The past week has been tremendous for the Dota 2 esports industry in China as they announced another draft system, similar to those seen in traditional sports such as soccer. They also announced a developmental league established by tournament organizer ImbaTV and eight professional teams together, without any involvement from the game publisher. Let’s talk about the Chinese Dota 2 Development League.
So what’s the Chinese Development League?
ImbaTV is a Chinese esports broadcast and event organizer working with several noteworthy organizations to create the China Dota 2 Development League. The eight esports organizations include LGD Gaming (LGD), Vici Gaming (VG), Keen Gaming (KG), Aster, EHOME, Royal Never Give up (RNG), Invictus Gaming, and Newbee.
According to the announcement, the goal of the development league is to generate potential talents for the Chinese Dota 2 player pool. One of the constant needs in the pro Dota 2 scene is a flow of talented young players that teams want to take a chance on without risking their roster stability. Before, this was done by teams creating secondary rosters that would compete in smaller events, but the existence of a development league could lead to a lot of better opportunities. The league has a zero-tolerance policy on match-fixing. If a player is involved in any way, he/she will be banned from all ImbaTV-hosted esports tournaments.
If players aren’t able to make it onto a big organization’s roster or a team, they are left in a very dangerous area that is hard to escape. They will constantly be beaten by the better teams in their region for the big qualifiers and, as a result, get no exposure that comes from competing at large events. This can stunt the growth of younger players because they will be stuck playing the same competition over and over again with no chance of moving up in the world. Eventually, they will just retire because it is no longer worth their time to try and make it to the higher levels.
This opens up the possibility of some teams to use their secondary roster more effectively. By letting those teams play in their own events away from big qualifiers more often, the players will get more chances to build their confidence, earn some prize money, and show off their skills for the bigger organizations.
Because this league is purely being used as a way to promote young players to join the esports scene, each roster will be forced to comply with strict age and qualification standards. This will stop teams from potentially using the developmental league as a way to keep veterans within their organizations as substitutes for their main rosters.
This is not the first time that Imba TV has attempted to develop China’s Dota 2 with an innovative competition. In 2018, Imba TV hosted a weekly Dota 2 tournament called ImbaTV H-Cup to give young Chinese teams and players more opportunities to showcase themselves and enhance their overall competitive experience.
What to expect further?
The first league will start on July 16. Eight secondary level teams from the aforementioned esports organizations will first take part in the league. In addition, the tournament system will be improved after 2019 Dota 2’s The International Shanghai. ImbaTV said it will plan the format of the league once The International 2019 officially ends the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit season in August.
As with nearly every Dota 2 competition, the game’s publisher, Valve, is not involved in the Dota 2 development league. Even in the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), the Dota 2 majors are not directly hosted by Valve, but by multiple tournament organizers including ESL, Starladder, DreamHack, and so on. In this case, the China Dota 2 Development League will be hosted not only without Valve, but also Dota 2’s Chinese game distributor, Perfect World. This means there are no opportunities for players to get any DPC points.
Without the game publisher’s support, and after the passion from the fan base has died down, how can one monetize these leagues? And what extra opportunities can tournament organizers create? If they can find a sustainable business model, it will be an interesting case study to help other regions establish their own Dota 2 development circuits.
This is Chandan Padhi. An avid esports fanatic. Gaming is a passion, writing is a hobby.
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