When the Dota Pro Circuit (“DPC”) was initially created, it was met with optimism by the community. Many fans welcomed the idea that Valve was going to have a more active role with the community. Valve taking an active role theoretically meant no tournament overlapping and that organizers would be held accountable. This new Circuit would give third party organizers the ability to host a Major or Minor as long as they could meet Valve’s new tournament standards. Organizers who wished to host a Minor or Major would have to have a LAN finale, six regional qualifiers, and would have to have either a prize pool of 150,000 USD (£108, 760) for a Minor or $500,000 USD (£362,534) for a Major. With this brand new system in place, we overlooked a potential flaw in the system; what happens if a DPC event is cancelled?
Late last year, the Dota 2 community was notified that Global Electronic Sports Championship (“GESC”) would be cancelling two of their minors; GESC: Singapore and GESC: Kuala Lumpur. A hopeful ‘Coming Soon’ notice is still beside the cancelled events.
Alongside this was a promising notice that they will be following through with their other two tournaments. What this means is that 600 Qualifying points and $600,000 USD (£448,000) has effectively vanished from the season. Along with the disappointing cancellation of GESC’s even events, earlier this fall David “LD” Gorman announced that Beyond the Summit (BTS) was not able to come to an agreement NGE to produce a Major.
This leaves lesser known teams a smaller chance at qualifying for the International. Minors provide an opportunity for lower tier teams to compete and qualify for the event. When minors are cancelled these lesser known teams are forced to compete at Majors where the qualifiers are stacked with tough competition. Peter “ppd” Dager argued that smaller teams, like OpTic Gaming, have to compete in as many qualifiers as possible to hope to make it to the event. The time teams have to dedicate to qualifiers is limited and some top tier teams won’t attempt to compete at every event because it’s draining on the players. Top tier teams will omit participating in some smaller events to allow their players the time to dedicate to the more lucrative event, the Majors.
Unlike the GESC minors, the major still sits in the DPC calendar. It’s unclear whether Valve will find another organizer to produce the major. This reduces the chances for smaller teams to qualify for events and ultimately, clashes with the original message that the DPC had; structuring and developing the competitive community.
The creation of the DPC signalled a much need change for the competitive scene. The DPC has changed the way the competitive Dota 2 scene functions and at a great benefit to all those in the scene. Organizers are being for the productions now that Valve has become more involved with its competitive scene. This also allows for smaller organizers to have the support of Valve in the creation and execution of events. Unlike last year where only two or three production companies monopolized tournament production and there were but two Valve majors prior to The International, this year Valve is aiding in the development of smaller production organizations.
But at what cost?
Regional growth could be damaged
Tournaments held in underdeveloped competitive regions like Singapore or Malaysia allow for major regional growth for both players and fans. When Valve instructed all tournaments to have South American qualifiers, we immediately saw the effect it had on teams like SG e-sports who were finally able to compete instead of failing to qualify in heavily ping restricted “American” Qualifiers. Participating in tournaments around the world means exposure for teams and, in the case of South America, a dramatic increase in awareness of their teams.
The cancellation of GESC’s two minors will likely mean regional growth will stagnate. It is almost certain that Valve will not replace the cancelled GESC tournaments. These cancellations affect the players, the tournament sponsors, but most of all, the fans of the game. We’ve seen tremendous support in recent years from players in the SEA region. ESL One Manila and the Manila Major are just two shining examples of the how the community responded to tournaments being held in their region. Fans were able to experience grandeur of the a live Dota 2 event, show their support of their favourite team at autograph signing events and buy game memorabilia to help continue the success of Dota 2. Losing Minors in such a developing region hurts the teams but it also has a great impact on the community.
Valve’s imperfect system
The changes that Valve made to the tournament system acknowledged some of the faults that the previous seasons had: few approved production companies to hold events, limited growth for lower tier teams and stagnate community growth in underdeveloped regions. Valve’s changes acknowledged most of the faults but hasn’t put in fail safes to ensure this problems don’t continue.
Since the cancellation of GESC’s two minors, the Galaxy Battles tournament has had its Major status revoked. Upon learning that participants of the event would have to undergo drug testing as per Philippine drug laws, Valve removed the Major status of the tournament but allowed the event to proceed. The importance of having Valve remove the Major status lies in this “grey” area that Valve has decided to take. Their involvement in the scene has gone from minimal to somewhat engaged and this leads to issues like Galaxy Battles. Should Valve had known the laws of the Philippines that apply to all professional athletes ahead of them approving a Major in the Philippines? It really feels like Valve hovers on the edge of being an engaged governing body but just doesn’t want to fully commit.
Issues like GECS and Galaxy Battles will continue to create instability in the DPC if Valve refuses to become more involved. The instability that these issues create harm the growth of the community and of the competitive scene. The inaugural DPC season has demonstrated why a cohesive and organized season benefits everyone involved. It has also shown what can happen when organizers fall through on their obligations.