In a very upsetting development, Valve has redacted the “Major” title given to Galaxy Battles II.
The announcement was made on Dota 2’s official blog. Valve posted:
“Based on information we’ve recently confirmed regarding new government regulations for esports players entering the Philippines, we have decided to rescind the tournament’s Major designation, including the Pro Circuit qualifying points, for the Galaxy Battles 2018 tournament. This is based on what we feel are unreasonable infringements on the privacy of the players, as a condition to enter the country. The tournament itself may still proceed, but without any involvement of Valve or the Dota Pro Circuit. This isn’t a reflection on how we feel about fans in the Philippines, and we are sorry for those that were planning on attending the event.”
In the above statement, it is evident that Valve is talking about the regulations put on professional athletes in Philippines. Mind you, it’s all professional athletes, which also includes traditional sports. As per the new Filipino law, esports professionals are now recognised as professional athletes.
This was taken as a welcome move. It was a huge milestone which would make gaming mainstream and more viable as a career. Just like athletes from other traditional sports, even pro gamers need to go through certain formalities. That would include drug tests and other minor legalities.
Privacy and Safety concerns
But according to our sources, some teams feel that drug testing is a breach of privacy. A few allegedly talked to Valve about the issue at a recent event, bringing about the unfortunate decision. However, reports also say that majority of the teams have no issues with the drug testing.
But there were other factors at play. The location of the event (Philippine Arena) also raised red flags for lack of reasonable accommodations. The Philippines also made rounds across the globe for its war on drugs and alleged extra-judicial killings, bringing about a safety concern for some participating teams.
The conditions were known some months before
To clarify the issue, Julius Mariano, renowned PH esports advocate who had a hand in acquiring government support for local teams, posted a statement.
In it, he clarified that contrary to public speculation, the drug testing was a requirement to participate in the tournament and not a necessity for entering the country. In addition, teams were duly informed months beforehand to give them ample time to prepare.
Games and Amusements Board of the Philippines responds
We reached out to GAB’s Chief Legal Officer Atty. EU Benitez for a statement. Atty. Benitez maintains that while they want the tournament to push through, the community has to understand that drug testing has always been GAB’s long standing rule for pro players and tournaments.
GAB just released a formal statement to shed light on the drug testing requirements and what it means for esports.
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As is the case with other sporting events in the Philippines, GAB requires drug testing for all participating athletes. These regulations are not inherent to the Philippines, as most sporting events in the world require some form of testing. Esports, of course, is no exception.
Far reaching consequences
Valve’s revocation of Galaxy Battle II’s Major status does not bode well for the future of esports. At present, certain advocates are pushing for esports recognition in various countries. Just recently, the Olympic Committee discussed the inclusion of esports in the next games. Though there was a debate about this throughout the community, esports in the Olympics will be good for the industry.
Considering the ambitious effort put into the event, this move by Valve came at the worst time. It is but a mere two weeks before the scheduled date. This will most certainly draw setbacks, most especially in the PH esports scene. Also considering the fact that only a few teams had a problem with regulations, this becomes even worse. After all, you can’t gain everything by giving up nothing. Same is true for esports. It is unclear what would happen next. We can only hope that in two weeks, a better alternative would be proposed.
For now, there is no word from Fallout gaming. Valve has claimed that they are working with the organizers for a possible alternate tournament.
PPD of Optic Gaming, in a series of tweets, expressed disappointment over Valve’s announcement. However, Optic Gaming has yet to formally announce their decision.
GG THE 1 MAJOR WE QUALIFIED FOR :< https://t.co/Vm7PyQv6XC
— Peter Dager (@Peterpandam) January 4, 2018
Team Empire, despite not saying anything specific about the event, also posted this cryptic tweet.
No more parties in PH
— Team Empire (@team_empire) January 4, 2018
So far, Pain Gaming and EG are still interested in participating.
Cr1t posts a message on Twitter, expressing his hopes to get back to the Philippines.
Favorite place to go for tournaments and best fans in the world, hope we get to go to the Philippines regardless of the circuit points and valve support.
— Cr1t- (@Cr1tdota) January 4, 2018
On the upside, LFY, Newbee, TNC, PG.Barracx, and Team Spirit are still in the tournament despite the lack of Pro Circuit points.
Unfortunately, Team Secret has pulled out officially. They later released an official statement. Virtus.Pro and Team Liquid also backed out because of the change in tournament status.
Manila Galaxy Battles II tournament to be held in the Philippines from 15-21 January, was deprived of its Major status. Therefore, https://t.co/RghpmPyTHr won’t participate in it despite the direct invitation from the organizers: https://t.co/LEAWB9nqia pic.twitter.com/eisACv7qLt
— Virtus.pro (@virtuspro) January 5, 2018
In light of the recent announcement, we will not be attending the Galaxy Battles Major.https://t.co/h9L6MbpmHg
— Team Liquid (@TeamLiquid) January 5, 2018
OG, Mineski, and Kinguin have not formally announced their decision.
Previous information stated that teams who played in the Dota 2 All Stars Weekend went through drug testing. This proved to be inaccurate. Only TNC and Execration, both local teams, were tested to obtain their GAB licenses. Foreign teams did not go through the same regulations. In addition, reports claimed that VGJ.Thunder has talked to Fallout Gaming about doubts regarding the tournament. However, no formal announcement has been made to date. As a result, we have omitted these parts from the article.