Dota 2 is one of the best-known names in esports. Its design was always a bit of a unique choice in that single-player mode is simply not a thing. The game’s proposition value is simple: team battles. Beyond that, the producers and marketers have done more than a few smart things to help popularize the game even more.
1. Massive prize pools
The International 2019 last December boasted a grand prize pool was over $34 million, almost £10 million more than at the International 2018. In fact, the prize pool has been growing steadily since the very first International in 2011, when it amounted to $1.6 million, which was staggering for its time. The Dota 2 International budget is collected through crowdfunding – for example, like through the in-game app called Compendium.
2. Twitch’s most-watched tournament
The International 2019 had over 1 million viewers on Twitch, which was an overall 51% increase in viewership than in the previous year. This, despite the crazy time difference between Shanghai, where the tournament started on Sunday at 10 a.m. local time, and the US’s Eastern Time zone. This means that for most of the viewers the International 2019 started late on a Saturday night and went on way into the wee hours of the morning.
3. Development of intricate betting markets
Most of the big names in esports developed associated betting markets as fans want to make their support of a favourite team more competitive. Most bets found on Dota 2 betting sites focus on real-world betting, for example on winners of tournaments or handicap bets, but In-game bets with items are also quite common. How this works is players can wager their items on the outcome of a game.
4. The ‘Free to Play’ documentary
The documentary, developed by Valve, followed the lives of three professional Dota players, Benedict “hyhy” Lim, Danil “Dendi” Ishutin and Clinton “Fear” Loomis, who participated in the first-ever International. The film focused on how preparing for and participation in the International affected the players’ lives. It helped to remove some of the stigma associated with gaming professionally and had an overall positive effect on the popularity of the game.
Valve has confirmed that the International 2020 will take place in Sweden between August 18 and 23. Let’s hope that this remains unchanged despite the current restrictions on large gatherings and travel.