Friday was what could be called an interesting day. The Dota 2 Shanghai Major began on the 25th, and it took roughly twenty four hours for one of the hosts as well as the entire production team to be sacked.
When you think of competitive Dota 2, you most likely think of The International. A swanky tournament with high production values, big big prize pools, and of course Kaci Aitchison. The Shanghai Major hasn’t been that kind of tournament. The production value hasn’t been as high, and the hosts – at least one of them – haven’t been as professional.
That host? James “2GD” Harding. He’s a rather beloved commentator and host known for his snarky and rather off-collar personality that can be hard for some people to swallow. How off-colar? Well, he opened the Shanghai Major with a anecdote about his troubles with porn while in China. You know, that type of stuff. In some circles he could even be considered an ass. We’ll get back to that shortly.
But it wasn’t like he was acting out of line, or at least not to his knowledge. Icefrog (Dota 2’s anonymous designer) told him to simply “be himself,” which would end up being a pretty bad recommendation, as less than a day after starting, he was abruptly fired from the gig. At first, everyone thought that maybe it was a mistake, or a miscommunication. I mean, people liked the guy, but that’s no surprise. Have you seen how most people act on the internet?
But no, this was no mistake. Gabe Newell himself verified it on Reddit.
1) 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.
2) As long as we’re firing people, we are also firing the production company that we’ve been working with on the Shanghai Major. They will be replaced, and we hope to get this turned around before the main event.
As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So that’s that, James is an ass, and now he’s gone, and so is the production team. The Dota 2 community reacted – uh – passionately, as it is known to do. It’s not the first time, either. In 2013, when everyone thought that Diretide (the annual Halloween event) wasn’t going to happen, it sparked the give Diretide meme that still persists on occasion to this day. So you can imagine the kind of hoopla something like this will spark.
And James “2GD” Harding hadn’t even given his statement yet.
That’s when the real fun started.
Of course I say statement, which I suppose is technically true, but it’s also 17 pages long. It’s basically an essay recounting the events of the last few years, from the Internationals that he’s taken part in, all the way to the Shanghai Major. It, if anything, gives an inside view to how these things work behind the scenes. It’s not the easiest of reads, and is mostly stream-of-consciousness, but that helps to give it some level of transparency. Whereas Gabe Newell comes off as a well-meaning but perhaps slightly out of touch dad trying his best to clean up the mess his kids started.
It’s no telling where the truth in this matter lies. Probably somewhere in the middle, as it tends to fall. It probably boils down to communication, though. That’s the bane of all relationships, be it husband and wife, or employer and employee. With as weirdly as Valve operates, something I can barely only wrap my head around, it’s no surprise that Icefrog thought it’d be totally fine to tell him to simply “be himself,” and he ended up rubbing the wrong people the wrong way.
As history has also tended to show, you really wanna rub the right people the right way.
Let’s just hope that Gabe Newel straight-up calling James “2GD” Harding an ass publicly doesn’t have any permanent and quite negative repercussions on his career.
People do seem to genuinely love the guy, and despite his off-collar hosting personality, he wants only the best for Dota 2 and the rest of gaming.
Who knows, maybe this will all be really great publicity for him.
The universe does work in mysterious ways.