It’s not just rampant health issues that are detracting from the build to The International 2021. There’s now an accusation of competitive disadvantages being levied against some teams in attendance.
Team Spirit manager Dmitry “Korb3n” Belov posted a short video discussing the squad’s preparation for TI10, which includes a look at the training rooms. During the behind-the-scenes look, Team Spirit revealed that their training space was small, cramped, and windowless.
The players and their hardware were packed in so tightly that there wasn’t even room for players to recline in their seats. Players were allegedly bumping their heads on the light fixtures, and the bathroom had no toilet paper. On top of all that, it was said that the room didn’t have internet.
Making matters worse is that Korb3n alleges that other organizations are getting far superior practice facilities. Though he didn’t name names, he stated that teams that placed higher in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings received better practice facilities. The upper echelons of the Dota Pro Circuit are primarily made up of rosters representing larger multi-game esports organizations.
Other practice rooms have varied wildly in their quality and size but generally speaking, Korb3n’s claims seem to be true. Elephant, which made it into TI10 through the China qualifiers, has a room that looks similar to Team Spirit’s room albeit slightly larger. On the flipside is Virtus.pro, one of the CIS region’s two largest organizations with a team that finished third in the DPC, which has a considerably larger room:
It seems as though this is being evenly enforced. OG, despite being one of Dota 2’s most famous and popular organizations, floundered in the Dota Pro Circuit but won the European regional qualifiers. OG’s team manager stated that the team got one of the “s—-” rooms and that Martin “Saksa” Sazdov, who is one of esports’ tallest players, can barely even move without bumping into his teammates.
In the middle of this is Alliance, which qualified for TI10 on the lower end of the Dota Pro Circuit’s top-12. The team has a room that is visibly larger than those of Elephant and Team Spirit but significantly smaller than Virtus.pro.
Dota 2 already suffers from serious issues related to established teams having greater means to ensure success in competitive play. PGL reinforcing this and undermining the event’s competitive integrity by giving superior training facilities to the tournament favorites would be unfortunate, to say the least.
While possible favoritism is a problematic issue for any sports competition, it’s actually just a drop in the bucket of problems when it comes to TI10. The event has encountered controversies at every single turn.
Things started months ago with the event being forced out of Stockholm, Sweden. This stemmed from immigration issues that were later remedied for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s PGL Stockholm Major. The move from Stockholm to Bucharest saw the event pushed back two months, which left teams in an awkward position as they had to figure out travel arrangements to their homes after many had planned to stay in Europe following the WePlay AniMajor.
Once teams started arriving, health issues started popping up and impacting both Invictus Gaming and Team Aster. This was followed by the removal of the live audience and attending members of the press.
At present it’s still unclear how some of these issues will be dealt with, and a schedule for the group stage has not yet been revealed. Either way, when it comes to teams having to boot camp in closets, the damage is likely already done.