What makes a Major?

posted by Abelle,
The Dota 2 community is up in arms again about the two-day Arena stage of ESL One Katowice 2018, which is a Pro Circuit Major. That got me thinking, should Valve change the way tournaments are classified next season, or introduce new requirements for Majors?
Ad Finem's run was one of most iconic parts of The Boston Major
Source: PGL

The period of time between TI5 and TI7 may have somewhat spoiled the Dota 2 community. We grew accustomed to Valve Majors, massive spectacles whose main stage was as long as eight days and whose qualifiers were treated as a broadcast event we couldn’t miss.

In the first season, we had three - The Frankfurt Major, The Shanghai Major and The Manila Major. This three-Major season felt packed since the qualifiers for each tournament fairly closely followed the last with a short roster shuffle period in between.

Valve adjusted things for the next year with just two Majors - The Boston Major and The Kiev Major. The format was changed to single-elimination and the venues selected were smaller and more intimate. Still, the events were lengthy (six days of action this time instead of eight) and the production was top-notch.

Now, Valve have all but taken their hand out of the Majors, added Minors and crowded the schedule so intensely that even Major qualifiers are sometimes easy to miss. You can hardly blame a Dota 2 fan for losing track - even with cancelled events, there are still nine Majors taking place in the Pro Circuit this year.

The thing is, Major doesn’t seem to mean what it used to and as a result, people understandably feel disappointed. Those eight-day spectacles are the exception, not the norm.

The Kiev Major main stage

We do have a few events this year that are trying to reach a similar level, in terms of number of days at least - we can hardly judge the production value before the events actually happen. They are The Bucharest Major 2018 (PGL, organizers of three out of five Valve Majors, have adopted the old Major naming convention for their upcoming event,) Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018, EPICENTER XL and possibly the unconfirmed May 14-20 Major as well as the joint PGL/Perfect World Major at the end of the season.

Still, the events from that last list which we actually have details for will have more group stage days than main events days. Both EPICENTER and The Bucharest Major will have just three days in front of a live audience, the rest is made up of the group stage. We don't know yet whether any teams will be eliminated in the group stage but, judging by past events from both organizers, it seems unlikely.

In contrast, all five Valve Majors had a two-day group stage with no teams eliminated and four or even six-day main events. This year’s Pro Circuit events have consistently eliminated teams in the group stage and have longer group stage phases than main event phases. This obviously saves money on expensive venues but loses some of the weight the old events had.

world OG after winning The Boston Major
Source: PGL

My suggestion would be to limit the number of Majors and only give the title to events that can reach a certain standard that includes format, prize pool, number of teams, number of days and a high level of production demonstrated in past events. Valve should support these few events so that more of the community are aware of them, with blog posts for qualifiers and main event and maybe even Battle Passes or just an event-themed chest.

In this case, Qualifying Points would need to be rebalanced so that Majors don’t become the only important events of the year for teams. This would be done by giving more points to teams in Minors relative to the number given to teams in Majors. Plenty of other events can still be called Minors, and the name Major can go back to meaning something other than merely the size of the prize pool.

  • Abelle


    Annabelle Fischer
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