A few days ago, a post was submitted to Reddit by Rajee ‘Rj’ Jenkins about the state of amateur tournaments in Dota 2 . The post, an open letter to Valve from amateur Dota 2 tournament hosts, was written on behalf of Rj’s amateur league BGL, Alex “Upstairs/Downstairs” Muench from Echo League, and Ben ‘ransom’ Johnson of RD2L. All of these are Dota 2 leagues that allow players to compete at an amateur level, and all of these small tournament groups are unable to get the support from Valve that they need to expand.
Amateur Tournaments Spur Growth
The world of amateur and semi-pro players is a sadly overlooked part of esports. While there seems to be extensive data and articles written on how certain Dota 2 players made it big or where they all started, there is a distinct lack of research done around amateur Dota 2 players. Why are there such vast boundaries between amateur and pro? How can you foster talent in this sort of environment? Why is there no support for amateur esport players when there is for the NBA or NFL? If the esports industry wants to continue growing, then perhaps Valve should back these amateur leagues, and create a jumping off point to the professional scene.
There was a post by EternalEnvy entitled, “Becoming a Dota 2 Pro, my experience and thoughts” where he chronicles his journey from casual player to professional. While the post is from 2012, I think many parts of this piece are still relevant. EternalEnvy pointed out the lack of support of amateur leagues by noting that in Dota 1 there were many in-house leagues that allowed players to improve individually. Unfortunately for amateur players today, Dota 2 does not have nearly as many of these leagues. Factoring in the fact that this post was written over 5 years ago, it’s disappointing to know that there still isn’t much of an uptick in visible Valve efforts to support amateur leagues.
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The Bigger Picture
For many casual players, this might not seem like a big deal but it has larger implications. If Valve only provides publicity and ticketing for their major tournaments like the International or the Majors, it means that smaller amateur leagues like the Echo League have a much harder time trying to grow into an event like Beyond the Summit or the Dota 2 Asia Championship. It also means that amateur tournaments will be limited to private lobbies, which has an array of issues. Issues like people being unable to watch on DotaTV; no public record of the match; and no ability for players to have their statistics reflected in their personal records.
Growth in our industry is paramount. Providing support in any form to smaller leagues like the Echo League, RD2L, and BGL would not be a strain on resources for a huge company like Valve, but would have a huge impact for these small organizations. Without Valve allowing for ticketing assistance, these leagues won’t get the funding, exposure, and legitimacy they need. Besides, without these small leagues, how will we ever find our next SumaiL?