Just days after the International qualifiers raised hopes for young sides around the world, one team may have dented its chances with a poorly timed roster change.
London Conspiracy may be relegated to the European open qualifier after replacing Nikos “ReaLaxXx” Kiazolis with Xaris “SkyLark” Zafiriou just one day after receiving an invite to the second phase. While Valve has yet to rule officially on the matter, historical precedent does not favor the team.
The International’s qualifier structure consists of two phases, designed to give demonstrated powers a better shot at the main event. The 10-team second phase consists of nine invited sides and one squad, qualified through a massive open bracket. While London Conspiracy received a nod for the second phase, history suggests its campaign will begin in the open qualifier.
With all of the tumult in the world of Dota 2, Valve has developed precedence for this situation. Rule 3.2 of the International rulebook states that “A team is selected and invited by Valve based on a pre-determined roster. Teams are not allowed to determine the 5 players themselves who will compete upon receiving the invitation.”
This rule gained particular attention when Fnatic attempted to swap Adrian “Era” Kryeziu for Steve “Excalibur” Ye in 2014, just one month before the competition. However, Fnatic’s situation involved a direct invite to the main event. And the squad did, in the end, participate with Kryeziu.
Punishment for qualifier teams engaging in the same behavior, as it turns out, is even more harsh. In 2012, Neolution.Int removed Michael “Ninjaboogie” Ross from the squad after receiving its qualifier invite. The team was then forced to play through the open qualifier and re-earn its spot.
While Valve has yet to make an official decision in the matter, things do not look favorable for London Conspiracy. And while the squad would likely run through the open qualifier with little trouble, it only takes one upstart side to end the International dreams of any unit.
H/T Gosu Gamers
UPDATE: According to London Conspiracy manager Cristian “TheOmicron” Duca, London Conspiracy and Valve have reached an agreement that will allow the team to retain its qualifier spot with the new roster.