As South American team Swageinteiger charged toward the top tower of North America’s Pretty Boy Swag in the climactic Game 5 of the Dota 2 Canada Cup, the hopes of thousands of South American fans went with them.
They pushed toward the tower and wiped all five PBS players off the map, prompting the American team to “GG” and concede the match. As the Ancient exploded, the Twitch chat erupted with dozens, maybe hundreds, of fans shouting nothing but, “BRRRRRRAASSSSIIIIIILLL!!!!”
This moment of deep national pride may never have been possible without the Dota 2 client, which allows small event organizers and teams all over the world to easily organize and broadcast events while generating income through ticket sales.
No other game gives organizers the ability to set up a tournament, broadcast directly to fans, make money from tickets, and even allow fans to view games as an in-game spectator with full access to camera controls and multiple perspectives. Most events are still free to view on Twitch, but buying a ticket gives viewers the ability to watch from inside the game as you zoom in on an important fight or follow the every move of your favorite player.
As a result, it’s very easy for a tournament organizer with no money or experience to set up an event for local players and broadcast it around the world. This can be the catalyst that sparks interest in competitive Dota 2 in the regional or local scenes. These local scenes may be small, but they may also prove to be just as important to the future of eSports as the million dollar prize pools at eSports’ biggest events. They’re the place that eSports can build grassroots support and stars can get their first taste of competition.
“Right now, we’re really small,” said Suhair Jamal, the organizer of the Bahrain Dota 2 League held in the tiny Middle Eastern nation of Bahrain. “We started off with a LAN tournament, but I thought there must be a way to make it live and sell tickets. So I got in touch with Steam support, and they guided me through it. Turns out it’s quite easy actually.”
Dozens of Dota 2 tournament organizers all over the world are coming to the same conclusion, and similar tournaments are popping up in places like Chile, Brazil, Hungary, Peru, the Philippines, Serbia, Romania and Sri Lanka. Not exactly the usual suspects when it comes to the eSports business.
Once tournament organizers have learned to set up a local tournament, and have generated interest in their local scene, they can even begin to scale up their operation by adding in perks. Some tournaments, for instance, offer in-game items as rewards for buying a ticket. Normally a ticket to view a small local event is about $0.99, but if a tournament organizer can work with a designer to create a special reward like a courier or ward skin then the price can be many times higher. Often the tournament organizer will stipulate that a portion of these sales be shared with the players as part of the prize pool, making it a boon for both the organizer and the teams that play.
This gives fans a chance to watch a fun tournament, get a cool item, and support eSports players at the same time by enhancing their winnings. It has proven incredibly popular with Dota fans. The recent Starladder Starseries tournament in Kiev added over $80,000 to their prize pool through bundling a character skin with the ticket sale.
A Taste of the Big Time
Selling tickets to viewers around the world is certainly great for exposure and supporting the players, but it’s also about giving local scenes a chance to brew their own talent and generate interest locally.
“My friend and I, we kept discussing that we have to do something because nobody does any events in this region,” said Jamal. “Jordan, the north Arabian country, has a huge lineup of pro players. They’ve got players who have played Starseries, and I wondered why nobody ever plays their own region.”
Swageinteiger gained a great deal of exposure from their aforementioned upset of the North Americans in the finals of the Dota 2 Canada Cup. The team’s support player Danilo “Nedbone” da Silva said their team’s Facebook page ended up with 4,000 Facebook “Likes” in a single day after their victory. These are crucial moments for teams to build the fanbase they need to attract sponsors and continue playing and one day reach the level of international pros like The Alliance and Team DK.
“On our Facebook page our fans were cheering for us to go to The International 4, they’re crazy,” said Nedbone. “I’m not sure what they’d do if we went to TI4, they’d probably buy every ticket possible to go there and watch us. We’re very proud of that. It’s awesome for us. We haven’t had a Brazilian team do well in forever. This is like the first team from Brazil representing in front of the whole world.”
And while Swageinteiger is now practicing hard so they can make a run at qualifying for The International 4 later this year, Dota 2 is continuing to pave the way for other young teams to have their own chance at eSports glory, starting right at home.
Team-Lunatic took home the top prize in the Bahrain Dota 2 League over the Saudi Gaming Squad, and thanks to a great set of tools that is taking eSports’ growth into its own hands, they just might one day get a chance to compete at a bigger local tournament similar to the Dota 2 Canada Cup. And, who knows, maybe one day they’ll play for national pride at The International. Anything seems possible when the community is so fully supported.
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