Dota 2 fans' bid to save the pangolin shows power of esports

The power of sports for good has long been shoved down our throats, and thanks to a vast number of people invested in that area and the image of the game financially that will continue apace. Be it football, basketball, rugby or anything else, organising bodies are always promoting their altruism, but in reality they often fail to follow through when given the chance.

In the last month we’ve seen footballers racially abused, international rugby stars stating they believe homosexual people deserve to burn in hell, and the incredible case of Wayne Hennessey. The Welsh ‘man’ was let off an FA charge after being photographed allegedly making a Nazi salute, by using the logic that he didn’t know what the Nazi Party was, and had never heard of Hitler…

Against that backdrop, it’s very obvious that the FA and other big governing bodies are not really committed to making any positive changes that will require them to stick their neck out and actually take a risk or stand. However, when it comes to esports there is a whole different attitude, not just from the organising bodies but even the fans of the game, who attach themselves to some very interesting causes.

Donté Panlin the Pangolier

For those who don’t know, Dota 2 has a vast number of heroes, one of whom is known as Donté Panlin, the Pangolier. A stylised pangolin of sorts, he was introduced to the game towards the end of 2017 in the 7.07 version of the game, and unlike many new heroes was not considered "overpowered" at that time. So far, so very normal, an anthropomorphised pangolin battling against wizards and the like in a MOBA.

However, the real-life version of the same animal is nowhere near as easy to see as the in-game hero, and actually occupies a spot on the "critically endangered" list, mainly due to the fact they are vastly popular with illegal animal traffickers. This is due to backward and regressive thinking in China and surrounding areas, where citizens still believe eating endangered animals is fine because they taste nice or it will help their health, despite a total lack of evidence to support that and the fact many of those animals are endangered.


Short of being able to slap all of those people upside the head, the next best solution is to donate to conservation groups that are trying to help the animal, and that is what Dota 2 fans have decided to do. Apropos of nothing, contributors to the Dota 2 subreddit decided to raise awareness of the plight of the pangolin in this thread.

As many in the thread pointed out, the people with the real power to make a fuss about this would be Valve, which introduced the character and could easily create some kind of skin or pack where the funds gathered would be donated to a charity or conservation cause. It’s possible it might annoy some of Asian fans, but if you’re defending your right to eat animals into extinction it’s probably OK to ignore you.

This sort of proactive activism is only a good thing, and it’s now on Valve to make the next step. Equally, the existence of the thread shows the power that esports has to bring attention to causes far more diverse than traditional sport, where pangolins rarely appear on the field of play. Hopefully, Gabe decides to make an effort and give Valve the reputational buff that such a campaign would provide, and the pangolin remains both in and out of the Dota universe.