ESL LA Online
When ESL first announced the ESL One Los Angeles Online Tournament, several Dota 2 community members questioned ESL’s decision process towards the event. Ben “Noxville” Steenhuisen, the #1 Dota 2 stats man, wrote his thought on ESL’s insisting on using their own ranking system, which can be read here. I also wrote my own op-ed about the potential ethical impact, linked here. After all the throwing of criticism and opinions at ESL, it seemed only fair to hear from the organization themselves. We had the opportunity to ask several questions to Ulrich Schulze, Senior Vice President Product at ESL, to get the organization’s perspective.
Ulrich Schulze, SVP Product at ESL - copyright Redbull
CostsThe first subject at hand was discussing the financial impact of bringing the event online. ESL had already incurred substantial sunk costs from the event, like many tournament organizers during the wave of LAN cancellations. Even at that, fans questioned the idea behind keeping the same name for the event, though it was no longer backed by the DPC. There was limited time to convert the event online, organize the new format, invite the teams and setup the admin staff on top of losing one of their lead sponsors.
The short notice shift to online has definitely had an impact on our budgets for this event. However, we are in the fortunate position that esports including Dota 2 can also continue online and reach people - so while there is no live audience in a physical venue, we still have the matches to show. – Ulrich Schulze.
China vs. SEAWe wanted to address why China was given more preference on the regional league in comparison to SEA. Valve had given both regions the same weight in the DPC, both having 3 spots in the Major. We asked Ulrich why ESL decided to give China more opportunity.
China is a very competitive region where even 6 teams means we had to pick and choose. SEA is 4 teams this time due to time constraints, but we are exploring to increase the number for [ESL One] Birmingham.
ESL Rankings vs. DPC RankingsWe asked several questions on the topic of the ESL Rankings to better understand the rational of the invitations to this event. We wanted to see how they were weighted versus the DPC rankings, and if the attribution of points from invitationals would create bias.
Most of the invites were based on the list of teams who had qualified for Los Angeles, and then the rest were mostly ESL Ranking. DPC Ranking usually only covers the top teams, especially with only two Majors having taken place, so it wasn’t very useful for the rest of the invites. In our ranking, teams usually don’t get points if they don’t win anything at events - so even if a team gets invited a lot, it will still resolve itself when they don’t perform well.
OG Seed's Invite?Finally, though the questions were sent before the qualifier for the EU/CIS regional was announced, we had our reasons to believe OG Seed was not going to be getting an invite, in spite of being the 5th highest ranked EU team on the ESL Rankings.
On the ESL side, we have a policy of not allowing two teams from the same organisation in the same tournament - and we have had that for a long time, so it is not about OG or any other team specifically. The reasoning here is to preserve integrity and to not create situations where these teams could potentially help each other - even if they would never do it, it would still create doubt which we need to avoid.