- Just what the heck is going on with North American Dota? I took a deep dive, and got in touch with the big amateur teams and organizers, and they gave their thoughts on some issues and highlighted potential solutions.
W H Y
If one were to try and drum up a conclusion as to why North American Dota is struggling to find it’s footing, the issues would be far too vast to wrap your head around. The reality of the situation is that the scene has a rich and plentiful amateur scene, with no shortage of quality players ready to take on the big stage. Hell, the very game was birthed in North America, and it’s most prestigious tournament was held there as well (The International). It’s a region that holds some of the biggest names in all of Dota, in Arteezy, Suma1l, and ex-Dota player PPD. Despite all of this, we simply don’t see many new faces in the biggest and most important tournaments in the world. Why?
- Read: All Dota 2 News
It’s one thing to sit and speculate as an observer, to try and identify what exactly is stopping NA from thriving. And all that speculating does, is draw you to one single conclusion; there simply is not enough of a North American Dota presence as there once was. This is indicated by the inherent low player numbers in the region, as well as lower viewer numbers compared to other games. So you ask yourself, how do we breath more life into the North American Dota scene? Well, that’s easy, just start running more tournaments in NA!
But then you realize, that Tournament Organizers will not run any tournaments in the region because they don’t deem it as profitable as others. What you’re left with is a chicken and the egg scenario, a positive feedback loop, a road to utter dissolution of an incredibly important region in all of gaming.
The Real Story
The good news is, that this is but a part of the issue at hand. There are so many other moving parts to this story, that are totally in our control, and deserve to be discussed. To fully understand the issue, I reached out to Team Plasma and Doze Reborn Cyber Athletics Club on what they thought about the issue. Interestingly, they both shared almost identical thoughts towards the state of North American Dota. This is where our story will begin, so that you may understand that this is an ongoing issue, and one that can actively be discussed.
On the 13th of June, Beyond The Summit (BTS) kicked off their new American league; named “BTS Pro Series Season 2”. At first glance, I thought that this was an excellent way to nurture a struggling region, to give smaller teams more exposure and a chance to show their stuff! However, there was more than meets the eye with this tournament, as prominent Tier 2 Teams outlined a major flaw in its invite system.
The Tangible Problem
Recently, a tournament hosted by 4D Esports dubbed, The Great American Rivalry (TGAR) had kicked off. This tournament reflects some of the discrepancy in invites highlighted before. I reached out to Plasma and Doze, and they both expressed that, in general, “North American tournaments give way too many slots to South America”. Looking at the invites to the 2nd Division of the TGAR tournament, this is completely true as the overwhelming majority of the participants are South American teams. The keyword here is “invites’, so these teams were specifically chosen to compete. The 1st Division is similar, and funnily enough, one of the highest-rated North American teams, Evil Geniuses, dropped out of the tournament. And they were replaced by Vira-Lata Caramelo, an amateur South American team.
Team Plasma’s Twitter guy analogized the situation beautifully. Both Plasma and Doze have been struggling with the fact that almost all American Tournaments had invited 40%-50% South American teams. As frustrating as that may be for NA, what that actually ended up doing, was nurturing and developing the South American scene extensively! What was once a forgotten, and unregarded region, suddenly became very represented and developed in the scene, and that’s a great thing! The issue is that, South America has not, nor can they, reciprocate the gesture.
Plasma: “There is a major gap between Pingu, Doze, and Tier 1 NA. With no bridge to gap it. (South Americans) only allow you on their bridge if you’ve passed over the NA one. When we can’t even cross the NA bridge because those slots are given to 50% SA teams. It’s extremely depressing to realize that there is essentially no real way forward for in T2 NA dota.”
Let’s try and make a case for these organizers, and assume that these teams deserved the invites. However, Doze is one of the most dominant amateur teams in the world, as they are coming off a 1st place finish at the Underdogs League and Freelo, and are contenders for the Epulze Global Dota 2 League. Moreover, they are on record in saying that they have had “high profile wins in scrims against Infamous (and) Thunder Predator but yet we won’t get invited to tournaments.”. This team has the results to justify an invite, yet they had not received any.
