With the coronavirus forcing quarantines, shutdowns, and event cancellations around the world, Valve has decided to scrap the fourth major cycle entirely. The news was announced on Twitter.
“After careful consideration of the current state and trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the health risk that this presents to competitors, staff and fans alike, we have made the difficult decision to cancel to the fourth minor and major tournaments of the DPC season,” Valve said in a post.
This follows the cancellation of the ESL One LA Major. ESL previously stated that it is looking to reschedule the ESL One LA Major, though the tournament organizer has not issued another statement since. The current state of the pandemic makes it unlikely that it will be rescheduled anytime soon.
The removal of these events leaves an enormous void in the Dota 2 pro scene calendar. The entire tournament structure is built around qualifying for The International each year, with majors awarding teams with points that count towards earning an invitation to the event.
The removal of two majors from the calendar leaves teams without a clear path to the event, which is a major issue given how The International typically makes up more than 60% of Dota 2’s total annual prize pool.
Esports has been brutalized by the spread of the coronavirus, with almost every title being impacted on some level. Dota 2 is in a far worse position than other games, however. The disproportionate importance of The International 2020 is troublesome on multiple fronts in its own right, but Valve’s silence in regards to the current state of the game is worrying.
While Overwatch and League of Legends were both rocked by the coronavirus early on, the hands-on approach of publishers Blizzard and Riot Games has seen both games return to a degree of normalcy after initially seeing numerous events cancelled. The franchised approach of leagues like the LCS and OWL also guarantees players a safety net despite the lulls in competition. Fans have also been kept up to date on the current states of international events.
As of this writing, Valve’s tweet is the sole statement the publisher has issued on the matter. It is how Valve is planning to handle the situation, with fans being left to wonder if they should cancel their plans to visit Stockholm for The International 2020. It has also made sponsorless players wonder if they’ll be able to earn a paycheck this year.
Valve’s handling of Dota 2’s pro scene has long been defined by the company’s silence, a decision that is intensely problematic in this trying time.