The Singapore Major has just ended and here are my thoughts on various topics
There were so many games played throughout the Major that it's hard to recall all of them even vaguely. By the time we were knocked out by iG, we were all exhausted so I missed the iG vs LGD series and woke up to the grand finals between EG and iG. By 30 min or so into game 3, I remember thinking this finals is one of the more boring finals at an event that has an impact on whether a team goes to TI. Then some shit happened and iG through what appeared to be a miracle-level-comeback took the game and the rest is history now. While I was watching game 3, it looked like EG could, should, and would close the game. It was their game to lose at that point. If they did, there would be a different discussion about how EG was the undisputed best team in the world and perhaps that iG was not even worthy of being in the finals.
But DotA doesn't work that way. Shit happens in DotA and that's what has always kept the game interesting. Most games that go down in the game's history as best games of all time are really just throwfests and teams making questionable plays. Aside from 'throws' teams can't be expected to be in good form all the time. That's also part of the beauty of the game. Different regions develop different priorities and approaches to the game and they eventually collide on LAN. Teams are constantly bouncing up and down between good and bad form. Our team was evidently not in good form but that's okay. There was plenty to be learned and a few disappointing performances won't shake our foundation as a team that on a good day, we're capable of beating any team on the planet. The point I'm trying to make is that the community has a tendency to be quick to judge in a field that has so much unpredictability.
I've always compared DotA players/teams to gladiators fighting in an arena, surrounded by spectators who just want a good show. So when a team loses and gets mocked, I can't help but picture some old, scrawny dude in the audience who has never bled from combat in his life shouting "NOOB!" at the dying gladiator who has trained years to even get there. Going forward, I might reference this analogy again because it captures a lot of aspects of competing in DotA that is overlooked. For example, even in game 3 of the finals, all it took was a moment of carelessness for EG to start bleeding and realize their own mortality. Everyone can bleed and it takes tremendous training to avoid these mistakes in high stake games. DotA at the highest level truly is a game where 1 death might blow open the game to an entirely different path.
I'm glad that Neon and Thunder Predator were the honorary victors in this event. They played strong DotA and opened our eyes to how small the gap has become between so-called tier 1 and tier 2 teams. At the same time, it's disappointing to see that the reaction to underperforming boils down to dick measuring contests about which region is the best or overrated. I am by no means making excuses for poor results. Results are results but that only says something about a team, not everything. I only judge a team for its best performances, not its worst because as someone who will eventually have to be their opponent one day, that's what needs to be prepared for. Whether they have been slumping or show up in their 'bad form' is out of my control and not my concern after all. I have no personal agenda to prevent EU from losing slots. In fact, if they were to take away slots from EU, it would probably be in our favor at this point. I simply don't care as I'm sure Valve will decide to do what they want and that's that.
It's no secret that I've been critical of the current dpc system when it was first announced for many reasons. The only thing that the current system accomplishes is that just based on how little dpc points are actually awarded at the Majors compared to the regional qualifiers, each region will be almost guaranteed to have a representative at TI (which is a good thing as long as it's well balanced). But at the same time because of how difficult it is to acquire these dpc points, it puts a lot of pressure on teams to perform at the right time. I can't imagine how stressful it is for teams in China to try to secure a spot to TI this year. I understand that because of COVID, there's only 2 Majors to serve as qualifications for TI10 instead of 3. My issue is that there have been more good teams than ever, but the least number of 'exams' for TI now. With the most TI-heavy prize pool distribution throughout the year the scene has ever seen, the road to TI has become less consistent. There are 2 Majors to secure your spot in TI, yet each of these Majors accounts for like literally 1-2% of the TI prize pool. That is not healthy. I don't even know where to begin with teams being able to ruthlessly kick players who are basically fucked if they don't picked up by another capable team. No open qualifiers by the way.
The only solution I can see if we were to keep the overall structure of the current dpc system is to give more slots to all regions. Fuck it, make everyone happy. Also change how the point distribution system works, especially at the actual Major. 0 points 0 dollars for more than half of the teams is unacceptable. Also, what really is the point of having wild cards other than for entertainment (people want to see blood)? It's fun watching teams duke it out for 2 slots out of 6 but then what? Oh right, another group stage. The number of playoff slots are traditionally powers of 2 (4, 8, 16 etc) but combining wildcards and group stage games so that easy-to-work-with number can be met by eliminating bottom X number of teams seems like a simple solution.
Some people will say there are logistics issues with trying to manage a tournament with so many teams but I'm sure it's nothing $160+ million dollars from the battle pass won't solve. The current system is sometimes praised for its support for the tier 2-3 scene with its evenly spread prize distribution in the regional qualifiers. Call me a skeptic but that's only a distraction of a counter argument to how much they've decreased the prize pool throughout the year (not even mentioning the extinction of Major-level non-Valve tournaments). If anything, having more slots for all the regions will do more for the tier 2-3 scene than what's being done now. In most regions, the fact that you can't make it to a Major qualifies you as a tier 2 team at best worldwide. Lower division is tier 3-4 minus certain teams that made a new stack to register themselves into the system which is also not what we mean when we are discussing genuine tier 2-3 up and coming teams. The current system of bottom 2 upper division teams having to give up their slots to the top 2 lower division teams is still stupid. We're in the business of competition. Earn your spot like everyone else.
Lastly, lower bracket round 1 needs to stop being bo1. As we saw in this Major, it only takes 1 more day. Over the years, I've seen a lot of dumb takes like, it creates more hype or that teams need to be punished for not being good enough to be in upper bracket. These are the people in colosseum who've never held a weapon in their lives booing and pointing their thumbs down. Teams who have made it to TI deserve better than a bo1 elimination game.
It was great being at a LAN again after more than a year and a treat to watch a lot of fun DotA. But the amount of entertainment we all got from the tournament should be attributed to the game itself, not the format of the Major or the system, and with TI only 4 months from now, I feel it's important to point out the flaws of the system even if there's a high chance there won't be any changes but at least some of my points may be taken into consideration for the next season.