Dota 2 Hero Builds Project ends after six years, 364 Million subscriptions

Summary

After six years, the Dota 2 Hero Builds Project is ending. The reason is that I have achieved everything I wanted with the guides and I no longer feel motivated continuing this free project.

The choice was to either start asking for financial support to continue my responsibilities or to move onto new ideas I want to do. I’ve chosen the latter.

Volunteering My Life

I’ve been volunteering my time for the past 10 years simultaneously with my education and career:

1. Before esports, I volunteered at a Jewish retirement center between my classes
2. I rewrote TeamLiquid.net’s original FAQ
3. I created StarCraft/esports university clubs around my city (Montreal): UQAM, Concordia, McGill
4. I hosted local community viewing events called Barcrafts Montreal (4x)
5. I worked on StarCraft events for our local LAN: LAN ETS, NASL Toronto Finals and Blizzard’s WCS Canada.
6. I acted as a player-manager for teams: Root Gaming, Infinity Seven, Team Dynamic, VT Gaming, Quantic Gaming
7. I wrote for many esports websites: Team Liquid, D-Esports, ESFI World
8. I published in-game Dota Hero Builds

Had a lot of fun creating many BarCraft Montreal events during StarCraft II and MLG’s heyday.

For the guides, I’ve learned everything there is to learn and the project itself was no longer being done for my enjoyment. I’ll only volunteer to do something if I can learn from the experience or I genuinely enjoy the work. Simply put, I just want to do things and it stems from a personal insecurity to prove myself:

In my PCGamesN interview, the writer only published a portion of my answers, here is the full quote. I’ve mentioned similar aspects about me on other podcasts and interviews as well.

Overall, I’m a pretty unremarkable person. I’m not inherently personable, talented in games, in general knowledge or any actual abilities. All I got going for me is my desire to be proactive and contribute and I feel its important to pursue that sole quality that distinguishes myself.

Negativity

The project has hit a ceiling of success and the amount of discrediting (‘you’ve had X item on this hero for six years’), misinformation (‘he’s only 3k MMR’) and personal attacks (‘he’s just trying to be famous’) are stronger than the appreciation I receive nowadays. Since I am not enjoying this negative tone on something I want to do, I will just go do something else. There is a lot to say about handling criticism and negativity and I am not sure I want to dedicate a whole block to this subject but I do know I am sensitive to it but not obliged to accept it. This is contrary to YouTubers, Streamers and casters who have to tolerate a lot of mean stuff from their communities because it’s part of their work and life. That said, It does especially hurt when people who are acquainted with me publicly tell me my guides suck but never reached out to help me improve them. Even pro-players have given me more feedback over the years than the critics who watch or cast their play.

Next Steps

In terms of next steps, I will be trying out new ideas and seeing how I feel about them. Most of the things I’ve done no one has really heard of, even less for my actual jobs. But for me, they have all been enjoyable and hard-working experiences that made me a better person.

For instance, now I want to work on being a more outward person and comfortable on camera. I’ve only had four camera appearances in my life and I have never watched them because I get horrible anxiety/discomfort. To rectify this, I’ve been live-streaming or appearing on people’s live-streams to be more comfortable in front of or talking to an audience.

Placeholder video to help break up text and reading exhaustion. People still talk to me about this video though

Second, I will be trying my hand at hosting a small online Dota show. I’ve produced a lot of types of content but never hosted. I’m hoping it yields community interest and spur support for other content ideas like event coverage or interviews: Patreon.com/TorteDeLini (campaign is paused until I have something to show). I will make a proper announcement of this next week closer to the intended date but its based around improving my actual ability to play Dota 2 as my fundamentals and understanding of the game are average.

Thirdly, I have started writing some personal opinion pieces about the esports industry as a whole. I enjoy giving my expert thoughts on the industry and having a nice display of my knowledge across articles.

Lastly, I’ve just finished my previous esports start-up and considering new projects/options. You can review my career background on LinkedIn: LinkedIn.com/in/MichaelCohenP

Conclusion

After six years, the hero builds project is coming to an end. The achievements of this project are far more reaching than anything said on Reddit, stream or to me in-person and I’ve always been surprised that so many people have enjoyed something I was so passionate about. I do not think I will ever succeed in anything as great as this project but I am very excited to explore what else I can do.

My final message, thank you for the kind comments on my profile. I’ve read (and sometime re-read) every single one across these many years.

Thank you for being my friends and giving me a purpose. You’ve made this relatively ordinary person achieve something pretty extraordinary.

PS: You can always talk to me directly on Discord or catch me live-streaming every week on Twitch.tv/TorteDeLini.



