At long last, Valve has given firm details regarding the start of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit season.
In a post on the official Dota 2 blog, Valve outlined the new Dota Pro Circuit. The update includes a confirmation of regional leagues, details regarding the new DPC major format, and a firm schedule for the next nine months.
The Dota Pro Circuit 2021 Season. https://t.co/meCrho6LrH
— Wykrhm Reddy (@wykrhm) January 1, 2021
The first block of league play for the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit season runs from January 18 to February 28. League play will see action on Tuesday through Sunday of each week, with three regions playing on each day. The tier-two leagues will run seven days a week, with each region playing on four of those seven days.
After the major, another cycle will begin that includes league play and a second major. League play resumes on April 13. The second major, which should determine the direct invitees to The International, runs from June 2 to 13.
Both majors will include 18 teams, with competitors determined by the leagues. Slots will be allocated based on region, broken down thusly:
Valve did not explicitly state that this will remain in place through the end of 2021, but these are the tournament organizers who will be hosting the first portion of the season:
There are a few surprises on the list, with WePlay! missing out on the action entirely and the Croatia’s Dota PIT getting South America over local organizers such as 4D Esports and Live Media. Each of these tournament organizers should be familiar to Dota 2 fans as they have hosted the vast majority of DPC events in the past.
It is unknown who will be participating in the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit season. Valve stated that four teams in each region will receive an invitation to compete in their respective tier-one league. No specific teams were yet noted, but Valve indicated that the previously earned Dota Pro Circuit points from the 2019-2020 season will be thrown out and not be a factor. Teams will likely be selected based on their performances in recent online tournaments.
Teams that aren’t invited will have the chance to earn a spot through a series of open and closed qualifiers. Four spots in the tier-one league will be available, while all eight spots in the tier-two league will be up for grabs. No invitees have been announced yet and exact qualifier dates are already trickling out.
⚠️ NA DPC dates for players ⚠️
Jan 5 – Open qualifier #1 (to get into closed quals)
Jan 6 – Open qualifier #2 (to get into closed quals)
Jan 7-10 – Closed Qualifiers (Div1/2 deciders)
Jan 9 – Open qualifier #3 (Div 2 Qualifier)
Jan 10 – Open qualifier #4 (Div 2 Qualifier)
— David Parker | Godz (@BTSGoDz) January 1, 2021
While the new DPC format was met with some negativity when it was first teased, and will likely continue to do so heading into the future, a thaw in the frozen world of Dota 2 esports is welcome. Valve has faced harsh criticism from across the esports industry for its handling of the game during the year 2020. While other prominent esports titles continued on in a fairly normal manner thanks to their publishers stepping up and adjusting plans, Dota 2 has been suffering badly as Valve basically checked out on the esports scene.
A transition to regional leagues was announced earlier this year, with regional leagues set to be adopted after TI10. Plans changed, and Valve teased that there would be a series of interregional events that were officially recognized. This never came to pass and Valve mentioned that it was reverting back to its original plans without further explanation.
The shift to leagues instead of majors has been generally well-received, but some have questioned whether the more time-intensive format will force out third-party tournaments from the space.
The hottest talking point has been the debate over major slot allocations, with some complaining that North America had been snubbed, receiving one fewer slot that the CIS and SEA regions and the same number of slots as the traditionally weak South American region.
The estimated date for The International 10 was moved to August 2021. Valve is still planning to hold the event in Stockholm, Sweden.
TI10 was previously supposed to take place in August 2020, but the event was postponed indefinitely. It’s unclear whether Valve has a backup plan if the current health and travel issues linger.