EHOME's manager: The Shanghai Major was 'a very embarrassing tournament for Chinese people'

Thumbnail image courtesy of EHOME

Following EHOME's disappointing 9-12th place finish at The Shanghai Major, theScore esports spoke with EHOME's manager Tang "71" Wenyi about EHOME's performance at the Major, their recent roster changes and the future of the team.

What kind of preparation did EHOME have leading up to The Shanghai Major?

71: We prepared just like we did for other tournaments, not much difference. Except, Chinese people have Chinese New Year, so we had a little bit less time to train compared to western teams.

What went wrong during the group stage? How much did old eLeVeN’s health issue affect the team’s performance?

71: In our practices prior to the Shanghai Major we were already losing a lot. It was very late that we realized the tactics and strategic thought we utilized in our win at MDL would not allow us to see the same success at the Shanghai Major.

But it looks like this came a bit too late, we tried to turn things around in the group stage — in other words we needed to find a feel for things in the drafts during the group stage, reorganize our strategies, and allow ourselves to be more aggressive in early-mid game.

old eLeVeN's tooth pain possibly affected his own performances, but this wasn't the reason for the entire team losing. We are a team that should be able to cover for teammates' mistakes — so overall I think the effect of this was zero.

What was the team environment going into The Shanghai Major playoffs in the lower bracket?

71: As I'd said above, we lost a lot in our practice scrims. Prior to the Shanghai Major, EHOME had won three tournaments consecutively. This was a great boost to the players' confidence, yet at the same time their mentality may not have been heading in the right direction.

I believe many successful players can deeply understand what I mean by this. So you know, large amounts of mistakes, a lack of focus in-game, incoherent tactics — thus defeat becomes an inevitability.

Why did EHOME under perform in the Major?

71: Over-inflated confidence, incorrect drafts and mistakes throughout the group stage, pressure of the elimination brackets, lacking in organization and execution, [and] poor individual performances.

Why did the other Chinese teams perform poorly at the Major?

71: Lack of new blood in the scene, stimulation. Old players have a lack of newness in their attitudes. Too few players and teams that actually really want to win titles.

Low quality scrims/practices.

The timing of, and the existence of the Chinese New Year break.

There was a lot of drama regarding the English broadcast of the Major, but how does the organization feel about the tournament, as competitors and being from the Chinese community?

71: A very embarrassing tournament for Chinese people. Please don't ask me to recall any details — apart from the after party, everything else has been a disaster.

And that date that Chinese people will remember: March 3rd, Chinese Dota bids farewell to Top 8. From the first time I heard of Newbee to now, that day (March 3rd) was the only time I've ever supported that team.

What was the situation regarding Cty and kaka’s departure from the team? Were they traded, removed, or did their contracts expire? If they were traded, what was the cost of their contracts?

71: I think EHOME and VG are both looking for some change. Apologies as I cannot talk about contract details.

What was it like to coach Cty?

71: From him I learned a lot in terms of small details. I saw some of the the strictness that a young player can apply to himself, as well as some of the confidence from the same.

He did a lot for the success of EHOME, I don't wish to talk here at all about anything he didn't do well enough or his weaknesses. I believe that in the future he will ... be able to perform as a top player in matches both against his former team and against others.

Why choose iceiceice and Fenrir? What was the process behind getting iceiceice and Fenrir on EHOME? Did you buy out their contracts from Vici Gaming?

71: To me this was not a very hard decision to make, even though these two players were not within the suggested options given by our own players.

The first one I locked in was iceiceice, because when I was at DK I coached him before, I know how best to utilize him. He is either a 90/100 player or a 20/100 player.

Many rosters when first playing with iceiceice will see a strong chemistry at the beginning, and then afterwards they continuously drive him from being a 90/100 player into being a 20/100 player, and I don't think the fault of this lies with him alone.

iceiceice is a very good player, with exceptional momentary decision making and game reading abilities. He's also got very strong fight dictating abilities and is great at creating opportunities, etc. Many Chinese fans question my decision to sign this so-called "mega big-game choker," what I see in him is his skill and a heart that truly desires championships.

Daryl Koh "iceiceice" Pei Xiang as a member of Vici Gaming

Ah, and here we need to talk about Fenrir. If you're lacking a 5 position, in China isn't this the simplest of decisions? Apart from his age and height being potential issues, what else can someone say?

He and I haven't had much interactions, but I like his communication style — direct, honest. I like his attitude, the only one in this new roster that said to me, "let's not go on break, I want to train."

