In the past month, the Dota 2 community has seen more hardship and turmoil than all of last year combined. Dota 2 is no stranger to issues of professionalism. In fact, we’ve covered several instances of unprofessional behaviour in the Dota 2 community at Esports Edition. But this time it was the behaviour of two players, Andrei “Skemberlu” Ong and Carlo “Kuku” Palad, divided a community and forced Valve’s hand in the most dire of times.
Two Players, One Issue
While the issue of what these player did is an interesting topic, what really stood out during this whole incident was how Valve reacted. The community witnessed growing tensions from the Chinese Dota 2 community as fans started to boycott the game, leaving negative comments on Dota 2’s Steam page, and even called for deleting the game all-together. Both teams in question did punish their own players but the problem was that fans didn’t find the punish, especially for Kuku, enough. Eventually Valve came forward with their first blog post entitled “The Major and Professional Dota Players” where they commented on how the incident was enfolding. Unfortunately, the blog post was all talk and no bite. Valve stated they hoped “that players and the community around the world will become better educated” and would “enjoy some Dota together.” The emphasis was wholly placed on community building with nothing about racism or discrimination. It was disappointing to say the least. And it did not sate the community for seeking more.
Lots of Rumors, No Real Talk
At this point, the community was still upset and there was no affirmative action being taken by Valve. Rumours started circulating that Kuku was banned from China or that the host city for the Chongqing Major was going to cancel the Major if something more wasn’t done. There were no sources for these claims until TNC Predator came forward in a series of tweets to explain what was happening.
After talking to the organizers of the Chongqing Major, it was confirmed to us that the following may happen if Kuku will attend the Major:
1. He might not be able to enter the country
2. The city government will possibly cancel the tournament should he attend
— TNC Predator (@TNCPredator) December 2, 2018
They stated that after securing a spot at the Major, TNC Predator had claimed that StarLadder had told them that KuKu could potentially not be allowed into China. If he was allowed into China, StarLadder told TNC Predator that they could not guarantee his safety as fans were still livid about his actions. The Western Dota 2 community became very agitated that a tournament host, let alone a country, could do such a thing without the support of Valve. Valve was silent on the matter, having their one lone “hopeful” blog post represent how they felt about the issue. This meant that many Western Dota 2 community members, including casters and professional players, took it social media to stand against this unpredecented “ban” from StarLadder and/or China.
4. I do not agree with a local government placing restrictions on who can and cannot attend a Dota2 tournament, in any country.
5. I do not condone racism in any form.
6. I believe the players have been punished suitably and deserve to be given chances to make amends.
— Redeye (@PaulChaloner) December 2, 2018
Valve Weighs In
After an influx of popular Dota 2 figures took to Twitter to stand again against the “actions” of StarLadder and China, Valve stepped in and posted their second blog post entitled “TNC and the Chongqing Major“. In their post, Valve took to clarifying some of the rumours that had been circling. Kuku had not been banned by the Chinese government nor was there any real threat security threat if he attended the Major. After speaking to the rumors surrouding TNC and Kuku, Valve took to implementing fines against TNC for their behaviour when handling the situation.
Valve stated quite definitively that they will not step in on situations like this unless an organization fails to professionally handle these types of issues. TNC didn’t just mishandle the situation, they made the situation a lot worse than it needed to be. It turns out TNC had actually contacted Valve asking if they would get a DPC point penalty if they replaced Kuku. This was a valid concern for TNC and it was similar to a question ppd had asked when one of their players was denied entry into Malaysia. Valve stated that they had assumed that TNC were going to replace Kuku for the Major. There’s an old saying that seems appropriate here.
It goes something like, “When you assume you make an ass out of u and me“…
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The Final Verdict
Valve eventually issued their final verdict on the matter, but not until after dragging TNC and making sure everyone knew that TNC was NOT the victim here. Valve wanted to make TNC accountable for their actions and therefore required them to replace Kuku as he is banned from attending the Chongqing Major and they docked 20% of TNC’s current DPC points. They did mention that the restriction of Kuku’s tournament ban will not affect future tournaments.
It’s good to see that Valve finally stepped in to stop things from getting out of hand. There were a lot of rumors flying around about what was happening and it seemed like new rumors were starting every other day. TNC needed to be held accountable for their subversive actions, but it’s disappointing to see that there was nothing said about the ultimate issue of racism in the community. Many people, like myself, want to see Valve create some sort of rulebook for the competitive community. It would make navigating these issues easier for everyone, including the players and the teams. If they know what is and is not acceptable, these sorts of issues wouldn’t have gotten out of hand. If a player says something racist in a pub, this is the appropriate punishment that the team can administer. Did a team fail to pay its players? This is what you can expect Valve to do about the situation.
Currently this type of document or even general rules does not exist and it’s needed. This whole debacle has just demonstrated how out of hand the community can get when this sort of problem isn’t halted or solved by Valve. If competitive games like Blizzard and Riot can create such a “rulebook”, than why can’t Valve? If it would save us future headaches like this, what is the downside?