Dota 2 Shanghai Major  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Dota 2 Shanghai Major  RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network A leaky Valve: Tightening up for the sake of eSports Mon, 29 Feb 2016 12:53:04 -0500 Seth Zulinski

This was originally intended to be an article about the Dota 2 Shanghai Majors: one of the biggest eSports tournament of the year, with some of the best players in the business fighting it out over their share of a $3,000,000 prize pool. It was intended to be a rundown of the stories that unfolded there. Who came out on top? Who fell to the opposition?

Ultimately, it was intended to be about who won, who lost, and why. 

We suppose it still is. 

If you've been following us as we explored the drama unfolding at and around the Dota 2 Shanghai Majors, then you know the focus of this tournament by the community and participants has been on almost everything about the event, except the games. If not, go on and get yourself up to date. We'll wait.

Because there's more. In a (currently) seventeen-page long response to Gabe "Gaben" Newell's personal Reddit post calling him "an ass", James "2GD" Harding takes offense at what could be a personally and professionally devastating call-out, but responds more or less in kind: bringing to light some questionable decisions by Valve, LLC over the last few years. If you don't want to sift through nearly twenty pages that read like dictation from a fever dream, never fear -- the gist is essentially: 

1. James alleges that the " previous events" are actually him lobbying for the casting talent of The International (TI from now on) 4 to receive some form of base payment, instead of their compensation being wholly based on sales of in-game items. And, in the case of TI2, arguing for any of the casting talent to be paid at all. While other casters have corroborated the TI4 information, it seems that it was applicable only to the Non-American casting talent as fellow caster Kevin "Purge" Godec recalls the American sector having base pay.

2. "2GD" goes on to explain that he believes his firing mid-broadcast of the Dota 2 Shanghai Major was due to either a personal transgression against a Valve employee circa TI4, or essentially "for being himself," which he was told to do. Granted, "being himself" here was making a pornography joke near the beginning of the show, but his argument that this is his "brand" of commentary, and exactly what he was told to do by extension, isn't totally without merit. 

So how did this happen, and why do we care?

First off, it's important to understand Valve. How it works. While it's not quite a total holacracy, Valve is what's known as a flat organization -- as their onboarding site says, they pride themselves on "working without bosses". Flat organizations tend to work in smaller, autonomous circles or groups that do their particular work how they see fit, and then try and piece it together with what everyone else is doing. To be fair, some of their results have been pretty good

Then again, sometimes the left hand isn't totally aware of what the right is doing, and you get unpaid casting talent, strangely vague wording on supporting your favorite broadcasters with compendium sales (when what you're actually doing is crowd-funding their pay), or the Dota 2 Shanghai Majors - all incredibly unprofessional strikes during iterations of (or in Shanghai's case a lead up to) one of the most prestigious eSports events in existence, and all without anyone to directly call to account for these mistakes. 

This, of course, brings us to why we care that James "2GD" Harding was fired mid-broadcast: 

Which is, of course, that we don't. James Harding, the person, isn't that important.

Hiring and firing of personnel is, as always, up to the people shot-calling a business's decisions - which, in Valve's case, amounts to "kind of a lot of people, though some more than others". At the end of the day, if James wasn't correct for the broadcast, and Valve chose not to work with him again, then that is absolutely their decision.

But they didn't wait until the end of the day, did they?

It was the Dota 2 Shanghai Majors - the second outing in Valve's attempt to add prestige, hype, and class to what is already one of the biggest eSports tournaments in the world. 

But on top of hiring a production company that had already given older broadcasts issues (KeyTV), Valve hires a media personality they have worked with before, summarily cans said personality for doing what they paid him to do, then asks him to keep talk of the goings-on "on ice" until the CEO and Managing Director of their company personally slams said caster on a public forum. 

James Harding's inclusion, his firing, his exposure of the payment structure for TI2 and TI4 originally mirroring the words every aspiring artist or performer fears ("do it for the exposure"), Valve Time being a well-known meme - these all matter not only to Dota 2 fans, or even Valve fans, but eSports fans. All of us.

