Revamping the DOTA 2 Competitive Scene

With The International 2017 coming up in just six weeks, and more and more people tuning in on it each year, DOTA 2’s competitive scene looks alive and healthy from the outside. This year’s The International will be held in Seattle from August 7 to 12, with 18 teams competing. Six teams were directly invited; the remaining 12 participants had to qualify from 4 regions: USA, Europe, Southeast Asia and China. You can see our coverage here.

The process of qualifying for The International has quite a few issues according to Toby “TobiWan” Dawson, a well-known Australian DOTA 2 commentator.

The main issue he had with the competitive scene is that the tournaments held by Valve overshadow all others both in terms of attendance and crowd-funding. Because Valve funds these tournaments, viewers can enjoy an ad-free experience when watching them. And Valve has full control over their tournaments - which teams are selected, how the regions are divided and so on. But because there were only two “Valve Major” events and they were separate from other tournaments in the competitive scene, there wasn’t any momentum. They were what they were: one-off events enabling their contenders to run for The International spots, and that was it. They didn’t have any follow-up, no community interaction after the events, they just happened and that was it. This was bad for the involved staff members too because commentators, streamers, and shout casters had to be individually hired per tournament, and they didn’t have too much exposure after the events were done. There also were some controversies with hosts hired by Valve, as last year’s case with James (2GD) Harding shows.

This meant that community-organized tournaments were much less lucrative and popular among higher-ranked teams than they should have been since there was less incentive playing on them than focusing on the Majors.

Fixing the DOTA 2 Competitive Scene

Valve decided it would be time to act and revamp the system, letting more third-party tournaments rise due to official sponsorship. Valve will ditch the previous Majors system and instead will directly sponsor larger community-run ones. There will be two tiers: Majors and Minors, with the following requirements and sponsorship bonuses:

  • Competitions must have at least one LAN-based component, namely the finals.

  • For Majors, the minimum prize pool should be $500k, and for Minors, $150k. Valve will sponsor these with an additional $500k and $150k, respectively.

  • All of these events must feature at least one team per qualifying region. These regions are North America, South America, Southeast Asia, China, the EU and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).

Each of these sponsored tournaments will give Qualifying Points based on several factors - the prize pool and the time of year being the most important. Qualifying Points will be individually accrued on a per player basis, and teams’ QPs will be based on their top 3 players. This gives teams and players some flexibility in switching around, provided that these changes occur in the approved periods.

Valve will still retain control over the scheduling, as they stated they would be managing it for Minors and Majors. The aforementioned QPs will help in keeping track of individual players, and will also likely pressure teams to keep their best performing players because the top 3 members’ QP will be counted for The International qualification. Since lesser-performing members’ QP will not count, teams will have better flexibility in changing their rosters or introducing new members to the competitive scene.

Most of the currently running tournaments are eligible for being sponsored by Valve, so it will be interesting to see how the qualification period for TI 2018 will play out during the next season.