One of the oldest debates in the scene was if a team “deserved” to be invited to TI. Valve’s invite methodology was mysterious and sometimes subject to much derision. Valve seemed to favor a team that won the most recent event, but past that it got much more difficult to see the reasoning behind a team’s invite. After TI7, Valve decided to pull back the curtain of mystery and establish a point system to determine who was invited to TI. It was called the Dota Pro Circuit, and it meant that third party events that met prize pool requirements would have point values assigned to them. Some would be majors, and some would be minors. Placing well at majors and minors earned a team qualifying points. The 8 teams with the most points qualified for TI. It was a welcome addition, as it was a common sight to see some TI invited teams do terribly at the actual event with qualifier teams outperforming them.
As with many Valve concepts such as the roster lock, the test run ended up being a bit messy. Any non-invited teams would often find themselves playing in three qualifiers at once, and scheduling issues ran rampant. Teams that went to almost every event (like Newbee in the first half of the year) ran themselves ragged, causing performance issues. It was a grueling race where getting top 4 at a major or winning a minor was the only thing worth doing. Tournament organizers could invite any team they wanted, or exclude anyone from the regional qualifiers.
Perhaps most importantly, there were no standards for tournament format. Single elimination brackets and best of 1s were common even in majors, leaving many wondering if these tournaments deserved the title of “majors”. There was no uniformity. Different formats, different numbers of direct invites, and different regional qualifiers. While the first DPC season was a step towards having a system for TI invites that was merit based, it still needed a lot of work.
The most immediate change in the new season is that there are now only 5 minors and 5 majors, and that they are connected to each other. Major qualifiers are played first, with a minimum of 2 teams qualifying from each region. Teams that do not qualify for the major will play in the minor qualifiers. Each region will have a minimum of 1 qualified team go to a minor (For the Kuala Lumpur Major, EU, CN, and NA all have 3 major spots and 2 minor spots. The other regions have 2 major spots and 1 minor spot). The winner of each minor will qualify for the corresponding major. Under this new system, each region will have at least three representatives total at DPC events. This will give more teams than ever an attempt to improve on a world stage while less experienced teams will have a chance to learn and grow at major LAN events.
The roster lock system has once again been revamped. Roster changes will no longer make teams ineligible to earn points - however for every player change, teams lose 20% of the points they have earned so far in the season. Points no longer belong to individual players, they are assigned to teams - so don't expect to see any super teams created just to earn a TI invite. Ultimately, this allows struggling teams to make changes without completely removing their ability to qualify for TI.
The point system at majors and minors have been completely re-scaled. Majors are now worth 15000 points, and Minors are worth 500 points. All teams participating in a major and minor will earn qualifying points, and the point distribution is much less top heavy.
Along with the point distribution being re-scaled, the top 12 teams in the DPC rankings are now directly invited to TI. There will now only 1 regional qualifier per region for TI. This will ultimately result in TI9 being the most merit based International yet, with no room for opinions on if a region may have deserved more spots or less.
Upon release of the new system, we decided to map the new point amounts and distributions to the 2017/2018 DPC season, to see what the invites would look like. There are a lot of assumptions that were made doing this. Not all majors had 16 teams in the 2017/2018 DPC season, nor were they all double elimination. As a result of no double elimination, teams often shared the 3rd/4th spot. In these instances, I averaged the points from placing 3rd and placing 4th under the new system and distributed them evenly to both teams. Some events had different formats, where teams tied for 4th/5th place and 6th-8th. In these instances, points were once again averaged. There were no point reductions applied for changing rosters. Nonetheless, it should provide a rough idea of what the 2018 International Invites would have looked like under the new system.
The top teams are the same, with Newbee and Vici switching places. For the less successful teams that still qualified, there are large differences. Whereas under the old system (shown on the right) Optic, VGJ.Storm, EG, and Fnatic did not make it, they all qualified under the new system. Under the new system, EG had the 8th highest DPC points-compared to 11th on the old system. Fnatic also performed way better on the comparative ranking list, placing 10th instead of 12th on the overall rankings. VGJ.T and VGJ.Storm are placed comparatively lower under the new system due to the devaluing of minors compared to majors (both teams won minors), and EG and Fnatic’s placements have improved massively due to the more even point spread at majors. Teams like TNC, OG, Pain, and FlytoMoon are all within arms reach of being in the top 12-which goes to show with a slightly better performance at 1-2 events, they could be directly invited.
With all of these changes, the 2018/2019 DPC season looks to be the most promising year of competitive Dota 2 yet. There will be no more inflammatory debates on if one region deserved however many regional qualifier spots to TI. Every region will have a minimum of 3 teams at DPC events, resulting in the most performance based year so far. It will result in more opportunities for less developed regions, and the experience they will gain on LAN is invaluable as a learning experience. Most importantly, the lack of direct invites means that top tier teams will have to play qualifiers in order to make it to a major. We’ve already seen Team Lithium upset Liquid for the Kuala Lumpur major, with Alliance managing to qualify as well. The story lines and possibilities for the scene this year are endless, and will no doubt result in the most exciting year of Dota 2 so far.
What do you think about the new DPC season?