There has been a lot of confusion in the Dota community after ESL’s reported decision to disqualify multiple teams from the ESL Meisterschaft 2020 Season Two competition due to a conflict in rosters with one of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit events.
ESL has now clarified it won’t be disqualifying teams since DreamLeague is not yet specified in the rulebook for ESL events despite using the same rulebook. Instead, teams who have been affected will be given an additional slot to add new players should they need to fill out their roster.
“All teams already have two slots to add new players for the playoffs, but teams whose players have played DreamLeague, will get a third slot to compensate for the unclear situation regarding the rulebook,” ESL said. “Teams whose players have played ESL One CIS DPC qualifier will keep the two slots and will not get an additional one, because ESL One tournaments are clearly mentioned in the rulebook. This will—at least theoretically—enable all remaining playoffs teams to have an eligible lineup of five players for the semifinals and finals.”
According to an ESL spokesperson, ESL Meisterschaft’s rulebook does clearly state that a player will not be allowed to compete in more than one ESL Pro Gaming tournament at the same time with two different teams. This means that if a player were to try and compete in multiple ESL events at once, they would need to keep the same roster across the board.
That specific rule led to some issues at Meisterschaft because teams were structured around a rule that requires every team to have three players from Germany on the roster, with a max of two international players. Substitute players are an exception, but overall, the structure must be followed in order to compete.
The real issue occurred when several players competing at Meisterschaft started signing up or were invited to compete in some of the 2021 DPC qualifiers, specifically in Europe or CIS.
Those specific regions are being run by ESL and DreamHack for the regional leagues, but even though the EU events are being called DreamLeague, they are being treated as ESL tournaments. This is due to ESL merging with Dreamhack in September, combining their operations under a single company.
This made it so teams couldn’t compete in the ESL-run CIS qualifiers because it would directly conflict with the rules set by ESL. The players were also told that this rule extended to the DreamLeague qualifiers, so for players like Giorgos “SsaSpartan” Giannakopoulos and Tasos “Focus” Michailidis, who were invited to the closed qualifiers despite already competing in Meisterschaft, it left them in a tough situation.
This clarification does mean that the playoffs for Meisterschaft can be completed by at least some of the same players that qualified, but it doesn’t put some of the more worrying aspects of this ruling to rest.
Several players close to or involved in Meisterschaft are questioning why a company like ESL running a national league can ban players from being involved in international competitions, even if it is also running that event.
“You might think they want to prevent team hopping, i.e. that a player plays in several teams at the same time,” TheBloodySky said. “But no, that’s all fine as long as you play with another team if it’s a tournament/league organized by non-ESL (and apparently Dreamhack).”
It does appear that ESL is working to improve its rulebook moving forward, as it has taken feedback from the players involved in this odd situation and will review it moving forward with its future Dota competitions, according to ESL product manager Christoph Kohlhaas.