All you need to know about the Dota Pro Circuit season 2021

By Chelsea JackJanuary 1, 2021
In the most Valve move of all, the developer has released new information about the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season in the final hours of 2020.
The announcement outlines two six-week-long leagues, each ending in a Major.
Season 1 will run from January 18-February 28, with China running to March 14 as we presume they will have a break for Chinese New Year. The first Major will run March 25-April 4. Season 2 will run April 13 - May 23. The second Major will run June 2-13.
Following these two seasons and Majors will be qualifiers to determine the remaining slots for The International 10. The exact breakdown of DPC points distribution (in fact, any mention that points will be assigned this season at all) was not included in the announcement. There is, however, updated information regarding points distributions in the FAQ for the DPC. The top six teams in the Upper Division of each region and top 8 in the Majors will receive points, with 2700 points available via the Major and 1150 via each league. Points will be assigned to teams, and teams can play with only one sub at a time during the league. Using a sub at the Major will incur a 40% points penalty.
The first Major will have 18 slots, with the top four teams from Europe and China, the top three from Southeast Asia and CIS, and the top two from North America and South America. This is the only indicator we're likely to get at this stage of which regions Valve thinks are stronger. Do you agree?
Meanwhile, March seems awfully soon for an international LAN. We'd love to see it, but with the COVID-19 vaccine rolling out slowly around the globe, and the virus still a significant health threat...is it possible that Valve's being too optimistic? If teams know on February 28 that they will advance to the Major, could they travel and quarantine for two weeks ahead of the March 25 start date? When will we know where the Majors will be operated and who will run them? Inquiring minds and all that.

Regional Leagues: who?

Citing Dota 2 rosters' volatility through 2020, Valve has opted to direct invite four teams from each region to compete in the Upper Division, with the remaining 12 slots (four in Upper and eight in Lower) to be determined via a series of open and closed regional qualifiers.
A different tournament organizer will operate each region:
Europe: Dreamhack
CIS: ESL
China: Perfect World
SEA: PGL
North America: Beyond the Summit
South America: Dota PIT
It's worth noting that ESL and Dreamhack have merged under the name ESL Gaming as of September 2020, so virtually the same group will operate the Europe and CIS regions. We will see whether any notable distinctions between the two productions exist, particularly given that Dreamhack, in the form of DreamLeague, and ESL, in the form of ESL One, have had quite different identities.
Notably absent from this list? WePlay! and EPICENTER come to mind immediately. We've also seen Movistar Liga rise as a South American tournament organizer though perhaps not at the scale the DPC calls for, while Dota PIT is not known for being especially South American-oriented.
Valve also shared the play schedule, which is as follows:
All times are Pacific Time.
All times are Pacific Time.
This schedule differs from the one released in 2020, "to make sure all match times fit the regions play and watch times as best as possible." Remember that each of these blocks is a best-of-three, which means each region will have five best-of-three Upper Division per week, two on two separate days and one on a third. Mondays have been left open in the Upper Division, while Lower Division regions play each day. None of the regions have three Upper Division play days in a row. The Lower Division is more volatile, with three days of one series and one day with two, per region.

For teams

Teams are now invited to register for the DPC at the official registration page.
Notable roster restrictions include needing to register before qualifiers for their regional league begin, and that changes to rosters can be made "between the end of the league and the Sunday the week after the end of the Major." Teams that qualified for the Major will incur points penalties if they make any changes before the conclusion of the Major.
Teams must be registered in order to be eligible to play. So if you're going to get together a five-stack (and I'm looking specifically at you, top North American players), you'll want to register ASAP.

What this means for you

Valve indicates that each organizer will share more information in the coming days regarding "qualifiers, broadcasting, show and talent information." This means that shortly there will be professional Dota 2 that means something. These early qualifiers will lay the groundwork for TI10 qualification. Time to get excited as there'll truly be something on the line for all of your favorite teams and players.
Valve has also noted that there will be an update to the client by the end of January that will allow fans to buy "Fan Support bundles" to support their favorite teams and add some integrations for following the season. Of course, you can follow the entire season here on TrackDota! But do buy a Fan Support bundle if you're so inclined.
Happy New Year's, Dota 2 fans!

Update: North America

Following the DPC announcement from Valve, David "Godz" Parker of Beyond the Summit tweeted:
This gives a firm deadline of January 4 for teams in North America to register to be eligible for the season.
Beyond the Summit followed up on January 3 with the following tweet (from a new account!):

Update: Southeast Asia

On January 1, 2021, PGL announced information for the SEA leg of the DPC.
Included are the teams that will be directly invited, plus teams that will compete in the closed qualifiers. The four Open Qualifiers to compete will begin on January 4 and run through January 7. The Closed qualifiers are, as of yet, undated.

Update: Europe

On January 2, 2021, Dreamhack revealed the list of teams who have received direct invites for the Upper Division of the DPC.
They also included the start date for the Lower Division Open Qualifiers: January 5. An invite-only tournament will follow on the 7th to determine the final division of teams in the region.

Update: CIS

ESL released information about the "ESL One CIS DPC League" on January 2, 2021.
The announcement included information about the Open Qualifiers, beginning January 5, and the Decider tournament, beginning January 7.

Update: South America

OGA Dota PIT joined the flood of January 2 announcements with their own details about South America.
Open and Closed Qualifiers for the region begin on January 6. The announcement also included a full list of invited teams.

Update: China

Perfect World has announced via Weibo information about the Chinese branch of the DPC. This includes the top four invites, teams directly invited the qualifiers, and when they will take place.
Open Qualifiers begin January 4, with Closed following on January 8.
You can see additional details for each region in our individual articles:
CIS
Europe
North America
South America
Southeast Asia
China
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