. This Radiant broad was looking for one more poor sap to take up her cause, and it looked like that was going to be me.

I got up before her–I’m not above letting a dame pay my tab, not when that dame is a my client–and only had one thing left to ask. “How did you find me?”

She looked up from her purse, eyes big and dark like black ice. Not safe. “Gaben.” That should have been it. Any reasonable person would have known to get out then and there. I’d heard the stories: Gaben put teams together like a man with a sawn-off shotgun put shots on a bull’s eye. But I was riding high, and all I did was shrug, loop my knitted purple scarf around my neck, and walk away.

The Team game 6 start

I only saw Radiant one more time. Seemed she was the hands-off type. Or maybe she was too busy sending angry texts to her sister, who I could see in the distance, platinum hair blown back by a wind I couldn’t feel. Dire didn’t look quite as bad from here, but I could tell that she wouldn’t be any more fun to work for. She finished reading her phone’s display, then exploded in a fit of rage. She crushed the phone with one hand and spiked it into the muddy ground before turning to her assembled team–as surly a gang of ne’er-do-wells as I’d ever seen–and started screaming at them in a fashion that would make a Drill Sergeant cringe. No fun at all.

Radiant put her own phone away and smiled at us. “It’s time to get to work. Code names from now on.” She snapped her fingers and disappeared in a flash of white light. Which was a little weird, sure, but you get used to that sort of thing in this game.

So the five of us looked each other over and silently drew straws. I went 3rd and still got the short one. Looks like I was going to be supporting.

“I’m going mid,” said Blue, who was already on his phone as he walked away, speaking loudly so we could all hear. “Last game? I went AFK at 8 minutes. It went on for a half hour longer.” Clues. Something smelled fishy, and there was no Naga around.

“Why do I have to be Yellow?” whined Yellow.

“At least you’re not Purple,” said Purple, who was glaring at Blue like his eyes were lighting guns. Maybe he wasn’t a big Ninja Turtles fan. Purple is a fine colour.

“Just take your safe lane, I’ll go top with Yellow, see if we can’t get some damage done,” I said.

Teal shrugged, threw the weirdest looking snail I’d ever seen at our feet, and wandered off as well. “I’ll be in the jungle.” I’d heard that one before.

The horn blew. A primeval sound. An ancient sound. A sound that told me it was time to hurt someone or die trying.

I grabbed my gear, GG Branches x3, Gauntlets of Strength x2, Tangos x1, and took off as quickly as I could, which wasn’t very quick at all. We were already late.

First Blood

I’m not going to lie. I was nervous. I don’t feel diminished for admitting that. Something about this felt bad. You could ask me then and you could ask me now if it was a setup, and I’d say no, but maybe those nuts downtown who hold up signs and scream at people about the vast matchmaking conspiracy have a point.

Actually, that’s dishonest. Even at my lowest points I didn’t believe it. Excuses weigh on the mind like an anchor, preventing any sort of progress and eventually dragging you down to the bottom. There is no conspiracy. But I was still nervous, and it was holding us back.

Purple almost managed it a couple times, maybe with a bit more aggressive use of his Magic Wand he’d have gotten it, and things might have turned out different. But in the end it happened in my lane, and that makes it my fault. Storm Spirit came at us with backup, a horde of those mindless creeps, and there was no way to get to him, no way to stop him when he put his sights on Yellow and took him down. That singular moment was the effect after a lot of cause, and somewhere down the line we could have changed it, flapped our little butterfly wings and done something different. But we didn’t. At 5 minutes, 20 seconds into the game Yellow gave up First Blood.

Blue immediately tried to get one back and dove deep, eventually killing Death Prophet behind Dire’s mid tower. But Leshrac, always a wily bastard, was there as well, and Blue died like he was getting paid.

Maybe he was.

They came for Purple next, out of the fog, rolling behind a smoke screen like the haze outside a bar at midnight. Except you can’t smoke in bars anymore. They came with a fog like they were carrying dry ice in their pockets. No, that just sounds dumb. It doesn’t matter. They were smoked up and they got the drop on him. He tried to fight back, but the mouse rarely manages to get his own in against a cat, and he gets even less when there are 3 cats. Purple was not happy.

I Have an 8 Minute Silence Stick

That’s what we heard. Storm Spirit kicked Blue’s broken body away, having thwarted his gank attempt, and was ready to pick up his artillery. An Orchid that early was liable to get us all killed. I wasn’t feeling very lucky.

Maybe Purple was concussed, maybe he was caught up in the zen of last hitting creeps in an empty lane, maybe he was absent minded. Maybe he was just a little dumb. The reason is less important than the result, which was a free kill for Storm Spirit and his new Orchid.

“And Purple’s surprised,” said Blue.

Then Legion Commander slunk out of their jungle with a Shadow Blade and shoved her sword far enough up Yellow that the last thing he tasted was freshly killed mud golem.

Back to Hearthstone

Barely 10 minutes in and Blue threw in the towel so he could go play a card game. “I lasted 2 minutes longer than my last game,” he said, as if that was a victory for anyone. He spent the rest of the match at our fountain, only leaving every 5 minutes so he wouldn’t attract the attentions of the man on high. The authorities don’t take kindly to loitering.

I’m not new to the game. I know what it is, what the stakes are. The participants may change–before Radiant and Dire were at each other’s throats it was those asshole brothers Sentinel and Scourge, and they weren’t any better–but the reasons are the same. Or, I should say, the lack of seasons.

When someone gets called up like that, stuck in a battle with 4 other suckers against 5 more suckers, all at the whim of some chick that’s more concerned with throwing V-signs at her sister than with whether or not anyone lives or dies, they know the deal. It’s not like history lacks for battles so pointless that everyone on both sides could have stayed home, but they were out there bleeding and dying anyway. It may be 5 minutes later, or 5 years later, but in the end the results become less important than the experiences taken away by the guys who were spilling that blood. It’s the bonds that are formed, the camaraderie, that matter.

Of course, those 5 random suckers aren’t going to form any bonds. Why would they, when they can blame each other instead? Maybe if any of us had friends we wouldn’t be in this mess. Maybe if we weren’t assholes we’d have friends.

Did I deserve that game? Does anyone deserve a game like that? Was there an act of hubris that caused some sort of quantum manipulation of shared quarks to give me a bad game? No. That’s dumb. Sometimes you roll 1s. Sometimes you open a bottle of Coke and it explodes in your hand, ruining the book you’d just bought and it was a hardcover and is anyone going to pay for that? The lesson is to wait for the paperback, or better yet, get the audiobook.

game 6 end

When it all ended, when the dust and blood and hate were finally settling, I turned to leave. There was only one thing left to say.

Still, I wish I hadn’t forgotten to report Blue.

Dire Victory

Ranked solo queue record: 4-2

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