BTS and DC Have The Best Parts of the $40 Million Dota 2 Ticket Industry Pie

As Dota 2 rose in popularity, more and more people tried to start their own casting team and studio to get a piece of the pie. But in recent times, organizations like JoinDota have become increasingly archaic as Beyond The Summit and DotaCinema claim victory. While Dota 2 expands across the board with incredibly revenues.

If we go back to The International 2, you’ll find that a lot of the casters are no longer leading the charge in the scene. Ayesee is currently casting Dota 2 League Season 5, which has struggled to sell any tickets. While Luminous, Draskyl, and Tobiwan aren’t looking so hot right now either. While Slesh, well, I never really liked his casting anyway. But let me explain why I’m calling the win for BTS and DC.

How Big Is The Industry?

I’ve heard some people complain about there being too many tournaments, but I disagree. I think the problem is that as you get more tournaments, people have a choice, and they end up choosing the product they believe to be superior. AKA, the crappy and/or undesirable tournaments get left in the corner. This isn’t there being too many tournaments, this is simply consumer desires rejecting poor products. We end up with Amazon’s Fire Phones of the Dota world.

If we look at money spent on BTS and DC tournaments in November alone, we’re just shy of a million dollars with revenues of 900k (USD). In October, there was 700k of revenue, and for both of these months I’m only looking at these two tournaments. The Dota 2 ticket industry is on target to hit around 40 million dollars this year alone. That’s 40 million dollars being spent on tickets via the Dota 2 shop in 2014, with about 10 million of it going towards prize pools. While most of this 40 million is Valve’s International, a solid 3-4 million is still going elsewhere. Although primarily to BTS and DC, which is incredibly important. Note that if item sales were included, I can easily see Dota 2 earning over 80 million in revenue for this year, but item data is much harder to come by. But 80 million is a safe estimate.

Ticket competition heats up at The Summit

Beyond The Summit

BTS held the first The Summit in June this year, and it went well. Starting with a base prize pool of 80k, before being raised to 130k by the community via ticket sales. The tournament was enjoyable with a good take on production value. There were ‘In-booth’ cams akin at The International, while also having a friendly talkative atmosphere and couch with the players, and various other cameras and content throughout the tournament. Evil Geniuses took home first place, but BTS were the true winners.

Fast forward to November, and The Summit 2 is in full swing, with the LAN finals starting in a few days time. While the original Summit only raised 50k, which was not even double, The Summit 2 has already increased the base 100k to an incredible 300k. The prize pool has tripled, and is likely to go even higher as there is normally a boost in ticket sales as the LAN starts.

Dota Cinema

Dota Cinema managed to snag Synderyn in time for their first tournament; the Captain’s Draft Invitational around February this year. Synderyn was well received as a player-turned-caster at TI2, but it took a while for him to end up as a ‘full-time’ caster. He was paired with Fail’s of the Week familiar Sunsfan, and they ended up following a incredibly similar path that The Summit took. Starting with a base pool of 20k, it was raised to 38k by the community, just short of doubling. The tournament was unique, humorous, and very enjoyable.

Right now the sequel tournament is being played, also in the Captain’s Draft game-mode. Starting out with 50k, it has already over 250k. That’s a quintupled prize pool, and the same 200k raised by the community that The Summit 2 has achieved thus far. And of course, both these tournaments are still ongoing, and likely to increase in success.

I Choose You, Sunsfanflora

Everybody Else

If we look at the other tournaments, you’ll notice vastly different community response: they aren’t ‘Beyond the Cinema’. Dreamleague Season 2 increased the base 100k, to only 114k. D2L Season 5 has improved 50k to only 58k. Even Starladder S11 has done incredibly worse than S9 and S10, with 80k going to 110k. The Summit 2 earnt more in it’s first 2 days, than Starladder has in its current 16 day run. While DC did it in 12 hours. BTS and DotaCinema hit the ground running as soon as they went on sale, where as other tournaments trod along at a rate slower than Crystal Maiden.

But Why?

To keep things shorter, I will probably go more in depth about why in a future article. But the primary reason is that both BTS and DC are able to create a positive and aesthetic tournament, that are both unique and vastly enjoyable. Synd and Suns have a rapport that is hugely attractive to an English speaking consumer. Far more so than 5 guys talking over eachother and yelling ‘wow’, or consistently getting Rocket Barrage and Battery Assault confused. If Syn and Suns make a mistake, their rapport gets them through it and oddly enough, often adds to the cast. BTS as described a few paragraphs up, are able to create a more serious, but equally unique and enjoyable product. Every studio/company will always have some viewers by their side, loving the way they’ve set up shop, but shifts in the market alongside clever business practices have catapulted BTS and DC into the lead.

Both companies are able to deliver a product that stands out from the crowd. A tournament is no longer simply hosting the event, you have to own the day. Deliver with booth cams, tub interviews, interaction with players, humorous moments, alternative game-modes, in-game cosmetics, compendiums and then some. Tournaments are no longer about just the games, but a series of events and experiences that thrust them in front of the riffraff. Casters are just one piece of the puzzle, and ultimately it doesn’t matter if everyone knows your name, what matters is delivering a product that people are willing to buy.

At the end of the Dota day when Nightstalker comes out to play, I tend to find that the scene is thriving. Ticket Sales make tournaments happen, so using them to judge the success of tournament is far easier than adding viewer numbers from 5 different locations/websites over the course of 50 different games. You may get a few viewers on stream when no one else is playing, but if you fail to convert popularity and desire into a ticket purchase, then you are falling behind the frontrunners.

DotaCinema are likely to hold another two tournaments next year, and The Summit 3 and 4 are planned either side of The International during Feb-April and September-December respectively. With BTS and DC owning the night (like the fourth of July), it’s entirely possible for well known names and organizations to fall by the wayside. Who knows what the future holds, or where the meepos will fall.


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Note that sponsor titles and stylized names have been removed/normalized in this article. All money is in USD.

3 thoughts on “BTS and DC Have The Best Parts of the $40 Million Dota 2 Ticket Industry Pie

  1. BTS has the best combination of intelligence and presence of all the casting studios. Merlini is the smartest caster, hands down; locking him down on BTS was an incredible win. And unlike GDStudio, you can hit up twitch and 50/50 you’re going to see a BTS stream running. And they cover all regions, not just EU/NA gaming.

  2. How do you justify ticket sales growing at a faster rate than the number of players playing the game? Do you have historical ticket sales data?

  3. Pingback: Dota in 2014 | Zota

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