When Valve introduced the new Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), the way we viewed the competitive Dota 2 scene drastically changed. Back before teams were penalized for changing their rosters, we would see teams dropping players weeks before a major tournament. The magnitude of these changes meant that teams who trained together for months were suddenly left trying to obtain a $23m (£16.2m) dollar prize pool with new teammates. The effect that these last minute changes had on teams left players scrambling to synergize. The expectations of the fans and their organizations added more weight onto their first place aspirations. The chaos of the pre-DPC shuffle emphasised the success a potential line-up would have over the developed and cohesive team they could build. It was a system rules by instant gratification over patience. These last minute drops weren’t too commonplace but they did occur.
Take Evil Geniuses (EG) as an example. Back in January of 2015, Artour “Arteezy” Babaev and Ludwig “Zai” Wåhlberg very abruptly left EG to join Team Secret. This sudden line-up change occurred about a month before the Dota 2 Asia Championships (DAC). Luckily EG was able to fill the two spots with the recently released Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling and the pub star Syed Sumail “Suma1L Hassan. EG went on to win the DAC and succeed against the odds.
This emphasis on the team meant that potential investors saw value in the team rather than the individual players. It also meant that teams could drop players at a moment’s notice without suffering any consequences. So how did the DPC change all this?
An Emphasis on the Player
The introduction of the DPC forced teams into regulated roster changes and doesn’t allow teams to change their line-ups without a penalty. This gave a much needed protection to players who previously were seen more as pawns rather than the foundation of a good team. Suddenly players were given more value as they were the holders of the new DPC points, not the teams. The eight teams who had acquired the most points would receive a direct invite to The International 2018 (TI8) and the points would be based on the top three players who have accumulated the most points.
The new DPC system places a much larger emphasis on the player which changes the dialogue for investors. Just recently we saw Fnatic drop Khoo “Ohaiyo” Chong Xin and then pick up Sahil “Universe” Arora. This change saw Fnatic jump from 11th place to 9th place, leaving them to just one place away from automatically qualifying for TI8. No longer is the emphasis on the team but rather on the player.
The Wild West of Dota 2
Esports is an ever growing industry with new investors waiting to see what’s a worthy investment. What’s worrying about the sudden emphasis on players instead of teams is that it turns potential investors away from the Dota 2 competitive scene. Are team organisations still a worthy investment if the emphasis is now placed on the player rather than the team? If teams can drop points as quickly as they achieved them, is the Dota 2 landscape a stable investment?
It’s hard to create an argument that supports the stability of the current Dota 2 competitive scene. While it seemed that Valve was attempting to regulate the movement of players amongst teams, it really feels like Valve created more chaos than order. Valve’s regulations have now changed how players are valued and thus, changed how investors view both the player and the team. The two are now separate entities with players potentially being seen as commodities, not integral members of a squad.
This year has proven that the Dota Pro Circuit isn’t flawless and still needs further development. The Dota 2 competitive scene has come a long way. What’s worrying is potentially seeing what happened with Ohaiyo happen next season at the mid point of the circuit – or even just before The International this year. Will more teams recognise their ability to shuffle their teams to accumulate points without having to play in the tournament ? Will Valve see this flaw in their system and add more provisions to ensure teams don’t capitalise on this ‘flaw’?
The type of swing that Fnatic had might please their investors now but this won’t always be in favour of the organisation. Future shuffles could see bigger highs and lows – and not just in the favour of the organisation or their investors.