China's competitive scene takes a massive hit from bad actors.
Just when competitive Dota 2 fans were starting to think the next leg of the 2023 Dota Pro Circuit was going to get started without addressing any of the cheating and match-fixing allegations from the Winter Tour, Valve stepped in and dropped the ban hammer on more than 40 pro players in China and Southeast Asia today.
This ruling dropped after a number of players in both regions, and even some full teams, were accused of cheating and fixing matches during the DPC Winter Tourwith some teams being called out for it multiple times as suspicious betting activity followed them throughout the last few months. Valve and Perfect World, the main tournament organizer for Dota events in China, have now imposed multi-year or indefinite bans on 46 different players and removed five teams from the DPC entirely for the upcoming Spring Tour.
In short, the already struggling Chinese Dota scene is now in shambles as a large portion of its competitive player base, including two full rosters that competed at the Lima Major, have now been banned from competing in Valve events for varying amounts of time.
The most egregious example came in the form of Knights, a Dota team formed of respected Chinese and SEA players that performed well in the Winter Tour. After locking up their spot for the Lima Major, however, they were accused of match-fixing in at least one of their closing DPC matches against EHOME. Prior to that, they were also accused of using map hacks during matches too.
Additional match-fixing claims about Knights were raised during their Lima Major performance, where they won just a single game out of 16 and bombed outonce again, alongside EHOME. The team recently disbanded and split into other rosters, with fans initially thinking that the allegations would amount to nothing. That is no longer the case.
All five players from Knights, all five players from EHOME, four of the former Dawn Gaming players, four from Team Mystique, three LBZS players, three from Team Flow, and a number of individual players that competed at some level of DPC event last season have all been banned.
Just with those named teams, that means two of the top four teams and the majority of a third team that competed in Division I of the Chinese DPC have now been banned. Additionally, two Division II teams had their rosters almost entirely banned toonot even taking into account the other names also featured.
Related: ESL is reportedly working on its own Dota 2 circuit to complement Valves DPC system
Notably, Yang “Ms” Yongjie, Lin “Son Goku” Shiyang, Lee “X1aOyU” Qian Yu, Xiao “XCJ” Chaojian, Chong FelixCiaoBa Wei Lun, Su “Flyby” Lei, Vincent “AlaCrity” Hiew, and Luo “eGo” Bin were all suspended or permanently banned.
In total, 21 players were permanently banned and another 25 were given a one or two-year suspension. Any player included in this ban wave will not be allowed to compete in any Valve or Perfect World-operated tournaments during the duration of their ban.
Here is a full list of the banned players, along with the timeframe of their punishment. Note, Valve and PW did not share the specifics for why certain players were banned, just the severity of the ban itself.Image via Perfect World Image via Perfect World
Because so many of the banned players came from top representation in the Chinese DPC, Perfect World has also announced that five teams are being kicked out of the Spring Tour entirely.
According to the organizations Weibo post, Antarctic Penguins or the ex-Knights roster slot, EHOME, Solitude or the ex-Dawn Gaming roster slot, Kylin Esports Club or the ex-LBZS roster slot, and Team Mystique are all being fully removed. This means all players, even those that werent directly banned for poor actions are being kicked out of the Tour just days before the next roster lock.
As for shifting things around, PSG. LGD, Team Aster, Xtreme Gaming, Aster.Aries, Ybb Gaming, Vici Gaming, Invictus Gaming, and Outsiders from CN will all be competing in Division I. Poke Gaming and Meteor Gaming will remain in Division II, with the remaining six slots created by this shuffle being opened up to teams in the upcoming closed qualifiers.
Perfect World has opened up a line of communication for players to reach out and potentially appeal their dictated punishment. But considering how long it took for Valve to drop the hammer on some of these players, it is unlikely many of them will get a shorter sentence for the duration of at least the current DPC season.