Dota goes big in 2014
May 15, 2014 4:51 PM   Subscribe

Valve's annual Dota 2 championship was record breaking last year. It took 3 months to raise the prize pool by a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding from 1.6 million USD to 2.8 million USD. This year it took a little more than 1 week to raise the prize pool from the same 1.6 million USD to 5 million USD. And the tournament will only start in mid July. At this rate, even if the winners had never won cash before (and assuming they will the take half of the total money), they will become the highest earner in esports of all time.
posted by bdz (24 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
<3 doto

Playing and watching esports with my lil bro in Seattle keeps us in touch.
posted by jjmoney at 4:55 PM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just so long that this time they don't repurpose TF2 servers into DOTA2 ones.
posted by JHarris at 5:16 PM on May 15, 2014

Twitch is a cesspool of DoTa and LoL. And, god help me, Heathstone. Why won't these awful games die?

I don't get it. How do these games affect Twitch? The only cesspool I've noticed is Twitch chat, and that's always been unbearable. Is it that otherwise good streamers abandon worthwhile games in favor of popular ones, similar to how YouTube gaming channels, once they play Minecraft*, are cursed to forever play Minecraft? I know a few StarCraft personalities switched to LoL, but I haven't particularly missed them.

*nothing wrong with Minecraft, it's just insanely ubiquitous.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 5:23 PM on May 15, 2014

I've been paying attention to video games for, basically, ever, and I can't tell if it is the time-compression that comes with getting older, but watching MOBAs quickly ascend to the throne of eSports and bringing the very concept of eSports to prominence in the West in a way that RTSes never could has been amazing. I've never actually seen anything like it; hell the term "MOBA" wasn't around until 2009 if Wikipedia is to be believed.

I don't even play the damn games. I can barely figure out what's going on when I watch the occasional Twitch stream. But that doesn't matter, because the other day I was watching some high school kid on the bus with an iPad alternating between a DOTA forum and a huge chunk of DOTA-related text and a notebook full of copious handwritten notes in his lap. And the fact that people are getting that deep into the mechanics of a complex system at such a young age is really great to see.
posted by griphus at 5:56 PM on May 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

This is a genre of games that I've dipped my toe into a couple of times, but just could never figure out, and the reputation they have (despite the hard work their developers have done to create systems to weed out the worst of it) for abusive, internet-shouty players has kind of kept me away. Also the fact that you have to be really smart and dedicated and willing to memorize just crazy amounts of info (as I understand it, at least) to be even marginally competitive, and, well, my brain doesn't work as well as it used to.

But they are, by most measures, the most-played games around, at least in terms of multiplayer numbers, so it feels kind of weird running a small network of gaming sites and never having really spent time with them.

Ah well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:57 PM on May 15, 2014

Turn off the chats in the game and it's like playing with idiot bots. Granted that cuts down on some of the coordination required but it makes them way more playable.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:31 PM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

"MOBAs" interested me when I encountered them, but to be honest they hit after my reflexes started to diminish. (I used to play twitch FPS games, but the intervening years have not been kind to me.)
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:51 PM on May 15, 2014

Turn off the chats in the game and it's like playing with idiot bots. Granted that cuts down on some of the coordination required but it makes them way more playable.

With the degree of coordination and communication the game requires to be played well, the best way to enjoy Dota is with a regular group. I find my enjoyment of a match is inversely proportionate to the number of strangers on my team.
posted by Reyturner at 6:59 PM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

A buddy of mine works for an esports channel, and he is flabbergasted by the popularity of dota2.

[insert Half-Life 3 derail here]
posted by infinitewindow at 7:08 PM on May 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sonic Meat Machine, the good news is that MOBAs are probably the least demanding of the real-time games you could play and a better choice of game as we age (I passed 30 some time back... sigh). I certainly found them to be much less demanding than FPS or RTS games because you only need to control 1 character and pinpoint aiming isn't required. Conversely, MOBA's have a much higher "social strategy" component because you're trying to mentally predict the actions of 9 other players in the game, and this is something that definitely benefits older / more mature players. I play a decent amount (my account records 1000 games played over 3.5 years) and I'm in the top 3% of all players in my region, so my decline isn't so severe... yet

As an interesting digression, here's a comprehensive study of age related deterioration in reflex time. I am in particular awe of how they came up with this methodology - usually reflex studies are very expensive and time consuming to conduct and it's difficult to get good samples. I'll summarize this study - the way they did it, was measure what they called "looking-doing" latency in Starcraft, where during a course of a game, players would commonly switch views by clicking on the mini-map, which presents them a screenful of new information: they would take that information in, process it, and issue orders to their units on the screen. The latency between switching views and giving the first order is taken as a proxy for reflex time. (looking, processing, acting). Most importantly, this data can be extracted automatically from replay files, so all they needed to do was gather thousands of replays and tag them by player age and skill level. Higher skill levels had lower latency, and all skill levels display deterioration in reflex time after the age of 24. The deterioration however, is not overly significant (it would at most push you one "bracket" which is roughly 20 percentile points) and they found older players compensated for this by making smarter moves - more reliant on hotkeys, etc.