Team Plasma, another prominent amateur Tier 2 team has had some luck in nabbing some of those elusive invites. The problem, is that Doze has had repeated success in beating Plasma in tournaments and leagues. In fact, “we (Doze) beat Plasma for Underdogs Champion and beat them 5 of the last 6 games we played.”. And even Plasma can empathize with Doze, as they also expressed that Doze has the capability to take on these tournaments. This whole rabbit hole spawned off of their infamous Tweet, taking on another major player in our story, BTS.
With all due respect. Please reconsider the generosity BTS shows SA with invites. They will never reciprocate. We are starving in NA. @DozeReborn isnt here, why? They can top 10 this easily. Pingu could put together a stack in 15 min that would clown on 75% of these teams.
— Plasma1337x (@Plasma1337x) July 2, 2020
BTS (Beyond The Summit) has given the fans no shortage of some excellent tournaments to watch in this COVID season. I mean, it’s almost a match made in heaven! Amateur teams can’t afford to drop everything and go to Lans around the world, and neither can Tournament Organizers fund and house them. Instead, the entire ecosystem is forced to compete in an online format, which means that amateur teams can finally participate on relatively equal grounds alongside the world’s best. It’s probably a slightly controversial thing to say, that COVID is probably the best thing that has happened to amateur Dota in years.
- Read: All Esports News
Beyond The Summit
So, what is stopping 4D esports from inviting Doze versus a South American team? Or Doze versus Team Plasma? I approached BTS for a comment on this issue, and here is the full, unadulterated response from Blaze, a BTS representative: “In general, third-party organizers are incentivized to invite teams based on various factors. If there’s a demographic that they find more value in, it’s their prerogative to focus on that. We don’t generally look to weigh in on other organizers’ decisions in this area.”
With that, we begin to understand that BTS and other Tournament Organizers are not necessarily guilty for this inconsistency in invites. In fact, this statement from BTS was so eye-opening, that I began to form my own conclusions as to why Plasma was invited to the BTS Pro Series and Doze did not. Plasma simply had more Twitter followers and had a larger following. Thus, they would likely generate more viewers for the event. As for the South American teams, I can’t say for sure how large their followings are, but in general, the fan service that they get is nothing short of phenomenal. GAAAAAAAAAAA!
Filling In The Blanks
It’s important to realize that Tournament Organizers is fully aware that they are fully able to give out fair invites. At the very least, be able to run open/closed qualifiers and have the teams performance judge themselves. But at the end of the day, a longer tournament isn’t a better one, nor is it as profitable. I’d like to reiterate that this is all speculation based on the statement given by Tournament Organizers, and is in no way indicative of the policies or decisions they make when handing out invites.
It’s still very difficult not to empathize with Doze. To them, “The NA tournaments from BTS and others are a huge kick in the head”. They are also confident that should the tournaments run open qualifiers, “we would win 95 percent of games”. This is nothing more than a case of a group of hard-working people, that don’t feel that their work is being fully recognized; and that is a major problem.
A (Hopefully) Happy Ending
Fortunately, our story ends on a positive note. Months ago, Valve announced the changes to the 2020-2021 DPC season, where there will be a large focus on regional leagues. The important thing for Doze, and other amateur teams, is that Valve is suggesting a very fair and just form of handing out invites. A system that is entirely performance-based, that is blind to numbers and followings. A system that rewards teams like Doze, and provides that figurative “bridge” that North America is sorely lacking.
I asked both teams what they think would come of such a drastic alteration to the DPC system. I asked Plasma if this was that “bridge” that North America truly needed, and they responded that “it will be a bridge, congested like crazy though. Everyone will come out of retirement for the qualifiers.” “and NA Dota #1” XD! Doze is on record in saying, that if you put them in a qualifier situation, that they are completely able and willing to go all the way.
It’s hard to say whether or not that the NA issue has effectively been solved by Valve. Regardless if it is or no, I think that this is an extremely important point in Dota 2’s history. A point where North American Dota was almost on the cusp of getting wiped out. Yet through the hardships and injustices, the NA teams persevered and pushed for nothing more than a fair fight. And that perhaps, at some point in the future, if such an issue were to rise again, we can look back, and possibly learn how to act in such a situation. At the end of the day, all that matters is that North American Dota remains and that the best is yet to come!