Valve has decided to pull the pro plug on the upcoming DOTA 2 Galaxy Battles set to take place in the Philippines because, due to new regulations in the region, participants would need to pass a drug test to compete. The tournament will go on, but without the previously planned support from Valve.
This news comes to us from Compete, who explained that Valve decided to rescind the upcoming tournament's "major" status specifically because of drug testing they apparently did not want to subject players to. In a statement, a Valve spokesperson said that the "local climate" concerning such matters was a major contributor in the decision to back out.
According to a statement from the Games and Amusement Board of the Philippines, the required drug tests are due to a new standard established last July, partially intended to cut down on drug use in the country.
In the statement, regarding drug testing for eSports, the GABP explained that health and safety were also a major concern, as well as maintaining the integrity of the games and the competitions themselves. The drugs scheduled to be tested for the upcoming DOTA tournament were marijuana and crystal meth. We figure the former was far more likely to pop up in the results than the latter, but that might just be our hopeful ignorance.
The initial report goes on to explain that players in the Philippines have already undergone testing, as it's now part of a requirement to become a professional eSports player. Participants in the upcoming tournament would either need to subject to the testing upon arrival, or provide proof of testing from their home country.
Since the major status has been removed from the tournament by Valve, one team, Virtus.Pro, has already announced they will not be participating. The stated reason was specifically the removal of the major status, as that was kind of the entire point of joining the Galaxy Battles for many teams. You can't earn season points in standard tournaments, so it would basically be a big, expensive practice session in another country with a drug test tacked on for good measure.
To their credit, Valve is trying to make good on their recent decision. They've stated plans to set up another tournament with major status and invite everyone who had qualified to take part in the Galaxy DOTA 2 event. The goal would be to give teams the proper number of opportunities to earn points.
This is certainly an interesting situation. We're not sure there's a "wrong" party here, as Valve already institutes its own safety measures and standards for players taking part in high-level DOTA tournaments. At the same time, you can't really fault the Philippines for wanting to create additional health and safety standards for eSports, something that's becoming a bigger and bigger entity as the years roll by. We'd be interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments below.