Dota Pro Circuit problems
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Talks about the format of Dota Pro Circuit can be classified as eternal. Not a month goes by, as the next discussion flares up. Now, when most of the season is over, and only the CIS-stage is waiting for us, our journalist Yevgeny Kondratyev decided to speculate about successful and unsuccessful moments, and also decided to get involved in the arguments about what to do next. Here we will provide a translation of the original article.
We'll take a recent tweet from Team Secret manager Matthew "Cyborgmatt" Bailey as a starting point, in which he said the following:
"The community cheered when Valve announced no direct invites in the DPC because teams would have the "prove" they deserve it but honestly when you spend weeks bootcamping, playing an entire Major and then having to go home & play qualifiers 1 day later it is fucking exhausting.
If anything you actually run the risk of potentially losing a big team like Secret, Liquid, OG, NIP. EG, LGD etc. from the Major because these teams have been grinding their arses off and good luck, have fun if any of your players get sick from the post-event flu.
As we come towards the end of season 2, it's becoming more & more apparent that funneling all the top tier teams through qualifiers has really not provided any additional benefits to this season and if anything has just resulted in more damage to the overall Tier 2/Tier 3 scene."
Thoughts expressed in this message are worthy of respect, but they also have several controversial points. Let's sort them out and, at the same time, the entire Dota Pro Circuit rating system.
No invitations to the tournament
Disputes about invitations to tournaments have been going on since the distant 2012. We don't take the original The International into account, because at that time it was primarily an exhibition tournament, and everyone was in a furious euphoria from a million-dollar prize fund that no one raised any waves on the topic "was invited - wasn't invited".
But to the second The International, many in the community began to single out the first victim of the direct invites: the American PotM Bottom picked up a high pace by the spring and summer of 2012, but wasn't invited to the main tournament of the year.
Since then, many have asked questions to Valve about inviting or not inviting a particular team. The result of this whole discussion is the current Dota Pro Circuit. You cannot get an invite to the actual Dota 2 world championship for "the pretty face". There is an objective indicator - rating points. We will talk a little further about how successful the system is, in the meantime, about the issue.
The absence of invitations to Major is a significant thing. I am convinced that if the situation were left on the tournament organizers, we would see both Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere on the list of invited teams for EPICENTER Major in Moscow. In Chongqing, we would see more Chinese teams, and in Kuala Lumpur, there would be more participants from Southeast Asia.
This is a logical and often used practice by the organizers so that the audience could support whom they came to the stands. At the same time, Europe would most likely have been deprived, but it's the objectively strongest region at the current time. In its present form, the situation becomes somewhat more regulated and fair.
The problem to which Cyborgmatt appeals is a serious one for Tier-1 teams, and one cannot speak here about excuses in favor of the poor. Any player, commentator, or journalist will tell you that significant tournaments exhaust and undermine health.
Being sick is terrible, but you can't do anything with it
A small lyrical digression: two people from Yekaterinburg, a Moscow and a St. Petersburg citizens gathered for a trip to Minsk to the StarLadder i-League tournament (it was in January 2016). Two days after arriving in the capital of Belarus, the average body temperature in the apartment where all four of them lived was about 38.0°C. At the same time, a large number of commentators became seriously ill.
As a Urals citizen, I was a little luckier. My friend and I were taking anti-influenza pills in large quantities and were in a somewhat normal state of health. We cared about those who were not good at all: we had to call an ambulance with antipyretic injections three times because their temperature body reached 40°C from time to time.
Why am I writing this? Our story is not an unusual case. The problem wasn't only in some kind of epidemic, but in the fact that people from different regions of our planet suffer from various diseases and have different immunities. I'm not sure that athletes make a large number of different vaccinations before travelling around the world. Together with the fact that large tournaments are places of large crowds of people, the chance to compromise their health after the trip (when the incubation period ends) is much higher. Unfortunately, this situation is a reality from which you can't get away.
Therefore, the idea that teams have to play qualifiers immediately upon arrival from tournaments with a minimum of rest is extremely unsuccessful. Also, Valve was often doing a dirty trick, releasing new patches to which you need to adapt, but you can not do it, because you are on the road. However, this has nothing to do with the tournament invitation system. The solution is simple - to reschedule the Qualifiers to a later time so that the teams have the opportunity to rest, and this moment can be improved.
Damage to Tier-2 and Tier-3 scene
It really happens. Now everything is about DPC and rating tournaments, and we practically don't have large commercial LAN tournaments on which one of the Tier-2 teams could get, using the indifference of grandees to gain experience there.
There is a clear separation in the training process. Major-level teams don't want to waste their time practising with weaker teams, which, in turn, forced to participate only in their region's Qualifiers. There is a gap in skills. Teams from open qualifiers are even less likely to jump up in the hierarchy of the scene.
