Valve announces Dota 2 Regional Leagues to start after TI10

Nick J. February 26, 2020

Valve announced "Regional Leagues" earlier this evening in an effort to bring structure to an often hectic Dota 2 schedule and provide more consistency to competing teams.

According to the announcement, Valve will institute the leagues after the conclusion of the tenth edition of The International in 2020. Valve explained the change in the blog post announcing the Regional Leagues.

"We believe the consistency and regularity of the league throughout the year, paired with a flat and deep prize pool distribution will, over time, nurture healthy and strong Tier 2/3 competition," Valve said.

Dota 2's Regional Leagues explained: Format, structure, and Valve's new rules

At first, the new Regional Leagues look like a mess of letters and numbers, but the Leagues are much easier to understand when their structure is laid out from top to bottom.

  • After TI 10, each year is divided into three (3) seasons
  • Each season will have six (6) regional leagues
    • Europe
    • China
    • North America
    • Southeast Asia
    • CIS
    • South America
  • Each season will end with a Dota 2 Major
  • Each year will culminate with Dota 2's The International

Here's how each season breaks down in terms of the number of teams in each Regional League:

  •  Each league will have two Divisions
    • an Upper Division (8 teams)
    • a Lower Division (8 teams)
  • At the end of each season, the bottom two teams from the Upper Division are demoted to the Lower Division, while the top two teams from the Lower Division are promoted into Upper.
  • At the end of each season, the two teams at the bottom of the Lower Divison are removed from the Regional League entirely and are replaced with two new teams from the Regional League's Open Qualifiers.

That makes for a grand total of 96 Dota 2 teams competing in a structured tournament schedule for three seasons every year. In addition, every game will be available for fans to watch. Upper-division matches will be broadcast from a live studio, while fans can tune in to lower-division matches on Dota TV.

According to Valve, the developer will ensure that each Regional League adheres to the following regarding time and format:

  • Each Regional League will last six (6) weeks
    • Timeslots for each region will stay consistent throughout the season, making it easier for fans to watch matches in their favorite regions.
  • Each Regional League will play a full best-of-three, round-robin format
  • Each Regional League will have a prize pool of $280,000.

Valve also released a full schedule for the first season of Dota 2's Regional Leagues as seen below.

Upper Division Dota 2 Regional League Schedule

Lower Division Dota 2 Regional League Schedule

The developer also revealed that they will perform the initial seeding of the teams for the first Regional League season. The teams themselves are responsible for deciding which region it wants to play in, as well as making sure it is eligible to play in the region it chooses.

Eligibility is determined by a simple majority as three of a team's players have to live in the region they're competing in. Teams are also allowed a single stand-in for a maximum of four games throughout the season. The stand-in must be a player from a lower-division team or someone uninvolved in any Regional League, not a player from another competing upper-divison squad.

Each season will be roster locked, and if a team wants to change regions they have to requalify through each league's Open Qualifiers.

Dota 2 Majors come with new format, are more important than ever

Finally, Majors will still play an important part in the Dota 2 Season. Eighteen teams representing every region will compete for a $500,000 prize pool along with a mountain of DPC points to propel them to The International.

Each region will have a set number of Major slots for the year:

  • Europe and China: Four (4) slots
  • North American and Southeast Asia: Three (3) slots
  • CIS and South America: Two (2) slots

Wildcard Stage Format

A  standardized Major format comes alongside the announcement. An initial Wildcard stage will consist of:

  • a 6-team, best-of-two, round-robin format
  • the top two teams advance to groups while the other four are eliminated
  • the Wildcard teams are determined by these placements during the Regional league season:
    • 3rd place in EU
    • 3rd place in CN
    • 3rd place in NA
    • 3rd place in SEA
    • 3rd place in CN
    • 3rd place in EU

Group Stage Format

The group stage is similar to the Wildcard stage, but with eight teams instead of six. In the Major group stages, the top two teams will take Playoff spots in the upper bracket, while teams that finish third through sixth will be seeded into the lower bracket. The teams that place in the bottom two are eliminated from the Major.

Teams that finish the season in these placements will be seeded into the group stage:

  • 2nd place in EU 
  • 2nd place in CN 
  • 2nd place in NA 
  • 2nd place in SA 
  • 2nd place in CIS 
  • 2nd place in SEA 
  • 1st place finisher from Wildcard Stage
  • 2nd place finisher from Wildcard Stage

Dota 2's Regional League Playoff Format

Finally, the playoffs will feature a twelve team, double-elimination bracket featuring the following teams:

Upper Bracket:

  • 1st place EU 
  • 1st place CN 
  • 1st place SEA
  • 1st place SA 
  • 1st place NA 
  • 1st place CIS 
  • 1st place Group Stage
  • 2nd place Group Stage 

Lower Bracket:

  • 3rd place Group Stage
  • 4th place Group Stage
  • 5th place Group Stage
  • 6th place Group Stage 

At the end of each year's third season, the 12 teams with the most DPC points will qualify for The International 2021. TI 11's final six spots will be filled with teams through a last-chance qualifier in each region featuring the top eight teams from those regions that don't already have an invite to The International.

Regional League dates already set, still room for other tournaments, says Valve

Valve has released the dates for all three seasons along with Tuesday's announcement, informing fans that any dates outside these are there for the taking by third-party organizers.

The dates for each season are as follows:

  • S1 Fall League: October 5 through November 15
  • S1 Major: December 7 – December 19
  • S2 Winter League: January 4 – February 14
  • S2 Major: March 8 – March 20
  • S3 Spring League: April 12 – May 23
  • S3 Major: June 21 – July 3

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