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Opinion: Valve, it’s time to talk to us, Dota 2 deserves better

Following the outburst of Dota 2 caster and analyst Kyle “Kyle” Freedman during the ongoing OMEGA League a lively discussion has sparked in the scene.

Kyle’s outburst happened after three consecutive gamecrashes led to a postponement of the match between Team Liquid and 5Men in the OMEGA League. In it he condemned the lack of support Valve has given Dota 2 during the current pandemic.

All kinds of sides have been taken: From the overly melodramatic “Valve has abandoned the game” to the other end of the spectrum, where developers can do absolutely nothing wrong. The Dota 2 corner of the internet has exploded in debating the future of their game’s competitive scene.

As much as I feel the same frustration as Kyle did in his outburst the way forward is unfortunately not that easy.

Dota Pro Circuit in limbo

The first and foremost issue is without a doubt the current status of the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC). With all remaining events cancelled and The International 10 postponed indefinitely, the competitive scene has been living by the scraps independent organisers like ESL or the current OMEGA League have thrown them. It already led to several organisations simply exiting the scene as the future of the DPC is thoroughly unclear.

The silence from Valve was deafening for the majority of the past months as other esport titles like League of Legends or Overwatch adopted online play. The only statement after the initial halt to the DPC and promising a “restructure for Fall 2020” was a tweet on August 25:

Hardly enough to inspire confidence even as the TI10 prize pool skyrocketed to yet another world record. So how can we fix it?

Why can’t we just restart the DPC?

Judging from the examples set by other esport titles a transition to an online regional league should not be that big of a deal and is in fact inevitable to keep competition going during the pandemic. Considering that Valve was originally planning to do so for the next season of the DPC anyway the question becomes even more pressing.

The main issue that hinders any changes to the DPC’s current comatose status is Valve’s determination to not hold The International as an event without audience. In their few statements since the DPC was effectively cancelled, they have again and again stressed the fact that The International needs to be an event for “everyone to enjoy”.

With current travel restrictions and a second wave of infections on the rise such a large-scale event is simply not feasible. But with that said, it effectively means the current DPC season is doomed to continue its zombie-like status as not finishing the season with a TI has no support from teams, players and fans.

This delay in resolving the DPC season also actively hinders any way to organise the upcoming season, which is supposed to start in October 2020. Seeding into the regional leagues was supposed to be done according to the results of the 2019/20 season, a thing simply impossible to do as long as the season is unfinished. So what is the way forward?

Valve needs to compromise on their idea of having TI for everyone or they will need to invalidate the past results of the half-finished season in order to plan the next. There is no way to resolve the current situation in a different way unless Valve decides to let the Dota 2 scene linger on in uncertainty until a time when vaccination against COVID-19 becomes possible.

Poor communication is killing the scene

However the absolute first thing Valve needs to do is communicate. Not exactly one of their strong suites but it really should not be too much to ask of them. Even against all those circumstances the Dota 2 community remains passionate and invested into the game and clear and regular communication would do much to alleviate most of the issues.

There is no doubt that players exclaiming “Valve has abandoned Dota 2” are way overshooting the mark. But at the same time there are lots of issues with the current state of the game: A declining player base, non-existing new player experience or bugs in the game that go unfixed too long just to name a few. Even a simple update regarding the status of those issues would be much appreciated, but silence leads to wild theories, dissatisfaction and uncertainty.

It is way past time that Valve opens up and communicates properly with one of the most passionate communities out there in esports. Another half year of limbo is not the way forward and Valve needs to step up to stabilise a scene struggling.

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Image Credit: Valve
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