Kips, who recently revealed details of the SA DPC EN caster strike, talked with esports.gg about the strike and its ramifications.
One controversial element of Tour 3 of the 2023 DPC has been the wildly differing quality of each region’s broadcast. While Western Europe is fully remote, with bedroom casts and virtual studios, China has a full physical studio setup, seemingly to hail the arrival of SumaiL to the region.
Worst of all though, South America recently saw the sharp decline in the quality of its English cast as its talent went on strike, throwing the gauntlet at the feet of BTS Brazil.
Revealed in a comprehensive Twitter post by caster and host Murielle "Kips" Huisman, the caster strike was announced due to incredibly low rates of pay, with one of its aims to push for equal payment between Portuguese and English-speaking talent. Kips, who was Talent Manager for Tour 1 and Tour 2 of the 2022/2023 SA DPC, cited the dismal conditions in the SA DPC production, and a lack of willingness to find sponsors as some of the main issues the region was suffering with.
We reached out to Kips and she was kind enough to answer some questions about the SA DPC caster strike, the circumstances behind it, and what viewers and fans can do to help.
Kips talks South American DPC’s issues and reasons behind the caster strike
Every region has elements who want to push for low rates and shoestring budgets, why do you think it’s worse in SA?
Murielle "Kips" Huisman: “I can't speak about ESB because I don't have any first-hand or (as of yet) second-hand knowledge of what goes down there. I can tell you a lot about the problems with BTS Brazil, though. They have done everything in their power to monopolize the Portuguese-language Dota 2 broadcast scene, up to offering their services for free. None of the competition survived to this day. This means that BTS Brazil is the only company you can work for if you want to make a living casting Dota 2 in Portuguese, and BTS Brazil abuses this by paying their talent bottom-tier rates, jerking them around, and ostracizing anyone who dares to protest.
And protests have happened before; Astini [Filipe Astini] and Aedrons [João Hugo Carvalho], both hugely popular in the Brazilian Dota 2 scene, have blown the lid off the entire thing before but were mostly ignored.”
“So cut to the present day, where ESB hands BTS Brazil the broadcast rights after EPL screws the pooch. I think the studio didn’t really see their own flaws. They had never been punished for their shady business practices, had never been forced to properly compete, and therefore apparently saw no problems with continuing to operate the exact same way in this new global environment."
Why strike now? And not during Tour 1, or at any other point?
Kips: “Honestly, the reason why it took me two tours to properly get mad at how we were treated was that I was simply too baffled. After all, this company just got handed the opportunity of a lifetime! Sponsor income in USD (which is a big deal for Brazilian companies), low standards for the product to deliver (after all, they were just the last-minute stop-gap solution), and mostly inexperienced talent hungry to get a foot in the door!
All they needed to do was keep the few EN casters they had happy, hire someone to get some more international sponsorships, and they could’ve marched into the next season with a reputation as “saviors of the SA DPC” with a roster of loyal talent right behind them.
"We were paid less than we’d be for third party tournaments, treated as disposable, and were expected to be grateful for the opportunity."
Instead, we were paid less than we’d be for third party tournaments, treated as disposable, and were expected to be grateful for the opportunity. Four days before Tour 3 went live the company owner told me that finding new sponsorships was “not a priority,” but he’d be happy to offer any of us a commission bonus if we found him some.
So uh, yeah. Clearly the free market promoted the survival of the fittest.”
What would end the strike?
What’s the end game of this? If BTS Brazil came to the table with an offer to end the caster strike what would you want to see?
Kips: “Here’s list of our (extremely reasonable) strike demands, which we sent to BTS Brazil two days before we went public with the strike, here:
The pay increase and parity are at the heart of our demands. If the PT talent are fluent enough to do the EN-language job (which the top-notch analysts I worked with definitely were!) they deserve the same compensation. And if we all get the same wages, there is no reason for BTS Brazil to hire one over the other apart from who they like to have on the show the most.
The strike really didn’t have to be more than a speed bump. If BTS Brazil is willing to negotiate, we’d still be happy to go to the table with them.”
Do you know if Valve has any kind of knowledge or input on anything going on in SA apart from approving ESB and BTS Brazil to be broadcasters?
Kips: “I have no idea if Valve ever had any knowledge or input. I don’t even know if they approved of BTS Brazil — I imagine that after ESB won the bid for the SA DPC, they were free to sort out the different language subcontracts in any way they saw fit. I see no other way for EPL to end up putting on the low-cost cosplay version of the SA DPC at the start of the season.
What I know for sure is that I sent Valve a very long email a couple of days ago. They definitely have knowledge now.”
What can fans and supporters do to help out? Just not watch SA or is there anything else?
Finally, keep expressing your solidarity. It’s important for the companies involved in Dota 2 to be reminded that their customers care about more than just the videogame on the screen.”
After speaking with Kips, esports.gg also reached out to BTS BR for comment on the caster strike, and will provide an update any response we receive. Stay tuned to esports.gg for more Dota 2 news, guides, and interviews!