A whole lot of eyes are on Dota 2 at the moments, which makes this time a great opportunity to shed some light on some of Dota 2’s biggest issues. Unless you are an active player, then you likely are not aware of the incredibly looming and lucrative boosting services that plague the Dota 2 landscape. Today, we’ll be talking about Boosters In Dota 2.
What Are Boosters?
To the uninitiated, a booster is an individual, who sometimes may work for a larger entity, that uses his above-average skill to “boost” an accounts MMR up. These boosters provide their services in exchange for cash, or even in-game cosmetics. If a player wanted to boost his rank up, they would just have to reach out to a booster and provide their own Steam Log-in information along with some cash. Fast forward a few days, and you will receive your account X thousand MMR higher. For a small investment of $20 to $100, literally everyone could beat Valves MMR system, and that is incredibly detrimental to our game.
Why boosters boost?
Dota is a very difficult game. Players invest thousands of hours of their life into mastering it. In fact, it would be remiss to not call Dota 2 a lifestyle. For thousands of players, their lives completely revolve around game, and often don’t put their efforts into other aspects of their life. In the thousands of hours an individual played Dota, he could be learning a certain skill, getting an education, or building a career. Instead, these players consciously invest all their time into a game!
For a moment, put yourself in a boosters shoes. Odds are, you are not good enough to become pro, but you are definitely a cut above the rest. You’ve spent all your time and money into Dota, and you have no job skills to turn to, or an education to fall back on. Wouldn’t boosting be a decent option to give yourself a living?
Before we move on, it’s important to understand that boosting is merely a symptom of a much bigger problem. Looking back at my Guide To Entering The Competitive Scene, I went over the worship of the general community with ones solo MMR. It then becomes a very tantalizing option, to just spend a few bucks to garner yourself more respect and credibility. Credit to the MMR system, it’s pretty darn accurate, but it’s also incredibly easy to exploit. Although boosted accounts make up a very small fraction of the player base, their presence can be very damaging in the higher ranks.
Let’s assume that just 10 out of the Top 100 European players in Dota are boosted accounts. Let’s assume further that all 100 players were playing 20 games of Dota in tandem with one another. If 10 of these boosters happened to be playing in one lobby each, then half of all those games are an inaccurate measure of ten players MMR. This leaves us with a grand total of 500 players out of a thousand being negatively affected because of 10 individuals. Now apply this logic to the top 1000 players of Europe.
The results are exponentially more damaging as you go down in rank, since achieving lower ranks by boosters is a much simpler and cheaper undertaking. Hopefully now, you understand just how much damage a single booster can do, and why this issue is one that needs attention.
A Short Lesson In Macro Economics
Believe it or not, but inflation plays a massive role in this topic! Put yourself in South West Alabama, and buying a Big Mac at the local McDonalds for around 4 bucks minus tax. $4 translates to about 40 Moroccan Dirhams, which can be used to sufficiently feed a family of 4. Now picture yourself as a booster in downtown Casablanca, Morocco. You charged our friend from South West Alabama $20 to boost his account from 2k to 5k. You just netted a sweet 200 Moroccan Dirhams, and you’re now able to feed your family of 4 for at least 5 different meals. This idea answers two questions; how boosters sustain themselves, and where boosters are based.
Disclaimer that this information is purely anecdotal, and is not an accurate representation of Casablanca or South West Alabama. However, this backs up the fact that multiple boosted accounts are boosted on Europe East, Russia, and US East (many South American players play in this region) servers. Third world countries have created their very own sector in the gaming market, and are able to fully support themselves by clever manipulation of relative currencies.
Dota 2’s workshop gives talented creators the opportunity to submit cosmetics in the hopes of Valve adding them to the game. The workshop was once a wonderful library of thousands of awesome sets, but now they are littered with ads for boosting websites and scams. Valve continues to set stricter restrictions on what you can submit to the workshop, but trash sometimes finds its way through the cracks. Although this directly doesn’t contribute much to the discussion, it does give us an idea of how Valve has been handling the boosting issue.
Almost every other major competitive game, such as Overwatch, Fortnite, and Rainbow Six, have set much higher security measures to combat boosters. Sometimes that involves manually parsing through a suspected player’s match data, or by using an automated process to detect and punish boosters. Dota 2 does have such systems, but they simply are not effective. It may be funny at first, but the manpower behind the dev team at Valve working on Dota is incredibly minuscule. Add that to Valves more laid back and “laisez faire” business model, the laughably small number of people employed by Valve, and the fact that Dota 2 is almost a decade old. There just isn’t enough care being given to combat these exploits.
I always find myself talking about China with any topic that involves the movement of funds, and this is no exception. At the time of this writing, there is not a whole lot of information that is public, but a top-level Chinese streamer has reported being extorted by a group of boosters. Yaphets is an ex-pro player, and one of the most popular Dota streamers in all of China. He reported that the quality of his games on stream were incredibly low, but when he played off-stream, his games were fine.
Yaphets announced that he had received threats from a massive boosting service in China that unless he provides them with two hundred thousand Chinese Yen, his games would continue to deteriorate on stream. He also mentioned that pro players in China fell victim to this as well, with players paying up to that amount just to have normal games. As of this time, not much else is known about this incident, but here is a link to the discussion of the event on Reddit. Keep in mind that many of the information has been translated from Chinese to English. It’s hilarious and terrifying to imagine that Dota 2 might have an actual mob!
This whole article is a massive double-edged sword. There are two sides to every story, and this topic is no exception. Behind every booster, is a person trying to support himself by doing the only thing he knows how to do. As a result, the damage he does ripples throughout all of Dota 2’s Solo Queue bracket, and seem to be everywhere! They’re in our games, in our workshops, and even in our private messages. The boosting industry has truly established itself into a rather large one, and the ball is now in Valves court. Hopefully, a much stricter and proactive approach will be taken in the future.
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