Elephant shuts down its Dota 2 division, terminates remaining players’ contracts

The organization will no longer play with its current roster but will continue helping players stuck in Romania make it back home.

Photo via Valve

Every story must eventually come to an end. But for Elephant’s Dota 2 roster, it appears that the story has been cut short since the entire division has been labeled inactive and the players have all been released after a disappointing season. 

Elephant’s entry into Dota was supposed to usher in a new super team in a Chinese region that went through a massive shuffle post The International 2019. But the team failed to come together and generate results. Because of this and the significant investment made into the team, Elephant is moving on from the entire roster.

After its formation last October, Elephant played well in several Chinese events but weren’t able to make it out of the region during the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit season, placing fifth in each of the regional league seasons and failing to qualify for either Major. The super team went on to qualify for TI10 in the regional qualifier, only to underperform and exit in 13th place after barely making it to the main stage. 

Following a disappointing end to their 2020-21 campaign, it seemed like Elephant would continue supporting the current roster for a second year. But this was never the plan, according to posts by an anonymous whistleblower from the Chinese community translated by Dota analyst Arthur. 

While publicly acting as if the team was going to stay together and compete in the 2022 iteration of the DPC in some form, Elephant was instead reportedly looking to redo its roster with other notable names like xNova and flyfly joining. That deal apparently fell through or Elephant pulled out of the deal and then continued to work on a leaked deal with Team Aster regarding an eight-figure transfer that would send several Elephant players and potential signees to Aster. 

That potential deal would have centered around Somnus since Aster’s owner was reportedly interested in building a team around him. 

Details about continued transfer discussions have not been shared, but Elephant finally decided to pull the plug after extended discussions with its players and staff, essentially ending the team’s run in the Dota space for now. And, as a result, almost every player has become a free agent again. 

Eurus and coach rOtK both had their contracts expire and Elephant terminated the remaining contracts with Somnus, Yang, and fy. The only player who won’t enter free agency in this sudden move is Super, who was playing with Elephant on loan from Royal Never Give Up and will now rejoin his original organization

Originally, the leaker claimed that Elephant was going to make the players with a contract still remaining either pay their own buyout fee, find a workable transfer, or sit out until the contract ended once the Dota division closed—though that never came to fruition. Instead, the company terminated the remaining contracts as a favor to the players in hopes that they could find new teams to represent for the next DPC season. 

Additionally, Elephant confirmed that several of its players are still stuck in Romania nearly a full month after the conclusion of TI10 due to COVID-related travel restrictions. The organization is still working on making sure all of its now-former players make it home safely despite its decision to dissolve the team.

It’s unclear if Elephant has any plans to re-enter the Dota 2 competitive scene at any point in the future. But with this move, China’s free agent market got a small injection of top-tier talent that will likely be snapped up ahead of the upcoming 2022 DPC season, which will undergo its first roster lock on Nov. 21.