Whether you're in with Riot's League of Legends or Hi-Rez's SMITE, a CS:GO player or Call of Duty professional, we're still under the same banner. While eSports is certainly out of its infancy, it's still an adolescent or awkward teenager at best. As debacles like GamerGate and similar show, our industry is still in a constant fight for credibility, recognition, and identity. 

Valve is currently running the biggest money tournaments in the eSports world, and as such are one of the premier faces of eSports. For example, League of Legends' world championships are around 2/3 of the payout for the Dota 2 Majors leading up to their big game, The International. Whether or not you play Valve games isn't relevant -- they're one of the biggest names in gaming, they set an example in the industry, and they're one of the biggest fronts for gaming to the outside world. 

This isn't really about James Harding at all

With that in mind, James Harding's firing and the circus that ensued is important not because of James Harding, but because the handling of it was sloppy and unprofessional. How can eSports, as a community and an industry, ask for professional treatment if our biggest flagship companies don't act professionally? The Dota 2 Shanghai Majors fiasco is important because it brings to light how much Valve needs to "tighten up" -- not only for its own sake, but for all of ours. 

Players and fans, writers and readers. The professionals and the casuals. If you're an Invoker, a Viktor, or an Agni. Whether you're an AWP-er or a Barrett .50 Cal fan, whether you call in Titans or bring Goliaths online -- we're all still in this together, and we can't afford another public, unprofessional blasting of James Harding (or possibly even his employment). We can't afford hiring people and paying them in "exposure," and we can't afford some of the biggest tournaments of the year to be barely watchable, if they're watchable at all. We are all invested in Valve upping its professional game, because when the rest of the world looks at Valve and its eSports productions, it sees gamers as a whole.

Since they're looking at us: as gamers, as people, as a community, and as fans of eSports, one thing has been made abundantly clear:

We can't afford another incident like the Dota 2 Shanghai Major. 

Can we? Let us know what you think about Valve, its tournament scene, or the Dota 2 Shanghai majors below. After all, we're all in this together. 

A wild Gaben appears: Valve CEO responds to Dota 2 Shanghai Major backlash Fri, 26 Feb 2016 16:51:26 -0500 Seth Zulinski

If you've been paying attention (or read about it here), you know there's big trouble in Dota China. As the on-going trainwreck that is Tournament Drama Island: Shanghai (or the Dota 2 Shanghai Majors) continues to crash, our friends and fellows over at the Dota 2 subreddit have just received a response from on high in the biggest return of the king since the Tolkien movie.

Gabe "Gaben" Newell, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Valve, LLC (and the father of Valve and Steam as we know it) took a moment to personally comment on the total travesty on-going situation that is the 2016 Dota 2 Shanghai Major. 

Not a "mere" Valve employee. Not someone writing a faceless, nameless clean-cut business response to an incident. Gaben himself took time, came to Reddit, and gave us his personal response to what's been happening in Shanghai. 

Currently, the subreddit, Twitter, and nearly anyone who watches Dota 2 (as well as even some who don't) are going mad over the response. Though reactions are still split, with users responding with anything from "thank f*cking god you are firing that production company" to the slightly more emotionally confused, "I feel like my dad just came home after abandoning our family, kissed my mom, slapped her, then took the dog and left", two immediate things keep popping up --

1. What exactly do you have to do to get booted from a broadcast in the middle of the tournament, and receive a personal reprimand from a multi-billionare CEO of the very company that made the game you're casting? That has to be an achievement unlocked, whatever it is. 

2) Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for saying that the production company (Perfect World, or more accurately Perfect World's affiliate KeyTV) is done before the Main Event of the Shanghai Major -- and hopefully done with Valve events for good, as this is actually the second offense: the Nanyang DotA 2 Championship event, while considerably less horrific than Shanghai Majors, was also riddled with its own issues. 

