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StingeR, a Dota 2 player, stares forward at his desk at The International.
Photo via Valve

Valve bans SA Dota 2 star in the middle of DreamLeague qualifiers

Play silly games, win silly prizes.

Dota 2 devs Valve have swung the banhammer in the middle of a South American qualifier for DreamLeague Season 22 today, banning support player Steven “StingeR” Vargas and forcing Mad Kings to forfeit the series.

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While the ban may look out of place and surprising, Dota 2 fans have been building a case against StingeR over the last two days. A Dota community member shared their discoveries on Jan. 15, claiming Parker was boosting Stinger’s account. It all came to a head midway through the lower bracket of the DreamLeague qualifier the next day with the drama unfolding in front of spectators during game two of the series.

The boosting accusations materialized as David “Parker” Nicho Flores also openly revealed his identity during the match from the mid-lane. The core player also taunted others to “ban him,” and his wishes came true at the worst time possible.

StingeR disconnected from the series before the 10-minute mark in the second match and he was unable to reconnect. Though many expected punishment for the duo, getting banned in a tournament certainly wasn’t on anyone’s bingo card with casters Luke “Blu_Scale” Bedwell and Ahmed “Otomo” Al-Azawi shocked at the unfolding events. To those who thought Valve’s coal treatment for smurfs during the holiday season was a one-off, you’d be wrong.

Prior to cracking down on smurfing, Valve had a talk with professional players at TI 2023, essentially giving them a one-off free pass. Come Christmas, professional players who continued to smurf lost access to their additional accounts, with high-profile Dota 2 streamer Mason among the list of perpetrators receiving a permanent ban.

Knowing Valve, executing this punishment right in the middle of a qualification match would also fit their style. The developer could have wanted to send a crystal clear message to all smurfs and account-sharing players out there, showing no one is immune.

Following StingeR’s ban, Mad Kings were eliminated from the DreamLeague S22 qualifiers and Thunder Awaken moved forward in the lower bracket.

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Image of Gökhan Çakır
Gökhan Çakır
Gökhan is a Staff Writer and Fortnite Lead at Dot Esports. Gökhan graduated as an industrial engineer in 2020 and has since been with Dot Esports. As a natural-born gamer, he honed his skills to a professional level in Dota 2. Upon giving up on the Aegis of Champions in 2019, Gökhan started his writing career, covering all things gaming, while his heart remains a lifetime defender of the Ancients.