Dota 2 developer Valve Software dropped a bombshell on the scene on Friday (15 September) when they announced that they will be ending the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) and that the current 2023 season will be the sixth and final one.
In a post on the official Dota 2 blog, Valve said they initially started the DPC back in 2017 in order to create a more streamlined and transparent way for professional teams to earn invites to The International (TI), the game's annual world championship tournament.
However, the developer admitted that the DPC also had the unintended effect of making the pro Dota scene "less exciting, less varied, and ultimately much less fun".
"When it came to that one limited goal, we succeeded. The DPC demystified the invitation criteria, and made it easier for pros to understand their path to The International. Unfortunately, the DPC brought with it a set of rules and regulations, and those have come with a cost that’s become clearer to us over time: The world of competitive Dota has grown less exciting, less varied, and ultimately much less fun," said Valve.
The developer went on to explain that the DPC's consolidation of the pro Dota scene caused event organisers to innovate less to comply with Valve's rigid requirements instead of producing "creative and inventive tournaments" that appealed to both pro players and fans.
Moreover, the fact that the DPC took up much of the year and was the only way for teams to qualify for TI also reduced the number of third-party tournaments, which had difficulty attracting players and viewers without the allure of being relevant to TI.
"No matter how well-intentioned our event specifications, or the actions of the event organizers in meeting them, it distracts from what the goals of these events used to be: showcasing Dota in the most entertaining way possible, enticing players to participate and the audience to watch. The best world is the one where event organizers aren’t competing for our attention, but for yours," said Valve.
"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."
Valve was notably very critical of their own system, admitting that the DPC has played a large role in the pro Dota scene being a "sterile, near-monoculture" and even bemoaned how far removed it had become from the game's over decade-long history of grassroots tournaments.
"It would be too simplistic to say that the slow drift of the Dota competitive scene away from this focus on fun and creativity towards the sterile, near-monoculture of today is entirely the fault of the DPC, but the DPC has generated significant pressure and incentives that led us here. The Dota community has decades of grassroots experience coming up with innovative and entertaining events, and right now the DPC is getting in the way," said Valve.
"With that in mind, we're ending the Dota Pro Circuit: 2023 will be the final DPC season."
While Valve did not reveal what system will be replacing the DPC next year, the developer said they will be talking more about how invitations to TI 2024 will work next year.
As a result of Valve's decision, the DPC will come to an end with the conclusion of TI 2023, which will be held in Seattle, the United States from 12 to 29 October.
Dota pros, personalities support end to DPC, but questions remain
Many Dota 2 pro players and personalities expressed their support for Valve's decision to end the DPC. However, many also remain cautious due to the fact that Valve has yet to reveal what system will be replacing it next year.
Shopify Rebellion's Andreas "Cr1t-" Nielsen said on his personal Twitter account that, with this latest announcement, Valve has been "constantly making good decisions and showing they care these past few months". Team Liquid's Aydin "Insania" Sarkohi echoed Cr1t's sentiments in a quote tweet, saying "I have been feeling the exact same way recently".
I have been feeling the exact same way recently. Valve cooking rn https://t.co/KGOVE7HPAv
— Aydin Sarkohi (@iNsan1a) September 14, 2023
Another Shopify Rebellion player, Tal "Fly" Aizik, said that "the DPC has felt slow and repetitive" and that he is optimistic about it ending, but added there are still "lots of question marks".
From my player POV, the DPC has felt slow and repetitive, yes. I'm optimistic about this change, but still lots of question markshttps://t.co/Ntph46DWEe
— Tal Aizik (@talflyaizik) September 14, 2023
Caster Austin "Capitalist" Walsh aired out some of his concerns regarding the dissolution of the DPC, with his biggest being how many third-party tournament organisers will have interest in running Dota 2 tournaments following this change.
While I largely agree & have wanted more third party opportunities in the space, I do have some general concerns. The biggest being how many third party TOs have an interest in running events in the first place. Hopefully it's not just ESL & PGL with a hold on the scene
— Cap (@CapCasts) September 14, 2023
Another caster, Ricky "rkryptic" Peterson, doubts the DPC's dissolution will produce positive results, predicting that organisations, players, and tournament organisers may be forced to leave the scene without ample support from Valve.
I see lots of people being excited for the "return to the old days" but I just can't for the life of me see how this is a net positive in any capacity.
Orgs, players, TOs, and talent are going to drop like flies unless Valve offers some serious support to the scene.
— Ricky (@rkryptic) September 14, 2023
It remains to be seen how the end of the DPC will affect the pro Dota 2 scene, especially given how Valve has yet to present concrete plans for its replacement next year.
While Valve said they are planning to publicly reveal more information next year, the developer may also meet with pro players, teams, and other stakeholders in the scene during TI 2023 regarding their plans moving forward.