Valve attempted to structure the Dota 2 esports scene in 2017-18 with the introduction of the Dota Pro Circuit. However, as with any new initiative, there were several obstacles and flaws in the system. As the final event of the current season comes to an end, Valve has already announced changes to the Circuit. The new changes address several concerns associated with the Circuit. These changes will help stabilize the aim to establish a fair and common playing ground for all the Dota 2 teams.
The Dota Pro Circuit 2018-2019
The new Pro Circuit addresses most of the problem associated with the previous year’s circuit. Some of the most notable changes in the announcement are as follows:
- No Hard Roster Locks
- Team Ownership
- No direct invites
- Minimum requirements for Minors and Majors
- Full Schedule: Equal Number of Majors and Minors
The 2017-18 season of DPC did not solve the problem of drastic roster changes. One of the biggest news events in 2018 was the player swap between Na’Vi and Virtus Pro. The player swap essentially granted Na’Vi several DPC points. This put them in contention ( at the time) for breaking into the Top eight. Despite not having won many tournaments or secured points, Na’Vi was suddenly an important team in the race to TI8.
In the new system, qualifying points for The International will be associated with registered teams instead of individual players. Teams will still designate their five-man rosters, but they will be allowed to change those rosters during the course of the season. Each player removed from a roster will reduce a team’s current point total by 20%. Adding a new player will not earn any additional points.
Teams are free to change their rosters during the DPC season. But changing a player does have a penalty as the team will lose 20% of its total DPC points for the season. The free movement of players is limited to the regular season of DPC. Once TI9 qualifiers and invites start, teams are not allowed to change rosters until the end of TI9.
Teams face penalties if they change players or have stand-ins
There is no hard roster lock for teams during the entirety of DPC 2017-18 season. The intention of the hard roster lock was to provide stability within the scene by reducing the number of roster changes. However, it also had the unintended effect of teams trading players and suddenly climbing up the DPS leaderboard. Natus Vincere is a prime example of a team which achieved very less but quickly climbed the leaderboards due to the player swap. Lil, who was with Virtus Pro for the period prior to the player swap brought in a lot of points for the team.
If a team plays in a Pro Circuit event without their official five-man roster, the points earned for that event will be reduced by 40%. A team’s admin can remove any player from a registered roster, and any player can choose to depart. When playing in a Minor or Major qualifier, teams must always use at least 4 of their 5 registered players. Once the TI Invites and Qualifiers start, teams can no longer change their roster until the conclusion of the TI Main Event. Substitutes can be declared after TI Qualifiers to account for emergencies, subject to approval from Valve.
Under the new system, teams can change players and also have players to stand-in during tournaments. But these carry penalties, essentially making life difficult for a team’s position on the DPC leaderboards. A 20% penalty for player changes and a 40% ( of the tournament points) penalty for a stand-in is definitely a very steep price to play. Towards the end of the season, it could mean the difference between making it to the Top 8 or just falling short.
A recurring theme for Valve this year is the prevention of any unethical situations in Valve official tournaments. Several esports teams share ownership and this could potentially cause a conflict of interest in potential match outcomes.
This rule is bound to upset several Chinese organizations which hold multiple competent teams in the scene. In the past, we also had several big-name teams such as Na’Vi-Virtus Pro, EG-Alliance competing in tournaments. However, since they share the same ownership ( Although not anymore ), there is nothing to prevent these teams from potentially fixing matches. The teams have never involved themselves in such unethical practices, but they should not have an opportunity to do so either.
Looking ahead one year to The International 2019, in cases where one organization or person has ownership in multiple teams, only one of those teams will be eligible to compete in The International, regardless of DPC qualifying points. All teams can participate in the Pro Circuit Majors and Minors leading up to next year’s TI, but all ownership conflicts will need to be resolved prior to TI Regional Qualifiers. This includes cases in which players have financial ties to other teams.
