Regional league playoff instead of Major: pros and cons of the new format

Alisa Barladyan
28 Jan 2022

Valve has canceled the winter Major. The company decided to hold a playoff of the regional leagues instead. That is six mini-tournaments. Four teams that took first place in their region have qualified for it. They will fight against each other in the middle of February for a $100,000 prize fund (for each playoff) and extra DPC points. Of course, it's not a major, but it's also fine. The best teams of the first DPC teams will get some kind of award for their effort and good results. However, this decision has its disadvantages, too. See story on the format of the regional league play-offs and their pros and cons.

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Regional league playoff

The announcement of the regional league playoff

In the middle of January, Valve canceled the first major of the Dota Pro Circuit 2021/2022 season due to the complicated coronavirus situation. Professional players, teams, organizations, and Dota 2 fans reacted to this decision negatively. After that, something unbelievable happened. The developers apologized for the situation and lack of external communication. Valve promised to organize some other tournament instead of the major if that is possible.  Many decided that it was just an excuse to reduce the hate in the community, but the developers started to move.

Dota Pro Circuit
Dota Pro Circuit

A week later, the Valve staff met with the teams' representatives and several tournament operators to discuss what to do. The meeting was private, but Shannon "SUNSfan" Scotten's commentator leaked all the basic information (it's unclear how he knew all this). It's a funny situation, given the mistrust between Valve and the community. In any case, the company confirmed the leaked information a bit later and issued another statement, which again apologized.

Less than a week ago, we announced that the first major of the professional 2021/2022 season is canceled. At the moment, we did not offer an alternative that could make up for the lack of prize money and qualifying points. After listening to feedback from teams and fans, we realized that we had prioritized the wrong things and had not paid enough attention to the participants of the professional season. We made a big mistake. We apologize for that. We are trying to rectify the situation. To understand the opportunities and general requirements, we negotiated with the tournament organizers and teams. When everyone realized there is no perfect decision, we decided to hold six regional finals.


Regional finals of the professional 2021/2022 season will take place on the weekend of two weeks. The first three regions (Western Europe, Southeast Asia, South America) will play on February 11-13, and the second one (China, Eastern Europe, North America) — on February 18-20. The four best teams from each region will participate in them. They play for $100,000 and extra DPC points. In each region their distribution will be the same:

  • 1st place — 50,000 USD + 250 qualifying points;
  • 2nd place — 25,000 USD + 130 qualifying points;
  • 3rd place — 15,000 USD;
  • 4th place — 10,000 USD.
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Which teams made it into the league playoff

Team Spirit
Team Spirit

The idea of arranging playoffs at the end of each league has been in the air for a long time. This would make the seasons more spectacular. It is much more exciting when a team becomes a champion by defeating its opponents now, not at the beginning of the league (six weeks ago).  Such an approach would be much more interesting, so Valve decided to use the idea, though just one time.
As we have already said, a playoff will be held in each region. The four strongest teams from each league have qualified for it. The first team will play against the fourth, and the second will meet the third. The mini-tournament will be held under the Double Elimination system. Here is the list of the teams that have qualified for the playoff.

  • CIS: Team Spirit, PuckChamp,, and HellRaisers;
  • Europe: Team Liquid, Team Tickles, Tundra Esports, OG;
  • China: PSG.LGD, Team Aster, Royal Never Give Up, and EHOME;
  • North America: Quincy Crew, Team Undying, Evil Geniuses, and 4 Zoomers;
  • Southeast Asia: BOOM Esports, T1, Team SMG, and Fnatic;
  • South America: Thunder Predator, INF.UESPORTS, beastcoast, and King Of Kings.

Pros and cons of having playoff leagues

Valve has surprisingly found a good way to compensate for the lack of the major. With the introduction of the playoff in the regional leagues, the company closed the issue of distributing prize money and DPC points and encouraging outstanding teams. However, the problem of a lack of international competitions remained. Let's try to name the main pros and cons of the new format.

  • The strongest teams from all regions will get extra money;
  • The prize fund of all the playoffs is higher than the major's;
  • The best teams will get DPC points for qualifying for TI11;
  • The teams didn't play for the whole season for nothing;
  • The audience will get some kind of content.
  • There will be no international competitions till the end of the spring;
  • We have been watching the matches between the teams from the same region for the whole year;
  • Only the two strongest teams will gain the DPC points;
  • There are so many of these DPC points, that a weak team can qualify for TI11;
  • It is unclear when the next LAN will be because of Valve's policy.

We can say that the regional league playoff won't replace the Major, but it is much better than nothing. The players will get their money and qualifying points, and the audience will enjoy some competition during the offseason.

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The International 11 changed because of the Major cancellation

The International 11
The International 11

Valve decided to change the format of the upcoming The International 11 and invite two additional teams.  As before, 12 teams with the biggest amount of DPC points, as well as six winners of the regional qualifiers will go to the main tournament of the year.
But now 12 teams that will take second and third places at the closed regional qualifiers for TI11 will be invited to the separate LAN championship. There the teams will fight for two slots at The International. Due to that, the number of world championship participants will increase to 20.

Thus, in this season, The International 11 group stage will gather 20 teams (two groups of 10). After that, four teams are eliminated, which means that the main stage will be without changes. These changes are exclusive to the 2021-2022 season and will help bring balance to the selection process, which has been shaken by the absence of the first major. We hope that other events of this year will go as planned, and we'll bring you updates on the second and third majors in the coming weeks. And finally, update 7.31 will be released shortly after the regional finals.


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