Valve seem to have pulled something of a Sochi 2014 on us. Like the infamous Russian-hosted Winter Olympics, the Shanghai Major was supposed to be one of Dota 2‘s biggest events. Instead, it’s been a technical shambles, with dropped streams, commentary going MIA, and a myriad of other technical issues. What was meant to be a poster child of the rapidly growing e-sports scene has become a veritable comedy of errors.
And since this clearly wasn’t enough, Valve pulled a leaf from the React Bros playbook, and decided to turn the community against them. How? By sacking James “2GD” Harding, one of the most prominent personalities in the Dota 2 world.
James has always been a divisive figure in the community, with off-colour remarks and common usage of curses, including das ist verboten itself – “cunt”. He’s as reviled as he is supported, and calling him the marmite of Dota 2 wouldn’t be an awful analogy. But Valve knew this, and if they’re going to get upset at a presenter for doing what he’s known for – especially after allegedly being told to “be himself” – then they’re fully deserving of the ire coming their way.
The backlash was so virulent that Gabe Newell himself took to Reddit to explain the sacking.
James. We’ve had issues with James at previous events. 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.
In the same post, Gabe also explains that the production company at fault for the terrible technical problems are also getting fired, and there’s an air of damage control about the whole post. It’s no secret that the Shanghai Major has been a fuck up, and despite the love both for and from the community, Valve are still a corporation. And what do corporations do when things aren’t going their way?
They fire people. And 2GD was an easy target.
Maybe I’m being overly cynical. But it’s hard to read this any other way when the official statement comes to just 41 words – four of which were a personal attack. People usually appreciate this sort of straight talking from companies – but when you’re destroying someone’s career and personal viability, you could at least give them a little more justification. And according to James’ own statement, they let his best friend tell him.
Dick move, Valve. Dick move.