Game Developer Valve released the latest Dota 2 patch on April 26th, 2018. The new patch brings about several changes to heroes, items as well as other aspects of the game. It affects a total of almost 60 heroes in addition to several changes to the items and the current meta as well. An update on such a big scale is bound to bring about huge changes in the professional scene.
There has been a lot of feedback and criticism from the community regarding the patch update schedule. We have pro players coming out and openly criticising the new patch update schedule. Valve need to find a quick solution ( edit which they have done ) to this problem.
A patch update merely a few days before a Major throws teams off-guard
The 7.14 update was shocking not only because of its timing but also because of the number of changes across the board. From the huge nerfs to offlane heroes, Terrorblade, Tusk, Broodmother to the various changes to item recipes, the 7.14 update will have a big impact on the current meta.
But it’s timing could not have been worse as it’s release was just a few days before the start of EPICENTER XL tournament. Most of the teams are either traveling or are practicing their customized strategies. With the new update, the coaches and players have to get together to form a new playstyle and in very short time.
Why do valve/icefrog feel the need of changing the game every 2 weeks it's absurd how big the changes are they were supposed to be minor, do consider there are at least 2 million dollars tourneys every month. No other sports do it and their games stay just as alive. #nomodehipstr
— Sumail (@SumaaaaiL) April 26, 2018
Professional players and coaches are very unhappy with the current patch schedule and have expressed their dissatisfaction on social media.
You used to be able to prep for a tourney. Now, it's nearly all intuition and luck. Either you somehow binked on the right concept or you did not. How is this a competitive game? Why don't we ability draft while at it and spawn SSBM items, pokeballs and everything?
— SunBhie (@SunBhieDota) April 26, 2018
What happens when the Scheduled update falls mid-tournament
Valve’s policy to release patch updates every two weeks is aimed at balancing the game constantly. The previous approach saw elongated time periods on one patch which often led to months of imbalanced gameplay. With the new updates rolling out every two weeks, Valve can fix problems sooner.
This also provides them with the ability to experiment with minor tweaks and changes. They can keep an eye on how the changes affect the gameplay both at the professional as well as pub level. But an unexpected problem arising out of this situation is that updates might release during an ongoing tournament.
If the organizers decide to play on the current updated patch mid-way through the tournament, it is quite unfair for all the teams. A team might be quite weak in the previous meta but they would suddenly be much stronger in the new update and vice versa.
There are four Majors and One Minor scheduled in the remainder of the first season of the Dota Pro Circuit. Out of these five events ( including the ongoing EPICENTER XL tournament), three tournaments might be affected by a patch update release mid-tournament. The three tournaments’ (GESC Thailand, ESL One Birmingham and the China Dota 2 Major) schedule covers the biweekly patch update dates. So if Valve were to release an update on their scheduled time, it would definitely affect these tournaments and the professional scene.
Update: New Patch Updates won’t fall mid-Majors
Valve has released an announcement that future Patch updates that fall during an ongoing tournament will be delayed till after the end of the tournament. This is to ensure continuity and the stability of the meta during an ongoing tournament. It is unfair to viewers and players alike if a tournament were to feature two different patch updates.
For upcoming Majors where the Thursday patch would land during the tournament, we will instead be releasing the patch at the end of the event.
— DOTA 2 (@DOTA2) April 28, 2018
The new system will definitely affect several of the upcoming tournaments. This is a clear communication to the organizers not to worry about an upcoming patch update mid-tournament. Teams can prepare for the tournament on the current patch and not have to worry about any potential upcoming patch. This is a step in the right direction, however, it still does not solve another problem.
What about any potential patch update schedules which are just days before upcoming tournaments? This will not be a problem in the current season of DPC, however, if the system were to continue without change, it will definitely cause problems for teams.
The current 7.14 update was released just a few days before the EPICENTER XL Major. Teams have had no time to prepare for the new patch update. There have been significant changes all across the board which will severely impact the pick rate of certain heroes and the hero item build.
We want to try taking a different approach to how gameplay patches are released. Instead of big patches a couple of times a year, we'll be releasing small patches every 2 weeks on Thursdays. We'll be trying this out for about six months and then reevaluating.
— IceFrog (@IceFrog) February 1, 2018
We do expect Valve to change the update schedule around September 2018. The current biweekly patch update is an experiment and will continue for six months (from February) according to Icefrog’s tweet. They will re-evaluate the update release system and figure out the best way for future patch releases.
Potential Solution: Release Updates on Monday
A potential solution to the current problems would be to release patch updates on Mondays. The current tournament finals usually end on a Sunday. The tournaments usually start around Thursdays so that they get 3-4 days of the tournament schedule. Ofcourse the current schedule leaves little to no time for professional teams and coaches to adapt. If a patch were to release on a Monday, it would provide ample preparation time for teams.
It is not a permanent solution but it is definitely better than the current system. Do you have any ideas that would helpimprove the current system? Or should we just wait for what valve announces after TI8. You can read the Dota 2 7.14 patch update notes here.