I'm definitely slower than I used to be, but I'd like to think I'm a hell of a lot smarter =P
posted by xdvesper at 7:24 PM on May 15, 2014 [8 favorites]

That sounds about right xdvesper. I don't know how good my reflexes are compared to when I was younger, but last time I checked I was (discarding hacked scores) 19th in the world at Steam Pac-Man CE DX on the default Championship II board, at the age of 41, and sometimes I would be tops in the weekly high score race for iPad Pac-Man CE. And the best classic arcade players tend to be older. I wouldn't doubt there's some reflex decay, but I think it's less than people assume.
posted by JHarris at 7:41 PM on May 15, 2014

Oh man, I am in so deep in this stuff. I never really enjoyed sports that much, but there's something really special about watching people play a game that looks exactly the same that is like catnip for me. When you play baseball as a kid, or flag football or whatever, it's like a sort of false reflection of the real thing. You can sort of pretend, but it's a little hard to sustain. But with games like Dota, the visual experience of a player is identical. When you see a pro player do something slick, all you want to do is go do that yourself.

It's sort of hard to capture why this game is so incredible, but it's turned me from someone who plays games generally into someone who plays basically only Dota and I have no regrets. When I think about how I spend my leisure time, it's hard to find anything that I ever enjoy more than Dota in terms of challenge, novelty, learning new things, and a sense of accomplishment.

So yeah, if you think this is something you might enjoy or in any way captures your imagination, you should give it a shot! I love to help people learn, too, so if you ever want a quick intro, shoot me a me-mail and I'm happy to orient you. There's a decent coaching system built in, too, for talking through what's going on in a game with someone looking over your shoulder.
posted by heresiarch at 8:14 PM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's not my nearly-50 reflexes I'm losing (they're still pretty damned good), but it's my ability (and partly my desire, which is waning) to Think Hard in gaming contexts. I have too little time to play these days, and mostly, for me at least, it's just about having some short-burst low-complexity relaxation funtimes with fellow MefightClub members. Hell, more than WASD and space and maybe a couple other keys at most, and my temporary buffers are full and my eyes go wobbly.

I love to help people learn, too, so if you ever want a quick intro, shoot me a me-mail and I'm happy to orient you.

Or, heresiarch included, stop by MFC and join our dozens (hundreds?) of MOBA afficionados (and also find nice people to play with, rather than mean ol' pubbies)!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:24 PM on May 15, 2014

This is a genre of games that I've dipped my toe into a couple of times, but just could never figure out, and the reputation they have ... for abusive, internet-shouty players has kind of kept me away. Also the fact that you have to be really smart and dedicated and willing to memorize just crazy amounts of info

Ditto this. I remember back in 2007 starting Eve and quitting after a couple of days as it was too much to take in. I looked at the DOTA wiki page and it looks like the same style as TF2... very involved, lots of action, and I wouldn't know where to start in either. And if I even suspect I'm going to end up in a match with a bunch of shouty 12-year olds, I'm not gonna play it, period.

Maybe I'm an outlying demographic, but after putting in a hard day of work I just want to kick back, open a beer, and play something multiplayer but low-key, something I can walk away from for a few minutes to tend to IRL stuff without a team going into panic from me missing. Something I can jump away from when I get bored and jump back into later. Nothing I've seen yet has done a good job filling this niche except Minecraft, but that's getting old, though I enjoy the people I meet on the 18+ servers.

I guess I'm derailing a bit from DOTA, which I'm sure is good for that kind of genre, but what you said kind of resonated with me.
posted by crapmatic at 8:54 PM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Whelp, since this is about TI4, I may as well summarize the teams invited so far.

Tier 1 (proven teams, stable roster)

1) Na'VI - They won TI1, and placed second at both TI2 and TI3.
2) IG - They won TI2, and placed fifth at TI3
3) Alliance - They won TI3

Tier 2 (strong teams)

4) DK - They've never had a good finish but they've been doing well this year after the post TI3 reshuffle. With the dissolution of all the top SEA teams, DK managed to pick up the star players from Orange and Scythe (Mushi and Iceiceice) who are arguably the two most technically proficient players in the world - in the 1v1 tournament at TI3, Mushi and Iceiceice placed 1st and 2nd.
5) Fnatic - After dominating the competitive scene in HON they made the switch to DOTA2 last year and managed an 8th place finish, they continue to be a strong tier 2 team.

