update 2020: guides are still live and actively updated on a routine basis
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:
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.
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 growing stronger. 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. To note that, again, this is the not key reason I am ending the hero builds, it is exactly as stated: I have achieved everything I wanted with the guides and I no longer feel motivated continuing this free project.
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
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.
Thank you for being my friends and giving me a purpose. You’ve made this relatively ordinary person achieve something pretty extraordinary.
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 – 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.