Why we shut down Reality Rift Dota2
Ilya here, CEO of Reality Rift.
This is a post to Reality Rift fans and Dota2 community to explain our decision on shutting down RR Dota2 team. We have plans to return next year, but we also had plans to not having a virus outbreak this year, so planning not necessarily works all the time as you might have noticed.
It’s a relatively long story to explain things properly. So here is a short summary to save time of those who don’t like long reads: RR Dota2 team is disbanded, might potentially return in 2021. Nutz and Kyxy are becoming free agents effectively from September 1, while Hustla and Alacrity are still under contracts. We are open to discussing potential opportunities for them. There are multiple reasons of a similar importance that led to that decision:
• Travel restrictions resulted in team management and training difficulties
• Low effort management of the esports scene from Valve
• Budget pressure on core business of Reality Rift (gaming arena in Singapore) due to covid restrictions in retail
For the longer explanation, it makes sense to start from what was the initial idea about the team. We started in May 2019 with the intention to build a team from scratch that will be able to achieve top positions in SEA in 6 months (achieved) and become a top team globally in 12 months (not achieved). Our principles were: hard and smart work of like-minded people over an extended period of time, avoiding roster changes even if results are not satisfying, providing the best facilities and support while being cost efficient.
Looking back, I believe that the plan was good, and it’s still the best approach to build a team. I personally follow this approach for anything I’m building and find it quite efficient and sustainable. We made mistakes, we fixed mistakes, we tried finding ways to improve, and it was a really good run overall. However, not everything is under our control, and there are external factors that lead us to this decision. None of them alone would have led us to shutting down the team, the problem is their combination.
So, to the reasons:
1. Travel restrictions due to covid. A very important thing for us, as the RR HQ is based in Singapore, team house / boot camp is in Malaysia, and our players / managers / coach are from all around the world. The implications are harsh:
a. Players can’t travel home or to team house. Four of them (Hustla, Nutz, Drew, Kyxy) visited home last time more than 6 months ago. The team was stuck in the team house for quite a long time, and even if you love your colleagues as hard as Hustla loves Nutz, it’s still a bit challenging and demoralizing
b. Management can’t be with the team and make sure that all the processes work properly
c. LAN tournaments, the most motivating and interesting ones got cancelled
d. Visa issues for the players started becoming a problem, and there is no way to resolve it before the restrictions end
2. Quality of esports scene management by Valve. If I were to explain what is going on here in just two words, it will be super easy. Low effort. I was ok with that because it’s their business, if only not the fact that we as a team depend on the amount and quality of this effort. The only thing that saves the whole scene from collapsing, is the fact that Dota2 is a great game, that people love (and hate sometimes). The implications of this are quite straightforward:
a. With all respect to third-party tournaments, which are growing rapidly in terms of quality (thank you One Esports, ESL, WePlay, BTS, you are doing a great job), the key motivating factor is the official season. If there is no official season, there is no real motivation, despite many saying that a professional player must be trying to win every game as hard as possible. This is simply not true.
b. The economical part of the official season even after the renewal, is still suboptimal. Distribution of value when 90% goes of the total season value goes to 16 teams is wrong, from my point of view. Especially, for teams who can easily be a team #12 or team #20 in the final ranking. This is how very unfair industries and societies work, which negatively impacts any attractiveness for doing business. Especially for new players with limited resources.
3. Budget pressure. We were realistic about the economical part of the team, and realized that during the first year, it will be a pure cost, with the intention to start monetizing the team at the 2nd year. The plan was to fund the team initially using Reality Rift Arena. In a normal situation, this would have worked, and we already started successfully monetizing the team – signed our first long-term sponsorship contract, worked on the content production side, etc. But unfortunately, the virus had implications on RR Arena business – we had to shut down the place for almost 4 months, and currently allowed to operate at 25% capacity. In this case, considering other factors, we decided to minimize budget that is spent on items that are not generating return right now.
It was a great run, we had our ups and downs, but I’m quite sure that without covid we would have achieved everything with this team. I want to say thank you to everyone who was involved in this venture. Thank you for the hard work, passion, and motivation! We will do our best to come back next year to the game we love.
In the meantime, we will be happy to see you in our arena (if you are in Singapore) and please support our recently launched Valorant team that is also based in Singapore.
Good game, well played!