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From its humble origins as a mod for the popular game Warcraft 3 to the behemoth of the MOBA genre, Dota reshaped esports and online gaming.
Now we are just days away from one of the biggest MOBA tournaments ever, The International, let’s look at what the hype’s about, how it came to be, betting on the different teams, gaining the attention of mainstream media and the main sports betting outlets.
Where did it all start?
After the lawsuit between Blizzard and Valve for the rights over the game, several small test tournaments would pave the way for Dota 2 to grow as a gaming franchise, with the potential to win big.
In 2011 at Gamescom, Valve held its first high-value tournament event with a prize pool of $1.6m, inviting 16 teams to compete.
Year after year, the prize pool grew larger, to the point where we are now – the mindboggling $40m dollars. That staggering figure and the prize pools and interest in recent years has elevated Dota 2 to one of the greatest esports to rival sports, such as tennis, Formula 1 – some have compared it to big sports tournaments like football’s Champions League.
What is going on at the Dota 2 International 2021?
First, it needs to be said that the tournament was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. This left the fans, teams and the esports in general wanting. Thus, the stakes are exceptionally high this year.
In terms of the qualification round points, according to the official Dota website, Majors are worth 2,700 points and Regional Leagues 1,150 points. To earn points, the teams had to place in the top 8 in the Majors and top 6 in the Upper Division of the Regional Leagues.
This created an almost year-long cycle of tournament plays where every win was important. In the end, only the very best teams from each region qualified in the final top 12 that will duke it out in Bucharest in a few days. The group stages will start on October 7th and the main stage matches will begin on October 12th.
It’s just been announced that Valve has cancelled the live audience at The International 10 due to the pandemic.
Valve said in a statement: “We have been carefully evaluating the continued rise of Covid rates in Romania, as well as the resulting introduction of new local restrictions in Bucharest. To ensure the safety of all players, talent, and production staff participating in the event, we have decided to refund all ticket sales for The International 2021.”
Teams, top players and standings
The teams that managed to secure a spot in this year’s International event are as follows:
1. Evil Geniuses – 1,700 points
2. PSG.LGD – 1,300 points
3. Virtus Pro – 1,200 points
4. Quincy Crew – 1,100 points
5. Invictus – 1,100 points
6. T1 – 1,070 points
7. Vici Gaming – 950 points
8. Team Secret – 950 points
9. Team Aster – 800 points
10. Alliance – 800 points
11. beastcoast – 800 points
12. Thunder Predator – 800 points
In addition, there are qualifiers where the region winners have one last shot at the Trophy. These are:
- Western Europe: OG
- China: Elephant
- CIS: Team Spirit
- SEA: Fnatic
- North America: Undying
- South America: SG esports
Some teams who were expected to qualify but did not make the mark are:
- Team Liquid – You may know this esports giant from other esports games like CSGO and League of Legends. They were always seen as the heavy hitters in the Europe region, but have ultimately underperformed in Dota 2 this year.
- Tundra Esports – they started strong and took wins from pretty much all European top teams including the above-mentioned Team Liquid. Sadly, fell short in the end as team OG bested them in a nail-biting 2-3 score in a 5-game match.
- Team Nigma – anyone following the scene knows that these guys were considered top contenders among the fans. Ultimately, they failed short of delivering consistent high performance and never realized their potential.
- EHOME – The OGs of the Chinese Dota 2 scene, this team showed promise оn paper, boasting big names such as Yap Jian “xNova” Wei, who is seen as one of the top support players in China. However, they got crushed in the closed qualifiers in China.
- TNC Predator – the Southeast Asian org with its all-Philippines roster ultimately failed to secure a spot in the SEA region.
Big names and big money
Speaking about all these star players begs the question – how much do they earn? Well, Dota 2 is a multi-million pound esport, as we’ve stated, and some players became millionaires in the span of a year – or even overnight if they win The International. On top of this, looking at the top 30 esports players in terms of earnings, 29 are playing Dota 2!
The biggest earnings in the game belong to Johan “N0tail” Sundstein playing for the team OG. He has pocketed a whopping $6.98 million through his Dota 2 career. At number 30 in the list is Chu “Shadow” Zeyu with $1.9 million. At the same time Shadow is not currently on a team roster.
Speaking about teams, the top teams (in all games, not just Dota 2) by prize winnings are:
1. Team Liquid – $37.6 million
2. OG – $34.6 million
3. Evil Geniuses – $24.6 million
4. Fnatic – $16.3 million
5. Virtus.pro – $16.1 million
Though most of these teams have tournaments outside of the Dota 2 scene, a lot of these winnings comes from Dota 2 due to the enormous prize pools at The International. The overall earnings are big enough to attract the attention of mainstream media and some of the biggest sports betting companies in the world.
The rise of esports and sports betting
According to Statista, the expected net worth of the esports sector is just over $1.08 billion, which tallies up with data from other analysts. Not counting for merchandise and sportswear, this figure is very close to the big league sports like tennis and basketball, though professionals in those sports can rack up some massive fortunes. That being said, the huge fanbase the esports scene boasts could be described as an untapped source for advertising and product placement. What’s more, it’s one of the few social groups that is not very well engaged with the sports betting world.
In the last 10 years, the online sports betting market has skyrocketed. Some expect it to generate around $127.3 billion by the end of 2027. This is a huge opportunity for both “expert fans” betting on the various events and venues, where a lot of big advertisers, betting companies and luxury brands want to place themselves and reach the zoomer generation.
Already we can see that some of the top betting companies in the world all have bonus packages as well as various perks for people willing to bet money with them on esports.
That will likely see more sponsorships and promotion of bigger events, and puts pressure on competitive games like Dota 2 to exceed expectations, especially after 2020 where almost all traditional sports events were canceled due to the COVID outbreak, and some turned to esports for their fix.
All in all, the industry is growing, so it’s exciting times ahead for esports fans, advertisers, teams and the tournament providers.
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