1) "Having your cake and eating it too never works" — The Facebook-Dota Drama
At the beginning of this year, ESL signed a deal with Facebook which meant that official broadcasts for several Dota 2 and Counter-Strike tournaments would be exclusively streamed on the social media platform.
Fans had already voiced their concerns in advance, but when the first tournament — ESL One Genting — kicked off, the community went wild. Technical difficulties afflicted the live stream. Games took ages to load, there were no permanent links to the broadcasts, and the stream wasn't even available on some devices.
People continued to critize the broadcast quality, but nobody seemed to care. ESL's Senior Vice President of Product, Ulrich Schulze, even wrote on Twitter:
Here is how many Dota tournaments there are going to be in the future if noone is taking money for broadcast rights anymore: Exactly one (The International). Having your cake and eating it too never works.— Ulrich Schulze (@theflyingdj) 23. Januar 2018
It got worse. Since Dota 2 games are free for all to broadcast, popular streamers started to show the tournament on their own channels — providing the commentary themselves. ESL didn't seem to like that, so they reached out to Twitch and started banning several personalities.
"We are not going to allow any streams that are competing with our main-language stream", commented ESL on reddit.
The issue was that ESL wasn't allowed to take down any streams. It didn't take long for Valve to step in, and they made things very clear: "This one is very simple: no-one besides Valve is allowed to send DMCA notices for games streamed off DotaTV that aren't using the broadcaster's unique content (camera movement, voice etc.)." ESL apalogized in the end, and explained that they "didn't hit the right tone".
It's been over a year since then, but streaming quality on Facebook has barely improved. According to esports journalist Rod Breslau, the deal for Dota 2 is now over.
ProLeague is through end of 2019, but not ESL One. So Dota should be free.— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) 9. Dezember 2018
2) Pain X bamboozles Valve
Is it fair when a team from the USA plays in a South American qualifier? The answer is 'no'. Do some teams care? Apparently not.
From the 25-27 November the South American qualifier for the The Chongqing Major took place. Unfortunately, there were no explicit rules on who was allowed to participate, so Test123 (the former paiN X roster) decided to sign up for the qualifier. However — the team consisted of four Americans and one Brazilian, and they didn't reside in South America.
For many people this didn't seem fair, and they spoke out on Social Media — including Peter 'ppd' Dager. "These teams are spending 1-2 weeks in Brazil for the tournament and then are returning back to their homes", he wrote.
The team even managed to qualify, but Valve soon stepped in. "We want to help nurture competitive growth in different regions, as well as have regional representation for fans around the world", the developer wrote. "A team temporarily traveling to and from a region just to compete in the qualifiers clearly does not provide any meaningful benefit to the region and harms growth overall."
Valve even explained that paiN X had reached out prior to the qualifier, asking if they were allowed to participate in the SA region. The developer told them no, but apparently they played the SA qualifier anyways — and as such were thrown out.
3) When the Chinese government supposedly steps in
A couple of weeks ago, Carlo 'Kuku' Palad caused an outcry in the Dota 2 scene by making racist comments directed at Chinese players in a pub game. He apologized shortly after, but the Chinese scene was furious. Everything seemed to have calmed down after a couple of days, but actually the drama had just began.
BeyondTheSummit founder David 'Godz' Parker posted on Twitter that Kuku might get banned from the Chongqing Major, to be held in China. Kuku's organisation, TNC Predator, responded to the rumours shortly thereafter. They stated that if Kuku attended the Major, he might not have been able to enter the country, the city government might have cancelled the tournament and the organizers wouldn't have been able to guarantee his safety. At least, that was what TNC Predator supposedly had been told by the Chinese organizers ImbaTV.
In light of this, TNC has yet to decide whether we will continue playing in the event.— TNC Predator (@TNCPredator) 2. Dezember 2018
For now, we will be exploring all of our options.
We will update the community in the coming days about TNC's decision. Thank you.
As a reaction, several talents — such as Grant "GranDGranT" Harris and Henrik 'AdmiralBulldog' Ahnberg — threatend to boycott the event if the rumours were true. The situation got so heated that, once again, Valve had to step in.
Valve explained that Kuku had not been banned by the Chinese government, but that they had decided to take the step of banning the player themselves. They stated that TNC had mishandled the situation by trying to cover up the player's mistake, and were not taking responsibility for the player's actions.
As a result, Kuku was forbidden from partipicating in the Major, and TNC will take a 20% DPC point penalty with them.
Which drama was your favorite this year?