Corrections on article: “Dota 2 Majors are not guaranteed profitable events”

In my previous article: “Dota 2 Majors are not guaranteed profitable”, I highlighted the costs and challenges that Dota 2 majors face when seeking profitability for their event. The article was intended to be an information source for those interested in the business behind your favourite esports events as well as those looking to be more involved.

That said, during my recent travels to Major events, I had a wonderful time talking and receiving feedback from Major tournament organizers. We agreed on many aspects that I had previously explained but they also clarified some areas that were not true for all organizers (naturally as a lot of costs are dependent on the region and agreements between two parties).

This article hopes to display my humility in being open on what I’ve learned but also to correct the record for the sake of clarity. For the most part, the article remains accurate and reflective of how the majority, if not all, tournament organizers feel when considering the value of hosting a Dota Major.

Corrections and Clarifications

  • Uncertainty of Major Status: in my piece, I wrote about how Major status is not approved up to 3 to 6 months before the event-date. During my discussion with colleagues, they had indicated to me that, in reality, this is not as big of a challenge for tournament organizers as I may have (unintentionally implied). My intention was to highlight all potential challenges that tournament organizer’s face but did not do a decent job in prioritizing which were of major concern (beyond costs and diminishing returns year-over-year).
    • Additionally, it was not evident to me but it appears that every first DPC Major are run by PGL. This could be due to the close relationship between PGL & Valve. If the first major is communicated to PGL ahead of time and guaranteed, then the next major would be in January, plenty of time from the application date (May 1, 2019).
    • Additionally, reserving a venue does not have much or any (depending on the relationship) standing problems for a recurring tournament organizer.
    • Lastly, the concern was more towards incoming new brands to apply for Majors when they do not know if they will be considered. This is something that has been confessed to me by Western tournament organizers in the past year. That said, E-League has applied, was granted and dropped out of the DPC season, so this concern can be relatively small (for this year, they were replaced by the DreamLeague Season 11 Finals).
The upcoming dates for the DPC Season of 2019-2020 display an open slot in November then January. Last year, the PGL Major in Kuala Lumpur was the first Major. The year before was the PGL Bucharest Major.
  • MDL Major Example: In my article, I noted that Flights, Housing & Accommodations can take up to 27% of a tournament’s costs. I cited an example with the MDL Major in Paris, Disneyland. That said and despite my parenthesis that costs can vary depending on the organizer (and before group discounts and negotiations). I was not being faithful in that the MDL Major cost was much higher than traditional Dota Major events:
    • For starters, the MDL Major has an attached cost of about 4 to 4.5 million dollars (including prize-pool) – more or less double than other Majors.
    • Secondly, in partnership with Disneyland, a portion costs were covered which helps off-sets some cost concerns.
      • Majority of costs, including hotels and accommodations, were covered by MDL with no discount.
    • Thirdly, the breakdown of costs is still accurate in how they’re split. The costs, as noted for a third time, is dependent on the location and the organizer. An event in Russia or Ukraine is much, much cheaper than in Western-Europe or North American countries.
    • Lastly, Mars Media took a significant risk to deliver their event to Paris as opposed to their traditional country of China. That risk was not mitigated by Disney’s minority involvement.
Disney covering a portion or most of the costs for the MDL Major is something we touched upon by other organizations.

Reception

Reception of this article overall was very positive. While many friends and colleagues who run DPC events or are involved with Dota 2 have come forward to discuss further about this subject and changes they’d like to see or do for next year. The public has been mixed where people misunderstand healthy skepticism with cynicism and a personal vendetta. When it comes to writing these kinds of pieces, I should have done a better job highlighting my credentials, work in esports and in Dota 2 (my LinkedIn is publicly available). I was naive to assume that this would be received well by all parties but am relieved to see that the people who I respect in esports, have welcomed my article for its openness and interest in bringing the discussion to the public light.

Though under-reported in Western media, the article has been picked up by large media CIS hubs such as Dota.ru & cyber.sports.ru. I thank them for their coverage.

Though it was impossible to display everyone who spoke to me privately, publicly or simply acknowledged the article. It gave me great validation to see friends I regularly speak with openly (admittedly, on LinkedIn, which means a varying amount depending on who you are) enjoy my work. Thank you.

Conclusion

This will be my last public commentary regarding the current subject of Dota 2 Majors. The discussion regarding value of an event, risks to start a new team or considerations in a commentary career are always spoken in circles, from advocates and so-called consultants without any actual numbers behind it. This is either due to the fact that they do not know them, unsure if they can openly talk about it or if they feel secure about where their information is coming from.

In the future, I am hoping that more publicly-recognized members of this industry will speak up about how much money is truly being invested in esports and the short and long-term values that can be comfortably projected.

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