Toby "TobiWan" Dawson on the problems of the Dota 2 scene

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Toby "TobiWan" Dawson on the problems of the Dota 2 scene

While the International 2017 looks set to break new records, not everything is good in the land of Dota 2. Toby "TobiWan" Dawson wrote an ominous tweet about Dota 2 reaching a breaking point for the community.

Such a message is a little worrying as TobiWan is a well Australian Dota 2 commentator working for joinDOTA and is one of the most prominent Dota 2 casters in the scene, having been to every International. He's a very well known caster in the scene and has won multiple commentator awards from GosuGamer.

To bring some more context to his statement, he then followed this up with a massive post on Reddit, covering multiple problems in the community that dearly need Valve intervention. While Valve in some respects is doing a great job in building up the Esports community, there are significant problems in how important they are and how the independent scene isn't developing enough. Full post here:

"Many of these things have already been discussed multiple times since the first days of DOTA 2, they are reaching a point where the future of DOTA 2 is reliant on some if not all these issues being resolved:

  • All tournaments are eclipsed by Valve tournaments
  • Crowd funding is now exclusive to Valve tournaments
  • Workshop artists are expressing issues, if not leaving the community.
  • Majors/TI are done by contractors and not by people who are building sustainable DOTA scenes/communities outside of the Majors/TI

Short extension thoughts on the above points:
When a tournament organiser makes an event they want to be #1 & sponsors want to be involved with the best, this from the very start is not possible as you can never be a Major and you can never run The International. This removes a lot of the drive you see in events in CS:GO where they fight to be a Major, working hard to 1 up the other events to take the title and give your event the respect.
Crowd funding was one of the greatest things ever, it helped tournaments to close the gap between The International prize pool and their own. This was very important in the early days as reaching even 50k prize pool was a struggle for most organisers, but with the crowd funding and compendiums groups like Dota Cinema and Beyond the Summit would have struggled to have created such amazing events like 'The Summit' and 'Captains Draft'. This support no longer exists.
Cosmetics is not just something we all just enjoy inside the game, but it is the primary source of crowd funding. The greatest crowd funding has revolved around the best sets, DotaCinema learned this the best when they released their Juggernaut set and blew up their CD tournament prize pool. The lower the quality of items the lower the money you will encourage people to spend, the result will be a reduced prize pool as the talent of these creators leave the scene.
The white label approach to the DOTA Majors and TI is great for us to all avoid watching adverts and for Valve to control their product, the result however is we have groups run these events but it is just these events....there are no by-products created from a Major. A good example of this is ESL One, an event which is run multiple times in a year but only 1 of those are classed as a 'Major' meaning momentum is carried through into other meaningful events and not just burns out in one go.
It also extends to the point where all the casters/analysts/crew become hired guns for these short burst events, giving little structure/stability which normally gives extended useful content and budding communities.
While there are more issues than these, these are the core problems which are causing the infrastructure of DOTA dedicated groups to fall apart, and like BTS has done...branch out into other games which are more sustainable.
Note that I am not referring to the number of people playing DOTA 2, or the treatment of players...this is not an area I am highlighting, my focus is on everything else behind the scenes that keeps the DOTA 2 competitive scene alive both in Valve and non valve events.
It is not too late for DOTA 2 to be revived on this front, but there is only one group that can change our fate and that is Valve. While it is possible for people to fight to keep things going (which a lot of us have already been doing) it will reach a point where the risk is not worth the reward and everyone you love to follow and events you enjoyed watching will dissolve.
Speaking as someone who has given almost 13yrs of his life to this community, it is heartbreaking to right such things...but I do in the hope that people give a shit & are capable of putting their insecurities aside to take a good objective look out our community and ask is there more we can do, and can we earn the title of being one of the top 3 Esports in the world?

For those asking for solutions it is simple yet complicated, what needs to happen for the DOTA 2 world to thrive once more:
Benefits for workshop artists to dedicate themselves 100% to item creation (like it was)
Valve no longer run white label Majors and give the 'Major' brand as an incentive to well run events not just regional partners
Crowd funding is made available for 3rd parties, with a streamlined item/ticket submission system
Compendiums are made available for 3rd parties, this was a critical part to share the tournament communities with the rest of the DOTA 2 player base
A more structured qualification is run for Major events / The International. This is a more complicated solution which there is no perfect answer, but the most logical part is to remove the invite system we currently use and bring in minors, majors and a way to qualify for such events which is clear for all to follow instead of the guessing game we currently play.
There is always more that can be done, but opening up these things will give more opportunities for groups involved in the scene."

Dota 2 innovated on crowd funding with tournaments and making crazy prize pools, but that can only go so far. Valve definitely needs to implement some changes to make the whole ecosystem more coherent and long lasting, and open up opportunities for other people and organizations.

source header image: Valve Software

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