Lights, Camera, Aghs-tion! The Best of the Dota 2 Short Film Contest 2021
The Short Film Contest returns for TI10 - and the submissions are as impressive as ever.
Entries for the Dota 2 Short Film Contest 2021 closed yesterday on July 25th, and there’s a stacked lineup this year. The winner of the contest will not only be featured during The International 2021, but Valve is awarding huge prize money.
$25,000 to 1st place; $10,000 to 2nd place; $5,000 to 3rd place; and $500 to each of the other seven finalists. It’s one of the biggest film competitions in the video gaming space, and it’s no surprise the competition is so high quality again this year.
But with all the entries, it can be hard to decide who deserves your vote. So we’ve compiled a list of some of the best entries we could find, with details of how to vote for them.
If you have issues with the vote link, use an alternative browser or vote for the piece directly in the Steam application.
First channeling the frustration of seeing your base destroyed while you sit through your respawn timer, the tone quickly shifts. Instead we get an adorable story about Couriers trying to defend the throne. Desperately using the items they usually just ferry about the map, making the couriers the stars of this short was a stroke of genius. On top of being incredibly technically impressive, this is just an entertaining video.
W200ME (Dota Cinema)
An entry by the big name in the Dota SFM community, W200ME from Dota Cinema, Wombo Combo gives another worryingly relatable feeling: the botched Chrono. This one hits close to home, but the real special part of it is the use of in-game voice lines. It turns this cinematic from a quick meme animation to something very cool indeed.
Blood & Fire
A more dark and brooding video than the rest, Blood & Fire sees Dragon Knight take on the forces of the Dire in an ashen wasteland to capture an outpost. This one really paints DK as an completely badass, as he fights his way to his objective. It also succeeds in making taking an outpost, one of the most benign things in Dota 2, seem utterly hardcore.
Beadie n’ Mortimer: The Start of a Lifetime Friendship
Just as the title says, this SFM video aims to show just how the duo of Beadie n’ Mortimer came together to become the duo that makes up Snapfire. With great use of the hero’s voice lines, this one manages to pull at the heart strings as it tells its story. Short but definitely sweet.
New heroes are always some of the best to mess around with for SFM content, because their lore is fresh and exciting. That’s what we get with Valora’s Rebirth. Cosmic and conceptual, this short really puts across Dawnbreaker’s aeons-old lineage and her dramatic return to power.
In one of the most impressive live-action pieces I’ve ever seen in the Dota 2 Short Film contest, this short tells the story of Filomena confronting her estranged father, Carl, the Invoker. Using lore that’s especially in the forefront of people’s minds due to the release of Dota: Dragon’s Blood, this heart-string tugging film also has amazing costuming and special effects.
The Last Imperator
In one of the most visually impressive entries this year, Spirit Breaker takes on Spectre in a battle to the death. It’s the lighting and lightning effects that sell this piece. It shows off the relative ‘power-levels’ of these two heroes (lore-wise), while also giving us a remarkably impressive fight scene.
Going the full-humour route doesn’t always work, but what’s fun about this short is that it is very much in the vein of wider SFM animation ‘culture’ (for lack of a better word). The exaggerated poses, crude humor, and sometimes (deliberately) janky animation, reminds you that not all of these shorts have to be cinematic masterpieces. They just have to be entertaining!
The “Spectre is Phantom Assassin in the future” speculation/theory/100% confirmed fanon is some of the juiciest pieces of lore out there. And while we’ll likely never have a full answer to confirm these details, Phantom Singularity does show us a hint of what a feature length Phantom Assassin movie could be like. It’s like if the Phantom Assassin Loregasm got shrunk down into 50 seconds!
Finally, the question that’s been on all Dota player’s minds for the longest time has been answered: What if Axe was your roommate? Well turns out it would be pretty sucky. This video combines live action with SFM images to makes something humorous and impressive.
Capturing what it’s like to be a new player in Dota 2 while also having us engage with the heroes is a difficult task, but Lessons manages that. Showing the journey from newb to natural, and from mentor to rival, this short is relatable, but also peaks with a dramatic twist.
And those are some of the best entries we could find. The winners of the competition are announced at TI10. Additional details of the competition can be found here.