Since its inception, the Dota Pro Circuit has had a streak of strong competitive spirit from every region. In its inaugural tournament in 2011 named The International, it saw players representing 19 different countries.
11 years onward, the countries represented at The International reached an astounding 32 countries. There were players from every region in the world thanks to the Dota Pro Circuit or DPC.
TI Invites and Qualifiers over the years
In its early iterations, the main way to get into The International was through direct invites. As the years went by, the number of direct invites went down from all 16 slots to 6 slots. Valve made changes to allow for qualifiers to take place instead of inviting teams directly.
This qualifier change started at TI2 with the East Qualifier and the West Qualifier. It would also soon increase to make regional qualifiers the norm in the present.
The Wildcard System for the Dota Pro Circuit
During TI3, TI5, and TI6, the tournament introduced a wildcard system. It saw runner-ups from the qualifiers duke it out one last time. The concept did not continue in TI4 through TI7 and TI10. However, it made a refined return under the name “Last Chance Qualifiers.”
This follows the concept of having the second place, and this time the third place finishers of the regional qualifiers, compete for the final two slots of TI11. The implementation would prove to be a hit, as the winners of this qualifier went up to the top 2 and top 3 in Team Secret and Team Liquid, respectively. As an esports with storied dark horse runs, this concept is something Valve may implement in future TIs.
As for direct invites, the system was revamped into a point system that made the top-performing teams all-year head straight into TI without having to go through the qualifiers. Created during the competitive season after TI7, it saw the top 8 teams getting invited straight to the main event of TI8.
After TI8, this was changed from the top 8 to the top 12 teams. It allowed TI8 to fill the remaining 8 slots with qualifier teams. It quickly showed the most consistent teams all year. This system was further improved upon by implementing the upper and lower division for all six regions in competitive Dota 2.
The new Division 1 and Division 2 system
The 2021 Upper and Lower division tours, also known as Div1 and Div2. They made it to make competitive Dota 2 more sustainable. It allowed for more matches to occur instead of waiting for major tournaments.
Div 2 is the bracket where teams would try to qualify for Div 1. Every tour, the top 2 teams in Div 2 will be sent to Div 1, while the bottom 2 would be eliminated, and where open qualifiers would take place to fill in those slots. In Div 1, the top teams would get invited to the next major tournament, while the bottom 2 will be relegated to Div 2.
During the Singapore Major of 2021, four teams would be invited from Europe and China, three from Asia and CIS, and two from North and South America. In the next major, the Animajor of Kyiv, they tweaked it into 4 from WEU and China. Plus 3 from SEA and EEU, and 2 from NA and SA regions.
This manner of invitation would be observed in the Stockholm Major and the Arlington Major before TI11.
These Div1 and Div2 tours would happen over the span of six weeks. However, this left a sour impression on spectators and players alike. For the upcoming tour, Valve decided to cut the tour time from six weeks down to three weeks.
What Did This Mean for the Dota Pro Circuit?
This meant more games in a shorter time span. It also meant that players could take longer breaks, which was seen as a good move by the community. Even more, it could mark the resurgence of third-party tournaments after division tours and majors.
Dota 2 will see more changes in the future. It will be a good move onwards for Valve to take more feedback from tournament organizers, players, and the community. This is to make the Dota Pro Circuit more sustainable for years to come.
The road to TI12 will begin in January with China, EEU, SEA, WEU, NA, and SA Division 1 Tour. Division 2 will start at the end of January, and conclude in mid-February. The first major of this season is yet to be officially announced.
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