FAQ

Why did you wipe the guides? I mentioned my hiatus as far back as December but I was still getting many messages, on a daily basis, either telling me to update the guides or that they suck/are wrong. In the past I highlighted a concern that users were not converting away from outdated guides, this is to ensure that everyone moves on.

Will you ever bring back the guides?
As mentioned, I’ve achieved everything I want with the project. If there is demand and financial support to bring them back, I’d be happy to retake the position. It will never be something I will personally come back to.

How come you didn’t try to make any money from the project?
It was never my motivation. It was purely an alternative for people who did not want to give direct feedback on how to improve the project. I have tested a few sponsors but quickly realized that the engagement rate was small (0.0003%). Additionally, the guides don’t provide any information (location, daily use, etc.) that can entice sponsors. I’m too average of a player to consider alternative work (e.g: ‘coaching’) and it would conflict with my actual work and responsibilities (and it does not interest me). Lastly, I opened a Patreon but the persistent shaming and backlash made me feel incredibly anxious, so I removed all public mention of it (2016-2018).

Did Dota Plus or other guide-makers influence your decision?
No. Regarding Dota Plus, I wrote in my five-year summary that Dota Plus did not affect my MoM subscription growth (~5.5 Million). Additionally, my guide penetration was 83% of all daily matches whereas Dota Plus has a 56% expiry rate. In terms of other guide-makers, I’ve been providing advice, promotion or help so they can grow because I have always been publicly voicing for more ‘competition’.

What is your MMR? I’ve played ranked for three different seasons and have reached 5K mmr, 4.5K mmr, 4K mmr. I play mostly unranked so I can play whatever hero I want without the extra consequences or pressure. My unranked is definitely lower as I had tested a lot of hero builds with heroes I am not comfortable with.

How come you never waited until the meta settles before updating the guides? The meta is constantly changing, it can take weeks for it to have any sort of settled approach (which can change again). Additionally, for everyone who thinks I should wait, there are about 10x people asking me if I am updating the guides, when can I update the guides, demanding it. Lastly, there were guide-makers who were not following the same thought-process, they would update their builds immediately then abandon them, causing subscribers to be misinformed for months.

Do you ever go back and update the builds after initial guide updates?
Yes, in fact, I regularly do revisions, retractions, adjustments and changes. This sometimes ends up being larger than the initial changes made from the start. Towards the end, my schedule was about 100-400 updates every two weeks depending how off my initial applications were.


I’ll update this FAQ with any other community-related questions.

UPDATE – 10:06cest Feb. 8, 2019 — Did you quit because of the community negativity?
To say yes is to give too much credit to the naysayers and not enough value to those who appreciate the project. The main reason I quit is exactly what I am saying: the project hit a success ceiling and did not garner any more personal value to me. I was not comfortable conditioning the continuation of the guides based on financial support after making it clear that I was doing it for free for so long. Once you hit a certain level of success to something, all there is really left to do is to maintain it and permit criticism to fester and grow. I was not happy doing that and decided to be honest with myself and everyone.

29 Responses

  1. Wellington Claudino February 8, 2019 / 6:05 pm

    Thank you for your contribution, you did great and I support your decision!

  2. AdityaPentyala February 8, 2019 / 6:21 pm

    Thanks a lot for your hard work and wishing you get your dreams full filled whatever your next destinations is

  3. Justin February 8, 2019 / 7:40 pm

    Appreciate your work over the many years – always thought you put in a ton of effort. Best of luck with your next endeavors.

  4. Pyro February 8, 2019 / 7:50 pm

    I was wondering why your guides were dissapearing, well is sad that you’re leaving but to be honest I never expected them to go on forever, I can’t believe how much negativity you got for your guides, they’re awesome and only people with a one-track mind would hate them. Valve’s default guides are an absolute mess and following them is like playing divine courage, yours were more on-point and very often I agreed with your builds.

    Thanks for all your work, dotaplus got nothing on you, good luck on your future projects, dota will not be the same without you.

  5. Tup3l February 8, 2019 / 8:01 pm

    I haven’t played dota for 1,5 years now, but the (6?) years before that I always used your guides while playing. When I got more and more experienced I began tot improvise with my builds but for heroes I didn’t play with that often I always went back to your builds.

    Now I am a father of three and just can’t seem to find the time to pick up the game, and now it’ll become much harder with your guides not being there to back me up.

    So just a big thanks for all the hard work! And best of luck in the future.

  6. Sera February 8, 2019 / 8:05 pm

    Ty for everything Torte, you help me alot, I rly learn things from you guides.