From a few months prior to TI4 I've been frequently watching their replays, and if you've ever walked past VG's booth and heard the team's communications before, then you should also think that choosing Fenrir is the utmost of simple decisions.

Was it the team’s intention to change the roster before going into the Major? If so, did the players know?

71: The first time this type of discussion occurred was at the Fall Major, and afterwards there were more of these sounds coming into my ear, so this was a decision that had pressure behind it. They didn't know beforehand, it was March 5 when they were informed.

How concerned is the team knowing the rosters are locked until after The International 6?

71: Not including these latest transfers in the discussion, I still don't like Valve's system here. But in this case where you must follow their rules, I hold some hope and anticipation for our changes in this window. Many people have said that they think EHOME is going to be a bust after seeing our new roster, they will no longer be fans, but if I speak honestly I think that none of this will be an issue. You can find change in our future matches.

What was behind the decision to change LaNm and iceiceice’s roles?

71: About a year ago I'd already shared my thoughts on professional attitudes in this career. I said I'm willing to consider myself as a completely new coach, that I am happy to learn, to take criticism, to try new things, and change myself.

My hope is that my attitude can influence [LaNm], to allow him to feel that he is a player with a youthful mentality (even though he has already become a father). I hoped that he could be a great captain, to be able to express his infinite potential in this game.

I believed that he could play offlane, and in pubs later he did indeed find some of the feeling for that. Yet returning to the carry role was a wish of his (you should know, in the entire world he's the only player that has played every single role professionally).

EHOME's captain Zhang "LaNm" Zhicheng

The other four players and I all have confidence in him, so why not? Don't just let the idea of "legend" end as words someone says: a crazy coach, a crazy team, it all looks like it makes sense. Can you recall in your mind's eye the image of Michael Jordan making a buzzer beater to win the game and then holding his finger up to his lips and telling the home crowd to shut up? Achieve it, and then go enjoy it.

As for iceiceice's role? He's able to play any role from 1 through 4, right? Actually the only thing I can't confirm right now is whether he can still play 2. But I don't have this requirement of him. I think he can play a bit more stubbornly at EHOME, he's going to be filling in LaNm's old role at EHOME as the card that we can play to counter the opposing draft.

I've said it before, I can utilize iceiceice well.

What’s the situation with EHOME.King and EHOME.Legend? Why not “promote” one of their players to the primary EHOME roster?

71: These two youth teams haven't been as strong in performances as last year, and the two coaches for these teams have met some issues in terms of player development. But within the teams there are still two pretty good players.

As for why we haven't brought youth team players up to the first team, this might be because they aren't quite strong enough just yet. Please do not doubt my confidence in them or my feeling of responsibility towards the younger generation of players.

I don't care whether these players have public recognition, as long as I believe that they are good enough I will give them chances.

What are EHOME’s plans for the future?

71: This is a good question, we do indeed have a big plan, but right now talking about it is too early.

The new iteration of the club has only been up for a year, there is still a great difference between us and famous international teams. There are plenty of places where we can learn and improve, and that's not to mention the places where we can innovate and disrupt.

I will pay attention to and follow certain popular games, expand to other projects, achieve more success and results for our brand to reward our fans. In the short term we are working hard towards becoming a top tier international esports club.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Translation done by Josh "AutumnWindz" Lee.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Annabelle "Abelle" Fischer is a writer for theScore esports with a love for Dota 2, birds and cheese. You can follow her on Twitter.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, Dungeon & Dragons and first-picking Timbersaw Windranger Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90. You can follow him on Twitter.

EHOME coach 71: 'Against EG we indeed should not have lost'

Thumbnail image courtesy of EHOME

In a candid interview with Imba TV, translated by DotaLand, EHOME coach and manager Tang "71" Wenyi spoke about his many years in the Chinese esports scene, from coaching a Counter-Strike team out of an abandoned elementary school in 2005, to leading teams to million dollar tournaments and managing a top organization in 2016.

Over his long career, 71 has coached two of China's top Dota teams, EHOME and DK, leading EHOME to victory in MarsTV Dota 2 League Winter 2015 and the Shanghai Open in 2016. However, 71 has fond memories of the era in which he and his players scrimmed in internet cafes and lived in very different conditions than they do today.

