The buildup to the ONE Esports Singapore Major was already rocky, and it continues to get worse as teams and players are forced to drop out.
beastcoast announced that its Dota 2 team will not be attending the Singapore Major. This comes after Steven “StingeR” Vargas was exposed to someone with COVID-19 and proceeded to make contact with the rest of the team. beastcoast broke the situation down in a statement on Twitter:
“Unfortunately, StingeR was exposed to COVID-19 this past week and our other four players may have also been exposed as a result…All players have tested negative and we are monitoring them closely. However, because of the incubation period, we cannot be certain if our players are positive or not before flying to Singapore,” beastcoast said.
In regards to our participation in the Dota Pro Circuit 2021. If you have any further questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. pic.twitter.com/qTvHrA2nln
— beastcoast (@beastcoast) March 25, 2021
Just an hour later, it was reported that Natus Vincere was also forced out of the event after coach Andrey “Mag” Chipenko tested positive. Mag was set to stand in for Andrii “ALWAYSWANNAFLY” Bondarenko, who also tested positive for the virus. The news was revealed by Ukrainian caster Vitalii Nikolaevich “v1lat” Volochai on Twitter:
— Vitalii Volochai (@v1lat) March 25, 2021
beastcoast qualified directly to the Singapore Major playoffs as a result of a first-place finish in the OGA Dota PIT South American DPC League, while Natus Vincere was qualified for the group stage. It’s unclear what will happen as a result of the teams’ withdrawals from the event. The most likely outcome is that three teams will advance out of the wildcard stage and three group stage teams will get a spot in the upper bracket.
This is a devastating blow for both Natus Vincere and beastcoast’s chances of making it to The International 10. The Dota Pro Circuit will feature just two majors this season, with only eight teams from each actually earning qualifying points towards The International 10.
Though beastcoast is still positioned reasonably well as a team that took first-place in a DPC league, it no longer has the chance to build an advantage over other teams in the region. The squad will need to take first again in order to have any serious hope of earning a direct invitation to TI10. Natus Vincere will likely need a strong finish in the second major in order to earn an invite.
Catch up on Singapore Major news:
PGL took a more lax approach to COVID-19 protocols with the Singapore Major than other notable pandemic-era esports events, and that has made for a painful two weeks for Dota 2.
While events like the 2020 League of Legends World Championship opted to bring competitors in weeks in advance to have an extended quarantine period, PGL is instead testing players in the days before they are set to travel and isn’t having any sort of quarantine period on-site. It’s unclear why the tournament organizer took this approach, but it has made for an awkward buildup that has seen multiple teams forced to make substitutions on short notice.
Our standin @milandota2 was on the same flight as @LeBronDoTa and encountered the same issue. He travelled for hours across national borders to even make this Belgrade flight, for that we will always be appreciative and thankful. We are still awaiting authorization on standins https://t.co/u0Z8HqyYhM
— Jack Chen (@KBBQDotA) March 25, 2021
Though beastcoast and Natus Vincere are now withdrawing from the event, they’re far from the only teams to be impacted. Neon Esports, Team Nigma, and Quincy Crew have all been forced to make substitutions. There’s a strong chance that this isn’t the end of it either, as playoff-qualified teams are yet to make the trek to the Singapore Major.
Given how important the event is, it’s hard to justify this approach. This is one of the biggest Dota 2 events of the year and plays an integral role deciding the competitors for The International, which will make up approximately 70% of the prize pool money paid out in Dota 2 in 2021.
Why the Singapore Major is attempting a new approach when events like Worlds 2020 went out without a hitch is unclear, but this is shaping up to have been a clear mistake.