DreamHack reverts in-game coach ruling for DPC 2021 Regional League Europe season 2 ‘upon guidance from Valve’

A midseason rule change gone awry.

Image via Alliance

Alliance’s use of an in-game coach during season two of the Dota Pro Circuit 2021 Europe Regional League is sending the competitive community—players and fans alike—into an uproar.

An Alliance vlog revealed that newly-hired trial coach ppd was communicating with the team during game three of their series against Brame on May 4, where Alliance lost 2-1. In the video, ppd can be heard saying that the team “was having base issues.”

Competitive Dota 2 has routinely made use of coaches, especially for organizations capable of affording them, though they’re mainly used for communicating strategies out of game and, at most, during drafting. Otherwise, the players are left to their own devices in a five-vs-five, with coaches generally onlooking from a different room.

While that’s been the case for most online and LAN Dota 2 tournaments, DreamHack clarified in a post today that the rule was modified for season two of the Regional League to “better follow what [they] are doing for online competitions in other games, which allowed coaches to participate in team communication during gameplay.” Yet, Valve, Dota 2‘s developer, was not fully informed of the change.

“As of today, this rule will be reverted back based upon guidance from Valve as this does not align with their stance on coaching,” DreamHack said. The organizer also said teams like Alliance “did absolutely nothing wrong and were simply following the rules.” Match results for games that were already played will continue to stand.

The most vocal opponents have come from fellow division one rivals OG. N0tail claimed that “having a coach during a Dota game has never been allowed.” While the OG captain said he was “not blaming Alliance,” N0tail felt that such an important competitive ruling should have been “gone about” differently and communicated better.

OG offlaner Ceb also believes that an in-game coach is not just a clear competitive advantage, but an unspoken taboo “golden rule,” he said in a statement posted today. Ceb wrote that the game demands both technical and tactical skills from its players as a team. An external coach unburdened by playing removes the “macro” overview from the five players.

“To my knowledge, Alliance is the only team to use that feature (if it is even meant to be one), because it has always been forbidden,” Ceb said. “To me it simply look like using everything usable to your advantage, and that is fair, even if I have very little respect for that way of handling things.”

Aui_2000, who won The International 2015 with Evil Geniuses, said that Alliance shouldn’t “take any flak” for following the new rules but criticized the lack of clear communication put forth by the tournament organizer, DreamHack. Aui wrote that he believes an in-game coach is “not allowed… in other regions or at the Major,” and questioned why it was specifically allowed in Europe.

“Having a sixth player who doesn’t have any of the responsibilities of the players (having to control the hero) is a really big deal and should be treated as such,” Aui said.