Valve withdraws “Major” status for Galaxy Battles 2

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Dota2 has received a wide acceptance in The Phillippines and has also been called a ‘national pastime‘. However Valve recently announced that they will be rescinding the Major status accorded to the Galaxy Battles 2, held in Philippines. They took this decision after reviewing the government regulations for esports players.

Galaxy Battles 2

 

Galaxy Battles 2 is the second part of the Galaxy Battle Series held in Manila, Philippines. The event was originally a Major in Dota2. There are only a handful of Majors in Dota2 with each Major having a prize pool greater than $1,000,000. The Galaxy Battles 2 event also had a prize pool of $1 million initially.

The event would have been one of the biggest esports events in Philippines. It employed a lot of local talent as well as providing a huge boost to the country’s tourism industry. With some of the top teams competing at the event, it was guaranteed high number of viewers. Some of the most notable talent for the event included Virtus Pro, Newbee, OG, EG, LFY, Optic etc.

The tournament will be broadcasted on ABS – CBN Sports and Action. This would be their first venture into esports by ABS-CBN. With several Cable networks already venturing into esports, this is a golden opportunity for ABS-CBN to enter esports.

Drug Testing and approvals

 

I do not intend to provide you with a political angle to Philippines current situation. However a short background about the country is necessary in order to understand Valve’s decision to withdraw the Major status.

The Philippine Prez has launched a heavy crackdown on drug users

The country’s current President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in June 2016. He has publicly joked about serious matters such as Rape, called the Pope the “son of a whore” amongst a lot of other stuff. While this definitely does not make him an abnormality amongst world presidents, it is his agenda that is worrisome. His most extreme election campaign promise was as follows :

If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. All of you who are into drugs, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you. I have no patience, I have no middle ground, either you kill me or I will kill you idiots

According to Human Rights Watch, security forces and “unidentified gunmen” have killed at least 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers since July 1, 2016. Of those killings, 3,116 have been carried out by police. The death toll in one year under Duterte’s leadership is higher than all of those killed while dictator Ferdinand Marcos was in power between 1972 and 1981.

Western countries have voiced strong reservations against the system, however Philippine shows no signs of change under the current president. It is worrisome from a human rights perspective.

 

How does this affect esports ?

During the 2017 calendar year, Philippines Government made a big leap towards recognising esports players as legitimate athletes. Dota2 is the biggest and most popular esports title in Philippines.The Games and Amusements Board, the government bureau that oversees the regulation of all professional sports in the country, invited the players from TNC and Execration to visit them. 

We like to think of it as an exploration. We’ve spoken with industry stakeholders, and we want to serve as a guide for the future development of the industry.

The government regulations definitely marked a significant step towards acceptance of esports in Philippines. However with the government not taking the initiative to change certain other rules around esports, it has caused certain problems for the scene.

Drug Testing

 

Drugs are a big problem in PH

All sports athletes have to undertake drug testing and examinations. Drugs are a known problem in traditional sports providing an unfair advantage due to the physical nature of the sports. However esports has not had a problem with drug abuse or unfair matches due to drug intake. The Philippines law requires esports athletes from other countries to compulsorily undergo drug tests.

 

The country has very strict laws for drug users. Public deaths and arrests are not out of bounds for the police. This poses a big security threat to the possible esports athletes entering Philippines for the event. A Major comes with big assurances of security for players as well as other benefits for the players. With Valve being unable to ensure the said level of security, they announced the decision. They had been in talks with the tournament organisers repeatedly and yet were unsuccessful in establishing any breakthrough.

The Fallout

 

The decision to rescind the Major status definitely has a big fallout on the tournament. The tournament prize pool, which stood tall at $1 million is now just $500,000. Virtus Pro are the first team to announce withdrawal from the tournament.

“Considering yesterday’s Valve’s resolution regarding Galaxy Battles II official Dota Pro Circuit championship status withdrawal, we have made the decision of declining the tournament’s invitation. I wish to thank Valve’s management for effective addressing of the problem and excellent communication with the teams. The status withdrawal from Valve was the main reason behind our cancellation of the invitation. The said status, among all things, defines standards of players’ safety, event’s technical security and logistics on the event’s organizers. Furthermore, the participation in top rating tournaments has always been our main goal, therefore Galaxy Battles DPC points loss absolves the tournament of sense in that regard.”

We expect more teams to follow suit with their withdrawal from the tournament. With the tournament no longer providing Dota2 Pro Circuit points, it does not provide any incentive for teams to be in attendance. Hopefully the tournament will go forth as planned and Manila will witness more tournament in the future.

Sources :

ABS-CBN enter esports – Mineski.net

Philippine Drug Crackdown – Newsweek, Philstar, CMNPhillipines.

Philippines accepts Esports players as Athletes : ESPN

Virtus Pro pull out : Cybersport

Valve Statement : Dota2.com

 


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