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Drama swirls in Chinese Dota 2 scene over alleged roster tampering

Marta J. September 3, 2019

The International 2019 is now behind us, but the drama continues.

A few enduring Dota 2 organizations have accused Royal Never Give Up of shady dealings during the year’s largest event. This played out over the course of a few days on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Things started off with Newbee CEO Tong “CU” Xin stating that other Chinese organizations were attempting to poach his players in underhanded ways. In a separate post, Vici Gaming owner Chen “Qc” Qing accused Royal Never Give Up of trying to poach team captain Pan "Fade" Yi during The International 2019, per VPEsports.

Soon after, RNG turned to Weibo to release a statement saying they hadn’t approached any of the Vici’s players during TI9 and that the misunderstanding has been cleared up with Vici’s representatives. This was confirmed by Qc, who publicly apologized to RNG.

However, complicating matters is that Team Secret CEO John Yao also took to Weibo to discuss his own troubles with RNG. He discussed the matter with The Esports Observer.

“I was not happy,” Yao said. “They think [they] can try to steal our player[s], but the players know this type of behavior is wrong, and the players will actually tell us.”

It is unclear which Team Secret player was approached by Royal Never Give Up. No player from Team Secret has ever transferred from the team to RNG. Fade has since retired from professional Dota 2, citing the bickering as part of the reason for his decision.

Talks about poaching and roster tampering aren’t new to the Chinese Dota 2 scene, or esports in general. There have been a number of high-profile allegations of this across multiple titles, with one recent example being alleged poaching by G2 Esports in League of Legends. An organization approaching a player during a major event would stand as one of the most brazen examples in history.

Unfortunately with no central league in Dota 2 to offer standards or oversight, there is little that organizations can do to establish boundaries with their competitors.

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