After a remarkable group stages-for all the wrong reasons-Valve’s flagship Major series of Dota 2 tournaments has run into further delays and production issues.
In an opening gambit last week, Majors host James “2GD” Harding made a series of jokes about disabled pornography and Chinese government censorship leading eventually to his firing.
Gabe Newell, Valve’s famously reclusive co-founder, appeared on the Dota 2 subreddit in order to explain that Harding would not be returning to hosting duties, proclaiming “James is an ass, and we won’t be working with him again.”
Today the main event got to a stuttering start as the official English language stream suffered massive bandwidth issues leading to broadcast lag, making the opening ceremony almost unwatchable.
The ceremony itself, for what was visible on Chinese streams, was an almost comical event, as the spotlight to highlight teams sitting in their booths in the stand as they were announced highlighted empty seats with a flag draped above them.
According to Kyle “swindlemelonzz” Freedman, a player on American side CompLexity, said the opening ceremony fluctuated between being mandatory for players, to then an optional commitment, to apparently cancelled within around 3 hours notice.
Though he still turned up to the ceremony, Freedman says miscommunication among event staff meant he was almost not allowed to take his seat.
“For the opening I got directed to an elevator, and then the guy working it didnt want to let me out on our floor,” Freedman tweeted. “He tried to stop me.”
The teams can also hear the in-arena Chinese broadcasters while in their booths, which are usually soundproofed at major events like ESL One, last year’s Frankfurt Major (organised by ESL) and The International.
In an attempt to combat this, the action on screen is delayed by 5 minutes to prevent Chinese teams from being able to overhear critical information that could give them an edge.
Further issues with broadcast bandwidth took the stream offline completely after a severely delayed first match between Alliance and MVP, eventually returning a full 5 hours behind the first day’s schedule.
Along with his extremely public firing of James Harding last week, Newell insisted the production company, KeyTV, would also be relieved of their duty and another company flown in and instated during the interim between the group stages and main event.
KeyTV are the same production company responsible for last year’s Nanyang Championships which also suffered a myriad of problems.
The tournament had no main stage for teams to play on and Alliance player Gustav “S4” Magnusson was almost hospitalised with a fever before they won the tournament with one of their number under a blanket.
The Majors were originally conceived of a way to offer high quality tournaments regularly throughout the year to lend stability to an often turbulent pro scene at higher levels.
This Shanghai event, so far, has highlighted the distance which Valve has still to go on several fronts of event management and public relations, while lending further credence against Chinese production values.