As of January 18th, the Dota 2 Professional Circuit will begin for 2021. Teams will compete to earn ‘DPC points’ in order to secure a position at the coveted International 10, occurring in Stockholm in August. However, the new DPC 2021 changes sparked quite the controversy.
DPC 2021 Changes
The DPC system has seen some changes for 2021. Firstly, competitive Dota will be broken up into 2 seasons, at the end of which a Major will occur. Secondly, there are no longer Minors. Instead, teams will participate in regional qualifiers, which will determine whether they qualify for the more prestigious (and lucrative) Majors at the end of each season. This also means that the number of Majors has been reduced to two for the entire year.
The DPC 2021 changes also come with alterations made to the times at which DPC games are played. Teams playing in the Regional League will have their matches timetabled to correspond better to prime-time hours in their respective countries; as this will allow fans to watch their favourite teams at more convenient times.
The DPC 2021 Changes Controversy
At first glance, the changes Valve has made this season seem to be fairly positive, so where does the controversy lie? What fans are mostly confused about is the way invites have been handled for the Regional League. Currently, the league has an upper and lower division, functioning on the premise that teams with higher DPC points from the previous season will be placed into the upper-division and the worse performing teams in the lower-division.
Most people would agree that this seems like a reasonable way to determine the Regional League standings, however, Valve has decided to eschew the previous DPC points, claiming that due to “a lot of roster changes throughout the year” and thus “varied” performance from said teams, they will instead be selecting the 4 teams “in best form from each region” for direct qualification for the season’s upper-division.
Noxville Weighs In
The problem here of course is that Valve’s determination of who is in ‘best form’ may be entirely arbitrary. Noxville of DatDota has described these determining factors as “opaque” in a series of angry tweets on the subject. He began the rant by calling Valve “Weasley little sh*ts” whose DPC system “f*cks over people who were not in a financial position to carry on playing on during COVID.”
Noxville’s tweets came just a day before the Upper Division teams were officially announced by Wykrhm Reddy –an internal beta tester for Dota 2– via his own Twitter:
Evil Geniuses and Sadboys Fuel the Fire
The decision that seems to have raised the most ire among community members (Noxville included) is the inclusion of Evil Geniuses in the upper-division. While most agree that EG are the strongest team in the North American region, they have also been effectively absent from the competitive scene for most of the year, despite many online tournaments taking place (such as Dota Summit 13 Online.) Many see this as the team considering smaller tournaments as being beneath them and taking a laissez-faire attitude to the season.
Questions have been raised about the inclusion of Sadboys in the NA Regional League as well. They are essentially a newly formed team, having played in minimal tournaments —their only real achievement is a 3rd place finish at Beyond the Summit Season 4.
The main criticism for the DPC 2021 changes, however, is of Valve, who most agree are inviting EG because they are the most popular NA team and therefore will attract a larger viewership — thus increasing revenue for DPC events. This may seem like a strong charge to level at the developer, but it wouldn’t be the first time accusations such as these have been thrown around.
Before the DPC system was in place, all invites to The International were made by Valve without any specific explanation as to why. This came to a head for a lot of fans when at TI6, several confusing invites were handed out. Many accused Valve of inviting LGD only to appease their huge Chinese audience (LGD had not attended ESL One Frankfurt, a tournament whose results would seemingly have a heavy impact on direct invites to TI) and their decision to invite NaVi, whose results at the time were inconsistent at best, seemed like a way to maintain viewership from the fans of an old fan-favourite.
A Lack of Transparency
Much of the concern over these DPC changes by Valve comes from a sense of general unease in the Dota community over the lack of transparency the company has displayed over the years. The general feeling is that Valve refuses to communicate with the game’s player-base, often making the gap between developer and player feel cavernous. This is a notion that is perhaps compounded by the fact that Icefrog, the head of Dota 2 development, is an incredibly illusive figure.
Whatever the reasons behind Valve’s choices for the DPC 2021 changes are, there is no denying that some more transparency would go a long way in placating the growing agitation percolating in pockets of the community.