Even with all the competition to be had at this year’s The International, the biggest news coming out of the event may prove to be a dramatic overhaul of next year’s Dota 2 pro circuit.
Beginning in October, the biggest Dota 2 tournaments will be split between two classifications: majors and minors. Major events will be sponsored by Valve and will feature pools of at least $1 million. Minors will have $300,000 prize pools for competing teams, with the exception of one ESL event in January set to offer $400,000.
The split between major and minor tournaments will have a number of effects on the competitive Dota 2 landscape.
Streamlining the schedule
Most importantly, the circuit change makes it very clear exactly when each event will take place and how much money will be on offer. This ought to alleviate the common complaint from teams that it’s difficult to schedule their tournament calendars and decide which events to attend.
Fans will also have an easier time choosing which events to follow and watch. Major tournaments are clearly laid out through the year, giving spectators who most want to see matches with big prizes ease of planning.
Providing opportunities for lower-ranked teams
Without standardized salaries from Valve, many players and teams trying to climb the ranks of Dota 2 rely on prize money as a significant source of income. This is difficult when the top few teams in each region tend to dominate that region’s tournaments.
The world’s biggest teams are now likely to focus primarily on majors, meaning smaller teams will have greater opportunities for success at minor events. They’ll also have a chance to play on bigger stages and potentially draw more fans, creating a more balanced and ultimately healthier ecosystem.
A more reliable betting and trading structure
Dota 2 is one of the most popular esports betting options given its massive in-game inventory of digital goods. Just as the new schedule will help pro players and fans, bettors will also benefit from the newfound consistency. Item trade market vacillations could become more reliable, and bettors will know exactly when the stakes will be highest and the opportunities biggest.
All in all, it’s a promising shift from Valve, which has often preferred a hands-off approach to the esports communities surrounding its games. All that’s left to do now is watch it all play out.