The European Dota 2 scene was rocked by controversy earlier on Tuesday as OG's captain N0tail accused Alliance and ppd of cheating in Dota Pro Circuit matches. Peter "ppd" Dager was spotted coaching his team during a DPC game, which Johan "N0tail" Sundstein regarded as cheating. This resulted in a public spat on Twitter where members of the Alliance and OG exchanged expletives and called into question Dreamleague and Valve's policy regarding this matter.
Here’s a detailed explanation of what exactly took place and our opinion on who was in the right and whether this is a good move from Valve.
Coaches have been a part of teams for a long time now but their communication with the team has always been limited to out of games and during drafting phases and breaks only.
A Reddit user noticed that in a recent video uploaded on the Alliance YouTube channel, coach Peter "PPD" Dager was communicating and giving instructions to the players during an official DPC game. This sparked a debate since that was perceived to be against the rules.
Popular Dota 2 Analyst Noxville replied to the Reddit post, providing more info on the rules regarding coaches and later confirmed that the rule against having coaches communicate with their teams in the middle of matches was intentionally dropped in Season 2 of the EU & CIS DPC
OG Captain N0tail on the other hand did not mince his words and indirectly accused Alliance of cheating.
He then called out Valve for not communicating this with all the teams and also pointed out that he expected that the company would have consistent rules through TI10 the Dota Pro Circuit.
In a follow-up tweet, Notail said that he is not blaming Alliance for following the rules and consulting ESL. However, Alliance’s carry player Nikobaby was quick to respond to this and pointed out that N0tail had just called Alliance cheaters and “pu**ies” despite OG being at fault for not reading the rules properly.
Nikobaby had also sent out this taunting tweet mocking N0tail's comments.
Peter “ppd” Dager sent out a humorous tweet to lighten the mood, expressing his delight at Dota 2 drama being back on the menu yet again:
Fnatic’s team director, Eric Khor Tweeted that the DPC SEA League confirmed that coaches will not be allowed to talk to the players in the middle of games.
Tweets from Sammyboy also indicate that this isn’t the case in North America.
So that brings into question, why does Valve let tournament organizers have different rules for different regions? Which then leads to a far more important question: which model will be followed at TI10?
Teams already accustomed to playing with coaches in-game will have an inherent advantage, since they will have likely figured out an optimal way to play with a six-man team. This will also disadvantage teams who don’t have coaches. If it is the other case, it will handicap teams who played with 6 man lineups in the DPC and hence make them less competitive.
In either case, some regions will be disadvantaged going into TI10. The fact that Valve did not standardize rules and regulations for everyone in the DPC is certainly questionable.
The biggest culprit in this whole mess, who has somehow avoided scrutiny is DreamHack/ESL. According to OG’s CEO, JMR Luna, this recent change was not included in the rulebook that was sent out to the teams earlier this season. Rather, it was included as an unflagged paragraph in an email they sent out to the managers.
It is certainly surprising to see a DPC tournament organizer like DreamHack not highlight such a massive change in their rules. In 2017, when Valve began allowing coaches to communicate with the team during a drafting phase, they made a tweet publicizing the matter and also made a blog post on it.
Alliance should not be receiving any flak considering the fact that they were working with the same set of rules that the other teams in the EU DPC were emailed about. They simply took the time and effort to read through the emails and used them to their advantage. Players and teams who did not do that missed out on that opportunity and should simply have no one to blame except for their management personnel and the tournament organizers.
Several professional players including TI winners like Aui_2000 and Ceb have stated their opinions on the matter with a series of tweets:
These pro players believe that introducing coaches in-game would drastically alter the way the game is played on the professional stage and will likely not contribute anything positive to it. It will be interesting to see if Valve addresses this matter at hand and help clarify this situation
It would also help if they could tell pro teams whether coaches will officially be allowed to communicate with their players in-game at TI10.
Following the controversy, ESL and DreamHack released statements on their Twitter handles revoking the rule that allowed coaches to communicate with their players. "As of today, this rule will be reverted back based upon guidance from Valve as this does not align with their stance on coaching," read the statement from ESL/DreamHack. "This update will not impact previous results or matches"