Valve has fired the host of its Dota2 tournament Shanghai Major after only a day and a half.
Valve head honcho Gabe Newell did not mince words about his disdain for the host in question, James "2GD" Harding, who Newell publicly called "an ass" in a Reddit thread.
Newell took to Reddit to address the backlash over the tournament's streams. Fans have been complaining about feeds dropping, dead air, poor audio quality, and lackluster, arguably offensive commentary.
The studio head offered the following explanation on Reddit, wherein he blamed Harding's hosting skills and the production company Valve hired to stream the $3m tournament.
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.
So what did Harding do that drew Newell's ire so strongly? It's hard to pinpoint, but the most common speculation is that his opening gambit wherein he discusses "the cans and c***s of the team" followed by an awkwardly told anecdote about masturbating to censored wheelchair porn the night before didn't quite fit the tone of the program. (Skip to 55:10 in this stream to watch the awkwardness unfurl). Other speculation suggests that he was canned because he had a tendency to look into the wrong camera. Most likely it was a combination of factors.
We've requested a more specific explanation from Valve and will update should we hear back.
As for Harding, he offered his own working statement on Reddit:
"This is why my statement is taking sometime. It seems more personal than professional. So I will respond. Just for the record Gabe, I don't think you are an ass. But I don't think you are right about me (well maybe you are a bit of an ass for calling me an ass, but let's find out what others think shall we?). Brb"
Harding also noted on Twitter that he was told by Valve to "be himself."
"Regarding the Reddit thread comments, it was Valve's decision. Before the event, I was told to be myself," the canned host said of the whole ordeal.
Arguably he was a little too himself for this particular program. Harding has a history of stirring controversy with his penchant for profanity and a reputation for teasing his interview subjects, but he also has his defenders, many of whom feel like he made the best out of a bad situation with the video production crew faltering on various levels.
Have you been watching the Shanghai Major? If so, what do you make of Valve's decision?