Competitive Pinoy Dota 2: why the frequent roster changes have to stop


If you think it’s difficult to follow Philippine Dota 2 team roster changes, that’s probably because these shuffles happen so often it even isn’t surprising anymore. For example, just recently Execration 2’s roster underwent a shuffle less than a month after the team was formed. But in an interview, LGD’s Yao ‘Yao’ ZhengZheng told me that recently-shuffled teams usually have to go through a breaking in period. A month isn’t usually enough to determine if a team’s roster is going to work or not. So why do Pinoy teams change rosters too soon?

(See: LGD.Yao: “Every decision we’ve made is to prepare for The International”)

Internal issues


I reached out to Execration 2’s captain Kimmuel ‘Kimo’ Borromeo Rodis regarding the team changes. According to him, he was recently moved from Execration 1 to 2 because it was “for the better” because his play style didn’t seem to fit Execration 1. However, he also shared that this isn’t always the reason why teams shuffle or reform.

Often times, there are conflicts or a team becomes lacking because an individual isn’t able to perform properly, which leads to roster changes. Other times, they just don’t want to play with that person anymore.

There is some sense in what Kimo is saying. After all, like any team game, it takes extraordinary patience as well as professionalism to continue playing with a person you dislike or don’t trust. This is why individual skill is only one factor to consider when forming a team.

Lack of tournaments

Philippine ESports Organization (PESO)’s Executive Director and Mineski shoutcaster, Tryke Guttierrez, however, believes, that lack of tournaments contribute a lot to why the teams end up with this behavior.

Due to the lack of system and tournaments, one of the players will eventually slack off in training thus leading to his expulsion from the team because his teammates would rather take the easier route of replacing him that trying to fix him or force him to do something that he doesn’t want.


At the moment, the Philippines only has the Mineski Pro Gaming League (MPGL) and the Razer NEXT. Sometimes, Philippine teams also participate in some international invitational tournaments, but the these are few and far between.

Having to wait for weeks or months to be in a competitive environment may cause a player to slack off in practice because there is no sense of urgency to train. This, in turn, often leads to disappointed teammates, which ultimately causes the reshuffle.

I believe Tryke makes an interesting point. After all, the issue of underperformance due to lack of tournaments isn’t entirely new. If you recall, one of the reasons why China performed poorly during The International 2013 (TI3) was because of the lack of other tournaments. Many Chinese players mentioned that although they were training, the lack of tournaments lessened their drive because you aren’t really fighting for anything if you’re just scrimming.

Taking things for granted

But what kept Chinese teams from reshuffling right away? Most people would guess that they are bound by contract and that buying players from each other would also be expensive for clubs. Although this is true, I think there are also other factors to consider. The Chinese are known for their discipline and diligence in training and keeping their eye fixed on their goal—The International. So even if tournaments were so far apart during that time, Chinese teams had enough motivation to keep training and stay together because they have their target locked on getting an invite to the grandest Dota 2 tournament.


(See: Looking back at Asia’s performance in The International DOTA 2 Championships 2013)

So does this mean that the Philippine teams don’t have their eye on The International? Of course they do, but unlike the Chinese, the players are very impatient. As Tryke put it,

We’re talking about players who are in the 15 to 25 year old age bracket and are very naive and stubborn when it comes to this kind of thing. They are in the point of their lives where changing the player is an easier option than to try and work things out with their former teammates.

Of course, you might consider this an excuse because at the end of the day, they are professional gamers. Immaturity is something that the scene can’t afford right now. And as if that isn’t enough, it’s sad to realize that there are people who play for the sake of making money.

Yes, there are pro players who are no longer driven by passion or the love of the game. They play because of money or fame. Because they have salaries and sponsors, players just play for the heck of it, causing them to be impatient or lack motivation. Some believe that the current generation of players didn’t experience how difficult it was when Philippine eSports was young so everything they have right now, they take for granted.

The consequence of instability

According to OnGamers, “What was once the crowning jewel of the vibrant Pinoy scene is now better known for their spectacular failures on the international stage and their once-a-month roster swaps”.


As a gamer here in the Philippines, I didn’t like the fact that this is true. I’ll be honest here and say that Pinoy Dota isn’t something welcome in pubs. In a country where Dota is practically part of the culture, it’s both difficult and disappointing to think that we’re doing so bad competitively. But it’s not that our players have no skill. It’s just that they can’t form a synchronized team because they keep on changing rosters every other month. In Dota 2, a team thinking as one will overpower a team thinking as five.

The only benefit we get from the constant roster changes is that people are interested to watch games because they’re eager to find out how the new roster will fare. But this is such a short-term thing! Having viewers who are there to support the team is better than viewers who are just curious because the true supporters will keep watching once the novelty wears off. They will be there to watch the games, buy tickets, or even buy apparel. It’s this kind of phenomenon that attracts sponsors and in turn helps the scene.

It’s up to the current generation


The Philippine eSports scene is young. It took so much just trying to get it to the point that players have salaries. According to Tryke, we’re getting to the point where a player can get a higher salary than regular employees. Once competitive gaming can be sustainable enough for players to consider it a regular job, there will be an improved sense of responsibility. Players can focus more on playing their best. However, until that point, Tryke believes that it is up to the current generation.

I think Mineski, Execration, Arcanys, MSI-EvoGT and other top teams in the country have to set an example to other gamers and once they do that, the culture will change and I believe that’s when Pinoys will finally start winning at an international level.

I’ve gone from hopeful to furious to disappointed and eventually frustrated about Pinoy Dota 2. I’m frustrated because I know this country has a lot of players with talent, but they either don’t have a decent team or they lack professionalism. As a fan, I sincerely hope that Pinoy Dota teams can slow down with all the roster-shuffling and focus on building cohesive teams that are capable of playing well together.

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

Read More