At any rate, while the exact nature of James "2GD" Harding's transgressions are still up in the air, the good news is this: coverage of Dota 2 events will be much better moving forward, and the company in charge of "production" in the region fired -- hopefully never to return.

The Gaben has spoken. 

Valve's 3 biggest secrets for a successful eSports broadcast Fri, 26 Feb 2016 11:06:46 -0500 Seth Zulinski

The Dota 2 Shanghai Major rolls on, and teams continue to battle it out for their share of the first multi-million dollar Dota 2 prize pool this year. And from the looks of things, Valve has been doing an excellent job of putting on a professional broadcast. Really.

Our friends and fellow eSports fans over at the Dota 2 subreddit and on Twitter have been chomping at the bit with feedback. They've congratulated Valve for "f*cking up a huge event" and even asked for refunds on the compendiums they bought to support the event, so things are clearly going well. Given all this success, we've taken a close look at how Valve has handled this broadcast and compiled three of their best strategies for hosting such a beloved competition. 

So take notes, aspiring eSports broadcasters and producers. If you want to bring your production game to new heights, all you need to do is...

Bring in a fan-favorite caster...then boot them

If the constant Twitch memeing of "Giff 2 GD" (complete with shiny eyes and squishy hug hands) hasn't tipped you off yet, what viewers of major eSports events love more than anything is when companies bring in fan favorite commentators like James "2GD" Harding - then summarily give them the boot after a single day. 

An eye for talent and the realities associated with it is paramount to keeping broadcasts fun and engaging -- but isn't drama more fun than any of that? Try to spice things up during your event by benching one of the more popular and enjoyable commentators after Day 1, and add bonus points if the general consensus is that he's one of the few things keeping a broadcast afloat at all. You really want to keep the action flowing and focus on the dramatic, because that's what attracts viewers, not engaging personalities. Which brings us to our next tip for Major event coverage...

Try Not to Focus on the Players

We know, we know, "Highly Rated Professional Player X" -- you're really glad your team could go out there and give 110% and score a touchdownball, and everyone played really well, and you had to overcome some incredibly tough adversaries by skill and wit. We get it. You're soooo gooood. What about that guy behind the guy with the camera, though? Or the people in the sound booth? What's their story? What's going through their heads?

Luckily, our friends at the Shanghai Major were wondering the same things, and have gracefully given us looks (or rather, listens) at plenty of non-player participants. As the above interview shows, one of the best things you can do during an interview with players from professional team competing at your event is to turn their mic down as low as possible, and instead give us the day-to-day goings on of random workers or passersby. Aren't they the real heroes, after all?

In fact, as our last tip goes to show, we'd much rather you just...

Barely Show the Games at All

If you want to really keep your viewers on the edge of their seats watching events as huge and important as the Dota 2 Shanghai Majors, be sure to...well, not let them do that very much. Try to find major stream outlets that will broadcast to entire sections of the globe, and then riddle your broadcast with as many technical issues as you possibly can.

Slow your in-game cameras to a crawl (or freeze them entirely), try to start as few matches on time as you can manage, cover in-game teamfights with replays, and occasionally just cut the stream altogether. Bonus points if you can do any of these things during pivotal, critical moments in the actual game or tournament. I mean, why would we be tuned in if we actually wanted to watch eSports games with sky-high stakes and some of the best players in the world? 

Since we've already started bringing the axe down on commentators, why not just mute some of the survivors at seemingly random intervals as well? When you're shooting for as awe-inspiring broadcast heights as the DotA 2 Shanghai Major, you have to be willing to go the extra mile. 

Now you'll have a Perfect Major broadcast

Now that you know what makes a Major broadcast of DotA 2, you've got the three tools they used during today's Shanghai Majors. Stick to these, and your very own tournament stream will surely have singles, or perhaps even tens of people watching in no time!

Be sure to make time to come back to us, though, and tell us the tips and tricks you've learned in steady production values. If we all hold hands and work together, we too can soon be living in a Perfect (Broadcast) World.