  7. Deshawn February 8, 2019 / 8:23 pm

    Hey man, casual Dota player but love watching it. Just wanted to say that I really appreciate your efforts with your guides. It’s sad that positive feedback is way less prevalent than negative feedback. I guess it’s just one of the truths of life. Negativity is just easier… But I think it’s safe to assume that for every negative thing someone has said regarding your work, there are 10 people who were thankful and positive, but remained quiet. Like me I guess. So, being late to the party, I just wanted to say thanks and good luck with your endeavours. I am sure you will have success wherever you go

  8. Koyomi February 8, 2019 / 9:33 pm

    Thank you for everything, sir!

  9. Josh Laird February 8, 2019 / 10:05 pm

    Best of luck. Even though I haven’t played Dota 2 in 2 years, your guides helped make 2,000 hours of Dota 2 enjoyable.
    Looking forward to what you do next.

  10. Damar A February 8, 2019 / 10:36 pm

    Thank You Sir!
    I may never reach 4k if you didnt make the guide
    I respect your decision
    Thanks for everything <3
    Its time to grow i guess

  11. TheGuywithTheHat February 9, 2019 / 12:56 am

    <3

  12. Colby February 9, 2019 / 1:20 am

    We all miss you over at LD2L. Good luck in your future endeavors. :eggplant:

  13. Alex February 9, 2019 / 2:12 am

    Just wanted to say, as a herald player. I never took ranked too seriously, neither did I take dota. Your guys were part of making it fun, and easy to get into players. I understand why you quit, but thank you so much for your work.

  14. Marky Mark And The Funky Bunch February 9, 2019 / 4:41 am

    Thank you for the many years of guides Torte. I really enjoyed knowing exactly which guide I wanted to start with. I think I’m going to have to browse through a few before games now – as someone who constantly plays different heroes, I appreciated the comfort of your guidance.

  15. Troy February 9, 2019 / 6:37 am

    We Love You Do what your heart desires <3

  16. Bob February 9, 2019 / 6:41 am

    Good job and good luck!

  17. bug-in February 9, 2019 / 9:58 am

    Hi, discover all this just now. I m a noob in Dota, but your guide were usefull. The react from the community you describe is not cool. I hope you will find some challenge in other way like you look to search.

  18. tipsymcswaggart February 9, 2019 / 5:19 pm

    As a player who only used your guides, I can say you will be sorely missed in the community.

    Your contribution to new players who are learning the game, and to players who wish to branch out into unfamiliar, more complex heroes, is gargantuan and immeasurable. Your guides have helped me gain a deeper understanding of each hero, of the item + hero progression dynamic, and of the incredibly complex dota2 game mechanics.

    In summary, without your guides, I probably wouldn’t have had any success with this game, and thus wouldn’t love it the way i do today.

    It is sad to see you leave this project behind, but it is refreshing to see you be so up front about the reasons why you are leaving.

    All the best in the future,
    -Tipsy

  19. Renan February 9, 2019 / 7:16 pm

    Im from Brazil, tank you for your guides help me soo much. Good luck in your next steps

  20. Christian Anderesen February 9, 2019 / 8:13 pm

    Thank you Michael for creating the guides. It made my DotA 2 plays very competitive for a casual lazy player like me. I enjoyed playing because of your guides 🙂

  21. Jun February 10, 2019 / 9:41 am

    I really appreciate your help in hero building up guide. Wish you good luck in your continuous career and life!

  22. Husker February 10, 2019 / 11:16 am

    Thank you for your dedication Mr Cohen! i did enjoy the guides and it was a great way to teach my noob friends how to build and improve. Im sad to see the negativity from the community on your guides and work, as a 6k player i did not see any flaws or mistakes in them. Anyways, Good luck in your future endeavours and thanks again.

    HuskerDu

  23. Iwan February 10, 2019 / 2:07 pm

    Thank you mister Cohen for all your guides, I use it since the first time I play until now. Thank you so much

  24. Justine February 11, 2019 / 5:47 am

    Best of luck in your endeavors! Thank you for creating the guides. Kudos!

  25. David Santos February 11, 2019 / 5:22 pm

    Thanks for all your dedication, as soon as you took them out I felt so lost on every match hehe. I am familiar with almost all of your builds and not having them as a suggestion really sucks 🙁 Good luck on all your future endeavors and again, thanks for sharing all your knowledge!

  26. Alex February 11, 2019 / 7:26 pm

    Love ur guides and hard work, thanks a lot for all ur guides i hope u the best
    Grettings for u my friend.

  27. Matt February 12, 2019 / 6:56 am

    Hey my dude! I loved using your guides and I’m sad to see them go. The game is a little darker now. I just wanted to let you know that I deeply appreciate your work on them, thank you so much for the years of effort. Thank you for putting up with this toxic community. Thank you for everything. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. DotA 2 won’t be the same without you.

    Thank you!

  28. Alberto Benavides February 14, 2019 / 2:03 pm

    Thank you and good luck. Your guides were the best!

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