Gabe Newell calls fired host of Dota 2 Shanghai Major an "ass"

Shanghai Major Trophy

Update #3: Harding has delivered his version of events in the form of a Google doc which you can read here. It touches on his relationship with Valve, the event production company, and what he says went down in the run up to and during the ill-fated Shanghai Major broadcast. It also runs to just shy of 7,000 words, so you might want to put the kettle on before wading in. In short: there ain't no drama like Dota 2 drama.

Update #2: Fairly inevitably, sacked Dota 2 panel host James "2GD" Harding has responded to being called an "ass" by none other than Gabe Newell earlier today on Reddit. Harding said he's working on a more detailed response, but for now he had this to say in the accompanying Reddit thread:

"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"

For those of you curious as to what led to Harding's dismissal, this footage from day one of the event (beginning at 00:55:10 on the VoD) may prove illuminating. Without wishing to make assumptions about Valve's reasoning, the fact Harding talks about being police monitored, drops a C-bomb (which may be accidental but certainly doesn't sound it), and then riffs about masturbating to hotel pornography—specifically: "Mr Wang's amazing wheelchair antics"—probably contributed to Newell and co going nuclear.

We'll update as and when Harding makes his statement.

Update #1: Valve boss Gabe Newell has addressed Harding's dismissal in a brief but very pointed message on Reddit.

"Two things:

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


Valve has confirmed that the comment was in fact posted by Gabe Newell. We'll update again if we hear more.

Original Story: The Dota 2 Shanghai Major is the subject of a community outcry after panel host James '2GD' Harding was let go after the first day and a half of the tournament.

Harding announced the news in a tweet, prompting a slew of anger and speculation on Twitter and Reddit. Much of this was directed at Perfect World, who operate Dota 2 in China. Harding then clarified in a follow-up tweet that the decision had, in fact, been Valve's.

Until 2015, Harding was a regular presence at official Dota 2 events. He didn't appear at The International 2015 or the Frankfurt Major, however, meaning that the Shanghai Major represented a return of a sorts—a return that has been prematurely cut short. He is known for his willingness to push people's buttons in order to get a laugh, and this is the basis of his popularity among parts of the Dota 2 community.

The exact reason for his firing hasn't been officially explained, but it doesn't appear that there was a single inciting incident. Harding's first day as host was irreverent, sometimes openly mocking of certain pro players, and included off-colour humour and language. Any of these things—or all of them in aggregate—could be the reason, but nothing in particular stands out as the likely explanation. We've contacted Valve for comment. Harding himself plans to write more substantially about the issue tomorrow, describing this is as a "very very odd situation."

It's certainly unusual for a personality to be let go from an esports event without explanation and without an obvious inciting incident.

Prior to this controversy, the community was already unhappy with the production quality of the Shanghai Major. There have been long waits between games as well as audio and video issues on the stream. This isn't unheard of in the group stages of a large event, and there's plenty of time to resolve them before the playoffs begin in earnest, but it compounds a sense of disappointment that is readily apparent from Reddit and Twitch chat.

This is a shame, because the Shanghai Major had a very exciting first day. The surprising rise of MVP Phoenix sets this up to be the best Dota 2 event since, well, the last Major. Given the quality of the games so far, it'd be sad if Dota 2's second Major is remembered instead for the drama it inspired.

Chris Thursten

Joining in 2011, Chris made his start with PC Gamer turning beautiful trees into magazines, first as a writer and later as deputy editor. Once PCG's reluctant MMO champion , his discovery of Dota 2 in 2012 led him to much darker, stranger places. In 2015, Chris became the editor of PC Gamer Pro, overseeing our online coverage of competitive gaming and esports. He left in 2017, and can be now found making games and recording the Crate & Crowbar podcast.