"There’d often be no running water, so we would go in pairs to the nearby well to get water so we could bathe," 71 said of the old days. "It would be in the open air in the village, bathing in front of other villagers and their cows. That cold, and the scenes, but there was friendship and there was fun. If you had me do that again today, I would still do it. But today’s players wouldn’t. Nowadays if there isn’t fruit in the training room they already want to murder the team lead,"

71 spoke extensively of developing team captains, praising Dong "DC" Can and Zou "820" Yitian as the best he's ever encountered, saying "within the hundreds of players I’ve had, there are nearly none that come close to those two."

He was somewhat less complementary when speaking of current coach, Zhang "LaNm" Zhicheng, saying the 25-year-old player has trouble working with his players' strengths.

"Speaking of captains, on the one hand they need to have the prestige and respect to focus the team around him, this is required," 71 said. "But only this is not nearly enough. On the other hand they need to have the ability to develop, and play things to their players’ strengths. For LaNm, in this latter aspect he cannot be considered to be excellent, though he does hold absolute respect."

He also talked about EHOME's 5-6th finish at The International 2016, including their embarrassing loss to Evil Geniuses who managed to win Game 1 in their series even with EHOME spawning megacreeps.

RELATED: The Greatest Comeback Ever Made: How EG beat EHOME against Mega Creeps

"Against EG we indeed should not have lost," 71 said. "People were saying how in game one we lost after having megacreeps, how that was an epic, legendary game. If you ask me, it was dogshit. At that time EG was noob, we were even more noob, I can’t see what part of that is epic or legendary at all. Mentally overall we couldn’t really get in a good spot either, the team stopped improving in-game, we just put our tactics out there for others to counter. It’s like you play cards with your hand open while the others are playing with their hands hidden, can you possibly not lose?"

The loss was especially disappointing after EHOME asked Ren "ELeVeN" Yangwei to return to the team because things with his replacement, Fan "FaN" Yixuan, weren't working out. ELeVeN stepped down from the starting roster in May in order to take care of his ailing grandfather.

"I calculated a bit, and at the time I thought our changes of making it through were less than 3%. This meant that we wouldn’t even make it to the main qualifiers, we would only get to watch TI at home, which would be a pretty big problem," 71 said. "The team atmosphere at the time was really bad, emotions were really low. Then in the end we made the decision to make another change, we asked Eleven to have someone else take care of his grandfather, we got him to come back and we had [Daryl "iceiceice" Koh Pei Xiang] go play carry. After this change honestly, it wasn’t really solving our problems either."

While iceiceice left the team following a disappointing performance at TI6, 71 says the split was amicable and that the player did not deserve the online scorn he received.

"After TI he’d already told us that he wanted to go back to Singapore to play, and we respected his wish. I feel that the outside world is quite unfair to him, he is originally an offlaner, but in an emergency time of need he took up the responsibility of playing carry," 71 said. "This was a huge challenge for him, and it was a result of our team having no other options. Iceiceice practiced the most out of the time, he is actually really hard working, so no matter how poorly he might play I don’t think the blame can go to him! From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate iceiceice, I respect him."

71 spoke in detail about the process of building a roster through the chaos of the post-TI fall shuffle, saying Lu "Fenrir" Chao had insisted on leaving the team while Liu "Sylar" Jiajun of Vici Gaming had actually approached them.

"Sylar approached LaNm himself, and we felt it was pretty good so we just decided on him. In terms of four position we considered [Wong "ChuaN" Hock Chuan]. ChuaN plus LaNm we felt would be a pretty good combination, but it didn’t work out," he said. "And then Wings were rumored to be disbanding due to players wanting to continue their schooling, with [Li "iceice" Peng] even dropping his team registration for a while, so we went to try and recruit him and have Fenrir and iceice be our support duo with LaNm transitioning to coach, but then Wings decided to not be making any changes anymore. Fenrir spoke to us himself about wanting to leave the team, we really really wanted to keep him, and we communicated many times afterwards to that effect. But in the end Fenrir felt that he couldn’t take back the words that he’d already spoken, so he went to VG.J."

Despite growth and success, 71 says there’s still plenty of work for him and his organization to do as EHOME gets ever larger.

“In the end, I hope that EHOME can continue to improve, and continue to learn from the top clubs domestically and internationally in order to become a leading force in the next generation of this industry.”

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter, it'll be great for his self-esteem.

EHOME complete team list for The Summit 6

by 6d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Frankfurt Major Stream

EHOME are the last team to qualify for The Summit 6 after winning the Chinese qualifier finals 3-1 over LGD Gaming on Thursday.

