Game developer Valve has announced that it will discontinue the Dota Pro Circuit, Dota 2’s top-tier tournament structure, after The International 2023.
In the announcement, Valve admitted that the league created a ‘stranglehold’ on the events calendar and negatively impacted the ecosystem by reducing innovation and excitement.
Since 2017, the Dota Pro Circuit rewarded points to teams through sanctioned events which would go towards qualification for The International, Dota 2’s largest event of the year. With the discontinuation of the circuit, it is unknown how teams will qualify for The International 2024, however, Valve has stated the event is still set to occur.
Prior to the Dota Pro Circuit, Valve issued invitations to The International via regional qualifiers and ‘golden ticket’ invites.
Reflecting on the Dota Pro Circuit, Valve detailed that the system was initially launched in order to solve issues regarding invitations to The International, such as by providing more clarity to fans and players. However, due to the circuit’s rules and regulations Valve claims that it has made competitive Dota “less exciting, less varied, and ultimately much less fun.”
The move to remove the Dota Pro Circuit should, in theory, provide greater opportunities for third-party tournament operators to create more, diverse tournaments. This is due to the Dota 2 events calendar becoming more open.
An excerpt in the statement reads: “Before we introduced these constraints, the world of competitive Dota was healthier, more robust and more varied than the one we have now. Events used to be less rote and more creative, and there was more room in the calendar for them. Everything was open for exploration: event length and themed venues and team participation and even the basic assumptions of tournament design.
“There was a beautiful unregulated insanity to it all.”
The International 2023 will be the final major event to qualify teams using the Dota Pro Circuit method. The 20-team event is set to take place next month in Seattle, United States.
This year has seen Valve make significant ecosystem changes to both Dota 2, through the closure of the Dota Pro Circuit, and Counter-Strike, with the removal of partner team competitions. Alongside the impending launch of Counter-Strike 2, 2024 could be a significant year for Valve’s esports ecosystems.