The 2017/2018 DPC system has been a major talking point among players and talent alike. With the revamp, Valve set up a stacked schedule of qualifiers, Majors, and Minors, which many teams cannot keep up with, while others find to be a source of previously unavailable opportunities.
During our travels to ESL Katowice and PGL Bucharest Majors, we spoke to a total of 15 Dota 2 personalities, including pro players, coaches, and talent to hear their take on the DPC system and how it should improve for the next season.
Players and coaches
Arteezy at ESL Katowice
On if there's frustration with the DPC set-up:
I don't know if I hate or like the system. I like the fact that it's visible, that you can understand if you're getting invited, that part is nice. You have a leaderboard so if you're winning, you get points and it's good. And you can use math to deduce if you're going to get a [TI] invite. There are going to be like six teams that are constantly winning and there will be like two outliers, I assume. That's what I could mathematically deduce.
Kingrd at PGL
On if the number of qualifiers and tournaments is too high and exhausting:
Not really. In SA, we've never had this many opportunities to go to these international tournaments. The first time we ever went to a Major was last year in Kiev. I really like this number of tournaments and this flux of games. If you don’t play a lot, you are not going to evolve. I’m sure there is a moment that you can’t stand it anymore, but for us… I’m 26 years old, I need to give my best. You never know when this is going down, when you can’t even click on the mouse anymore. I’m very excited about all of this and want to keep going forward, be the first team in SA to get qualification points. That’s my goal and ultimately — to go to TI.
Kyle at ESL Katowice
On if this DPC is an improvement:
It’s better this year, but this is such an inferior system. We have 16-team Majors and only four teams get points, it just makes no sense to me. Half the teams in the event should be getting points. Eight-team Majors are worth as much as 16-team Majors. It is not thought out well enough. I hope next year we will see some significant changes.
MATUMBAMAN at ESL Katowice
On his wishlist for the future of DPC:
For the next year, I really wish there would be fewer Majors. Maybe we can keep 10 Minors or so, because Minors are good for the semi-pro teams, but having 10 Majors in a year is too much. [...]
We're Team Liquid and still playing all the Minors. [laughs] They didn't make a clear policy who can play Minors. It's weird, because nobody's sure if they're going to TI. There are no guaranteed invites so of course you're going to play all the events that you can. It's the logical way of thinking in our position. They never said they'll invite the defending champions so we have to grind all these events.
MISERY at ESL Katowice
On if the new DPC is better than the old system:
For me, the previous system was the same as it is now. I don't think Valve were doing anything big here. They already had this system, it just wasn't shown to the community. They already had some point system internally that they followed in terms of invites. Now, it's just put on paper and given to people. Maybe now it's even less open than it was before. I'm not a big fan, I think they could've definitely done something better.
Patos at ESL Katowice
On DPC through the eyes of a Tier 2 regional team:
I think it’s great for the regional teams, everyone can just try and qualify. Not so long ago, no one even knew many of us and suddenly we got to the The Perfect World Masters Minor in Shanghai, to The Summit 8, so it’s a perfect opportunity for new teams. I kind of don’t like how Valve work with it, though. They made some rules, but it doesn’t seem like they care too much about enforcing them. There was all this drama with qualifiers overlapping a few months ago [OpTic Gaming and Animal Planet were disqualified from Katowice NA Qualifiers due to their overlap with two others — Ed.].
It’s good that there are so many qualifiers and so many events and opportunities, but it’s also kind of hard for us. We need to step back a little and not try to play everything. We had a problem recently, because we played every single qualifier possible and it’s tiring. You need time for a break and actual practice, not only playing official matches. We didn’t have time with all those qualifiers going on and we didn’t win much, but it was kind of good too, because then we finally had time to scrim, so it worked out for us. We went to Katowice with less practice that we should’ve had, but we played too many officials. We came back from China and the very next day we had to play DAC 2018 Qualifiers and then another one, with jet lag and everything and we played so poorly.
Resolut1on at ESL Katowice
On living with DPC's schedule:
It is really difficult, because you have no time to relax, go out with friends or your girlfriend. I haven’t seen my girlfriend for a month and a half now. You are constantly on an edge that you create for yourself. Day by day, you have qualifiers after qualifiers, after qualifiers, then travel, events... It’s a very tough tempo this year.
On DPC point distribution:
This system is designed in such a way, that if you enter this top 4 and win a few events, you guarantee yourself an invite to The International 2018. And these Minors… I think if you win five or six Minors then you can also guarantee and invite.