EHOME cut a swath through the Chinese qualifier, sweeping CDEC Gaming 2-0 in the quarterfinals, Invictus Gaming 2-0 in the semifinals and LGD2-0 in the winner's finals. However, LGD defeated their "bigger brothers" LGD.ForeverYoung 2-1 in the loser's finals and earned a rematch against EHOME in the finals.

EHOME won the first game on the backs of old chicken's Timbersaw and Sylar's Sven, but LGD tied the series thanks to Maybe's flawless Alchemist, who earned a 6/0/9 KDA. But LGD ran out of steam in Games 3 and 4, losing the series 3-1.

Here's the complete team list for The Summit 6 after EHOME's qualification:

Invited Qualified
Wings Gaming Digital Chaos EHOME Team Faceless
Evil Geniuses OG Team NP

The tournament will feature the Top 3 finalists from The International 2016: Wings Gaming, Digital Chaos and Evil Geniuses. The fourth place TI6 team Fnatic were eliminated from The Summit 6's Southeast Asia qualifier by Power Gaming in the loser's finals. The qualified SEA team, Team Faceless, also defeated Fnatic 2-0 in the semifinals of The Summit 6's regional qualifier.

The Summit 6 features a $100,000 prize pool and will take place on Nov. 16-20 in Los Angeles, California.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev. You can follow him on Twitter.

Pros react to Dota 2's new stun bar

by 2d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

Friday's Dota 2 update added a controversial new UI element in the form of a grey overhead status bar that shows all players how long a character is stunned for. The seemingly minor change has been the subject of fevered debate in the community, with some players calling it a great quality-of-life improvement while others deride it as a concession to casual players that lowers the game's overall skill cap.

The great debate has extended to the upper echelons of Dota's pro community, with casters, coaches, and players split on whether the new stun bar is a help or a hindrance.

For instance, Chinese Dota 2 player Daryl "iceiceice" Koh Pei Xiang says that because the stun bar blocks the numerical value of a character's health, it could make it harder to focus fire on dying enemies in the chaos of a team fight.

Another concern for pro players is that additional flytext adds more clutter to a game that already requires intense concentration and split-second decision-making. Evil Genius's Artour "Arteezy" Babaev has even lobbed the status bar the ultimate Dota 2 insult, comparing it to League of Legends on Twitter.

However, the stun bar does have its defenders. Kurtis "Aui_2000" Ling of Team NP posted a Twitlonger discussing the matter, saying the status bar makes it much easier for new players to learn chain-stunning while having a minimal impact at top-level play.

"Lets be honest, chain stunning is not a hard concept. It is honestly not even that skillful," he wrote. "Pros screw up chain stunning because humans make more mistakes under pressure, because they want to overlap the stun a bit to guarantee the opponent can't bkb/escape, and because honestly some pros are just lazy and don't know the numbers or haven't practiced the basics enough. I don't feel like this stun bar will prevent chain stunning from being messed up at all in terms of high level dota."

Aui_2000's analysis is echoed by caster Kevin "Purge" Godec, who says that lowering the game's already steep learning curve and letting more people join the community is healthier for the game in the long run.

"Number 1: you can see that they're rooted, you know what kind of disable that it is, it allows new players to instantly get used to that. To even know what that is you have to basically play enough games or you have to dive into the mechanics and that takes f*****g forever," he said in a YouTube video. "The issue in Dota is that it's way too difficult for new players to learn. And something this simple, 'STUNNED! ROOTED!', you now know what heroes do what things without having to read the skill."

The current status bar is the feature's latest iteration, but may not be its last. In previous weeks, the stun bar was a large red cast bar at the bottom of the screen and later a circular icon, so it's still possible that the community's reactions will go towards refining the indicator even more. Whether longtime players will ever be comfortable with a feature that makes the game friendlier for newbies is another question entirely.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter, it'll be great for his self-esteem.

The Boston Major qualifiers group stage changed to best-of-one format

by 3d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports / Valve

The Boston Major qualifier group stage has changed its format from a best-of-two series to a best-of-one, according to sources close to Valve and PGL. The change will also pit teams against each other in a single qualification group rather than in two distinct groups, as was originally outlined, according to those same sources.

The move, which differs from The Manila Major but follows the the same system as The International this year, will certainly impact scheduling, as teams will now switch opponents more often. This in turn may cause delays as teams will have to wait for their next opponent to be finished before they can get on with their match. Additionally, a change from two groups of five to one group of 10 will increase the number of overall games from 40 to 45 in Europe and China and from 24 to 28 in the Americas.

