Considering Valve, the Americas, and tournaments for 2020

By Chelsea JackOctober 18, 2020
With multiple tournaments popping up to fill out the calendar for the rest of the year in the Americas, it certainly looks like Valve has followed through on the promise to reach out to organizers to help out struggling regions. Are these events enough, and how does the tournament schedule compare to earlier in the year?

COVID-era events in the Americas

To set the stage, let's take a look at earlier in the year because certainly there have been some events in North and South America.
Across the two regions, from March until the end of September, there were 19 tournaments with prize money worth $3,000 USD or more. The prize money from those events totaled $498,500. Keep in mind that ESL One Germany is running right now in Europe/CIS, and it's worth $400,000 alone.
Of the Americas events, seven events were South American specific, while nine were for both regions. A paltry two were for the North American regions, and these were run by organizers who twinned them with a South American region event.
It's difficult to compare this to a "normal" year. Consider that, before quarantines due to the pandemic shut down LANs, there were the Dota Pro Circuit events with prize pools of $1,000,000 and $300,000 for Majors and Minors, respectively. Four teams from the Americas attended DreamLeague Season 13 in January, bringing home $225,000 combined. Two Dota 2 Minors and WePlay!'s Mad Moon tournament in February were each worth $300,000. These saw another 1-3 teams apiece from the region attend each event.
This all sets aside the implied stability that the new-format Dota Pro Circuit for 2020-2021 was going to provide, with ongoing regional leagues at two levels of competition.
And The International 10. That's a big exclamation mark at the end of the season, with more than $40,000,000 at stake. Multiple teams from the Americas would have attended. Now, this event only rewards the top eighteen teams in the world, and there are entire other conversations to be had about The International's effect on the Dota 2 economy.

You get a tournament, you get a tournament, everybody gets a...

Valve wrote in a blog post on September 4, "we’ve started reaching out to many more tournament organizers to offer help and financial support in order to be able to create increased coverage globally for the remainder of the year."
After a month with no news, it wasn't easy to keep faith that Valve was making headway.
But! Look! Tournament announcements a-plenty!
South American tournament organizer Live Media announced that they would host two tournaments for South American teams worth $45,000 USD with Valve's support. The first is already underway, Movistar Pro Liga Gaming Season 6.
With Valve's support, Beyond the Summit is hosting a three-region version of Dota Summit 13. With a total of $250,000 on the line across all the regions, we don't know yet what the distribution will be between Europe/CIS, Southeast Asia, and the Americas.
We also know 4D Esports will run a $75,000 tournament for South America called Realms Collide: the Burning Darkness. This is another iteration in their Realms Collide series and will have the largest prize pool for a South American region-only Dota 2 tournament so far.

Is it enough?

The short answer here is no, this is not enough. South America is undoubtedly feeling the Valve love right now. How far down the prize pool amounts will trickle is unclear just yet, but the top teams will benefit from this influx of opportunity. There will be increased exposure for, at the least, regional sponsors, which is a positive outcome for everyone. Teams rely on sponsorships as a big piece of their revenue.
However, North American teams are currently looking at Dota Summit 13 as their only tournament on the schedule this year.
Even without knowing the exact prize pool, it's clear this single event won't be enough for players without the support of an organization to support themselves for any length of time financially. And the not-knowing about what's coming next for the region can only hurt players seeking organizational support. We know that there will be The International 10 at some point in the future, that we will see global LANs again, and that the exposure and opportunity for organizations will be there. But it's hard to deny that there's a significant financial investment required to pay and support players on an ongoing basis and limited opportunity right now for a return on that investment.
The only active team organization in North America is, theoretically at least, Evil Geniuses. They played their last tournament in Europe, however. Recently, organization CR4ZY dropped their esports teams, including their promising Dota 2 team, leaving the region pretty barren.
Check out "What's wrong with the NA Dota 2 scene?" for more thoughts on why this region is so difficult for Dota 2.

Where do we go from here?

Hopefully, we'll see more North American events announced and that we start to hear about how 2021 will kick-off across all regions in the weeks ahead.
Valve stepping in with regional leagues, providing regular exposure and a decent prize pool for the teams, could be the solution that we require. Still, Valve's already expressed hesitation about diluting the connection between this type of event, intended for the DPC, and The International. Perhaps, over time, Valve's concerns about branding will lessen as the North American Dota 2 scene's shaky condition becomes clearer, and the need for longer-term solutions is more prominent?
Regardless, let's enjoy the events that are on the schedule. Please show your support for North and South American teams and players by tweeting your favorites at us!
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