Tier 3 (untested)

Newbee / Titan / Cloud 9 / Empire / Vici Gaming / Evil Geniuses are all relatively new or teams with significant roster changes from before and so are unknown quantities.

The competition is still wide open for anyone to win at this point, which is what makes it so interesting.
posted by xdvesper at 9:41 PM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

And the best classic arcade players tend to be older.

Because only old farts play those games, granddad.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:03 AM on May 16, 2014

Old farts are the best farts, whippersnapper.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:14 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

"Dota goes big in 2014"

I don't know, my DBA friends seem to have been talking about big dota for several years now.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:24 AM on May 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


(Loved it, Joakim.)
posted by kmz at 6:23 AM on May 16, 2014

Ugh. I tried LoL back in the day, and didn't like it, due to the juvenile attitude of most players. Then DotA2 came out, I refused, but downloaded it a month or two ago. Tried it against the bots, figured, well, at least I can learn how it works, and not judge it by the player base.

Sadly I hate it. I like SC2 much more.

It just seems sooooo slow. Moving is slow. Getting up to any fucking pace to do shit is slow. And I don't level my toon very fast, and by level 4-6 I'm pretty much not up to the level of the mobs/AI.

Mostly I like faster moving objects right off the bat.
posted by symbioid at 7:35 AM on May 16, 2014

Oh man just played an epic 56-minute nailbiter base-race where the other team had megacreeps and a Bounty Hunter dismantling our towers. They couldn't stop our push thanks in part to me keeping everyone alive, love playing Omniknight. Would love to meet more players, but only with the understanding that I pretty much suck. I play for fun, no prize millions yet.

As someone who was always more excited by Warcraft 2&3 than Starcraft, DOTA2 is really more my flavor of RTS. SC keeps being made into a faster, breezier game and has suffered on the strategy end of things immensely. I like the roleplaying elements mixed in with heroes and leveling with WC/DOTA. DOTA2 has a ridiculous learning curve that rewards experience, teamwork, and strategy. Some heroes really rely on twitch and micro to be good, but others require understanding the rhythm of the game, positioning, and macro awareness.

The amounts of prize money being offered up are pretty staggering and will only grow with the game.
posted by Locobot at 9:02 AM on May 16, 2014

Great post! I'm particularly struck by the earnings report you posted. Here's a second source for LoL prize earnings, btw, the data is roughly in line.

These reports are low for League of Legends though in that they only show prize money. LoL players also get regular salaries (rumored to be subsidized by the game publisher Riot). Sponsorship money is also significant, as is ad revenue from Twitch streams. There's rumors that Chinese players are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for sponsorship related to their live game streams. European player Ocelote bragged to a newspaper "I earn more than 600.000 €/year playing videogames".

I've gotten pretty in to watching LoL as a sport. Riot has done an excellent job packaging the game for viewers, with excellent sportscasting and production values. The DotA 2 events are also hugely exciting and I think what Valve is doing bringing players into funding the prize pool is brilliant. I never really "got" sports before, but watching LoL is a lot of fun for me because I play it a little myself and can understand what's going on.

The MOBA genre is fun to play. The communities are indeed awful, I can only play LoL with liberal use of the mute feature. But the team game itself is a lot of fun and quite interesting and complex. My brief experience with DotA 2 is that it's even more complex which for me is probably a bad thing. Blizzard's new Heroes of the Storm is just now in early alpha and so far is playing like a simpler, more casual-friendly MOBA. I suspect that will find a big market.
posted by Nelson at 9:54 AM on May 16, 2014

That earnings report is of all time, though? So, the newer games that have such a high amount seem to have eclipsed the old games, right? That is, Jaedong's BW is cumulative over many many years, whereas the DOTA2 is pretty damn recent so a lot more in a shorter amount of time, yeah?

I think I am looking forward to HotS, and I am just, in general, a huge Blizzard fan (even though they've fucked up a lot since Activision bought them, they still seem to come around). I think if there is a MOBA I might get into it'd be that... Mostly because it's not just another DOTAlike.

Frankly, what would give me a pure orgasm is POWERSTONE ONLINE! Can you imagine. Oh My God. OK. Anyways.

I wish I could play, and play well, because the money is insane, but I know that it takes a lot lot lot of time and practice, and I'm not very good with teamwork. I tend to play even my MMOs solo, grouping now and then, but in the end... I'm just not really into team sports, so I guess for me, I'll just sit in my house like a loser and only wish I could make phat cash from playing LOL...
posted by symbioid at 10:18 AM on May 16, 2014

I found a bit of information on League of Legends salaries. It's $350,000 / year for each team's salary, plus travel and housing stipends. That's guaranteed income, not prize money. Overall Riot seems to be spending at least $8M / year on their pro player league.
posted by Nelson at 10:20 AM on May 21, 2014

« Older Smell Those Douglas Firs, Diane....   |   The largest elections in Human history Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments