All Chinese Dota 2 players banned from DPC 2023 and those still at risk

The banning season over at the Chinese Dota 2 scene, led by Valve and Perfect World may not be over yet. A recent match and result fixing scandal was uncovered putting the entire scene at risk. It was not only for-profit arbitrage fixing, but also manipulation of DPC points distribution and gerrymandering the standings.

Last week, perma-bans and suspensions were announced for multiple Chinese and SEA players. Specifically, players from Chinese teams that competed in Dota Pro Circuit. Several high-profile teams, include EHOME, Antarctic Penguins (ex-Knights), Solitude (ex-Dawn Gaming), Kylin Esports Club (ex-LBZS), and Mystique. These teams competed in Valve’s DPC Tour and are receiving bans of various duration.

As the investigation is not complete yet, several more teams and players are still under investigation.

Knights DPC

Source: Perfect World Esports / Knights

Perfect World’s announcement on Weibo: List of banned Dota 2 players

Two Sides of a Story by Chalice

If we take Yang “Chalice” Shenyi’s words for it. Chalice, a two-time TI runner-up, currently playing for RNG, shed some light on the Chinese esports situation. He called out that this has been on a downward trend since TI9.

He even boldly claimed that Chinese Dota 2 might just die out in the coming years. There are lesser parties investing in the scene and the fact remains that esports is exclusively for the young. It’s just not a great long-term plan, as younger players typically don’t earn much salary starting out in leagues.

Perhaps, what’s even more terrifying from Chalice’s message is that the S-level leagues won’t be able to nurture eight promising teams for the Chinese DPC very soon. Regardless, he wants to make it clear that despite the sentiment, he is against match-fixing.

In recent times, the International and Dota Majors are the only way to get positive cash flow for most teams. As a result, match fixing and manipulating DPC points to get qualified for major events turned into a real business.

The Dota 2 esports scene being less profitable and sustainable certainly isn’t a new conversation starter. Especially since even the most prominent players decide to retire from the game when push comes to shove. For instance, Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang, formerly Team Aster’s mid-laner, retired to pursue his law career instead.

Additionally, Newbee, which was once TI4 Champions, also received a lifetime ban back in 2021. Or the infamous 322 case of Arrow Gaming, which got caught in a match-fixing scandal months after they debuted at TI4.

Why do pro players get involved in match-fixing?

In short, it’s a pro players’ dilemma. While it’s easy to point fingers at the players themselves for getting involved in match-fixing. There’s a reason why these players strayed from the right path, money.

It comes as no surprise if this happens in the mid-tier level of competition. Teams that don’t make the cut for Valve Majors as often as PSG.LGD, Team Aster, or RNG just couldn’t keep up with the cost of pursuing esports as a career. It isn’t just the players too, as less prominent teams in the scene, typically new teams have less funding than the bigger powerhouses.

In fact, it happens more often than what’s reported in less-privileged regions, such as SEA and South America too. Amateur pro players, who are at least Immortal-ranked often throw matches or even boost accounts for a quick buck.

Getting caught on the wrong side

Among the players that got lifetime ban, Vincent “AlaCrity” Hiew, Chong “FelixCiaoBa” Wei Lun, Lee “X1aOyU” Qian Yu, Law “Nj” Chee Hoong, and Raymond “rayy” Then, hailed from Malaysia. Unfortunately, this is the dark side of SEA players’ Dota 2 careers, where it gets rather difficult to make a living. And with the recent withdrawal of large brands, Dota 2 Esports as a viable career just got tougher.

What happens in Tour 2 DPC 2023?

With multiple vacant slots across Division 1 and 2, expect transfers of team slots before the upcoming Tour 2. While Perfect World has announced the D1 replacements, which consist of Ybb Gaming, Vici Gaming and Outsiders from CN. D2 remains uncertain as two teams remain in this bracket, and six slots are up for grabs via closed qualifiers.

The investigation is still going as several teams still reported being probed after the initial ban announcement was made.

Frankly, it seems like Valve and Perfect World have a lot to consider from the recent banning spree. Sure, they did well enough to catch bad players in their own event, but the root cause of the problem remains. Valve and Perfect World need to reflect on their prize pool distribution across the DPC because it’s top-heavy. For a participating team of five players to earn $12,000 ($2,400 each) for placing top six in Division 2 just won’t cut it.

Meanwhile, the International prize pool and Majors, typically rake in six-figure revenue for the top winners. Sure, it’s enticing to know that winners get so much in return, but Valve could evenly distribute it for the sake of a more sustainable scene.

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