Once again, we got clear confirmation that it’s not the prize pool and not even the names of the teams that make people want to watch a Dota 2 tournament. It’s the spectacle and the drama that is created when the right conditions are met.
Despite being a $1 million esports event and featuring most of the world’s best Dota teams in the world, DreamLeague S19 only had around 114.000 average concurrent viewers. At its peak, the Grand Final between Gaimin Gladiators and Team Liquid, won by Gladiators with a score of 3-2, had 268.000 viewers.
268K Peak Viewers on DreamLeague Season 19 (3rd of Group Stage). @TeamLiquid vs @GaiminGladiator is the most popular match of the event. @ESLDota2
More stats of #DreamLeague:https://t.co/5OjQRXKshF pic.twitter.com/GBqsxJMTEf
— Esports Charts 🇺🇦 (@EsportsCharts) April 23, 2023
What went wrong
The main reason why so few people cared about this tournament probably has to do with the fact that it took place online. Not even the playoffs stage, which featured just four teams, didn’t take place in an arena.
We know from the 2020-2022 experience that Dota 2 fans care a lot less about the games when they do not take place at a LAN event. People are desensitized to seeing the world’s best players competing for large amounts of money and they’re even more desensitized to watching them compete online.
In Dota 2, you can watch online matches all the time. The game has a special feature that allows you to follow your favorite players every single day. You can also watch replays in the same manner. So the only added value of a tournament like DreamLeague S19 is the team versus team aspect.
Instead of watching top players competing in pubs, you get to watch them competing as part of a well-organized team. Other than that, there’s nothing new to see.
Based on Escharts’ statistics, there was hardly any viewership difference between the first match of the lower bracket, which took place between Tundra Esports and Shopify Rebellion, and the Grand Final. The latter had just 14.000 more viewers at its peak than the former.
See you at Riyadh Masters!!!!!!#ESLProTour #RiyadhMasters
Best team of the world.
Congratulations to our Gladiators:@Seleri4096 @tOfuDota2 @AceDota @dyrachyoo @ccncdota2 @cydota2
LET'S GO GG!! pic.twitter.com/vqdzpAI8LX
— GG | Gaimin Gladiators ⚔️ (@GaiminGladiator) April 23, 2023
Dota 2 is naturally a very exciting game to play and watch. There are lots of things happening almost every minute, so it’s hard to get bored. But the audience is already saturated with online Dota 2 because Valve gives everyone the possibility to spectate matches at all times.
This may have a positive effect on some aspects of the game’s community, but it’s certainly hurting the esports side. Or at least, it’s forcing tournament organizers to think twice before offering large prize pools for purely online events.