ESL and DreamHack released simultaneous statements noting that Alliance was not cheating by having trial coach Peter “ppd” Dager on-call with the team for its game against Brame. However, the tournament organizers noted that Valve was forcing a mid-season rule change in the Dota Pro Circuit leagues to prevent coaches from communicating with teams in-game.
— DreamHack Dota (@DreamHackDota) May 12, 2021
The announcement comes after a tumultuous night for Alliance that surrounded a recent vlog by the team. During the video, ppd could be heard directing Alliance players in-game. Dota 2 competitions have not traditionally allowed coaches to talk with their teams during matches outside of the drafting phase and between games.
Having a coach during a dota game has never been allowed.
0 respect for people that cheat, same thing when people macros and claim it’s ‘not against the rules’ or ‘I still have to know when to use it’
L O L
Mentioned concept to valve TI9
They said no
— Johan Sundstein (@OG_BDN0tail) May 11, 2021
ESL and DreamHack confirmed that rulebook changes were made ahead of the latest set of Dota Pro Circuit events to allow for coaches to speak with their teams in-game. No other regions have made these rule changes, and Valve has historically taken a firm stance against coaches being a direct part of games in both Dota 2 and Counter-Strike.
It’s unclear how many other teams may have had coaches coordinating with teams during the league. It’s possible that a number of other teams besides Alliance were also making the most of this change to the rules.
The topic of Alliance’s in-game communications with ppd was a hot one on social media after N0tail’s criticisms. Among the first to speak out was N0tail’s teammate Sebastian “Ceb” Debs, who put out a Twitlonger to discuss the matter.
“I want to emphasize how big a difference having a coach in-game brings to the game… That person could now monitor many things for the players. He would help them read the map while they focus on their gameplay. He would make sure the communication flow stays efficient and clear by repeating or emphasizing on crucial information. He could also monitor the energy mindset of the team during the game,” Ceb said.
The notion that coaches being present for in-game comms would be a colossal game-changer was co-signed by a number of other personalities and players from around the game, including The International 2015 champion Kurtis “aui_2000” Ling.
teams. Having a sixth player who doesn’t have any of the responsibilities of the players (having to control the hero) is a really big deal and should be treated as such. I don’t know why the EU dpc TOs would allow this when it’s not allowed afaik in other regions or at the major.
— Aui 2000 (@Aui_2000) May 12, 2021
While there’s no question that having a coach present for games is an enormous change, it’s also basically impossible to prevent teams from doing so if they really want to. In an online setting, there are just too many workarounds that teams can employ to have a coach with them during games.
Unless you use webcams in the room players play on (like Blast does in CS) and install literal trojans on player PCs it’s insanely easy to have a 6th coach “advising” when it’s an online game.
2nd discord account/sdi mirroring into a video wall/audio loop ezpz
— JJ – PimpmuckL (@JJLiebig) May 11, 2021
It seems likely that ESL and DreamHack decided to make these rule changes simply because there’s no effective way to police this.
Ultimately, the rules are back in place and coaches are barred from participating directly during games. Whether this will fix the matter is unknown, but it does likely mean that players are now facing a permanent ban from Valve if they do so again.