North American Dota Pro Circuit: YA or NA?

By ElevatedDecember 9, 2020
“Finally we are excited to announce that the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit will start on January 18th. 16 teams within two divisions will compete in each of the six Regional Leagues.”
This statement was released by Valve as part of their blog on dota2.com on November 24. This statement echoes their previously announced plans for the revitalized professional ecosystem outlined prior to COVID-19 locking down international travel. In a pre-COVID world, 16 teams per region was an exciting prospect, even in somewhat threadbare regions like North America and South America. Roster stability and organizational backing have always been a bit lackluster, but both Americas looked to be able to cobble together enough motivated players to fill out those 16 slots.
South American Dota is thriving and no longer a concern to field a competitive roster of teams for the DPC. Meanwhile, things have deteriorated significantly in North America since that initial plan was laid out before us. As of mid-October, when Beyond The Summit held an open qualifier for a slot directly into their $100,000 North American tournament, less than 32 “teams” signed up. In fact, only six of the round of 32 games were played while ten of the teams received default wins.
If that doesn’t make you worry for the future of North American Dota, then read this next sentence carefully. There were teams with Divine ranked players in the top 8 of the open qualifier for a slot directly to a $100,000 tournament.
The last time that North America had four salaried teams simultaneously was in December of 2019, and all but Evil Geniuses dropped their rosters or moved regions (NiP) during 2020. As of today, there is a single North American team under contract with an organization, and they have not played since September when they played in a European league.
We are just over a month away from the start of what is supposed to be a highly competitive, two-tiered league system with hundreds of thousands of dollars up for grabs. If the Dota Pro Circuit really does start on January 18, there are some serious questions about who will even be in the top 8 upper division of North America.
It’s extremely likely that the prospect of guaranteed money and regular competition will bring back a lot of the old North American grinders, and so I have no doubt that 16 5-man rosters will fill the slots.
It is also extremely likely that the newly formed team Arkosh Gaming, an anonymous roster managed by Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner, will be among their ranks. Meanwhile, multi-time retired legends of the game like Peter “ppd” Dager and Clinton “Fear” Loomis have seemingly unretired and immediately secured a direct invite to the BTS Pro Series. Should the team, dubbed Sadboys, stick together, they will also likely be in the upper division of North America’s league on the name value of the players alone.
It sounds a bit condescending when I write that but in reality why shouldn’t they be invited? Mike Tyson just came out of a 15-year retirement to box again and had such wildly successful viewership that it sounds like he will probably do it again. Perhaps, memes and nostalgia is the only real direction that North American Dota can go over the coming year. At the end of the day, viewers tune in to be entertained and so if it provides an interesting enough spectacle, the money will probably follow as well. After all, we live in a day and age where Floyd Mayweather, arguably the most successful boxer of all time, is confirmed to be fighting YouTuber, Logan Paul, in what will probably be the single most profitable fight in the history of the sport. It’s just a little ironic that a game notorious for parading its hardcore nature could end up in the realm of showmatches and comedy.
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