When looking at the esports landscape, Dota 2 at times seems noticeably absent among discussion.
League of Legends is the most popular game in the world. After that, Counter-Strike and Overwatch seem to be next in line. But what about Dota 2? It has the tournament with the largest prize pool in history, The International, which breaks its own record every year. And yet, Dota seems left behind in the national discussion. The trend also included the absence of many major esports organizations from owning Dota 2 teams. Many of the biggest esports organizations either left or never entered Dota 2. Jason Lake, founder of compLexity, said he doesn’t understand it.
“I’m a bit baffled by why so many top tier orgs stopped supporting Dota,” he told Slingshot last week. “I think Dota’s freaking awesome. It’s really fun to watch. It’s got a huge player base. It’s arguably more difficult to pick up than League, but to me that makes it even more exciting.”
The Dota landscape has been analyzed heavily in recent weeks, especially after a Glixel article questioned the game’s future as an esport. It has been difficult for the scene to grow evenly when TI represents such a huge chunk of a player’s prize money for the year. Lake said the addition of the Majors, which Valve implemented in late 2015, has helped.
“Back in the days where TI was the only thing Valve was really getting behind, I think that hurt the game a little bit,” he said. “Because everyone was focused on one event, and afterward the teams would just always dissolve and go their own way. It was just kind of hard to follow and hard to get excited about for many people. But that’s changed, man. The last couple of years with the Majors, they’re really exciting. They’re all around the world. I love Dota. I think it’s an amazing game, an amazing scene. I’m always shocked when I get to speak with new entrants in the scene sports teams or investors, and they’re just not really aware of Dota. This is a gigantic scene with huge viewership.”
Lake did say the winds of change are perhaps blowing — or at least starting to. Immortals CEO Noah Whinston recently told Forbes he would consider entering Dota 2 if the conditions were right for his organization. In the past year, Cloud9 returned to the game after a hiatus, and other notable orgs like Team Liquid, Natus Vincere and compLexity never left.
“We love the space,” Lake said. “We’re gonna continue to support the space as long as it’s economically viable. It’s not the cheapest game to be in, and it’s not the most recognizable game, but I think it’s a dark horse for esports. It doesn’t get enough credit. “