TI9 starts in just a day, and with it the 2018/19 DPC season is coming to an end. Every year Valve upgrades the system and adds structure to the professional scene. With the closure of this season, I would like to present some ideas and put them up for further discussion. Parts of revamp may sound too radical but please read to the end so you can at least get a whole picture. Conclusions I make are not absolute and the main point of this article is to theory craft a better, more ideal Dota ecosystem.
DPC Ranking Changes
One of the biggest flaws of the current system is that the team ranking’s only function is to determine direct TI invites and nothing else. Players are overall unhappy by the lack of direct invites to the tournaments. And this season gave them all the right to be so, since most of the same top teams got to the Majors anyway. I think the current system gives false sense of fluidity in the scene. And a lot of T1 teams from crowded regions suffered because of that.
YapzOr on playing qualifiers
I take a lot from tennis system for this article because I find it to be the most akin to Dota’s. Roughly, like in tennis ATP rankings, DPC teams would win points by placements in tournaments throughout the year, and this would accumulate to their ranking. Ranking would then be used for seeding and invites priority for the tournaments. For this system to take place we need a starting point.
Teams that placed 1st to 4th place in Minors should get more points than their counterparts that placed from 3rd to 7th place in Majors.
My suggestion wold be for all teams to get 0 points at the begin of a season. And that the seedlings for the first “period” of a new season then be calculated from this years DPC table + TI9 results. After a full calendar year, the points stay, and the players (teams) would then battle in the next season to “defend” their points or even win new ones. That way teams would gain or lose their ranking accordingly. As for the point distribution/deterioration system with roster changes, I’m fine with the current one. Should teams suffer bigger penalties for a roster change, I’m not sure…
Dota is a global game, we are all connected via the internet and the main barrier is the ping. But ping doesn’t really matter when all of the big tournaments are played on LAN. In tournament environment, it doesn’t matter what region are you from. So the first logical step would be removing region locked qualifiers for LAN events. In no way did they help in developing a region as it was proposed. Most teams from SA or NA (apart from EG) did poorly on every big event and didn’t show much progress thought the season. Simply there are not enough teams from the region to compete and scrim against. And the scene can’t rely on open qualifiers BO1 to propel new talent. So I repeat again, for LANs, remove qualifiers and region slots.
So the important part of the system, since there are no more qualifiers for top tournaments, is to introduce a fluidity mechanism.
So how would this, non-qualifiers for LANs, system then work? How will weaker teams get their chance to compete against the best? Introduce a third tier of tournaments, next to Majors and Minors, the Regionals. So we would have:
T1 – Majors
Majors – They would be a direct invite only, reserved for the top teams on the DPC table. If two or more teams have the same number of points there should be a tie break rule, something along the lines of looking at a roster stability or maximum team placement (of top 4 players), or something else. If infrastructure and finances allow it, why not even expand the number of teams participating to 32 from current 16.
T2 – Minors
Minors – These would also be a direct invite only, intended for the rest of the teams on the DPC table that didn’t get to Majors. It would also be nice to increase the number of participants at Minors too. Winning a minor doesn’t give any direct slots to Major anymore.
T3 – Regionals
Regionals – The most important of them all. Regionals would be an online only tournament and as such, the region lock should be regulated by mandatory ping rule. As they would be the lowest tier tournaments, they would have an open qualifier. Since the tournament would be held online I would like for it to be as big as it can to accommodate open qualifier teams as much as possible. Also the length of the tournament should exceed LANs to make room for bo3 to be played as early as possible in the tournament. Teams that qualify need to participate with the roster they qualified with, no changes allowed (only subs). Depending on the number of players the tournament should last for more than 2 weeks.
So the important part of the system, since there are no more qualifiers for top tournaments, is to introduce a fluidity mechanism. The lower tier teams need to have a chance to get to the top and vice versa, the bad ones to fall down. Adding to the point deterioration I mentioned earlier, we also need to have a more even point distribution system for Majors, Minors and Regionals. For instance, teams that placed 1st to 4th place in Minors should get more points than their counterparts that placed from 3rd to 7th place in Majors.
Season Flow Changes
In order to avoid a monopoly of a few teams, the season should be planned so that in one “period” a team can only play in one tier of the competition. A “period” in this sense is a triplet of T1, T2 and T3 tournament that is played in the same timeframe. Majors extend invites first to the top seeded teams. If a team doesn’t want to compete at that tier, the invite is given to the next team in line. After Majors, Minors extend their invites also following the seeding order. The rest can then play Regionals.
So I would suggest for the money raised from compendiums to be used for as a financial support of the rest of the DPC circuit.
The system would be regulated either by a rule that would force a team to participate in only one tier of a tournament per “period”. And in this case the schedule could be more leisure. The other scenario would be that we rely on the schedule to be created in a way so the teams are physically not able to participate in more than one tier per “period”. A “period” would then have a T1 tournament first, then, following a day or two later, a T2. And T3 tournament’s start would overlap with the ending of T1 tournament and should last at least till the beginning of T2 tournament.
The International Changes
I haven’t forgotten about TI and its place in this conundrum of revamping. Another parallel from the tennis world is TI. It reminds me a lot in concept of the “ATP Finals” masters. It gathers, at the end of the year, the best teams to compete for prestige, above all. This year TI is being held in China. I hope Vlalve will continue to move the vent around the globe for the years to come. Maybe it’s an unpopular opinion, but for me, the “top-heaviness” of the prize money for TI is really in unbalanced with the rest of the season. So I would suggest for the money raised from compendiums to be used for as a financial support of the rest of the DPC circuit. With this money spread more evenly, tournament organizers (especially smaller ones) could sustain their business and expand reach. We could get the much needed infrastructure for Regionals, more teams participating on the LANs and financial sustainability for T3 teams striving for their dreams.
All in all, I am certain Valve will improve upon DPC, as they do each and every year. The esports market is hungry for a level up. It’s not realistic to expect a sudden big change in the DPC. The scen should first get a dedicated team if Dota doesn’t have one already. All this should not deter the scene to look forward and strive for ideals.