Update: James Harding, the host unceremoniously fired from Valve’s Dota 2 major happening right now in Shanghai, has responded in full. And boy has he responded. In a lengthy Google Doc post Harding goes over everything that happened in Shanghai, from his point of view, and what he thinks led to his sudden firing. Harding claims his firing was based on a previous relationship with an employee from Valve, Ali, and paints the situation as a circus of miscommunication, misunderstandings.
“So, The segment finishes. I go to production room to ask Bonni the producer when she thinks we will start again. She doesn’t know but tells me she will come get us from the dining room when she knows. Then rushing around the corner comes Bruno.
Bruno: James… You’re fired
In summary Harding was hired to host a Dota 2 tournament and decided he’d learn the ‘meta’ of the game as he went. Learning in front of camera, from panels of more learned people, hoping to somehow teach the audience and fill in expected production delays. He claims that ‘Icefrog’, the original creator of Defense of the Ancients, told Harding to be himself. Harding did just that, telling a porn joke within ten minutes of the opening broadcast and a “bottom bitch” joke later on. Harding says the latter joke was about players who he is friends with. Throw in this final segment before his firing, that Harding links to in his statement, and you might be able to see why Valve decided to fire him.
Harding even claims he spotted Gabe Newell’s email address on the phone of Bruno, a software engineer at Valve and longtime Dota 2 player, while he was being fired. Harding spins a great tale but I know that every story has two sides and this one is very much his own version of these events. The Dota 2 community, especially on Reddit, seem to be on Harding’s side. But during a three million dollar tournament Harding thought a whiteboard, porn jokes, and learning the deep meta as he went along was appropriate. Valve shouldn’t be shunned for stepping in and creating an atmosphere that’s better for their product. Harding isn’t wrong for defending himself, and does seem to be blamed for just being who he’s always been, but that doesn’t mean he’s in the right either.
“For the record the Bottom Bitch joke was about Waga/Sing, personal friends of mine who have both contacted me for support. So for me it wasn’t out of place.” –Harding defending one of his jokes.
It should also be noted that Harding goes into a lot of detail about previous Dota 2 events, including a few of The Internationals. Some of his claims about pay have been corrected by others within the Dota 2 community.
You can also read into some details about what happened with the production team, who were also fired by Valve.
Original Story: Right now, Dota 2 is having a major over in Shanghai, and there have been some problems. After a series of technical and personnel problems, Gabe Newell stepped in and fired long time Dota 2 host, James “2GD” Harding, and the production company covering the major for Valve.
It all started when Harding started to go off-script, at one point mentioning how he looked at porn in his hotel room to prepare, and essentially acted unprofessionally. This is aside from the fact that Harding would often look at the wrong camera, complain to the director while on camera, and generally wasn’t up to date or knowledgeable about Dota 2 strategy or meta-strategy. Harding’s issues weren’t the only problems. The overall production problems included bad mic levels, multiple delays with no explanations, and disconnections between the matches, Twitch, and Dota 2’s site. This all, eventually, led to Harding’s and the production team’s termination.
Sorry to say I won’t be returning to the Shanghai major, I was let go after that last segment. We’ll always have day 1 together. 🙁
— James Harding (@follow2GD) February 26, 2016
Harding was the first to go, tweeting out that he was “let go” after a segment saying “it was valves decision.” This led to a lot of speculation and rumors until Gabe himself went to the Dota 2 subreddit and dropped his own bombs. Not only does Gabe say Valve has had problems with Harding before, he outright says “James is an ass.” Then switches focus to the entire production team and fires them too.
LADS ON THE PRODUCTION TEAM LOOKING FRESH THIS MORNING. pic.twitter.com/6XDCzKk2VF
— Owen Davies (@ODPixel) February 27, 2016
Gabe and Valve seem pretty happy with their choices, and despite not being very knowledgeable of this community, I’ve been told by a more active player that this was a good decision. Harding was already known to try and be funny more than he tried to be a good host.
This was Dota 2’s first major major of the year with a purse of three million dollars. Kind of crazy for all this to go down in the middle of the actual tournament, but it’s hard to be upset with Valve stepping in and enforcing their own standards.