As the 2017-18 Dota Pro Circuit wraps up, and ahead of the end-of-season mega-tournament The International, fans have been left wondering how the next season will fare. Now, much sooner than last year, Valve has revealed the general structure of the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit, the annual competitive system premiered this year.
The changes should not be an afterthought to any Dota 2 fans following the competitive scene, or esports fans interested in the workings of the scene.
While this year’s general concepts of Majors, Minors and Qualifying Points are still there, how these will all work in tandem is being dramatically overhauled. The focus is being shifted towards teams now, as organizations will earn points instead of players — and that means Valve is applying closer scrutiny to these groups. Plus, storylines will be streamlined as Minors now act as play-ins for the winning team of each Major.
And, praise GabeN, qualifiers are spaced out.
We’ve summed up all of the changes so you can join the discussion about how next year will go.
Major & Minor pairings and rules
The biggest change to the system will be to the event system. Next season, Minors and Majors will be “held in pairs,” according to Valve, with more spaced-out scheduling. In short, Minors will act as lead-ins, with a pretty straightforward flow of events:
- Major qualifiers are held first.
- Teams that did not qualify for the Major may participate in the Minor qualifiers.
- The winning Minor team will earn a spot at the Major.
The important details are that neither Minors nor Majors will have pre-determined guaranteed invites. All teams must qualify through either the Minors or Majors. Because of this play-in system, Valve will give Qualifying Points to every team that plays.
New team count rules for each Major and Minor follow up on many critiques made about tournament formats. Minors will require eight teams, and Majors require sixteen. In addition, Minors teams must acquire a visa for both respective countries of the Minors and Majors with the assumption that they will play in the Major.
Valve has already given us an idea of what the season will look like, with qualifiers leading into each event, as explained above. The season starts pretty soon after The International 8, which takes place in extremely late August, as the roster lock is set for September 15 — merely 21 days after TI8 wraps up.
It appears none of the events, except for the November Major, have corresponding Dota 2 tournaments, as Valve says they are still soliciting event proposals for all the other Majors and Minors. We’ll hopefully see more specifics as events approach.
However, we’re looking at some hefty events, if what Valve’s proposing holds up. The Minors will go on for six days, while the Majors span eleven or twelve. Notably, Majors and Minors tend to go hand-in-hand with longer group stages and playoffs, meaning we’ll be seeing some serious action at each.
Here are the dates given:
- Major Qualifier — September 17 to September 21
- Minor Qualifier — September 23 to September 26
- Minor Event — October 29 to November 4
- Major Event — November 8 to November 19
- Major Qualifier — November 26 to November 30
- Minor Qualifier — December 1 to December 4
- Minor Event — January 7 to January 13
- Major Event —January 17 to January 27
- Major Qualifier — February 1 to February 5
- Minor Qualifier — February 7 to February 10
- Minor Event — March 4 to March 10
- Major Event — March 14 to March 24
- Major Qualifier — March 28 to April 1
- Minor Qualifier — April 3 to April 6
- Minor Event — April 22 to April 28
- Major Event — May 2 to May 12
- Major Qualifier — May 15 to May 19
- Minor Qualifier — May 21 to May 24
- Minor Event — June 10 to June 16
- Major Event — June 20 to June 30
Pro Circuit points
No more hard roster locks! That’s the gist of the changes. However, the new system won’t be focused on players, but instead on teams. We’ll sum up the DPC’s roster system changes quickly:
- Points are earned by organizations, not players
- Rosters can be changed throughout the season, but each roster removal will incur a 20% penalty to the organization’s point total
- If a team plays without their full five-man roster,* points earned will be reduced by 40%
- Teams MUST use at least four out of their five registered players at a Major or Minor
*It sounds like the “official roster” will be defined as the roster declared before each qualifier.
As a small note, for The International, teams will be locked; substitutes can be declared as well for emergency purposes.
Starting next season, Valve will implement a rule that only allows for one team under an owner or organization to compete in The International and the qualifiers leading up to them. Multiple teams may participate in the DPC, but only one may participate in TI and its qualifying events. Valve also states that “this includes cases in which players have financial ties to other teams.”
This rule has appeared before in Valve’s esports circuit before, specifically in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s own competitive league. This rule was revealed in the official rule book for the Major held by Faceit, a company which frequently holds official Valve qualifier events, including those for Dota 2.
There appears to be no direct target of this rule, but there are several major organizations — like Russian esports megacorp ESForce Holdings, and ACE orgs such as Vici Gaming and Invictus Gaming — that the rules affect or have affected in the past.
We’re not sure if this rule will affect this upcoming TI, though Jacob “Maelk” Toft-Andersen stated on Twitter that this may be the case.