One of the Major tournament in the Dota 2 Pro Circuit was bound to happen in the Philippines on January 15-21 dubbed The Galaxy Battles. However, at the last minute, Valve have decided to cancel the event. They did not specifically mention the reason about the action but it is allegedly due to the administration's policies of esports players having to undergo drug testing before entering the country.
According to Valve's official statement, they have to rescind the event based on what they believe are 'unreasonable infringements on the privacy of the players as a condition to enter the country.' The Galaxy Battles showcases sixteen teams fighting over a $500,000 USD prize pot along with Dota 2 Pro Circuit Points.
Based on information we’ve recently confirmed regarding new government regulations for esports players entering the Philippines, we have decided to rescind the tournament’s Major designation, including the Pro Circuit qualifying points, for the Galaxy Battles 2018 tournament. This is based on what we feel are unreasonable infringements on the privacy of the players, as a condition to enter the country. The tournament itself may still proceed, but without any involvement of Valve or the Dota Pro Circuit. This isn’t a reflection on how we feel about fans in the Philippines, and we are sorry for those that were planning on attending the event.
Players' and community's reactions
Although Valve did not mention the exact reason, everyone believes that it is because Philippines now requires drug testing to esports players entering the country as official athletes.
PH govt in “drug war” & also busy granting esports athlete status. Result is those attending $1 mil event have to be tested.
Currently people get shot in PH for just being suspected of drug involvement. Many attending would fail tests.
(All of this had been known for months)"
- Anthony Hodgson @scantzor
"It is indeed disappointing for something like this to happen but the privacy and safety of players attending events should always be a primary concern.
Filipino Dota fans are greatly passionate and deserve Majors / Minors. Hopefully things can be worked out in the future."
- Wykrhm Reddy @wykrhm
Favorite place to go for tournaments and best fans in the world, hope we get to go to the Philippines regardless of the circuit points and valve support."
Feel bad for Filipino DOTA fans, seems like there won't be any valve sanctioned events happening in their country until policies are changed.
How PH's war on drugs affects esports
Not only the participating players feel sad about the news but the Dota 2 community as a whole. Philippines under the administration of president Rodrigo R. Duterte has been known worldwide due to its all out war on drugs.
BBC news reported a total of 3,850 number of deaths as a result of anti-drug operations. The campaign against drug in the country has massively affected the esports scene especially now that esports players have become official athletes. And as official atheletes, players must acquire licenses by undergoing tests and interviews.
Meanwhile, despite the decision to cancel the tournament in the Philippines, Valve and the organizers will try to hold a different Major with all the participating teams, as well as the Pro Circuit points and prize pots that would have been in the Galaxy Battles.