Valve's Shanghai DOTA 2 Tournament Is Improving, But Still A Disaster

Valve's Shanghai DOTA 2 Tournament Continues To Be A Disaster

Late last week, Gabe Newell very publicly fired a controversial commentator from the $US3 million DOTA 2 Shanghai Major, calling him an "ass". He also fired the production team. That, however, was apparently not enough to right a sinking ship. This week has seen all sorts of issues major and minor, from non-sound-proof commentating booths (which could alert teams to each others' strategies), to weird noises on stream, to a lack of private Wi-Fi for teams, leaving their communication and information potentially unsecured. Other high lowlights include an exasperated broadcast director who, for a while, couldn't even get a pass to the event she was directing, mistreated cosplayers, a VIP room with, uh, some chairs and a lack of transportation for talent after a 17-hour workday.

As SB Nation reports, the week's biggest flub came yesterday, when the Major's organisational staff lost Team Spirit player Roman "Ramzes666" Kushnarev's keyboard.

The event then suffered a delay that left the entire 31,000-seat stadium empty. At an event of the Shanghai major's size, scale and cost, this is basically unheard of. It's also a terrible misstep in the wake of DOTA 2's increasingly professional events and broadcasts (case in point: Valve's debut tentpole major, held in Frankfurt, was great). In the span of a single event, the sport's gone from wowing crowds on the big stage all the way back to the amateur leagues.

It should be noted that the new production team is doing their damnedest to wipe the muck and shame off this event and get it on its feet again. People have apparently been sleeping behind cameras not out of laziness or a lack of dedication, but because of how many extra hours they have been putting in. Here's commentator Jorien "Sheever" van der Heijden talking about that:

On the upside, production seems to be slowly improving, and fans are taking notice:

Valve's Shanghai DOTA 2 Tournament Continues To Be A Disaster
Valve's Shanghai DOTA 2 Tournament Continues To Be A Disaster
Valve's Shanghai DOTA 2 Tournament Continues To Be A Disaster
Valve's Shanghai DOTA 2 Tournament Continues To Be A Disaster

Still, DOTA 2's Shanghai major will almost certainly not be remembered for its great games (of which there have been many) or even these improvements, but rather lessons in What Not To Ever, Ever, Ever Do When Running An Esports Event and How Not To Communicate With Your Audience: The Valve Story: A Play In Any Number Other Than Three Acts. PC Gamer's Chris Thursten made an especially sobering point about the latter issue that I think bears repeating:

I'm of the opinion that this doesn't matter much if the decision [involving commentator James "2GD" Harding] was the right one. In fact, there are plenty of other instances where I've wanted Valve to take a stronger line — player behaviour being the standout example. In Harding's case I'm not sure that they could have made any other call: he dropped a c-bomb, he made a government censorship joke about porn in arguably the worst country in the world to do that in.

Yet the audience's takeaway from this isn't that c-bombs aren't allowed: it's that humour isn't allowed, that esports should aspire to the mode and manner of traditional sport. This is likely not the response that Valve wanted, but the aggressive and arrogant-sounding way in which they went about handling the Harding situation has driven his fans to his version of events. You're either for humour and with Harding or you're with Valve and you want your esports with a side of golf tournament. The situation has been rendered binary and oppositional — 'ass or them.'

He's not wrong, given the general reaction I've witnessed within the DOTA 2 community. But that's kinda the Shanghai major in a nutshell: it's sent all the wrong messages, and despite the new English production company and Valve's best intentions, those messages will echo in the community's collective brain cave for months to come.

Many fans have already lost trust in DOTA 2 events, both in terms of competent production and a spirit of, you know, fun. This sort of mess isn't just gonna go away after a few not-completely-disastrous days. It's gonna linger. I hope Valve brought a mop.


Comments

    That's some sort of Stockholm Syndrome right? Not yet finished but 'hey this ain't so bad!'

      It does feel it. I actually tuned in to see 2GD and tuned out again. I then just started watching the Majors for the game with commentators on mute.
      Now 2GD is gone, Commentators are back on, but it's bland. There's now some good comments, with less muckslinging. But there is no humour.
      I hope this is just a "China" thing (And what they can be like for big events. Remember Beijing Olympics?) and maybe next year they can do the Asian Major in South Korea.

      Not really. The production values yesterday were noticeably better than they have been previously, so it's definitely a step in the right direction.

      That being said, it's far from perfect... they're currently 30 minutes late for kicking off the day.

        I am glad that there's such a large and passionate and dedicated audience that can appreciate the improve in production in real time, but to most people who read about this (and the final wash-ups once things are wrapped up) it's still a bit of a joke.

        The performance of the competitors will always be the main thing to take away though.

          I think what it comes down to is that the production values have reached the point where they aren't overshadowing the games now... so we can actually focus on the games rather than all the bullshit surrounding them.

          Still not perfect, but at least now we can watch some great Dota.

          I think what it comes down to is that the production values have reached the point where they aren't overshadowing the games now... so we can actually focus on the games rather than all the bullshit surrounding them.

          Still not perfect, but at least now we can watch some great Dota.

            Don't have to tell me twice!

            Or, maybe, you do have to tell me twice!

            ;)

        The production values yesterday were noticeably better than they have been previously

        Let's be honest though, when you set the benchmark so low, the production values can only be "better".

          The building hasn't caught fire yet, so there's still some room to move in both directions.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now