A 'Dota 2' Matchfixer's Plea Shows What's Really Rotten in Dota Esports


Last weekend, Freddy “SmAsH” a disgraced Peruvian Dota 2 player posted a long, open letter on the Dota 2 subreddit, petitioning Valve for his reinstatement into the game’s professional scene, and an end to the ban he received as a result of a match-fixing scandal. To make his case, he details the squalid conditions in which he and his teammates lived, and how their destitution left them with little other choice than to bet against themselves.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/ywnbp7/a-dota-2-matchfixers-plea-shows-whats-really-rotten-in-dota-esports


r/dota2 is a fucking horrible place - their response is sad, but not unsurprising. A lot of the comments are very much them focusing solely on justifying his ban, with claims of account boosting, and you know what, sure, fine, whatever. I’m not interested in challenging that - it’s everything else Smash talks about that we should be discussing. Also, there’s a lot of vitriol on there towards Peru in general, due to apparent poor behaviour by pub players from there, but it also functions as a convenient defence for racism (which there’s a lot of).

Valve’s track record means they’ll have little to no interest in acknowledging the issues of structural inequality and obstacles to access and support. It raises a lot of other questions about what esports, tech and online communities really means for so many different demographics globally.

I’m really glad this article got written, I do watch an awful lot of DotA 2 but I can barely bring myself to read the subreddit (which is where most conversation about the game happens) because anything resembling empathy or compassion will get you labelled an “SJW tumblrina” or some shit. So, I wouldn’t have known about this letter otherwise, probably.


Some of the best competitive Dota 2 players came out of extremely impoverished nations where their older machines could run the original Warcraft 3 mod. The community knows this, Valve knows this, everyone knows how big the community is in non-US territories like Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.

But there’s no formal leagues system where players in smaller teams can earn a healthy salary via playing competitively, which I believe Riot Games has had in place for League of Legends for a while now. Either you’re a Sumail cinderella story of selling your bike to compete in Dota, or you’re virtually nobody and are doomed to never make a living off of what is an incredibly mentally taxing game to play at a competitive level.

It’s not just bad from a moralistic point of view, it’s unhealthy for the game as a sport. There just isn’t a consistent churn rate of new blood coming into the scene, it’s mostly the same pool of players constantly playing musical chairs in the yearly post-International scramble to reform all of the teams.

If Valve could have any degree of foresight, and the Dota 2 community could stop being racist/xenophobic for one fucking minute, they’d see that the lack of salaried positions are slowly killing the scene and leading to a constant prevalence of match-fixing scandals. It’s the exact same story in CSGO.

This and other reasons (like how newer non-white/non-male casters like LlamaDownUnder are constantly subjected to the worst behavior of the godawful community) are why I completely peace out on the game if there isn’t an International happening.


God, I haven’t kept up with the scene since the last TI, but few things more explicitly exemplified the “women must work twice as hard for half the recognition” adage than r/Dota2’s reaction to every goddamn game she cast. Not to mention that time when Akke wrote a blog about the fact that there were no women commentating or hosting at the Frankfurt major a while ago, and every dude that casts games ended up going on the same Horatio Alger b.s. rant about why that’s not an issue.

If it weren’t for TI being so engrossing, I’d never give that game’s community the light of day.