The Dota Pro Circuit 2021-2022 Winter Major was canceled on January 12, due to “new strains of COVID-19 and the resulting increase in travel restrictions.” But the sudden announcement has caught the entire Dota 2 community by surprise.
While the new strains of COVID-19 present an unfortunate obstacle, Valve’s handling of the situation has been met with disappointment and in some cases, anger, by the community—pro players, talents, and fans alike. Nobody outside of Valve knew the announcement was coming.
Having poured their lives into the game, many putting studies and work on hold to compete, the community didn’t hold back in their reactions to the news.
Several players’ potential first qualification to a Major from teams like Quincy Crew, BOOM Esports, Team Tickles, Royal Never Give Up, and Thunder Predator was ruined, and they made themselves heard online.
Quincy Crew’s reaction
The members of Quincy Crew had one of the strongest immediate reactions. The team had just guaranteed qualification to the Winter Major with a 6-0 record on the day of the announcement, January 12, after a victory against Black N Yellow. What should have been a celebration quickly turned into despair, however.
Quinn “Quinn” Callahan was one of the earliest pros to talk about the news, airing his thoughts in a lengthy three-hour Twitch stream. Quinn talked about how silent Valve was throughout the matter, and how the cancellation of the Winter Major continues to threaten the already unstable and uneven payouts for Dota 2 pros.
The team’s offlaner and captain, Maurice “KheZu” Gutmann, believed that Valve’s actions indicated how little it cared and thought about the pro scene.
He claimed that “Valve openly think that pro players/pro/teams/orgs don’t add any value to their product.”
Quincy Crew’s carry Yawar “YawaR” Hassan honed in on the length of the DPC season, a common complaint since the new Regional League system was implemented last year. He wrote the Winter Major can still happen if “the big guys decide to fix the dpc system.”
Remus “ponlo” Goh Zhi Xian, found himself in the lurch. Quincy Crew had paid out of their own pocket to fund his travel to America to play. Despite winning the Regional League, though, ponlo said he’ll only earn about US$2,000 for the season.
The team’s manager, Jack “KBBQ” Chen, wrote that it felt like Valve’s announcement meant “the entire first tour is basically meaningless.”
Team Liquid’s Zai sums up everyone’s reactions with a meme
Team Liquid is sitting on top of the WEU DPC with a 5-1 record, on track to earn a direct playoffs seed to the Winter Major. But following the news, the team’s new offlaner, Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg, summed up his team’s feelings succinctly.
The team’s coach, William “Blitz” Lee, wrote that “being first in a competitive EU region means absolutely nothing.”
Team Tickles’s reactions from BOOM and Seleri
Team Tickles, an unsponsored stack excelling in the WEU DPC with a 4-1 record, and recently beating Natus Vincere to win the Dota 2 Champions League Season 6, is filled with would-be first-time Major participants. Unfortunately, the rest of their potentially exciting and grueling journey to the Winter Major has been immediately cut short.
Midlaner Miroslav “BOOM” Bičan thought that committing his youth to be a Dota 2 pro “will be the worst one I’ve made in this life.”
Team Tickles’ hard support Melchior “Seleri” Hillenkamp was more accepting of the situation, summing it up as “it is what it is”.
Regardless, whether others agree or disagree, he said that people should speak their mind, but they should try not to make themselves suffer more than they are already.
SumaiL calls for teams to take action
Team Secret’s Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan called for teams to boycott the second season of the DPC in the hope of “either better communication or maybe dota just dies completely.”
Talents have also spoken up — one of them, Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner wrote that he will “throw the first major” himself. Other talents including Owen “ODPixel” Davies, Austin “Cap” Walsh, Michelle “Moxxi” Song, and Jonathan “PimpmuckL” Liebig also voiced their support—and commiseration—with pros on the matter.
Valve’s history is not great—but it can be better
The community immediately rallied around the pro players, calling on Valve for better communication. While Valve wrote in their announcement that the DPC points from the Winter Major will be redistributed, there was no mention of the US$500,000 prize pool that would have helped participating teams.
Valve’s lack of communication is well-documented. And while the pandemic is horrible, it is disheartening for players to feel so unwelcome in the game they dedicated their lives to. For fans, it hurts to see pros who have entertained us for countless hours shafted like this, all the while looking at other companies and esports trying their best to make events happen in these times.
Valve, at the very least, released an update to their announcement (not on their official channels, for some reason) to players and teams. Matthew “Cyborgmatt” Bailey, Team Secret’s manager, posted the full announcement, where Valve apologized and promised to do “a better job” of communicating with pros. A plan to “get everyone together in one location and play out the tournament on a LAN” is in the works, but nothing’s set in stone yet.
It’s a tiny, incremental step for Valve to take. There’s still a lot of work for the dev to do. And hopefully, there will be a good outcome for the community in the end.