OG, Na'Vi invites to Super Major cause outcry

The Chinese Super Major for Dota2 announced their invites this week, and as is often the case in esports, their vessel did not land in calm waters. The initial response from more than a few faces in the scene was that by inviting teams like OG and Na’Vi, who are currently in a slump or more, the organisers had not only hurt their event, but given two fingers to the concept of ‘competitive integrity’, which is apparently a big deal in Asian Dota2.

Now, that last sentence may seem a touch tongue-in-cheek, and that’s because to be honest, the competitive integrity of Dota2 in certain parts of the world is seriously questionable. Stories about match fixing have been circulating for ages, reported across the scene, and often the scale of it goes under the radar due to the fact the majority happens at a low level.

Based on the current rankings, neither of these aforementioned teams would deserve a place in any event run today, and that is probably fair based on their play. Having said that, the first and most obvious response to that sort of comment is that the event is being run soon, but had to be organised months in advance, due to the technicalities. We’ve seen visa issues destroy CS teams, Doat2 teams, and many others in recent years, for example, so it’s just possible that the plans had to be put in place long enough ago that the rankings looked slightly different.

“Inviting a team not eligible even for The International (TI) closed qualifiers is like stealing from others”, Dota2 editor/sage Andreea ‘divushka’ Esanu of VPEsports told us. “Really, they can win the super major, and in some ways it won’t count”. The main issue for a lot of fans seems to be that OG are not eligible for qualification points for TI from the event, having made a roster change just two days before the invites were sent out, on March 17th.

“It’s unfortunate to see a team who can’t benefit from the DPC points getting an invite to the Super Major. It was revealed by several personalities that the invites were sent on the 19th of March, that’s two days after OG made the roster change. Region representation at an event that can decide if a team gets to The International via direct invites should not be biased.”

The whiff of bias comes from the fact that regional balance in invites seems to have been thrown out of the window in favour of having the bigger name of OG. “Europe had already two invites to this Super Major (Secret and Liquid)”, Esanu told us, “so for me it’s impossible to understand OG’s direct invite over Fnatic or TNC and it feels like the TO denied these teams the chance to fight for their TI invitation. With OG at the Super Major there are 15 teams competing for a TI invite instead of 16.”

This does reveal a slight issue with the Dota2 calendar, specifically the way The International sits in the middle like a fat kid on a trampoline, distorting everything around it and inexorably drawing attention away from the smaller attendees, but that metaphor has gone far enough now. Problem or not, the issue with TI is not going away anytime soon, and there is a level of import removed from any event not connected to Dota2’s Everest.

On the other hand, it would be a huge story for the event if OG were able to take the trophy, just weeks after making a roster move, and the sheer weight of headlines would probably drown out any negative attention they got in the run-up. On top of that, regardless of the how deep the organiser’s pockets are they still need to get eyes on the stream for sponsors, and fans often forget that balance, between spectacle and specie.

There is probably no right answer, unless you support one of the orgs involved, or not as the case may be, but the reality is that organisers today are more often than not forced to chose between money and love. We’ve seen it already with the streaming deals Facebook has done with ESL, and a number of people in the CS scene throwing their toys out of the pram over that.

There is definitely a case to be made that the event is less impactful due to the potential for a winner to gain no TI-qualification points, but that seems to be putting the cart before the horse. It makes sense that not every supporter can see the nuances, but in 2018 it is surprising to see people who have been to multiple massive LANs go public with such damning criticism, given the tightrope they know TOs walk.