UNiVeRsE at ESL Katowice
On the packed DPC schedule and scrim time:
It's not about the practicing or scrimming time for me, it's just more about the schedule. It's insane. We didn't qualify for a couple of tournaments and our schedule is still packed. We don't have any time, that's the main part that I don't like. There is not a healthy amount of time between tournaments to kind of reset, which we had in the previous season. [...]
I think the top teams have the ability to say no to Minors. They could be, "Oh, we won this Major, let's not go to the next Minor." But for the teams that are not in the top 3, they have to play everything.
YapzOr at ESL Katowice
On the overwhelming amount of tournaments and qualifiers:
I do like the new system, but the qualifier aspect [of having too many] is true. It is too much and it is not organized enough. In our case, thankfully we get direct invites to almost everything so we don’t play qualifiers anymore. However, when we used to, it was a huge struggle to be able to manage and organize our schedule: which tournaments we are going to and which we are not, which qualifiers to accept and which not to. It was very stressful at one point.
Capitalist at PGL
On DPC's schedule and ample opportunities:
Maybe I'll feel different after I'm done with DAC, because I'm doing every tournament: I'm doing Katowice, Bucharest, GESC, Dream League and DAC. That's US to Poland, Poland to Bucharest, Bucharest to Indonesia, Indonesia to Sweden, Sweden to China and then China to the US. [...] So I will probably feel different about it after this trip, but I think right now it's good. I'm loving that there's so much work to be able to choose from. I don't anticipate that it will be like this next year, I feel like many of the tournament organisers feel like it's actually just not worth it for them to do some of this, sponsorship-wise. We'll see, next year will tell that tale a little bit better.
Other than that, I think the point system itself is really good for being able to build a storyline, I think it's great for viewership and such. I think there's going to be a little bit of fatigue, not just for me, but maybe for some viewers and players. I don't think there's any reason going into TI — there is a month of break between the last tournament and TI — to have back-to-back Majors. Minors are essentially Majors at this point; none of these tournaments feel special, that's for sure. It feels like there's no difference between Minors and Majors. [...] I actually don't know half the time which one is a Minor and which one is a Major, and that's a problem — I can't really tell the difference as a person in the field, just at a glance.
On how to balance the tournament load for everyone involved:
Paul had some ideas, he wanted it to be really structured where you had Majors at all these places and each person can bid on it. I highly doubt Valve are ever going to be that structured.
I think this year was like the wild wild west, where Valve were just like, "Here's the system, everybody bids!" and all of a sudden people are bidding 3-4 tournaments and all of a sudden they get 3-4 tournaments and they're like, "Oh shit, I didn't expect that! Now I have to actually do four events!". [laughs]
I think in many ways Valve decided to let all of this happen and thought that the market would sort itself out, which I do actually believe will happen next year. I think naturally there will be fewer tournaments because I think the return on investment for many tournament organisers was not really there. Many tournament organisers didn't even really know what they were signing up for. I think they're going to dial it back and then naturally we will feel like the tournaments are more prestigious, sponsors will also feel that way, hopefully, and I think the ecosystem will kind of balance itself out.
I think this DPC system is a little bit better [than the old one]. I wish Valve did structure it and I wish they did make sure only the best tournament organisers that really proved themselves got Majors, and we can't have Majors too close to each other. I feel like the CS:GO scene is actually very good in that regard. There's some downsides to it, but I feel like their format was pretty strong.
On TI perhaps overshadowing other tournaments:
How many times, as storylines, are we talking about, "Hey, these teams care nothing about these tournaments, except TI." That was not good for building a storyline for TI, right? I think the DPC system naturally helped that out, where all of these third party tournaments are now steps towards TI, instead of just being overshadowed by it. I think we're always getting better systems. Valve is not a tournament organiser, they're a game developer and they're not going to be able to do this perfect right away, but I think they are getting better and better and have a stronger understanding of how to be able to create a good esport ecosystem.
Maut at PGL
On the DPC schedule as a whole:
There are definitely a lot of tournaments. I like the idea of having one or two big Majors per season, this way the Majors are that much more exciting. Now, there are a lot of tournaments and teams are filling out. You go home, you play qualifiers, you qualify, you fly out to LAN, you go back home and it all starts over. It might be too much for some of the teams, especially for those who aren’t actually getting invited to events. I can’t speak for the teams or players, but I’m sure a lot of them are getting burnt out. Two Majors back-to-back, there is a lot going on.
As a talent it’s great, because Moonduck probably wouldn’t have gotten a Minor or a Major in the last system. It helps us grow as a brand and organization. So I think it helps tournament organizers, talent, and getting more games. We’ll see if Valve want to tweak it. Maybe they’ll strike a nice balance between this system and the previous one. Overall, I think it’s good from the talent perspective at the very least.
