Ben “Noxville” Steenhuisen – DOJO Madness – Expanding Shadow.gg to Dota 2

Berlin based esports startup DOJO Madness has announced the expansion of its analytics software for professional esports teams, Shadow.gg, to Dota 2.

The expansion sees Shadow Dota 2 provide teams with the power to scout any professional team through access to aggregated data and precise replay parsing, all with a smooth and easy interface. The product gives professional teams the opportunity to simplify complex analytics to identify patterns as well as harnessing real-time data on key opponents to visually display data to expose trends, gain further insight and create strategic advantages.

The tool was used by three teams at The International 2017 and its development has been overseen by DOJO Madness Shadow Dota 2 Product Lead, Ben “Noxville” Steenhuisen, a man well known in the Dota 2 scene for his work in statistics. Noxville has extensive experience working at The International 5 and 6, as well as working with studios such as ESL, PGL, DreamHack, Twitch and Beyond the Summit over the years. He also runs the community statistics site that many use for data on professional Dota 2 games, datdota.

Noxville stated in a release: “We aim to provide cutting-edge tools professional gamers need to outpace their opponents. Every professional match featuring every kill, smoke, bit of movement, draft decision; every action teams care about is is captured, processed and stored on Shadow. Shadow Dota 2 delivers the ultimate data unlock in gaming”.

Muriëlle “Kips” Huisman, former coach for TNC and current coach for Vega Squadron commented “With Shadow, I spend significantly less time gathering statistics and can instead turn my focus to successfully coaching my team. Improving the team is a full-time job, and thanks to Shadow I can easily brief my guys on what’s coming at them when we’re playing officials”.

We spoke to Ben “Noxville” Steenhuisen around the challenges in esports data and what’s next for the company.


ESI: How key is the use of aggregated data in Dota 2 analytics? Does it provide a key to success?

Noxville: Without some benchmark for what is ‘normal’ for a team – players, coaches and analysts have no easy way to establish when they’re trying to change how they approach the game. Aggregated data provides an easy way to look for weaknesses in specific teams, or groups of teams – and then find ways in which you can exploit it.

Shadow Dota 2 in action

ESI: Certain players have always been more reluctant to use data analysts within their coaching setup – do you think those types of players will be interested in what you’ve built?

Noxville: I think there’s a pretty large amount of misinformation and confusion in these types of discussions. We aren’t advocating that teams should have a person telling the players which heroes to pick based on their 54% win-rate in some irrelevant far-away tournament. Instead, data analysts (and as a result data analysis tools like Shadow) should be viewed as resources for the team – able to answer specific questions that may arise, or inspire exploration into facets of a team’s play.

ESI: There’s recently been issues early in the Dota season with games not being played on ticket. Does this affect your data or does it just add a manual element to have games added in?

Noxville: At the start of the season, there were minor delays with some tickets – but this seems mostly resolved now. In the future, Shadow aims to have functionality to upload any private games (for example off-ticket matches, and/or scrims) into your private account. This way teams can use the tools they’re familiar with on any game (both within our extensive library and their own games).

“Public data access also ensures that the history of esports remains intact – almost every competitive game is preserved for all time.”

ESI: DOJO has various applications around League of Legends, yet this is the first big Dota 2 launch. What’s next for the company?

Noxville: CS:GO was our first Shadow sub-team, and also our first launched product. We launched League of Legends in July, and now it’s Dota 2’s turn! We’re always looking for new titles to expand into, either in Shadow (our market-leading analytics software for professional esports teams) or Sumo (DOJO’s apps aimed at more casual gamers).

Shadow’s Ward Heatmap

ESI: Do you foresee a future where each game publisher provides an open API for data or will it continue to be a minefield? Do publishers recognise the benefits of open access?

Noxville: Open access comes with massive potential rewards for the playerbase and only limited costs to set up. One of the most difficult things for a title like Overwatch, for example, is the limited access to rich statistics that Dota 2, LoL and CS:GO communities take for granted. Limited data access is the first hurdle for any community to overcome – and this barrier to entry dissuades so many cool projects and initiatives from getting off the ground. One really can’t argue against the huge value that these 3rd party tools and projects bring to the title and it’s community: massive engagement from their dedicated fan bases, and furthering the competition and complexity of the game itself. Enabling access to data seem like the most optimal route for publishers to take.

From another perspective, public data access also ensures that the history of esports remains intact – almost every competitive game is preserved for all time. We’re able to go back and review any aspect of the past we want. Traditional sports don’t have this luxury, it’s a game-changer for esports.