The incredible strength of Dota 2, and Chinese Dota in particular was highlighted again this week as the list of teams taking part in the Open Qualifiers for The International 2018 began to take shape. Every region has some impressive names representing them, but it’s clear the Chinese scene is a step ahead of the rest in terms of strength in depth, with massive orgs and renowned players fighting for their lives in open brackets.
Last year’s third place team LGD.Forever Young (LGD.FY) are in the mix for the open event, as well as KEEN GAMING and EHOME, who finished second in the inaugural International back in 2011. Those are just a few of the names on the list for the Chinese events, which also include CDEC, runners up in 2015, and Team DK, who took 5th in 2013 and 4th the following year.
The list also highlights a particular issue affecting Chinese and Asian esports more than the west, that being the number of companies that clearly own two teams. Such situations must be avoided if esports is to grow without the threat of corruption and conflict of interest, and the Asian scene is already throwing up many suspicious results between teams with shared ownership interests.
Just in this event alone we have two EHOME teams, as well as LGD.FY and Newbee Young. When you consider LGD have a very successful team that is partnered with PSG Esports already and Newbee’s main squad won the 2014 event, it’s clear that the owners in China are doing everything they can to hedge their bets and ensure that whoever wins an event, it will be one of a very small group of businessmen who get the long-term benefit.
Take the show on the road
That won’t change prior to TI2018 though, and it must be said that this also raises another, more pressing point for Valve around their most profitable title. With so much talk about alternative venues, and the inconsistent appearances American teams make at the very top of the game, it is time to look at new venues for the biggest show in esports, but not in places like Canada, London or Berlin.
No, it can only be logical at this point to take the show to China itself, which has recently shown such an appetite for the game with the Perfect World Championship, and reward the region that seems to make up so much of the Dota fanbase. Two of the three biggest Dota tournaments ever were held in that part of the world, with the aforementioned Perfect World event top of the list and the China Dota 2 Supermajor sitting third, on the other side of TI 2017 on the list of most watched events in Dota history.
From any angle, it is hard to see how that can be debated. China has shown their ability to run events as well as even the biggest companies in the west, has the enthusiasm for the game, and already has a culture of Dota. When people talk about breaking into new territories, this is the first every company wants, and Valve have no more work to do with generations of heroes and their adoring public firmly in place.
However that story evolves, it seems as though China is a superpower that won’t be going anywhere in Dota, and that the Chinese qualifiers are going to be an absolute bloodbath. In terms of quality too, it might produce some of the best open qualifier games we’ve seen in Dota, and there are teams in there with an outside shot of lifting the TI 2018 trophy, which is fantastic for esports.