At this week's Dota 2 Shanghai Majors competition, a number of severe technical issues and questions over the dismissal of the host of the English-language coverage of its group stages have forced Valve head Gabe Newell to address the problems directly.
Last night, host James "2GD" Harding announced via his Twitter account that he had been dismissed from hosting duties, adding that it was "Valve's decision." Harding opened the broadcast Wednesday evening (or Thursday morning in Shanghai) with a discussion of the absence of pornography in his Chinese hotel room, and the pre-game analysis panel he led was further derailed by strange asides and off-color comments.
The group stages of the event have been further plagued by a series of major technical issues, both on-set and in-game. Hosts' mic levels have been too quiet to hear or have cut out completely, and Harding himself often looked awkwardly at the wrong camera and spoke to the on-set director to get the camera pointed where he wanted it. Harding rambled self-deprecatingly about how little he knew or understood about Dota 2's current balance and accepted strategies, or meta, and sometimes insulted teams participating in the major or the players on them.
Worse, the live match coverage has often been interrupted for various reasons. Player medical issues led to one delay, but others have gone for hours at a time with little explanation. The competition has also seen multiple complete connection failures for the English-language streams on Twitch and Dota 2's official site. This has also affected the English-language casting in the Dota 2 client itself.
After Harding's tweets Thursday evening, there was rampant speculation within the Dota 2 community and competitive scene as to what exactly had happened. Friday afternoon, Newell posted directly to the Dota 2 subreddit to clear the air. "We've had issues with James at previous events," Newell said. "Some Valve people lobbied to bring him back for Shanghai, feeling that he deserved another chance. That was a mistake. James is an ass, and we won't be working with him again."
Newell also pledged to address the poor spectator experience. "As long as we're firing people, we are also firing the production company that we've been working with on the Shanghai Major," Newell said. "They will be replaced, and we hope to get this turned around before the main event."
The Shanghai Major is the biggest Dota 2 tournament of 2016 thus far. It has a prize pool of $3 million, and is one of four tournaments composing Valve's official Majors initiative, bearing their stamp of approval. The tournament is being produced in partnership with Perfect World, Valve's official steward of Dota 2 in China. The Majors are widely considered to be Valve's attempt to add a bit of stability to the notoriously noisy Dota 2 pro scene. The Shanghai Major main event is set to begin next week after the group stages conclude this weekend.