2018 was the first year when Valve announced the introduction of limitations to invites based on Team ownership in CS GO. The FaceIT London Major disallowed teams from sharing the same ownership and receiving an invitation to Valve Majors. TI8, which is Valve’s biggest event will also see a similar ruleset. The International will not have two teams sharing the same ownership at the event. This is a step in the right direction, especially as esports goes mainstream. The amount of money and prestige involved in The International is bound to lure certain teams towards unethical practices.
No Direct Invites
The Direct invites for the current DPC season created a controversy. While the early events saw NA teams invited to the tournaments, the latter half of the DPC season saw multiple Chinese teams receiving invitations. There is an imbalance in tournament invitations and the lack of guidelines for sending out invitations was causing a lot of controversies.
Only fitting that this DPC system embarrasses itself by ending with PGL/Perfect World inviting both @evilgeniuses who lost their last 2 NA qualifiers and @OGesports to the last and highest value major. OG isn’t even eligible for DPC points. Very disappointing…
— Peter Dager (@Peterpandam) April 16, 2018
So I double checked if I was really wrong and turns out .. I wasn’t.
I have absolute clarification from PGL and PW that EVERY single team for the #SuperMajor got their invites in an email on March 19, 2018 — that is 10 days prior to DAC and right after GESC.
— Wykrhm Reddy (@wykrhm) April 17, 2018
The new rules for DPC 2018-19 will no longer see direct tournament invitations. Every tournament will have qualifiers preceding the event. The DPC Circuit Majors and Minors come in groups of two. The qualifiers for the Major will come first, followed by the Minor qualifiers. Teams that fail to qualify in the Major qualifiers can participate in the Minor qualifiers. Every tournament, be it a Major or a Minor will have one qualifier per region. The winner of the Minor event will have a reserved spot at the Major, so participating in the Minors is also very lucrative.
Valve has specified the minimum number of teams per region:
- Minor Events: 8 teams
- Major Events: 16 teams
Valve has also released the schedule for next season’s tournaments. Valve has paired up with the Majors and Minors for the next season. They have invited tournament organizers to apply for these events. The first Dota 2 major will be held in November and there will be five Majors & Minors in total.
- 17th September – 21st September: Major Qualifier
- 23rd September – 26th September: Minor Qualifiers
- 29th October – 4th November: Minor Main Event
- 8th November – 19th November: Major Main Event
- 26th November – 30th November: Major Qualifiers
- 1st December – 4th December: Minor Qualifiers
- 7th January – 13th January: Minor Main Event
- 17th January – 27th January: Major Main Event
- 1st February – 5th February: Major Qualifier
- 7th February – 10th February: Minor Qualifier
- 4th March – 10th March: Minor Main Event
- 14th March – 24th March: Major Main Event
- 28th March – 1st April: Major Qualifier
- 3rd April – 6th April: Minor Qualifiers
- 22nd April – 28th April: Minor Main Event
- 2nd May to 12th May: Major Main Event
- 15th May – 19th May: Major Qualifier
- 21st May – 24th May: Minor Qualifiers
- 10th June – 16th June: Minor Main Event
- 20th June – 30th June: Major Main Event
Valve will pay attention to tournament formats
Valve has asked all organizers to submit details of the tournament formats. With the 2017-18 season receiving lots of criticism for the tournament formats in several events, Valve will include this as a criterion for their choices for Majors and Minors. The ongoing Chinese Dota 2 SuperMajor is praiseworthy for its format and scheduling. However, we cannot say the same for all the remaining Majors and Minors.
Hopefully, Valve will lay down some basic criteria for the formats. Just as they did with the number of teams, ensuring a good format is critical to the success of the Circuit.
Potential Problems for casters
The biggest change in the new DPC Season is the reduction in the number of events. Since there will be only 5 Majors and 5 Minors, it will be a big blow to the upcoming talent scene. All the tournament organizers will want to retain the very best talent. Since there are just 5 Majors and Minors, I don’t think any tournament organizer will feature in more than 2 DPC events. Ensuring the best production qualifier these DPC events is essential for the tournament organizers to ensure high viewership and better community feedback. Check out TobiWan’s thoughts about the DPC changes.