Problems plaguing Dota 2 esports end with The International

April 7, 2021 | 0 | 64| |

The ONEEsports Singapore Major came to an end with Invictus Gaming claiming a near-miraculous victory over Evil Geniuses. The win grants the Chinese team 500 Dota Pro Circuit points and most likely a slot at The International. 

Valve announced the resumption of the Dota Pro Circuit 2021 with two Majors leading up to the International. The number of Majors has come down from three to two this year. This increases the value of each Dota 2 Major immensely. The new Dota Pro Circuit aims to aid tier 2 and tier 3 teams, but there are still glaring problems with its current format, prize pool distribution and lastly, The International.

Problems with the Dota Pro Circuit

Prize pool

Team Liquid won The International 2017. Image Credit: Team Liquid.

The ONEEsports Singapore Major had a $500,000 prize pool. However, the bulk of the prize money went to the top-placed teams at the Major. Invictus Gaming won $200,000 and EG won $100,000. However, eight of the sixteen teams did not earn any money. Despite traveling across the world, there were several teams that actually left Singapore without seeing a single dollar. The lack of prize money and no Dota Pro Circuit points is a sore sticking point for several teams.

Eight teams received no prize money despite attending a LAN event in Singapore. Screengrab via

It’s not like Valve does not have money. Every year, the battle pass contributes upwards of a hundred million dollars to the game developer. 25% of this amount is returned to the community in the form of prize money. Of course Valve also spends heavily on the International. However, it seems difficult to understand why Valve cannot redistribute some amount of this humungous prize pool to help tier 2 and tier 3 teams that qualified to the Major. Dota 2 teams pay for the travel costs to the Major. In the case of the Singapore Major, eight teams went back without any earnings.


Invictus Gaming reverse swept Evil Geniuses to win ONeesports Singapore Major. Image Credit: Invictus Gaming.

In a recent blog post, Team Secret coach, Lee “Heen” Seung Gon brought up the issue of the Major’s format. 

If anything, having more slots for all the regions will do more for the tier 2-3 scene than what’s being done now. In most regions, the fact that you can’t make it to a Major qualifies you as a tier 2 team at best worldwide. Lower-division is tier 3-4 minus certain teams that made a new stack to register themselves into the system which is also not what we mean when we are discussing genuine tier 2-3 up and coming teams. The current system of bottom 2 upper-division teams having to give up their slots to the top 2 lower-division teams is still stupid. We’re in the business of competition. Earn your spot like everyone else.

The ONEEsports Singapore Major saw Thunder Predator and NEON esports reach the top six. They defeated teams such as Fnatic, Team Liquid, Vici Gaming and more en route to a top-six finish. The Team Secret coach makes a case for more slots at the Major. This would allow lower-tier teams to compete with the best teams in the world. As of right now, not qualifying to a Dota 2 Major can put a tier 2 tag on a team. However, as NEON and Thunder have shown us, being a tier 2 team does not necessarily mean you cannot be competitive against the top teams in the world. 

The International is a problem

The International boasts the biggest prize pool in esports, but is causing problems within Dota 2 esports. Image Credit: Forbes

Dota 2 remains a game with a heavy focus on The International. The entire Dota Pro Circuit emphasizes the value of The International. All Majors provide Dota Pro Circuit points that serve as qualification points towards the International. 

There are 2 Majors to secure your spot in TI, yet each of these Majors accounts for like literally 1-2% of the TI prize pool. That is not healthy. I don’t even know where to begin with teams being able to ruthlessly kick players who are basically fucked if they don’t picked up by another capable team. No open qualifiers by the way.


However, Dota 2 Major prize pool is just 1-2% of the TI prize pool. Such a lopsided prize pool distribution is unhealthy Heen lists out a few examples of how players are left in the dumpsters by organizations chasing glory at the International. 

The Dota Pro Circuit needs many changes, but it all starts with a change to the perception about The International. The annual event is by far the biggest advertisement Valve has done for its MOBA, but it is also a big source of revenue for the game developer. Dota 2 esports can thrive without the International; however, do we really need to be the esport with the highest prize pool? Does this achievement offset the decline in tier 2 and tier 3 Dota 2? It’s a question for Valve and hopefully, the game sees some changes to its esports circuit this year. 

Featured Image Credit: Esportsinsider.
The author

Esports journalist. An esports fan, former wannabe pro and occasional angry young man. You can find him trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR or just chilling in Rocket League. Or maybe building an entire city in Cities: Skylines. The current mood is always a surprise.

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