Are The Changes to the DPC Roster Lock This Season Enough?

After constantly tweaking the DPC roster lock dating back to three years ago when the Dota Pro Circuit was still nonexistent, Valve has finally come up with a solution — to remove the DPC roster lock altogether.

Valve claims that they based their decision to abolish the hard roster locks to help allow players to “find the right blend of personality and play style needed to reclaim the Aegis of Champions.” As a result of their changes, this season, teams (NOT players), will be earning points for the Dota Pro Circuit.

Just to refresh everyone’s memories, last season, teams who changed their rosters after the said period were removed from DPC considerations. This included a number of known teams, including the eventual champions, OG, and the TI8 third-place finishers, Evil Geniuses. However, this season, there won’t be no need to disqualify teams.

For the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit, teams can change players as they please (and trust me, they have). But, make no mistake, making the decision to change rosters this season won’t come without hefty penalties.

What’s Changed Now That There’s No DPC Roster Lock?

DPC Roster Lock

For a brief moment, Natus Vincere was one of the top teams in terms of DPC points last year thanks to Lil. (Natus Vincere)

This season, teams will still have to register their players first. Although teams can change players (and players can remove themselves from their rosters as well) anytime they want, doing so will incur a 20% penalty on their total points. Also, should a team choose to play the LAN portion of a tournament with a sub, they will incur a 40% penalty on any of the points earned from that tournament.

By making sure that the points stay with the teams and do not go with the players, Valve solved one problem. Specifically, the problem that came to light when Virtus.Pro traded Ilya ‘Lil‘ Ilyuk to Natus Vincere for Vladimir ‘RodjER‘ Nikogosyan.

Unfortunately, that isn’t where the problems end.

As analyst Alan ‘Nahaz‘ Bester pointed out on Twitter, abolishing the DPC roster lock hasn’t totally solved the problem yet. For one, players are still prone to getting kicked from their rosters just right before TI (or, at the very least, the last Major).

In a hypothetical scenario painted by J.Storm coach, Jimmy ‘DeMoN‘ Ho, it is possible for teams with high DPC points to kick 4 of its players, invite 4 new ones, and still have enough points to receive an invite to The International 2019. Of course, this exact scenario is unlikely to happen. But, the possibility exists for teams to start dropping just right before the last Major of the season, especially when they have secured enough points to receive an invite to TI in August.

So, What’s the Problem?

DPC Roster Lock

If we were to follow this year’s rules, Alexei ‘Solo’ Berezin could have dropped his entire team last year and picked up 4 new players and Virtus.Pro still would have received a direct invite to TI8. (Virtus.Pro)

The problem is that, for The International 2019, 12 teams will receive a direct invite based on points. This leaves only each competitive region only one slot each. This means, should the unlikely happen and a team decided to drop two or three of its players after they’ve secured enough points for a direct invite following a point reduction penalty, those two players are essentially screwed and left to scramble for a team to play with in the qualifiers.

In another example pointed out by Nahaz, if we were to use this year’s rules on last year’s standings, 7 teams could have still kept their spots at The International 2018 if they removed a player just before the Supermajor. Even worse, teams such as Virtus.Pro and Team Liquid, who amassed so much points throughout the season, could have only left one player on their roster and still receive a direct invite to The International 2018.

This leaves players extremely vulnerable to their teams dropping them just right before the biggest event of the year, which is a huge problem.

Sure, there’s always the question, why would a team cut a player they played with all season long? Well, Virtus.Pro traded Lil to Natus Vincere despite being their longest tenured player. More recently, J.Storm decided to cut Milan ”MiLAN‘ Kozomara to make room for Clinton ‘Fear‘ Loomis.

Teams can and will always cut players if they think a change will give them the best chance to succeed. However, it should come with more repercussions, especially when there’s possibly millions of dollars on the line.

What’s the Solution?

It’s hard to point out a single solution since we’re talking about multiple problems here. But, to answer the question, are the changes to the DPC roster lock this season enough? No, they definitely are not.

As Nahaz described it, it is a ticking time bomb and we’re only months away from seeing it all unfold. Should, in a hypothetical situation, OG secure enough points to receive a direct TI invite despite incurring a 20% penalty, they’ll be free to drop their stand-in Igor ‘iLTW‘ Filatov and bring back Anathan ‘ana‘ Pham just like that.

To help solve this problem, some in the community have proposed the need for a Players Union for Dota 2 players. An organization that mediates between players and the multi-million dollar organizations to make sure to protect the player’s best interests. This way, professional Dota 2 players have some form of protection and recourse in case they get dropped all of a sudden just before the biggest annual tournament in all of Dota 2. 

Truthfully, a player’s union seems like a great idea, and hopefully it will come true someday. But, until then, it’s still up to Valve to try and come up with a system where they can prevent, or at least minimize, situations like these.

Final Thoughts

In the end, this discussion is all for naught. Only Valve, or a Player’s Union, have enough pull to make the necessary changes to the scene.

We can talk all we want about what could potentially happen, or what has happened, but until either a Player’s Union comes about, or Valve makes a move, we can’t really do anything about it, and for the lack of a better word, players will just have to “suck it up”.

In an ideal world, that shouldn’t happen.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in such a world, and in this world, players will have no choice but to play knowing that their organizations could drop them at any given point in time.

What do you think of the changes to the DPC roster lock? Do you think that the nonexisted DPC roster lock is enough to deter teams from making drastic, last-minute changes in the lead up to The International 2019? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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