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Valve has condemned the "damaging" use of racist insults by Dota 2 pros and warned teams that they need to dish out "strong punishments" to any future offenders.
It follows two incidents of Dota 2 pros using racist taunts against Chinese teams. The first, as noted on ResetEra, involved Filipino player Andrei "skem" Ong. His team compLexity Gaming said they had issued skem with a "formal reprimand, as well as a maximum fine" for the "inappropriate comment", which was made earlier this month.
Following another pro using the same racial taunt a few days later—this time Carlo “Kuku” Palad of TNC Pro Team—Dota 2 was review bombed on Steam, with most of the negative reviews citing the lack of proper punishment for both skem and Kuku. On November 7 and 8 combined, the game received nearly 4,000 negative reviews.
On Friday, Chinese pro player and coach Xu "BurNIng" Zhilei shared an email about the incidents that appeared to be from Valve's Erik Johnson. In the email exchange, translated by Reddit user WhoIsEarthshaker, Johnson said the pro players' comments were "very offensive and inappropriate", and that Valve would step in if a pro player that made racist comments was not punished by their team. It would also be contacting TNC regarding Kuku's comments, he said.
He did not respond directly to BurNing's call for "clear rules" governing punishments for racist launguage.
Valve did, however, write a post on the Dota 2 blog yesterday in which it said that racist language between pro players "is really damaging to the entire Dota community.
"It pits fans against each other, belittles and demeans entire groups and makes them feel like they are not as important. Going forward, we expect all teams who participate in our tournaments to hold its players accountable, and be prepared to follow up with strong punishments when players represent Dota and its community poorly."
Valve did not clarify what would happen if teams did not dish out "strong punishments" for racist abuse, or say what it thought constituted a strong punishment. It continued:
"We’ve always had an approach of letting the players be themselves, and to express themselves freely. That’s how it’s always been for a long time. However, we also expect pro players to understand that they represent the Dota community regardless of where they are. Words carry a lot of meaning.
"Some people may not agree or understand why certain words are harmful, but it doesn’t make it any less so to those on the receiving end. The language used by multiple players over the last week has caused many of our fans a lot of pain and is not behavior that we condone."
You can read Valve's full statement here.
Chinese Dota 2 fans have hit out at Valve following a perceived lack of action after racist taunts were used in esports matches.
After the first incident (via ResetEra), on 1st November compLexity Gaming confirmed it had "been made aware of an inappropriate comment by one of [its] players" and "does not condone intolerance of any kind", reporting it would sanction the player - Andrei "skem" Ong - with a formal reprimand and "maximum fine".
A few days later, in a separate incident, another player - this time Carlo "Kuku" Palad - used the same taunt against a Chinese team. Incensed by the lack of consequence from the tournament organisers and Valve itself, Chinese fans started writing emails and review bombing Dota 2 to get Valve to notice their dissatisfaction at how the incidents were dealt with, adding almost 6,000 negative reviews to Dota 2's Steam page since 7th November.
Dota 2’s Kuala Lumpur Major kicked off today, pitting 16 teams from across the world against each other for a million dollar prize pool and, arguably even more important, 15,000 Dota Pro Circuit points. The top 12 teams with the highest points from the Majors will receive direct invites to The International 2019, while the rest of the spots will be decided by the regional qualifiers.
Today and tomorrow see the teams compete in the group stage, followed by a week of playoffs and the main public event, ending on November 18. Follow the first day of the group stage on PGL’s Twitch stream below.
Things work a bit differently this year, with teams earning points instead of individual players. The new system seems considerably simpler. "Our goal is to introduce a bit more structure to the year, increase team roster flexibility, and improve the spacing and importance of each event," Valve explained in a blog post earlier this year.
In Minors, like last week’s, there are smaller prize pools and point rewards, but the winner of the Minors also automatically qualifies for the next Major. That team won’t earn point for both competitions, however. They either earn points for the Minor or the Major, whichever is greater.
First place in Kuala Lumpur will earn the team $350,000 and 4,950 DPC, while the any teams ending up in 13th place or below will earn $10,000 and 75DPC. Four more Majors and Minors will determine the rest of the teams, coming to an end on June 30, 2019. There’s still a long way to go before the International.
One detail I’d missed in Friday’s announcement of Warcraft III: Reforged is that Blizzard’s upcoming remaster should be able to play all the original’s player-created maps and modes. Which is great news. WC3 has one of the great forgotten modding scenes, growing so many genres beyond the obvious MOBAs like DotA. Every night for months, my pals and I would play random ‘custom games’ and always discover something new, surprising, delightful, or just plain weird (the ‘sexy’ tower defence games were…). So good, great, lovely, hopefully this rebirth of WC3 will introduce more people to its treasures.
Esports organization Virtus Pro has terminated its relationship with "individuals who've been managing VP social media" following a tweet of an image of its Dota 2 team standing behind an anonymous woman that asked, "Who's gonna 'ride' the Mercedes this year?"
"To follow up to yesterday's incident I'd like to confirm we've ended all relationships with individuals who've been managing VP social media lately. We've also implemented additional internal protocols to ensure things like this never happen again," Virtus Pro general manager Roman Dvoryankin tweeted a day after his initial response. "Once again, apologies for that."
Dvoryankin said in followup tweets (translated from Russian) that the obvious sexism of the image wasn't the only problem: VP also took issue with "the disrespectful attitude towards the sponsor of the tournament." Mercedes-Benz is an ESL sponsor and awards cars to tournament MVPs, but the tweet was clearly intended to imply a different kind of "ride."
Based in Russia, Virtus Pro is a significant force in esports, currently fielding teams in CS:GO, Dota 2, Fortnite, and Paladins. It won the CS:GO title in Katowice in 2014 and finished second at the Eleague Major in Atlanta in 2017, and its Dota 2 team put together a run of five first-place tournament finishes through the end of 2017 and the first half of 2018.
It's not known how many members of the Virtus Pro social media team were let go in the wake of the tweet, or how the org will handle social media going forward. But its reaction to the tweet stands in contrast to that of GOG, which has failed to address problems with its social media team despite repeated recent missteps. I've emailed VP for more information, and will update if I receive a reply.
Valve are starting to clearly disclose the odds of receiving a rare bonus wizard costume in your Dota 2 loot box of wizard hats, adding an in-game pop-up stating your chances. This is for the “escalating odds”, which go up as you open more and more of a certain loot box, and will always track your current chances. The odds were vaguely available before in a roundabout way, as Chinese law requires companies to disclose loot box odds, but seeing it in-game is easier than tromping across the Internet in search of translations of Chinese blog posts.