Yes, I’m going to talk about THAT.
James “2GD” Harding, the tournament’s host, getting sacked after a day in the Shanghai Major had probably drawn as much attention as the tournament itself, if not more, since there was no apparent reason for it at first glance. Some time later, and a great deal of jumping to conclusions by the community, there were 2 main statements. One from James himself, and one from Valve, who despite people’s expectations, were the ones actually responsible.
Indeed, at first we didn’t even know who was the one doing the firing. The first suspect was Perfect World, a Chinese gaming company and this tournament’s producer.
I don’t like taking sides in these matters, as it falls mostly on them to figure it out; that doesn’t mean a side can’t be a bit more in the right than the other though.
I believe there isn’t much to go on about. Anyone can understand we don’t know the whole story, and probably never will. Nobody can say for sure what exactly happened behind the scenes. But let’s try to look at this from an objective perspective, from what little we know.
For starters, James’ style and way of expression are considered to be controversial by many. He’s the type that will swear, insult players and make porn jokes (okay, maybe there was just ONE of those) on camera. All, and this is just a personal opinion, not in bad will; that’s just how he rolls. A lot of people, including myself, find him fun to watch, to others he’s just plain annoying.
Reading his (quite lengthy) statement, I got the impression of someone who tried to rationalize things. He revealed some past events which he thought could have lead to the disagreement, events that didn’t necessarily honor him, as he admitted himself. He also seemed to agree this all happened because of his “special way” of expressing himself, but didn’t quite understand specifically how it had come to this.
The International 4, back in 2014, was the tournament James had stated would probably be the last he’d work with Valve. That event is generally considered to have been the least entertaining in both presentation and gameplay. According to James, he made some harsh statements behind the scenes, which could have lead to Valve’s disapproval.
Then, reading Valve’s, namely Gabe Newell’s statement, well. . . I honestly can’t even see it as a statement. “James is an ass” doesn’t say anything at all. Every single person in the world can understand they’d think that, since they fired him; you don’t send someone away if you still like them. Other than that, they simply stated that indeed they had problems with James in the past, but decided to give him another chance. And that’s about it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Valve was in the wrong, not yet at least, but simply that, contrary to James, they decided to not reveal any actual information. It’s the same as saying, “we don’t have to tell you anything, these decisions are in our discretion.” And perhaps they’re right, and we can respect that.
However, I cannot ignore the simple and obvious fact that one side chose to share information, while the other didn’t. James decided to even admit some of his past mistakes, even after being flamed. I know this may sound cheesy, but he did do that, and what can Gabe’s quote be called other than a simple insult, much like those we use in our pub games?
Whether that insult holds some truth or not, that’s for them to decide; but since they decided to not share their reasons, personally I don’t see why it should be taken seriously. Anyone can call anyone else names.
Bottom line is, Valve may have had every right in the world, but didn’t handle the situation well at all. They knew who they were dealing with, and if they’ve had problems with him in the past, they should have discussed it with him, which apparently they didn’t. We can’t really know that for sure, but I believe they would at least have mentioned it, since it would give them a lot more credit. James may have been the assiest ass of them all, but his reaction was, or at least seemed, a lot more respectable.