On if he has any suggestions for Valve:
There are just so many qualifiers. Just somehow limiting those helps teams a lot. But you also need to keep the competitive integrity and have as many qualifying teams as you got the invites, so it’s definitely difficult. Maybe award fewer slots for tournament organizers, which hurts them. I don’t even know actually, I’m just a caster!
Nahaz at ESL Katowice
On the new DPC compared to old iterations:
It's important to keep in mind that's the first iteration of the system. That's very significant, because there were a lot of tournaments already planned for the fall and winter seasons that were sort of turned into these Majors and Minors. Always with these tournaments, people talk about Valve having done a lot of great things with the Major and TI system over the past few years — and there's no doubt — but you always have to keep in mind that Valve can sell hats and money can fix a lot of problems.
When you're talking about Valve's ability to put on a great tournament, what they are doing right now with the DPC system is subsidising the prize pools. Full stop. All of these companies are left to fund the tournaments by themselves, and as an economist that's great — it's free market. You put on a great event, people come, you make money, that should be the incentive. But I think that at the same time, the expectations need to be in line with that. The expectations need to be that there's going to be a growth in the system between this year and the next.
On DPC's structure:
Now, I do think there are some structural problems with the system. I think that there needs to be a bit more connection between the events. I do think that next year, when we have the opportunity to have these events planned a reasonable time in advance, there do need to be some clear expectations about the number of teams and the format. Right now, there's a little bit of negative interaction where the DPC point structure is very steep. It's not only that only top 4 get points, but the points rewarded to 1st and 2nd drop off very quickly [in comparison to 3rd and 4th place]. And due to the logistics, the limited time for the actual physical venue, those are most often the single elimination phases of the tournament. So you have the actual divvying up of the points being decided by the actual single elimination phase, which in some senses, is the opposite of what you want.
I think it's a core design problem. The allocation of the points and the tournament formats need to be synced up in a way that makes sense. If you have a full double elim tournaments like TI, the current point structure makes some sense, although I would still like to see more continuity of events, with Minors feeding Major fields, for example. But if you have a single elim playoffs phase, I do think that for a 16-team event like this the top 6 should all get points, for example.
Again, the most important statement which I haven't made yet is that I do think that the pro Dota 2 scene is unambiguously in a better place than it was a year ago. This has been a step in the right direction, but the most important thing for the community is that we view it as a step along the path. We are not near that destination. If we're still where we are now one year from today, I would be greatly disappointed and greatly critical. But for how far we've come and where we are right now, I think we're in a decent place.
TobiWan at PGL
On if the new DPC is overwhelming and/or an improvement to last year:
I like the fact that events mean something going forward towards TI. I like that the system is spread over the year as well, as opposed to being this short burst where you could qualify by playing three months before TI.
I've been around the public saying that I don't like the fact that we have a buy-in to respect with the current system. [By that I mean], I raise enough money to be a Minor or Major, but I don't earn it. Watching orgs in Counter-Strike, they are all pitching, trying to be the best they can possibly be in order to be selected for a Major. So, they are upping production value, the are upping everything they can to make their event memorable and meaningful. And I feel a lot of that meaning doesn't exist in Dota. I am not saying we're oversaturated — I think the amount of tournaments that are out there is a pretty good number — but the problem is that it's just not quality. Everyone is just rinsing, repeating. They are running a Major, because they are running a Major.
Zyori at PGL
On how he feels about DPC as a fan and someone in the business:
Overall — happy [about having lots of opportunities]. This is obviously a learning experience for all of us, Valve included. Valve have never been secretive about the fact that they like to try different things, collect data, reiterate and improve. There are some obvious drawbacks in the system: having two Majors cancelled already is definitely not ideal for the scene. There is that degree of a huge amount of events, which can be chaotic to follow as a viewer and for teams. But overall, I have a lot of confidence in Valve's ability to take this circuit, find the positives, discard the negatives and get us into a much better place next season.
Part of the issue for the people who don't work behind the scenes is that before we had these guaranteed Majors, four big ones, and there were a lot of other companies that stepped up and said, "Hey, we'd love to do a Major event. How do we do it?" and there was no answer to that question.
Now, it’s completely the other way. Valve say, "If you've got the money, we got you. Step up and show us what you got." A big part of me believes this was an intentionally chaotic season to see which brands would float and which would sink. My gut tells me next season will probably be this middle ground between the two, we'll have more than four Majors or Minors — I can't imagine we'll have as many as we did in this season.
For some of the events on the 2017/2018 calendar, I find myself scratching my head, wondering how the fuck are they financing it. How are they even close to breaking even? For some of the Major/Minor events this season, you have to wonder if they would want to do it again given the opportunity.