Valve announced yesterday that it has pulled support from a major Dota 2 Tournament based in the Philippines. The company has cited concerns around new government regulations for esports players who are entering the country. The tournament, named Galaxy Battles 2018, was scheduled to run from January 15 to January 21. In a statement released last night, Valve confirmed that support had been pulled from the tourney.
Based on information we’ve recently confirmed regarding new government regulations for esports players entering the Philippines, we have decided to rescind the tournament’s Major designation, including the Pro Circuit qualifying points, for the Galaxy Battles 2018 tournament. This is based on what we feel are unreasonable infringements on the privacy of the players, as a condition to enter the country. The tournament itself may still proceed, but without any involvement of Valve or the Dota Pro Circuit. This isn’t a reflection on how we feel about fans in the Philippines, and we are sorry for those that were planning on attending the event.
As a result, we’re talking to tournament organizers to try to find a way to run a Major with the invited and qualifying teams, including the Pro Circuit points that would have been available in Galaxy Battles 2018.
They did not go into which specific aspects of the new government regulations they were concerned about. It is currently thought that the area of drug testing was of concern to the company. From the outside looking in, the possibility of a failed drug test in a country which has extremely harsh anti drug laws would be a reasonable concern to have. Due to policies introduced by the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, over the last couple of years, violence and harsh sentencing have become a common practice. Combine this with the possibility of an esports athlete not truly understanding the potential severity of breaking laws in a foreign country, and the potential for things going wrong may just be something Valve wishes to avoid.
Valve has had no issue with drug testing up to this point. The ESL, a tent-pole tournament organizer in the Dota 2 calendar, have performed drug testing since 2015 with no issues. The removal of support has already seen one team pull out from the tournament, and others are expected to follow suit.
One of the mores serious affects this can have on teams is that they may miss out on potential Pro Tour Points, a system that helps to determine who gets to play in The International, Valve’s largest event of the year. It is yet to be seen if another tourney will replace this one to give players the chance to make up for lost Pro Tour Points.