Dota 2’s TI10 Breaks Viewership Records for Itself and Esports Events
With the conclusion of Dota 2’s TI10, many are still riding the high coming from Team Spirit’s unexpected win at the event or finding a scapegoat in PSG.LGD’s xiao8 to explain PSG.LGD’s unexpected loss. Overall, TI10 has brought a lot of attention to Dota 2, even though the game’s player count has declined over the years, which has many fans hopeful that a Dota 2 renaissance is on the way, especially now that such a young team has won The International. What’s perhaps of great interest to casual observers are the viewership records Dota 2 has managed to break in 2021 with the broadcast of TI10, making it the most watched Dota 2 professional event in esports history. The reality is that a lot of people were watching TI10 this year.
Records Broken in Pursuit of the Aegis of Champions: How Many People Were Watching Dota 2’s TI10?
According to a blog post by Esports Charts, Team Spirit’s Cinderella story at TI10 brought tons of people in to watch the Russian rookies pursue the Aegis as they combatted some of Dota 2’s best teams.
The statistics that Esports Charts can provide do not include numbers coming from Chinese streaming platforms such as Douyu which seldom release viewership data. However, based on the information Esports Charts were able to track, TI10 set a new record for professional Dota 2 events with over 2.7 million concurrent viewers tuning in to watch the grand finals between Team Spirit and PSG.LGD. This concurrent viewership would outperform TI9’s grand finals between Team Liquid and OG.
Russian viewers contributed the most to TI10 viewership, with over 1.2 million concurrent viewers tuning into Russian-speaking streams produced by production studios such as MAINCAST or RuHub Studio, two production mainstays in the Russian Dota 2 broadcasting scene. These numbers also account for community streamers who also watched TI10’s matches with their viewers.
The record for viewership hours in CIS was also broken by TI10, peaking at 41.2 million hours watched during the event, showing an increase of 52% over the previous record for CIS. TI10 would also be the first time that peak viewership in CIS would out perform official English-language broadcasts for Dota 2. This result could likely have been influenced by a Russian team making it to the grand final of TI10, or due to the broadcast of TI10 aligning well for the schedules of those residing in the CIS region, as those living in North America had to wake up at 3:00 AM EST in order to watch TI10’s broadcast.
Dota 2’s TI10 is now considered to be the third most watched esports event in esports history, coming behind League of Legends’ 2019 and 2020 World Championship in peak viewers, hours watched, and average viewers. TI10 will possibly be eclipsed by the results of 2021 Worlds which is set to conclude soon, especially as fans gear up for the semi-finals of Worlds this weekend.
Possible Contributors to TI10’s New Viewership Records
Many are probably curious as to how these numbers were achieved with a game that seems to have declining interest in the North American market outside of diehard fans. There are a couple of key contributors that may have drawn additional eyes to Dota 2’s TI10.
Player to Viewer Conversion
Many of those who play Dota 2 often opt to skip watching professional Dota 2, due to the fact that keeping track of teams, events, and rivalries can be just as time consuming as learning how to play Dota 2. As Dota 2’s player base grows older, they have less time to dedicate to playing Dota 2, but still wish to participate in one of their favorite hobbies. Professional Dota 2 esports events can often take the place of playing Dota 2 for older fans, allowing them to engage in their favorite game in a way that’s less time consuming and less frustrating.
According to an article published by VentureBeat, millennials spend more than any other generation group on gaming content. An average of $112 a month is spent by millennials in the United States, according to the report cited in the article. Many of Dota 2’s player base are either aging millennials or older Gen Z players, who remain loyal to Dota 2 through continued patronage of creators in the space or through contributing to the prize pool of The International, which has peaked as the highest paying esports event in history according to Esports Earnings. Even though Dota 2 may not be attracting as many new players in comparison to its contributors, the existing player base have successfully converted to active viewers that feel connected to The International through their contribution to the prize pool.
Simplification of Major Events and Deferred Events
2021 saw Dota 2’s Dota Professional Circuit (DPC) expand and simplify once it was certain that TI10 would return this year. With the division of the Americas region to North and South America, Valve’s Dota 2 Majors became truly international events, and would drive compelling narratives as teams sought to qualify for TI10. With only two Major events, both organizers and viewers could reasonably schedule games that mattered as teams’ performance at both regional leagues and Majors would contribute to whether they could attend Dota 2’s biggest event of the year.
The cancellation of The International and major events in 2020 led many to be excited for their return in 2021. After a year of no notable events for Dota 2, 2021 became a significant year as fans could see their favorite teams return to compete against new and unknown opponents. Competitively, the pandemic created a soft reset for Dota 2’s professional scene as teams from smaller regions or scene would create surprise upsets at major events, or in the example of Team Spirit, win the biggest event of the professional Dota 2 season.
Overall, seeing viewership growth for Dota 2 shows that the game still has a healthy community that’s dedicated to the game, even if it’s challenging for some to play more than a game or two on the weekends. Hopefully, this increase in viewership will influence future Dota 2 events for the remainder of 2021, as well as the 2022 DPC season.