In a rare move of the hand of power, Valve have ordered the organizers of MDL Macau, designated as a sponsored Pro Circuit event, to invite Chinese team EHOME on the basis of a third-party conflict causing improper exclusion from regional qualifiers.
Specifically, the organization’s expulsion from ACE, or the Association of Chinese Esports, meant they were not able to participate in MDL Macau’s qualifying event, the Dota 2 Professional League.
Mars Media came out with the news first, citing a “breach a [sic] contract” between Mars and Valve.
[T]he reason for inviting one of China’s oldest Dota 2 powerhouses is due to a breach a contract with Valve during our Chinese qualifiers. As you may know, our Dota 2 Professional League (DPL) was our Chinese qualifier for the event, and EHOME weren’t allowed to take part in the competition due to a third party’s decision.
After several back-and-forth with Valve, it was decided that EHOME will receive a direct invite to our Minor.
Later, Valve itself came out with a statement on Twitter regarding the situation, confirming the plan of action agreed upon by the groups.
We have instructed Mars to invite EHOME to their upcoming minor. EHOME was incorrectly excluded from the qualifiers on the basis of an arrangement they had with another third party for this season. That type of consideration is in conflict with the agreement we have with Mars.— DOTA 2 (@DOTA2) November 23, 2017
A whirlwind of history
In the midst of a whirlwind of drama this past May, EHOME took in troubled players from the former Wings Gaming. The International 6’s champions and their management were under review by ACE, the largest and most powerful Dota 2 and esports organization, for a series of contract breaches due to a lack of pay from owners.
Because EHOME jumped the gun, the organization was barred entirely from membership in ACE. The ban meant EHOME could not participate in ACE events, nor officially scrimmage with other ACE teams in leagues, the likes of which include LGD, Newbee, Invictus Gaming and Vici, among others.
The decision was met with controversy and backlash around the world, citing managerial overreach and showing support for EHOME and the ex-Wings players.
(For the full summary, check out “What happened to TI6 champions Wings Gaming?”)
Official questions of fairness
In the case of MDL Macau, it appears that Valve requires organizations to at least consider all teams in their region when creating qualifier events for Pro Circuit events.
Dota 2 Professional League, which became the MDL Macau play-in event for Chinese teams, became an ACE-sanctioned event this spring with its third season. (LGD.Forever Young earned the Macau spot, and its sister/primary org, LGD, received a direct invite.) However, due to the ACE affiliation for this event, EHOME could not participate in DPL.
As the company stated on Twitter, Valve intervened due to this lack of alignment with the aforementioned guidelines for the Pro Circuit.
It’s not known what the Dota 2 developers’ official stance is on organizations such as ACE, nor controversy such as the Wings/EHOME situation, if such a stance exists. At the very least, Valve has now set expectations for how tournament organizers will treat potential participants—even if third-party conflicts as dire as this exist.
EHOME will now participate in their first professional event of the Pro Circuit season—and in just about a year, since December 2016 at the Boston Major. This means that they have not taken part in any competitive events since their May team shuffle; they have acquired an additional player since The International 7 in August.
The event takes place in less than two weeks, December 8-10, and is registered as a Valve Minor, with $300,000 USD and 300 Qualifying Points up for grabs.