Long-Time Commentator Says Dota 2 Is Reaching A Breaking Point

Image credit: Valve

Toby Dawson has been commentating in the Dota pro scene for over a decade, and has been the voice behind some of its biggest moments. In a recent post on the Dota 2 subreddit, Dawson voiced his concerns on the continued viability of the scene.

It started with a tweet, where Dawson laid it out in simple terms: we are approaching a breaking point, and Valve (publisher of Dota 2) will be the ones to determine whether it happens or not.

In a more detailed explanation, Dawson highlighted issues that have been brought up by others as well. Tournaments being eclipsed by the majors with little competition and a lack of crowd-funding for events, which in the past created staples like The Summit and experimental leagues like Captain's Draft. These are two tournaments closely tied to the community, with the long-running Summit series having its seventh instalment this weekend, and without crowdfunding they wouldn't have started in the first place. These tier-two and tier-three tournaments are also the events that help support up-and-coming teams, and without the possible influx of new talent, high-level Dota risks becoming stale.

Dawson also touched on the recent falling out between Valve and its workshop artists, the community creators who develop and sell the cosmetics that flood Dota 2's marketplace. Lastly, he notes that the majors and most importantly, The International, are being put on by contractors rather than endemic tournament organisers, creating a situation where casters, analysts and crew become "hired guns," cutting into the structure and stability of their profession.

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It might seem like doomsaying, but his words were reflected in an announcement not long after that longtime tournament admin Andrey Grygoriev was not invited to this year's International qualifiers.

Many pros and commentators voiced their concerns, enough so that Valve invited Grygoriev after all. But it was a scare, ominously close to Toby's post, a clear example of the exact problems Dawson was predicting might happen.

We've reached out to Valve for comment, and will update if they reply.


    Early claims that Dota 2 would topple League were incredibly naive. Even with League's toxicity it still manages to be the most popular game in the world. I think Dota is largely just a replacement for HoN, it did well to garner a good following, but League is pretty much unshakeable these days.

      I think League's continual success has more to do with Riot being active in the eSports area when compared to Valve.

      Valve's "hands off approach" to anything (really) is what is ultimately killing their games.

        League is also much easier for casuals (and people that don't play games) to follow than Dota 2. The map is simplified and objectives are very clearly marked in spectator mode.

        Not saying it is a better game, but it is a much better esport.

          Oh absolutely agree. It's a much easier spectator esport than just about anything out there. It's clear that Riots aesthetic revisions moved towards making it easy to follow.

          Heroes of the Storm is also a good moba to watch. DoTA2 is fun to play, but the game systems and visuals make it difficult to watch unless you are in the know.

            As someone that has played a tonne of League, but only a little bit of Dota 2, I also find it hard to work out things like what certain abilities do.

        League's success can be attributed to one major factor: Asia. Riot do an incredible amount of work nurturing their Asian audience, and that's allowed fairly extensive worldwide spread. It's a numbers game ... Valve are too busy focusing on Europe and the West. At best, the Shanghai major was a nod to the region, but Riot reign supreme.

          As someone that has had an account since closed beta, the first few seasons of expansion had nothing to do with Asia. The majority of early players were NA, then EUs server started to grow (there were early thread bitching about EU having no players, while I played on NA with a 3g dongle at 300+ ping). Asian servers weren't brought in until later has Hon was starting to waver.

          Riot of today only focuses on it due to being owned by Tencent, before they brought in it was very NA centric. I remember a lot of people complaining pre season one about how they thought skins were going to get really expensive because of it (and they were right).

            You are either lying about when you started or didn't pay any attention. There were Asian players everywhere on the NA servers.

            LoL cornered the Asian market with their bright colours and loud noises. Dota didn't. Pretty much case closed why LoL is thriving and Dota is dying off.

              There were players, but the game was very NA centric. It only started hard pushing Asia after Tencent bought in and it was part of the plan that Tencent would help them branch out that way. Prior to that however HoN was more popular in Asia due to it sticking closer to classic Dota.

              I don't understand where I lied. Please explain.

    He isn't wrong. I think we need to look at traditional sports here.

    We have things like the rugby union, who are a body that yes does make money. But they reinvest in their code and you hear them talking about it, club level... Grass roots etc.

    Valve and Riot are businesses who operate for profit which has to happen. But it doesn't necessarily create an organisation whose​ only remit is the continued growth and stability of the sport.

      We have things like the rugby union, who are a body that yes does make money. But they reinvest in their code and you hear them talking about it, club level... Grass roots etc.

      What the ARU say and do are two completely different things. They have actually done wonders to alienate local clubs over recent years - the clubs fund the ARU, who invest all that money into elite-level rugby and actually do nothing to support grass roots players.

    "awaiting reply" - Valve time

      Response has been scheduled for just after the Half-Life 3 reveal.

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