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On February 25th, 2020, Valve announced a new system for their official Dota 2 pro scene. They described it as:
“..a new system that presents competitive Dota in a more scheduled and consistent way during the year and features a better structure for the development of Tier 2 and Tier 3 teams.”
In this article, we’ll look at how the official Dota pro scene evolved over the past three years and speculate on these new changes.
The evolution of the DPC season
The first Dota Pro Circuit season was announced for 2017-2018. This was Valve’s first attempt at organizing a year-long type of season that led to The International. It was headed in the direction of pro sports leagues like the NBA, NHL, or NFL, with a regular-season (many tournaments) and playoffs for a champion (TI).
The year was pretty chaotic with tournaments happening every other week it seemed. There were tons of tournaments, tons of prize money, tons of action, tons of games, tons of Dota, but it was very unorganized. The sheer volume of tournaments made people criticize the prestige of the Major tournaments that year.
This was when Virtus.pro was dominating. They won five Majors and placed high in many other tournaments.
There was so much action that 3rd party events basically didn’t exist that year. Because there were so many tournaments, teams were mostly focused on earning a spot at a DPC event in hopes of earning points to make it to TI8.
In the next season, there was more organization. There were only ten tournaments, five minors, and five majors. This led to more time and opportunities for 3rd party tournaments to happen as there was a lot of downtime in between DPC tournaments.
This increased the prestige of Major tournaments simply by reducing the amount of them.
This current season is more of the same since last year. The only major tweak was in the qualification system. Teams now must make it to the top ranks of the Major qualifications to participate in the Minor tournament qualifiers.
The Regional Leagues
Now Valve has created The Regional Leagues. More refinement on their organized pro league.
The basic overview is:
Each region doesn’t have 4 or 8 teams that could properly represent their region at a minor or major so having 16 of the best teams in a region playing against each other will definitely help improve the overall quality and skill of teams in the tier 2+ scene.
Some problems this solves
This increases the prestige of majors once again by reducing the amount of them.
This helps promote the growth of the tier 2+ scene which is something people have been asking for for years. It helps the skill level of all amateur Dota players who can make it in the league, it increases the exposure of the players, it spreads out prize money to more teams, and provides a clearer path to becoming a pro Dota player.
It also increases the career paths or jobs surrounding the Dota scene. There will be more opportunities for casters, observers, content creators, journalists, and everything surrounding pro esports.
There will be more Dota throughout the year. There won’t be long droughts between tournaments like these last two seasons.
Some problems this may cause
Will there be further skill disparity between regions? Steel sharpens steel. Some regions have more quality teams than others. When it comes time to play in the same Major, will teams from regions China or EU dominate the others because they’ve been playing against better competition in their regional leagues?
The money disparity. It’s not a secret that some regions cost more money to live and work in than others. For example, South American and South East Asian teams will benefit greatly from the prize money while teams in North America and Europe will still need to find more money to sustain their business operations.
No more open qualifiers for TI. This means no more historic iconic legendary epic dream runs from teams like OG in 2018.
There are three major tournaments in the year with fixed slots for each region. This could be unfair in some ways because what if some regions overperform but they still have the same fixed amount of slots? And if some regions underperform but they have more slots than regions that may overperform. With strict guidelines on how many teams from each region can participate, it limits the potential for underdogs to shine.
This regional system solves many problems that fans and pros alike have been asking to be solved for years. Better late than never right?
The system provides many new changes and constraints that haven’t been seen in the scene before. Whether or not this raises the tide and all the aspiring pros and established pros alike is yet to be seen.
So far, I’m 50/50 on these changes. I like that they’re promoting the tier 2+ scene but this would have been so much better years ago.
What do you think about these changes? Do you like the new system or is this current system good for you? What are you excited to see? What are you worried about with these changes?