With the upcoming ESL One Kuala Lumpur starting on Dec. 11, the competitive Dota 2 community will enter a new era that doesn’t feature Valve’s Dota Pro Circuit. While this change is scary for some, seasoned pros like former Talon Esports coach SunBhie see it as a positive.
In his eyes, as a coach who spent time with top teams in Western Europe and Southeast Asia over the last several years, SunBhie mainly thinks abolishing the DPC will improve the competitive scene in the long run. “I think change is scary and we also don’t know what’s ahead of us,” SunBhie said to Dot Esports. “I do think that the DPC being gone is a positive development. Outside of WEU, I don’t think the DPC has been successful. Even in WEU, being in Division II was not fun and [the division] devolved into something nasty. I’m glad it’s gone.”
For someone like SunBhie who bounced around from Team Secret, Fnatic, and Talon since 2019, he views this as a strong chance for established teams to compete against top talent more frequently and at their own pace. Even if that comes at the cost of fewer opportunities for newer talent in the short term. In theory, one of the strongest positives of the DPC format Valve put in place for the 2022 and 2023 seasons was a chance for players not signed to big organizations to team up and try to make a run at Majors or The International through the regional league. Without that, tier two teams will likely have less opportunity to qualify for big events over established orgs, though SunBhie isn’t overly concerned about that.
“I’m [obviously] hoping there will still be more opportunity for new talent to grow,” SunBhie said. “But if you are good, you will eventually be seen with or without the DPC.” The loss of direct ways for newer players to grow might not be on the minds of those veteran teams and players, but the uncertainty surrounding the next year of tournaments is.
As of Nov. 22, Valve has not shared any information about how it will be supporting tournaments heading into 2024, nor details about if TI13 will somehow still use a point-driven invite system. That isn’t too odd since Valve typically held information about the DPC or other competitive talk until closer to New Year’s, but it does leave some big question marks hanging over the scene right now.
Even with that fog of confusion still hanging over players, there is also an air of excitement as they prepare to dive into the unknown and see what an open year will look like for events. “I’m hoping that the Road to TI will be both transparent and fair,” SunBhie said. “But tournaments used to be more exciting with variety, they used to be unique. However, these great tournaments came with Valve support, and I don’t know how much they’ll be giving. But if they are giving support, we should still have good events.”
ESL One Kuala Lumpur is the first Major tournament post-TI12 and will feature many of the reshuffled top teams in the world competing from Dec. 11 to 17. After that, all eyes are on 2024 and whatever this non-DPC format will be. As for SunBhie, he has not joined a new team since parting ways with Talon after their ninth-place exit at TI12.