Tier-2 teams occupy small online tournaments with a decent prize fund (they need to get at least some prize money), and Tier-3 players can only hope for some salary. But massive commercial tournaments, in which happens the devil often knows what (this is confirmed by the fact that we have players like broxy). It is becoming more and more attractive to play not against an opponent, but bookmakers and this all turns into one big swamp. What can we do with it?
Value of Majors
And here we come to an exciting conclusion. "... the risk of potentially losing a big team like Secret, Liquid, OG, NIP. EG, LGD etc. from the Major" - is it such a bad idea?
Now everything is about DPC. There are five Majors, there are five Minors, which are, in fact, the qualifications of the last chance - there is nothing else. The manager of Virtus.pro Roman Dvoryankin said that the team's performances in Majors and other tournaments are different. It turns out that "bears" play in full force only in five tournaments, and only reinforce the status of rating competitions, not entirely respecting other tournaments.
Let's take a look at the system prevailing in CS:GO. Some Majors perpetuate the winners, give players and clubs a financial boost in the form of money for personalized stickers, but besides them, there are a large number of tournaments, which in no case can be called "show-tournaments".
Someone, like Astralis, saves its strength and makes the events on which they appear, more meaningful. Someone plays in many championships, but with all possible power, and you won't have the thought to accuse the team in the wrong play. Is the club in the top 10? Welcome to tournaments with a prize pool of $250,000. Other ten? No problem, you will be invited to DreamHack Open tournaments with a $100,000 prize. The lower level teams have their leagues and regional championships, as well as the chances of gaining experience at major competitions, where one place is often reserved for the local team.
There is an exchange of experience where Tier-3 teams have the opportunity to rarely, but still compete with Tier-2 rivals, and they will have a chance to learn from Tier-1. Everyone is progressing, everyone has money, and there is a cycle of players and skill in CS:GO.
There is no such thing in Dota 2. It is clear that the main tournament of the year is The International, and everyone wants to get there, but there is one moment.
Virtus.pro practically was guaranteed participation in it after The Kuala Lumpur Major. Together with Team Secret, they mathematically promised themselves trips to Shanghai after The Chongqing Major. Nevertheless, they continue to participate in Majors and take away points from other teams. They have their clear competitive motivation, but at the same time, the community can make one big mistake.
What to do? A step that can turn everything upside down
Some time ago, the phrase flashed in the conversation of Richard Lewis and Alan "Nahaz" Bester in the Rivalry Cooldown show: "Several reputable people in the Dota community suggested Valve to become the company's community manager, but the company is not interested. It wants to make games."
If Valve were interested in the esports regulation, then they would have come up with everything long ago, but this doesn't happen. At the same time, Valve doesn't want the power to concentrate on someone's hands because this will lead to injustice.
And here hides one simple, but very complicated at the same time step that can turn everything upside down. The idea is: you have to start agreeing on your own and don't blame Valve in anything.
It is unlikely that Tier-1 teams cannot agree. The first and most obvious step that can change everything is the already-at-The-International-teams' refusal from the remaining Dota Pro Circuit tournaments.
Let's make it out. The organizers of Major will rely on the status of the tournament (the audience will continue to watch the games because of it) and will receive their portion of viewing from the real struggle of the teams that need to be selected for the international tournament. A higher number of Tier-2 organizations will have the opportunity to improve their skills, rock the media, new faces will find their audience. More subscribers - more sponsors to everyone.
Representatives of Tier-1 teams will undoubtedly ask: "How will we keep our shape during the season? We don't want to go to the tournament, dismantled!" The question is correct, but here commercial tournaments come to help. With your broad audience in commercial competitions, you will work with the advantage of both for yourself (the opportunity to travel around the world of your choice, and not just there, where Valve will say) and for the organizers. Conditional ESL, StarLadder, MDL, PGL and WePlay! will benefit from that "superstar cocktail" will go to their tournaments. And given the fact that they won't go to Majors, the total value of commercial tournaments will increase dramatically. The main thing is not to play Apex Legends during the draft-stage and also to agree between teams and the organizer on a severe attitude to such tournaments.
Valve sanctions aren't needed for this. A simple tacit agreement is enough for Tier-1 teams to understand that significant commercial tournaments are played in full force.
The only thing you don't need to try to do the exclusive equivalent of Dota Pro Circuit since this is a severe undertaking. Some organizations in CS:GO attempted to turn this trick at one time, but they failed. One simple voluntary commitment with the right approach can help the community: we will have a cycle of teams, an increase in the overall level of the game, and an increase in media literacy, and a more stable season. All we need to do is learn to negotiate.
The following DPC season, so far, follows the current season model. It is not so bad as to tear down everything that emerged evolutionarily. Nevertheless, it has its flaws, and to make the season better, all members of the community should try, and the Valve final word in disputes isn't the thing that cannot be dispensed with. Play nice, and everything will be fine.
The author’s opinion may not coincide with the editorial opinion.
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