The Summit X and the Dota 2 competitive ecosystem
This year’s Beyond the Summit Dota 2 event was forced to endure the harsh realities of the “new and improved” DPC (Dota Pro Circuit) System. The Summit was the bastion of competitive Dota 2, where most top tier teams would go and compete the unique environment at BTS to gain “coolness” points and interact more intimately with casters and fans.
The changes to the 2018/19 season have cost several established tournament providers in the Dota 2 ecosystem to downgrade or fold their events. Back in November 2018, Beyond The Summit had to announce it would be postponing the planned Summit X till 2019 since they have been unable to confirm decent teams and arrange for a competitive event. As a replacement an online event named: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Summit!” was held as an online competition. And the troubles didn’t end there, as the recently held Summit X proves that point. While last year’s summer Summit 9 featured 5 out of 6 TI 2018 participants, this year the event featured only Team Alliance (who also won the event). And while The Summit event is not an exception to the trend the changed DPC system caused, it is one of the “legacy” Dota events, and one of the prime North American events in competitive Dota 2.
The announcement of 2020 calendar doesn’t bring much hope for events like The Summit or similar. We will once again witness 5 Majors and 5 Minors hosted (probably in EU and China) and all the top tier teams flocking to mainly these ten events. With qualifiers for these events taking valuable time and load on the teams and these events (especially Majors) being the only way to get to The International, we might be faced with a crumbling competitive ecosystem in Dota 2.
Additionally, any hope for semi-professional, amateur or up-and-coming teams to make it BIG might go out the window. The inability of top tier teams to attend local or various events due to qualifiers will cause other events to lose on viewership and potential sponsorship deals which in turn will kill off the grassroots nature of the Dota 2 scene. Without the smaller events the amateur scene dies off and the interest in pursuing the career and potentially going pro is minimized.
What is the solution?
While critiquing the problem is good, providing a solid solution is better. Valve’s current policy of not going the “Franchise” way akin to Riot’s League of Legends scene or Blizzards Overwatch League is commendable. The third-party event organizers are the soul of the esports scene and what esports is at its core. But, giving the reigning rights to a spot at The International to a select few events and making TI the most lucrative event of the season is going to have consequences.
Instead, a system similar to the Tennis ATP World Tour should be implement. In this scenario The International will be only the crowning event at the end of the season equal to the ATP Finals in London. Majors being equal to Grand Slams and Minors representing the ATP 1000 tour. All the other events similar to The Summit should still provide DPC points as smaller ATP500/250 events do. On top of this TI cannot be the sole beneficiary of the Battle Pass fund. In order to extend the financial support downwards to the ecosystem the battle pass should be redefined into a Dota 2 competitive fund giving something in the range of 50/25/15/10 of the funds to all lower tier events in the circuit. The teams that win an event of course retain their points throughout the year until the next time the event is held. Ensuring an ongoing ranking that would improve seeding and minimize the need and length of qualifiers.
All of the above should result in beloved events like The Summit to stay in business and also provide top tier teams with flexibility in attendance at various events during a competitive season.
All critique aside, The International will be upon us in two weeks and The BOT TI starts today. Get your hype on and read you soon.