A best-of-one qualifier may create some controversy as it increases the likelihood of unexpected upsets. However, there are a few reasons as to why this change was made so close to the event.

Although the likelihood for upsets will increase in a best-of-one contest, the odds of such an upset in the final scores goes down. By running contests against more opponents, you decrease the chances that a team succeeds based on the playstyle of opponents rather than by diversified skill. The two ways to increase the reliability of a seeding contest are to increase the number of games and increase the number of teams played, and this method does both. This method additionally removes any possibility of bias from splitting the teams into groups, creating a more equitable playing field.

Additionally, Southeast Asia was created with an odd number of teams, which would have made the two group split inherently unfair, as teams in the group with fewer teams would have had a higher likelihood of making it out.

Details on the exact procedure have yet to be announced, but it's likely that the top team of each region's group will directly qualify for the main event, while the next four teams will play a double-elimination playoff for the region's second seat. If all the teams were not put into a single group, this possibility — a repeat of The International 2016 without the third-place wildcard — would not be an option. However, the lack of wildcard teams makes the procedure less necessary, as both the first and second place team would be decided by any type of playoff bracket.

The main qualifiers will begin on Oct. 27 and continue until Oct. 30.

theScore esports reached out to Valve for comment and will update this story when we hear from them.

Ryan "Gorgon the Wonder Cow" Jurado writes about esports and freelances for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Is single-elimination good for Boston?

Ryan "Gorgon the Wonder Cow" Jurado
Thumbnail image courtesy of The International 2016 / theScore esports

Valve's decision to make The Boston Major a single-elimination bracket might seem like a minor adjustment, but it will have major repercussions for a competitive scene where players and teams rely on top-heavy prize pools to sustain themselves. This controversial decision will change everything from the fan experience to the way the meta develops over the course of each event.

You'll be hard-pressed to find many players who are vocally in favor of single-elimination, and it's pretty clear why. If you are training to be the best, you want the best team to win, and when anyone could be eliminated by one unlucky loss, that seems a lot less likely. But although single-elimination might seem more precarious to top players, it’s a whole lot scarier for those on the bottom.

That’s primarily because of the way seeding works when all 16 teams are placed in the same bracket. At past Valve events, the eight teams that finished at the top of the group stage were seeded into the upper bracket, and the eight on the bottom were seeded into the lower bracket. For the teams on the bottom, that was ideal — facing other low-seeded teams gave them a better shot at making it into the next round, and potentially working their way back to a Top 8 finish.

But with single-elimination, the highest-seeded teams typically face the lowest-seeded teams right out of the gate — meaning that underdogs that might have had the potential to climb back from a poor group stage performance are extremely likely to be eliminated in the first round. By contrast, top teams get some advantages in single-elimination brackets, since they get to face easier opponents earlier in the tournament. Barring a major upset, the teams seeded 1st-4th in the group stage have a much better shot of getting through to the Top 8 with their first win than they would have in Valve’s old format.

In theory, teams seeded 4th-8th out of the group stage are the largest beneficiaries of a single-bracket seeding. In the old format, these teams would have had to face the Top 4 seeded teams first, with a fairly high likelihood of falling to the lower bracket and having to play a second match to make it to the Top 8. Here they’ll instead be playing the teams seeded 9th-12th for a spot in the Top 8 — and those hapless lower-seeded teams won’t even have a chance to review a previous best-of-three to try and spot some of their opponents’ weaknesses.

Single-elimination does mean the Bottom 8 seeded teams will have to win fewer games to get to the Grand Finals. But how much is that really worth? Aside from OG's historic lower-bracket run at The Frankfurt Major, lower-bracket upsets — where a Bottom 8 seeded team beats a Top 8 seeded team — are actually pretty rare. If we exclude Frankfurt as an outlier, on average across every Major and International there have been roughly two matches per event where a team that started in the lower bracket managed to take out a team that started in the upper bracket. If that trend holds for the new single-elimination bracket, we can expect to see at most two teams seeded in the Bottom 8 getting through to the quarterfinals, or one team in the semifinals. As OG has shown, there’s always the chance of a bottom seed making a miracle comeback — but if this event is like the majority of Valve events, then the teams that do well in groups don’t have to worry too much about a bad beat in the first round of the bracket.

