The overwhelming worldwide success of multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games has led developers and other companies to host worldwide tournaments that attract a lot of attention not only from the gaming community, but also regular “mortals” that simply want to know more about this rising phenomenon. So it does not surprise that there are always large prize pools for each significant tournament, especially the most established, like the DotA 2 Major Championship and The International, with winner prizes reaching $1,000,000 and almost $10,000,000 respectively. And those are just the prizes for the winners, with runners-up taking significant prize money as well. The prize pool for the latest International raked up to $20,000,000, and The Major Championship has a regular $3,000,000 prize pool for each tournament, giving many teams the chance to get their hands on some serious cash, not counting the endorsements.
With the DotA 2 tournaments being the best sponsored and carrying the largest prize pools, it was just a matter of time when they would branch off to a wider audience. They already had the world covered, with the Major Championship tournaments taking place all around the world and the Internationals featuring teams from all over the globe. But for a time it seemed like one particular part of the globe had been almost overseen. Namely, the Asian continent. It is safe to say that, according to stats from the official DotA 2 website, the largest player activity is on the Asian continent, mainly Southeast Asia and China in particular. So it was time to host a major event in China that would feature the best DotA 2 teams vying for a lot of cash, and which could be the next best thing at the International.
The Oriental International
The DotA 2 Asia Championship was started back in 2015, with the first inaugural tournament hosted by Perfect World and Mars Media. This tournament featured a similar format to that of Valve’s The International and thus became known as ’The International of the East’. The event featured team invitations to qualifiers, but also a crowdfunding of the prize pool, which was previously seen at the International and Major Championship. The initial prize pool was $250,000, but later increased with compendium purchases to almost $3,000,000, one of the largest DotA 2 prize pools, after the 2nd and 3rd International.
Safe to say, the DotA 2 Asia Championship garnered a lot of attention. With the qualifying rounds offering interesting matches that displayed the new DotA 2 gameplay, there was a lot of room for expansion. And let’s not forget about the location, which has been long associated with DotA 2 players. DotA 2 tournaments are common in this country, but the Asia Championships took it to another level, gaining a broad appeal among the players in the West.
Raising the Stakes
The prize pools were always one of the most coveted features of the tournaments, since you can’t really live off glory and fame. The International and Major Championships prize pools and reach ludicrous amounts, especially with almost every event being crowdfunded. Each event is supported by a compendium, which basically means that all DotA 2 players can buy digital goods and thus increase the pools for the tournaments. It is important to point out that the players who buy compendiums can decide where their money goes, which Championships receive their funds. This gives a whole new meaning to the words ‘fan service’.
While The International is hosted by the game’s creators Valve, the Asia Championships are hosted by Perfect World, which runs the Chinese DotA 2 servers. This gives Perfect World the ideal chance to offer their clientele what they seek, be it in-game access to watching the tournaments live or buying treasures, animations or other perks that come via the Compendium. Perfect World has its hand on the pulse of the players and offers exactly what players want. They are also attempting to solidify the DAC as the next-best-thing besides the International, or as the second International. The DAC is already being referred to as “The Oriental” and makes it obvious that its hosts want to establish their Championship as the Eastern International.
The Next Step
The Major Championships and the International are all mostly held in the Western hemisphere, and it often is the case that players from one team originate from the same area, or at least the same continent. This would make it look like there was a certain rivalry between the continents and cultures, with China and Southeast Asia being on one end, and North America and Europe on the other. But that is disproven by the fact that for the DotA 2 Championships Chinese teams regularly receive more invites than the rest of Southeast Asia and the West. This means that Asia has been given a “fairer” advantage over the competition because usually the Asian qualifiers have 4 times as many teams as any other continent.
This does not mean that Asia is favored by the game’s organizers, simply that recently there has been a wider interest in Asia for eSports. Another fact that adds to the widespread interest of Asians in eSports is that the 4 best ranked and most successful DotA 2 teams come from China and a Chinese team taking the overall best spot in the rankings. This means that there are a lot of eyes from all around the world focused on this particular tournament. But it’s not just fans, it’s the mainstream as well. And don’t forget the large prize pools. This proves that the Eastern DotA 2 scene does not lag behind its Western counterpart. With the rising interest in the game, the prize pools will continue to rise and so will the significance of the tournament in Asia continue to rise and make a name for itself, not just the Asian counterpart of the Western International.
What the Future Holds
To sum it all up, it is now a sure thing that the Asia Championship has become widely popular since its inception in 2015 and will continue to remain an entertaining event for all DotA 2 fans, but also gaming fans in general. With each round of the qualifiers it is obvious that the game and the players continue to evolve tremendously. The prize pools will continually keep rising each year, with the initial tournament’s prize pool being a little over $3,000,000, the winner receiving over $1,000,000, the rest being divided among the other teams according to place ranking.
The fact that Chinese internet sites have started investing their money into eSports, sponsoring teams and sometimes directly coordinating with teams, means that the money will continue to flow into the Asia Championships. This means that the sky is probably the limit for the Asia Championships and its organizers.