Wang Theatre Staff on the Boston Major: “The people are really, really nice.”

With only 2,800 seats available for the Grand Finals, Boston’s Wang Theatre was much, much smaller than other Major venues. While the limited space was new for a Dota event, hosting a video game tournament was completely new to the staff. Theater employees were not given any special instructions or information for working at the Boston Major—but they had a great time.

“It’s a video game championship. That’s all we knew. And work is work,” said Robin Jones, assistant chief usher. She’s worked at the Wang since 1978 and says the Dota 2 crowd has been the best audience she’s seen in her years at the theater. “Every one of my ushers is commenting on how nice the crowd has been. And [the ushers have] been enjoying it. They’ve never seen this thing before and they’re all like ‘Do you know what’s going on?’ ‘No, do you know?’ ‘No.’ But we’re having fun,” Jones said.

“Every one of my ushers is commenting on how nice the crowd has been. And [the ushers have] been enjoying it. They’ve never seen this thing before and they’re all like ‘Do you know what’s going on?’ ‘No, do you know?’ ‘No.’ But we’re having fun,” Jones said.

Diana Deyermenjian, an usher with the theater for about a year, worked only the last day of the Major. “I was curious as to what this was about, having come in totally cold,” she said. “The first thing a fellow worker said to me was ‘Oh, the people are really, really nice.’'” Deyermenjian explained that, from an usher point of view, the action on stage is only a small part of the job. “[H]ow the crowd interacts and treats you really makes a huge difference…whatever the performance happens to be.”

Throughout the theater, the enthusiasm and energy of the fans was contagious. One female usher, old enough to be the grandmother of the players, did not recognize anything on the stage except for the country flags. But that didn’t stop her from trying to understand; she asked several fans “Did the American teams win?”

Other staff members asked about game mechanics or why the audience seemed to start shouting at random times. “It was cool that, by the end of the event, the theater staff would ask how games were going and who had won the last one,” said Natalie French, event attendee.

A view from the audience that shows large screens with Dota on the stage of the Wang Theatre.
The Boston Major at the Wang Theatre

The stage lighting effects and in-game graphics were fascinating to theater employees who were unfamiliar with the world of video games. “The other night, I said ‘Oh my god, look, there are shadows when the dragons are flying, you see shadows on the ground,'” Jones said. “The graphics, the colors, and how beautiful it is to look at.”

Outside the main doors, the security team also had a smooth experience dealing with Dota fans. “We planned for this several months ago,” said James Carozza, security supervisor. “From my perspective of security, it went very well.” He explained that the Shubert Theatre across the street shares stock and staff with the Wang Theatre, and the Shubert also had a full performance schedule the week of the Major. Fortunately, there were no major issues at either theater. “No medical problems, not one call…not one incident report written in four days,” Carozza said.

One unexpected arrival? The amount of equipment required for the tournament. “My boss has [spent] 30 years doing shows here and Broadway,” Carozza said. “This was the biggest load-in of five days of 25 trucks, the [biggest] amount of equipment..and servers and computers we’ve ever seen…Pretty impressive.”

“My boss has [spent] 30 years doing shows here and Broadway,” Carozza said. “This was the biggest load-in of five days of 25 trucks, the [biggest] amount of equipment..and servers and computers we’ve ever seen…Pretty impressive.”

Theater staff ordered additional concessions to stock both the Wang Theatre and Shubert Theatre, but the supply could not keep up with the demand. “We ordered a bunch of stuff before you guys came, and we’re running low on that…You guys are crushing us,” said Billy D., theater concessions employee. The most popular items? “Sapporo beer went the fastest. And pretzels. We sold out of pretzels.”

During the Major, some Dota fans were calling each other out on Reddit and Discord about the amount of trash left in the theater. However, Jones noted that the amount of garbage was no worse than other shows she’s worked, and was actually much better than usual during the first few days.

She shared the story of one fan who was very concerned about keeping the place clean:

“I had a kid the other night who split a muffin with his friend. And he got crumbs on the carpet. He came up looking for something to clean it up with, and I said ‘It’s okay, it’s the last game of the match. We’re done for the night and the cleaners are coming through…’ He said ‘No, no, no, I really want to clean it up. I feel bad that I made a mess.'”

The interaction left a positive impact on Jones, who said Major attendees generally did a great job of picking up their garbage.

The overall success of the Boston Major left theater employees wanting more. Each staff member interviewed said that they would love to see Dota return to the theater or even host a different video game tournament. “We’d welcome them back with open arms,” Carozza said. Jones said that she approached the building manager to tell him that the Dota crew could come back “any time they want.”

While the Wang Theatre staff may not show up in your ranked games any time soon, the experience inspired at least one employee to learn more about the game. Jones intends to read up on Dota after the Major ends. “Will it make me a gamer? Probably not, but I will definitely look up [the game] and try to figure out what I was watching,” she said.

Disclosure notice: Several staff members received a Dota 2 emoticharm pin in an unrelated interaction before being interviewed. The reporter received a complimentary bottle of water during the interview process.