The Asian Dota scene and why the Dota industry should care
Xairylle | On September 5, 2013 at 10:26 pm
You know a tournament is important when it’s significant enough to shake a whole industry in its wake. It’s been almost a month since The International 2013 (TI3), and the gaming world scene is feeling the aftershocks of its conclusion. Aside from player burnout, the scene always sees roster changes after every International. In fact, the current Dota 2 scene has so much reshuffling going on among players and teams that it would be surprising if a team didn’t change.
The fact that there is a compilation of confirmed and unconfirmed changes and a thread about the shuffling and player status, which are both being constantly updated, is proof that the community is watching the developments. Now that China has finally broken its silence and applied changes, I believe there are more reasons than reshuffling, retirement, and disbanding for us to keep an eye on the Asian Dota scene.
Your move now, ACE
Most people may choose to think otherwise, but if we want the Dota scene to attract more sponsors and be more professional than it is now, it needs an organization to oversee most of what is going on. Having a single organization to preside over and standardize things such as contracts, tournaments, events, and conduct is a good start. It gives not only the sponsors, but also the clubs and players something to bank on with regards to security and stability. We also know that League of Legends (LoL) is big in China, especially with Tencent as one of its backers. Rising above or standing on par with that is definitely going to be tough. Is the Association for Chinese ESports (ACE) the organization for that job? That will be determined by how their next steps rebuild the Chinese scene.
After TI3, Chinese Dota fans expressed their disappointment in ACE. According to the Reddit thread, ”ACE is an organization that oversees all competitive Dota-related activities in China”. Fans are blaming ACE’s policies for being counterproductive, leading to China’s poor performance at TI3. It took a while, but King, the chairman of ACE, finally made his statement and explained the tier system, the difficulty in obtaining sponsors, and the organization’s alleged inclination towards League of Legends (LoL). He also talked about ACE’s future plans including promotion of amateur events, hosting of tournaments at colleges and universities, training and boot camp facilities, and the intention to invite the top three foreign teams at the international for a three-month competition.
ACE has been the first to significantly develop and implement such policies, at least in the Asian Dota 2 scene. After what happened to China at TI3, they received much flak. Being the first in something is a double-edged sword, as you can only learn from your own mistakes. There has been an eSports commission formed in the Philippines, but it has yet to bring about effects and changes as significant as ACE’s. It will do such budding organizations well to pay attention to and learn from ACE’s next moves regardless if it ends up rising or falling.
The Korean Dota 2 scene
We were excited about the new Nexon Starter League because it marks Korea’s step towards Dota 2 in their eSports scene. It had incredible production value and an amazing crowd. The players and teams were all new to the scene. It was the first big step for Korean Dota. Shortly after TI3, Nexon gave us another reason to be excited with the Nexon Sponsorship League. Dota 2 is fairly new in Korea and its second Dota 2 league will bring sponsorship and benefits to three different teams.
Another interesting thing we should keep an eye on is the way they play Dota 2. During the Nexon Starter League, we saw unusual heroes like Pudge, Meepo, Slardar, Zeus, and Omniknight. If they are experimenting or if they are actually presenting something new to the meta game is still undetermined. And if Korea treats Dota 2 the way they treat Starcraft 2, then we can be sure it’s going to be big not only production-wise, but also skill-wise. Microskills, anyone?
What happens to SEA Dota?
If anyone questions the possibility of success when you form a team with a non-Chinese Asian and four other Chinese players, allow me to point you in the direction of Wong Hock “ChuaN” Chuan. ChuaN is a Malaysian currently playing for Invictus Gaming (iG), champions of The International 2012 (TI2). Although they weren’t as strong during TI3, their TI2 win is nothing to discard. ChuaN speaks Chinese, so communication wasn’t a problem. So with that, it has been established that it is possible to form a strong team with five Chinese-speaking players that get along regardless of nationality, right? Perhaps that’s what DK had in mind when they acquired Chai Yee “Mushi” Fung who is also from Malaysia. And now Team Orange is missing a player, but that’s not as big as the loss Team Zenith suffered.
What happened to Team Zenith? Toh Wai “xy-“ Hong left to study in the UK. Wei Pong ‘YamateH’ Ng and Chee Chai ‘Ice’ Chua left due to possible retirement. Nicholas “xFreedom” Lim left due to Singapore’s National Service. Team Zenith is down to one man – Daryl “iceiceice” Koh. Although iceiceice has expressed his desire to go to China, there still has not been any news of that yet. With the currently incomplete Team Orange, the disappearance of Team Zenith, and the departure for China of a SEA legend, it seems the SEA Dota scene just got weaker.
But of course we can’t forget about the other SEA teams such as MUFC from Malaysia, MiTH.Trust from Thailand, First Departure from Singapore, and Mineski, Dreamz and TNC from the Philippines. Although MUFC did quite horribly during TI3 by not winning a single match, it’s not something they are going to keep on doing forever. Also, some eyebrows raised when the Philippines’ Mineski got the last slot for the TI3 East qualifiers, which resulted in some controversy when Ledion Dreamz replaced Neolution.Int. But these teams won’t take things sitting down and they will definitely strive to be better, such as how Mineski placed third in the ninth Neolution GosuCup despite how negatively some people reacted to their performance at the Eastern qualifiers. This is the pace that the players, teams and organizers should keep going. SEA has to find more high-tier players, improve the current SEA teams, form new competitive ones and host more major tournaments. SEA Dota now has a lot to prove, and with Team Orange grabbing third at TI3, SEA teams better be raring to fight.
Update: Team DK just confirmed its final roster on their Weibo, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Daryl “iceiceice” Koh will be joining Chai Yee “Mushi” Fung in moving from SEA to China. Aside from Mushi and iceiceice, the new Team DK has Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei, Zhang Zhi “LaNm” Cheng, and Lei “Dai” Zengrong.
Asia on the road to TI4
The road to the next International begins as soon as the latest one ends. That is how big The International is to the global Dota 2 scene. In an interview with Evil Geniuses’ Jacob “Maelk” Andersen and Fnatic’s Kai “H4nn1” Hanbueckers, Maelk talks about Europe and North America being the juggernauts of Dota only to be suddenly proved wrong by China and Singapore. And in a similar fashion at TI3, the Western teams seemed to have reinstated their dominance, something that Asia is looking to reclaim as they look at TI4.
(Editing by Paul Bischoff and Steven Millward)