This is a guest contribution by Florian a long time eSports enthusiast and co-founder of Esports-betting.pro. If you would like to submit a contribution please contact Bill Beatty for submission details. Thank you.
It has been anticipated for quite a while, and a couple of days ago it happened! The prize pool of the International 2017 (aka TI7) exceeded $20,770,460, therefore setting the new all-time high in the history of eSports prize money for a single tournament. For insiders, this might not really come as a surprise, but if you are not familiar with the eSports scene, you might wonder where all this money is coming from and how it can be that the winning team, consisting of 5 players and a coach, will earn next to 10 million dollars just for playing video games for a couple of days. In this article, we will look at where the money is coming from and dive deeper into the World of competitive Dota 2 and the betting markets evolving around it.
Before we get into more details about the International 2017, let’s take a short look at Dota 2. The game is published by Valve which is probably most known for its game and software client Steam. Dota 2 got officially released in mid-2013 and is a free to play 5 vs 5 Moba (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). The goal of the game is to destroy the base and ultimately the nexus of the other team. If you want to see more, check out the video of the finals of last year’s International below.
Let’s take a closer look at what is happening at the TI7.
Like most big sports and eSports tournaments, the International is starting out with a group stage. The 18 teams, which have either been directly invited or fought their way through the qualifiers, are divided into 2 groups. After a classic double round robin running from August 2nd to August 5th, the best 16 teams advance to the playoffs where they are divided into an upper and lower bracket based on their placement in the group stage. While teams in the lower bracket are eliminated from the tournament after their first loss, teams in the upper bracket get a second chance since they are seeded into the lower bracket in case of a loss. The Playoffs (aka Main Event) of the TI7 are starting on August 7th, with the Grand Finals being played on August 12th. Like past years, the whole Main Event is played in front of live audience in the Seattle KeyArena and broadcasted via live streams on YouTube, Twitch and through the Steam client.
If you are interested in the full schedule, teams, live streams and more, take a look at this overview of the TI7 – The International 2017 (Overview here).
So where is the money coming from
At the time of writing this article, the prize pool of the International has grown to $21,710,612, and is still rising. Nearly all the prize money is coming from Dota 2 players and fans, who have bought a battle pass which comes in various price classes. Buying such a battle pass grants various Dota 2 in-game goodies in return, and gives the buyer access to special live streams, a fantasy league and betting game in the steam client. 25% of the battle pass sale prize goes towards the TI7 prize money. These fan contributions get added to the initial prize money of $1,600,000, which is sponsored by Valve. More than 20 million was added by fan contributions, which means that Valve has earned more than 80 million by selling the battle passes for the TI7. This mostly fan financed model seems quite a success, and it was picked up last year by Riot Games, the publisher of League of Legends and main competitor of Valve in the Moba business.
And how does this all relate to the gambling industry?
Dota 2 is one of the biggest eSports betting markets, so the biggest tournament of the game is also drawing a lot of interest towards betting. Millions of people all around the globe are going to watch the matches of the main event and Valve has also set up their own tipping game and fantasy draft for battle pass owners that should draw even more interest to the topic. While some bookmakers have already recognized the importance of this market, others still seem to not yet get the notice. The differences are huge: While there are big operators that have markets for outright TI7 winner since late June, others do not mention the tournament with a single word. It is worth noting that only adding odds for match winner to your markets might not be enough to attract users in 2017. The brands that really focus on eSports will offer live betting for all or most of the matches, and with all the different in-game events that can occur in a game of Dota there is room for a whole truck load of special bets as well. So yeah – it’s really going to be an exciting tournament, and the next eSports highlight can already be seen on the horizon! So as we eSports nerds say: GG and c ya next time!
About the author:
Florian was born in the early 80’s and grown up with a C64 and Amiga and a long time eSports enthusiast and co-founder of Esports-betting.pro.