With The International just a few weeks away, Valve decided to make some huge changes to competitive Dota for the 2017-2018 season.
Competitive Dota Changes – Majors & Minors
The shakeup features two key changes to the competitive Dota scene.
The first is that the Majors, the Valve-sponsored events that have become a staple of the competitive landscape post-TI5, will be no more. Replacing it will be a Major and Minor tournament category system.
The change also comes with a more organic approach from Valve. No longer will they be running the Majors directly. Instead, the studio will now sponsor the organisers of third-party tournaments, helping add cash to the prize pools to drive more interest.
To qualify as a Major or Minor, third-party tournaments will have to follow the list of criteria below:
- All Majors must have a minimum prize pool of $500k, with Valve providing an additional $500k on top of the initial prize pool.
- All Minors must have a minimum prize pool of $150k, with Valve providing an additional $150k on top of the initial prize pool.
- Both Major and Minor tournaments must have qualifiers for each of the six main regions. Namely, NA, SA, SEA, CN, EU and CIS.
- Both Major and Minor tournaments must have a LAN finals component.
In addition to the criteria, Valve will also directly manage the schedule “to help avoid collisions during the year”.
Competitive Dota Changes – The Point System
The other change comes in the form of Qualifying Points where players will receive points for competing in tournaments.
The total tournament prize pool, as well as if the tournament is a Major or Minor, will determine the amount of Qualifying Points awarded. Another factor is when the tournament occurs, with tournaments closer to The International awarding more points compared to those that occur earlier in the year.
Higher placements in Majors and Minors will result into more Qualifying Points, with points accumulating over time. While Roster Lock seasons will continue to exist, players who switch teams during the allotted periods will continue to retain their Qualifying Points.
To prevent imbalance and to allow for fresh faces to enter competitive Dota throughout the year, Valve has made it so that only the points of the top 3 earners on a team will count towards the team’s effective total Qualifying points.
Valve will also release a leaderboard that will track both individual player’s and a team’s total Qualifying Points.
Giving Competitive Dota What It Sorely Lacked
Thanks to these changes, the competitive Dota scene just gained some much-needed stability and transparency.
No longer will the hype and momentum fizzle out after each Major or Big tournament. Instead, it will carry out throughout the whole year and help foster growth within the community as a whole.
The changes will also help give everyone a better idea on who will be invited to The International.
Ever since the start, the invites have always lacked transparency. Sure, we could all guess which teams would go on to play. After all, it doesn’t take an expert to Google which teams won and placed high the most throughout the year.
In line with that logic, the TI7 invites make sense.
The four-time Major winners, OG, are no-brainers. The same goes for Team Liquid, who won EPICENTER 2017 and Invictus Gaming who also won DAC 2017. Evil Geniuses may have only bagged one trophy recently, but they won many LAN tournaments last year and always placed high whenever they played. Newbee has two consecutive LAN titles, while Virtus Pro placed 2nd at Kiev and won The Summit 7.
As previously discussed in our latest Dota 2 Rankings, all these teams deserve to play at the grandest stage of them all.
The only problem is that without a definitive point system in place, the invites will always be up for debate.
Having Qualifying Points changes all of that.
Now, everybody, including the players themselves, will know where they stand and what they need to do to receive an invite to TI.
Higher Quality of Competition and Equal Opportunity
TI isn’t the only one with issues with the invites. Other tournaments too face the same problem.
The verdict is still out if future non-TI tournaments will end up using the Qualifying Points to determine invites. However, we can already see the effect of these changes on all teams from each of the six primary regions and give them a chance to compete for a chance to play at every tournament.
Minors may end up sending out invites to only one or two teams, or maybe even none at all to make sure the prize pool isn’t too stretched out. Meanwhile, DAC 2017 should serve as a good example of what we can expect from a Major post-TI7.
DAC 2017 fielded 12 teams and only four, namely OG, Newbee, Wings Gaming, and Evil Geniuses, were directly invited. All the other teams qualified via their respective regional qualifiers. Because the event was held in China, four slots were available via the CN qualifiers.
Going forward, the changes will likely give players more incentive to play their best all year round and try to attend as many events as possible. This is especially true if third-party tournaments also end up using the Qualifying Points to determine the invites.
TLDR; more money to go around all year, the harder teams will try to git gud and with at least one team from each region, there’ll be an increase in overall quality of play.
Valve’s Answer to ACE
TI7 will mark the first TI without defending champions. This, after a falling out between the defending champions, Wings Gaming, and their mother organisation.
Wings Gaming later reformed as Team Random after leaving Wings Gaming. However, the organisation claimed that the players did so illegally, resulting in the Association of Chinese Esports (ACE) to place a ban on all five players. The ban effectively ended the careers of all five players, as they were no longer allowed to participate in domestic tournaments.
Valve never really did give any answer to ACE’s questionable ban, even if it meant that TI7 would go on without the defending champs. However, the introduction of Minors and Majors may be their way of preventing the Wings Gaming debacle from ever happening again.
In theory, a team that finds itself in the same scenario as the TI6 champs could still survive with the system in place. There’ll be plenty of Minors and Majors, as well as other third-party tournaments, throughout the year. Teams such as Wings Gaming would then no longer have to rely heavily on playing in domestic tournaments.
ACE may also end up lifting EHOME’s ban. Not that Valve will require them to. But, should the organisation decide to organise a Major or Minor, ACE won’t have as much of a say anymore regarding who can participate. Not with Valve likely being much more involved than ever before.
There’s no denying that the recent changes are huge for the competitive Dota scene.
Personally, I’m hoping the changes make Steam Workshop more viable now. It should be, what with more opportunities all year round. But, that’s only if Valve has understood how important supporting tournaments with in-game content via crowdfunding is to the success of Dota.
We can’t really say for sure if that’s the case. If it is, though, we’ll see more and more content creators working closely with tournament organisers. This will undoubtedly lead to complete packages and further improve the quality of tournaments, including the cosmetics released alongside them.
With bigger and more events to look forward to than ever before, the post-TI7 season is definitely going to be interesting.
Click HERE for the official announcement on the DOTA 2 blog.