Just before the sixth edition of the yearly DOTA 2 International got underway, Valve revealed to players some major changes to their fledgling Major series of tournaments, which had as many complaints as compliments during its first year of existence (in fact, the new changes line up with a few things we said they should fix.
At the top of the list has to be the fixes to the current ���roster lock” system that Valve intended to prevent teams constantly shifting players, but which instead resulted in even more instability in the pro scene, including last-minute switches which screwed over both players and the regional qualifiers for The International. Going forward, rather than a single date when teams can no longer add or drop players and must register their rosters to qualify for potential Major or qualifier invites, there will be two different dates. After the first one, teams can no longer drop players from their roster, and after the second, later date, teams can no longer add from the pool of free agents. The hope is that this will prevent the sort of “eleventh hour” reshuffles which left some top players out in the cold when the lock date passed, unable to join teams who weren’t willing to risk going through the massive open qualifiers.
The second huge change is that Valve will be dropping the number of Majors from three down to two, after the first year saw many timing-related issues involved with scheduling three Majors and the International, which resulting in the International qualifiers taking place only days after the Spring Major finished, with a massive roster lock period covering both tournaments (resulting in many top teams breaking the lock and turning the qualifier scene into a chaotic mess). The first Major is expected to occur before the end of 2016, and the second will take place in April of 2017, with the International retaining its usual location in August. By spreading out the Majors, Valve is also likely hoping to stimulate third-party tournaments, which were getting squeezed out due to the combination of Major qualifying eating up so much of the year, and teams not willing to jeopardize their perceived standing (and potential direct invites) by potentially performing badly at the limited number of tournaments taking place between Majors (for example, there was only one large tournament between Manila and The International, which played heavily into the teams that were invited to TI6). No locations have been announced for the two Major tournaments as of yet.
Time will tell if these changes have their desired effect, but at least it shows that Valve is invested in the Major system, and committed to its success in the years ahead.