How balanced the format is for upper and lower seeded teams will largely depend on how the group stage is structured, and how many games are played to determine seeding. If the group stage consists of a full round robin, the seeding is more likely to reflect the actual strength of each of the teams, and the odds of untimely defeat in the main bracket are much smaller than if a GSL format is used.

That brings us to the main concern:

Is it fair?

A lot of fans argue that single-elimination isn't fair, as though it were intentionally skewed for or against specific teams. That's unequivocally incorrect. The spirit of fairness demands that all teams should play under the same conditions — not that they should all have exactly the same chance of winning. Basketball gives a statistical edge to tall players, but that doesn't make it unfair. A single-elimination tournament gives an edge to diverse teams with pocket strategies and unique playstyles, but that doesn’t make it unfair either.

Wings Gaming's consistency helped them take a single-bracket route to the TI6 title

Fairness also doesn't mean the best team always wins. In fact, the best team shouldn’t always win. The whole idea of competition is that every team has a chance to win and a chance to lose; competitions with wholly predictable outcomes cease to be competitive. In baseball, the World Series is won by the "best" team in only about one of five seasons. The odds are stacked against any individual team, no matter how good — the most likely team to win is still not favored over all fifteen other teams combined.

That’s assuming you can even define what makes a team the “best” on the field. Double-elimination tournaments define the best team as the most adaptable, who excel at studying their opponents and finding ways to exploit their weaknesses. Single-elimination defines the best team as the most consistent against a wide variety of opponents, with no room for error. It also helps to strip some of the advantages of money away from established teams, who can afford the best researchers, coaches and analysts to help them prepare for matches. If anything, that makes the competition more fair, by reducing the impact of external resources on the outcome.

But there is more at stake in Dota than whether the competition is fair. The bulk of players' earnings come from prize pools rather than salaries and sponsorships, and the difference between a Top 8 and Bottom 8 finish can means hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dota has always had a lopsided prize structure, with the winning team sometimes taking home more than half of the overall prize pool. At The Manila Major, for example, OG took home $1.1 million, or 37 percent of the total pool, while Team Liquid, who lost to them in the Grand Finals, got only $405,000, or 13.5 percent of the pool.

That puts a different spin on "the best team doesn't always win." Teams are already under immense pressure to be the “best,” and fans are used to seeing them reconfigure every few months to keep a competitive edge. That instability scares away potential investors and makes sponsorships harder to attain, further pressuring players to chase prizes. Valve is taking steps to reduce instability — but a single-elimination Major bracket risks making the problem worse.

On the other hand, there is a better solution to the stability problem than to try and structure tournaments to have more reliable outcomes. Valve could do as most players, analysts, and fans have suggested, and make prize pools more equitable. A less steep prize distribution would go a long way toward making single-elimination a more palatable, possibly even preferred, tournament style.

There is one way that the new system will be indisputably more reliable than the old. With a single bracket, Valve will ostensibly do away with its controversial best-of-one elimination matches in the first round of the lower bracket, which were truly disruptive to ranking. These high-variability matches have been arguably the worst part of Valve's past tournament designs. To give an idea, let's say a team A wins 9 in 10 games against team B. Team B's odds of winning go from 2.8 percent in a best-of-three to 10 percent in a single game; that comes at an enormous cost to the favored team. With proper best-of-threes, the lower-seeded teams are a lot less likely to suffer a loss at the hands of a cheesy surprise strategy.

Here to stay

Though not everyone will love the new format, Valve made the change for one very clear reason: it’s quicker. Effectively cutting in half the number of matches that need to be played means the Major can much more comfortably fit in a weekend. Week-long Dota conventions aren't realistic for most fans, and a shorter schedule also helps third-party tournament organizers plan around the event, which has been a growing problem since the Major circuit was introduced.

Players might prefer double-elimination, but single-elimination creates a much more dynamic experience for viewers. If every match is a knockout, every match is exciting and vital. Think back to the most memorable matches from The International 2016 — Secret's almost-comeback against LGD, TNC's 2-0 over OG and Fnatic's comeback win against Team Liquid probably come to mind. Although many of the best plays come out of upper-bracket games, where the top teams play each other relatively early in a tournament, the most memorable games come out of the lower bracket.

Although it will no doubt cause some grumbling among players, a more appealing fan experience is the best way to grow Dota’s audience. For Valve, at least, that seems to be enough to justify the change.

Ryan "Gorgon the Wonder Cow" Jurado writes about Dota 2 and freelances for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

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