Dota 2 TI 2016 Open Qualifiers marred by racism and Valve’s poor oversight

Valve's off-hands approach to Dota 2 is continuing to do more harm than good for the popular eSport.

Valve's off-hands approach to Dota 2 is continuing to do more harm than good for the popular eSport.

The International 2016 Open Qualifiers are underway as of today, and this time around any team can register and compete for their chance to face off against Dota 2‘s most well-known and skilled teams.

The next three days may be exciting for the teams who have entered the Open Qualifiers, but controversy is yet again knocking on Valve’s door as one severely inappropriate name has made its way into the competing roster and it’s turning heads.

In a brand new example of Valve’s lack of oversight over the Dota 2 community a team named the “Alabama N****rs” — sans the censorship seen here — is sitting squarely within the Open Qualifiers among a slew of other teams who are almost definitely trying harder to win than to offend and rack up attention. The question here is why are there no filters on Open Qualifier team names?

This isn’t the first time Valve’s aloofness has caused trouble for Dota

This is one of many instances of Valve taking the hands-off approach to Dota 2 on a professional level, with the game’s last public eSports-related controversy being the firing of James “2GD” Harding from the Dota 2 Shanghai Major for being unprofessional while casting and a change in production company mid-event for its poor audio, video quality, and overall management. Why more thought wasn’t given to both the casting and the production company is still a conundrum.

The Dota 2 community has always accused Valve of ignoring the game and berated their lack of transparency, and anyone who pays attention to the game’s events outside of watching tournaments inside the Dota 2 client has seen for themselves how the company’s hands-off approach has become more of a fault than a virtue. Hardcore fans may applaud them for not taking the “carebear” road Riot has with League of Legends, but that same lack of community oversight is bleeding into the game on the world stage and it does not look good.

Legitimacy be damned

These things don’t seem to happen anywhere near as often in other eSports titles, so why is Dota 2 once again thrown in the spotlight due to a lack of planning and oversight on Valve’s part? A simple filter on team names when registering wouldn’t be hard to have implemented, but somehow they failed to go that route and instead are inevitably going to have to step in once again.

Cries of “Free Speech!” may ring out, but the fact of the matter is The International is supposed to be a serious tournament. Even if any team can join and try to compete, there needs to be some sort of oversight on Valve’s part. There is no excuse that a name like the one in question is able to make its way into The International 2016’s Open Qualifiers. 

During a time where eSports are trying so hard to become “legitimate” we’re still seeing this type of rampant lack of professionalism that would be unimaginable in physical sports. The closest parallel one could even draw to this type of offensive name issue in professional sports lies in the football team the Washington Redskins. And in that instance changing a 40 year old team name, even if the right thing to do, is process-wise a much different thing than filtering a team name entered yesterday or last week.

The road to eSports being taken seriously outside of gaming communities is still a long one, but it’s difficult to see the road ending in true legitimacy if a game as popular as Dota 2 is continues to see these repeated controversies and roadblocks unimpeded, if not caused, simply by its publisher’s own lack of care.

About the author

Ashley Shankle

Ogryns are good lads. Simple as. Anyway, I'm basically a human tornado and I love jank. Also simple as.