The problem of Dota 2 Pro Circuit and Tournament invites needs a solution

Valve has made sweeping changes to the Dota 2 Professional esports scene. The DPC is a points-based system which decides which teams get the invitations to The International.

The International is a multimillion-dollar tournament held around August every year. It is the biggest esports event globally and is considered to be the pinnacle of the Dota 2 calendar year. With huge prize money at stake, every team wants to qualify to and participate in The International.

The current Dota 2 season has approximately an equal number of Dota 2 Majors and Minors. This has created an identity problem for Dota 2 Minors since there is not much differentiating the Majors from the Minors. The recent Starladder I League Season 5 was the best example of what a Dota 2 Minor should feel like. Check out our article on the Starladder I League Season 5 here.

But as we head into the final months of the DPC system, a few tournaments invites have raised questions. The recent Chinese Dota 2 Super Majors invites to OG and Na’Vi are definitely questionable, considering their current form and rankings.

The problem of the Dota 2 tournament Invites

An invite to The International is every Dota 2 teams dream. The prestige of attending The International as well as the huge prize money is an amazing opportunity for the team owners and players. The International is usually held in Seattle, however this year there is a change in the venue. Due to renovations at the KeyArena, TI8 will be held in Vancouver. This does make it easier for many teams and players to attend The International. There will be fewer visa issues for players who can focus on their game and performance.

However, the current DPC system has no restrictions on how Tournament organizers handle their invites. This puts the invitations into a very subjective perspective. There are several criteria that can change how organizers hand out invites to their tournaments. Since the Invites directly affect the chances of a team qualifying to TI8, this is a serious issue which affects the entire scene.

A few questionable invites

The problem surfaced once more when a few Major tournaments announced the invitations. ESL One Birmingham is scheduled for the end of May 2018. They recently announced their invites to the tournament, which saw the absence of Team Secret from the announcement.


Taking their place Evil Genius was the invited team and raised quite a few eyebrows. Evil Geniuses is currently not amongst the top tier of Dota 2 teams. They probably should not have been invited to the tournament above Team Secret.

A similar situation arose in the case of the upcoming Shanghai Dota 2 SuperMajor. The Shanghai SuperMajor is a $1.5 million Prize pool Dota 2 Major which also has the highest DPC points on offer. The total PDC points on offer at the Chinese Dota 2 SuperMajor is 2250 which can cause a turn in the final rankings of the DPC leaderboards.

The Chinese Dota 2 SuperMajor invited Na’Vi and OG which caused a lot of confusion amongst the fans. The announcement definitely came as a surprise as the two teams are ranked 10th and 12th in the Dota 2 Pro Circuit Leaderboards respectively. This is a massive letdown to some of the teams who are ranked above them.

But how do tournaments decide which teams to invite? Apparently, the organizers do refer to the DPC rankings, but the delay in announcements definitely causes big changes in the DPC rankings.

Announcements weeks after the official invitations.

One of the reasons for the disjointed tournament invites is the delay in the announcements. The recent cases of Na’Vi and OG invited to the Chinese Dota 2 Supermajor is a case in point. Perfect World handed out the invites on March 19th, 2018. However, they only announced the invites a month later.

In the meantime, there was a huge reshuffle in the DPC leaderboard rankings. The projected gap between the invites and the DPC rankings is because of the delay in making the official announcement.

The tournament economics

Organising a Dota 2 event (or any esports event) is a costly affair. This has been reiterated by several tournament organizers and ESL have gone on to sign exclusive broadcasting deals. Their deal with Facebook is a result of profits from organizing an esports tournament.

So when the decision of tournament invites is left to the organizers’ discretion, there is bound to be a conflict of

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interest. The organizers want to invite the teams which make the most economic sense for a tournament. This might be due to bigger fan presence or on the insistence of the sponsors.

A bigger fan following ensures more viewers and more interaction with the fans. The tournament organizers also often have financial deals in place with specific teams which might affect their decision to invite certain teams over others. The conflict of interest in the decision-making process is definitely a reality.

Such decisions definitely affect the integrity of the tournament, but it comes as a tradeoff to better economic prospects. So does that mean that tournaments should only invite teams based on their fan following and on the insistence of the tournament’s sponsors?

The alternative means difficulties for smaller tournaments

Esports Audience

The Smaller tournaments, currently called the Dota 2 Minors definitely have a more difficult problem on their hands. The lower prize pool, yet the high production costs mean that the tournaments are stretched from a financial perspective. The fans are already used to great production, which is on display in the various community feedback threads we see regularly.  

The smaller Dota 2 Minors have a lower prize pool, but the community constantly puts them on the stand for their poor production. Ensuriorganizersproduction and a top-level tournament cost money. The demands from fans, the insistence of sponsors often affect the final decision on tournament invites.

However, this was not the case with the Dota 2 SuperMajor invites which saw a delayed announcement.

It is a problem without guidelines

As long as a tournament has set aside a set number of qualifier spots, they have full leeway to invite any teams they want. Is this an abuse of their powers? But what really constitutes ‘abuse of power’? Without set guidelines on the process of tournament invitations, there are always going to be different views on the invites.

So Valve should set up a guideline for how organizers invite teams to the tournaments. The current system leaves a lot of room for subjectivity which is bound to create a difference of opinion amongst players.

What’s the solution?

A potential solution to the problem would be to make the official announcements as soon as possible. This will ensure that the community sees the reasoning behind the invites and the invitations go to the best teams in the circuit.

At the same time, the tournament organizers should come together to create a talent jury. The jury should have inputs on which teams to invite based on the geography, the current DPC standings as well as the popularity of the tournament.

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Rohan Samal