It’s been a turbulent few months for Fallout Gaming. A wide range of controversies have undermined confidence in the organisation and their ability to deliver on their promises for the recently concluded Galaxy Battles II Dota 2 tournament. Chief among these was Valve’s decision to rescind the event’s status as a Major in the Dota 2 Pro Circuit (DPC) after concerns were raised over government regulations for esport athletes in the Philippines.
With Valve recently opening applications to tournament organizers for the Fall 2018 circuit, Fallout were in desperate need of a boost in credibility. In other words, Galaxy Battles II needed to be a success. In this article, I will examine whether we can reasonably consider this event a success. First, though, some context on exactly why Fallout Gaming’s reputation is so poor.
Fallout’s previous failings
Fallout Gaming’s first foray into the esports scene was their Major All Stars Dota 2 tournament in 2015. Day One had significant delays from technical issues that led to most of the games being postponed until the next day. The MineskiTV events team came in and worked all night to address hardware problems that helped save the tournament. Playing conditions were less than ideal, as NiP player, Simon “Handsken” Haag highlighted in this tweet.
In addition to the technical difficulties and playing conditions, there were also issues with several teams being paid their winnings. According to this timeline from Invictus Gaming, the organizers only paid out partially, and failed to continue payments or even negotiate with the team. Eventually, Fallout Gaming issued a (poorly worded) statement, but offered no real actionable plan. Instead, they only asked for patience.
Fallout Gaming ran their next tournament, Galaxy Battles, in June 2017. This tournament had less publicly noticeable issues, but Andrew “Zyori” Campbell was not quiet on social media about less than ideal treatment from Fallout Gaming.
Fallout’s Red Bull Coliseum event, held in October 2017, was another addition to their list of high-profile failures. The tournament organizers failed to obtain the correct permits to operate an esports event, resulting in a last-minute venue move. In their public statements, however, Fallout Gaming only cited technical difficulties as the reason for the swap.
Galaxy Battles II – a shot at redemption?
Galaxy Battles II promised a spectacle befitting a Dota 2 major, but ultimately fell short in delivering on this promise.
What was originally a 16 team major with major attractions and activities planned was turned into an extended boot camp worth nothing in terms of the pro circuit. Valve withdrew their support when they learned that esports athletes competing in the Philippines are required to undergo drug testing for THC and methamphetamines to be eligible to compete. Fallout Gaming stated that teams were notified of this requirement in early December. It has been a requirement in the Philippines since October 2017.
Following Valve de-classifying Galaxy Battles II as a major, ten teams in total withdrew. Most teams, such as Virtus.Pro and Mineski, stated that they wanted to focus on tournaments that would earn them qualifying points. The official team statements do not address any concerns over drug testing. Unfortunately, fans travelling to see any of these ten teams (VP, Secret, Optic, Mineski, Liquid, Newbee, Mineski, LFY, Empire, and Kinguin) received no compensation for the changes in team attendance.
The community needed to see an incredible tournament for Fallout to be redeemed. That is not what they got.
There was some optimism at the beginning. Philip Aram, EG’s manager, even openly asked that people to give the tournament a chance. But while the teams were treated well, the event struggled elsewhere. The humour fell flat, and there were far too many empty seats. Production had poor panel aesthetics, awkward crowd raffles that dragged, delays and the initial stream graphics were reminiscent of early 2000s era game footage.
It wasn’t all negative. The stream was fixed on the first day, and although the panel was newer talent, they did a good job analyzing games and working with Eri (the stage host). A fun show match between OG and TNC was very entertaining – if oddly timed, scheduled as it was between elimination matches. The glaringly empty crowds Friday and Saturday did pick up, turning into a roaring 30,000 person stadium on Sunday for the EG vs VGJ finals (make sure to check out that game two).
Regardless, though, these small positives do not detract from the fact this tournament dramatically fell short of expectations. While Galaxy Battles II not completely failing is great for SEA Dota – and let’s not take anything away from the dominant winners, VGJ – it’s important to remember that this was Fallout’s fourth event, and we should be expecting more than just mild success. This tournament was a simpler version of what they promised, and they largely struggled to put on a good show. While to some extent they were saved by the excellent hosting from Eri and a large last minute crowd, this was not enough to turn the event around.
Fallout Gaming’s goal was to put on a tournament worthy of them getting back into the DPC. By all accounts, this is a goal they failed to achieve. If they want back in, they’ll have to do better than this.