posted by EskayDota,
The International 2018 prize pool only just scraped past the prize pool in 2017; does this highlight a greater problem within the scene?

The Prize Pool issue

The International is the biggest event in the eSports calendar in terms of both money and viewership. In 2018, the prize pool scraped past that of the prize pool in 2017, drawing attention to the stagnating percentages of increase.

Compared to the millions that the prize pool increased by in the years prior, the increase of prize pool had not been this small since the beginning of the prize pool being crowdfunded. What was the reason for this? Had players begun grown tired of compendiums and cosmetics? This began discussion amongst some, and prompted others to echo the phrase… “ded gaem”.

Graph courtesy of

Well, contrary to all of this, looking at viewership on Twitch, the number of viewers has been steadily increasing as far as statistics go back (2015). In December 2017, the average viewers in any given day was roughly 25000, compared to an average of 40000 viewers in 2018. However, this could just be due to the amount of competitions on during the month.

Comparing the statistics between the whole of 2015 and 2018, viewership is still showing small but steady growth. These statistics also exclude Chinese viewership, which is regularly in the millions. Figures of Chinese viewership of the last two TIs show that there was an increase of 4 million people watching the TI8 final, compared to TI7. When looking at these statistics, it appears that Dota is still growing at the same pace it always has.

Ok, so what about players?

So to confuse things even more, we would expect to see that an increase in viewership would result in a similar percentage increase in the player base. Strangely, this is not the case. In April 2018, the average number of players in a day dropped to the lowest it had been since April 2014.

Dota’s peak in terms of number of players was back in 2016, where for 14 consecutive months the peak number of players broke 1 million. Since then, only 7 of the 23 months that have passed showed any kind of increase in players. The number of players contradict the viewership figures; so what exactly is going on here?

Photo credit: Valve

What’s the reason for this?

Is Dota stagnating as a game or not? The prize pool says yes, the viewership says no and the player base says definitely, however slowly. The only argument against Dota statistically stagnating is viewership, which, unfortunately, is explicable.

General activity and viewership on Twitch is steadily increasing, and has been consistently for a number of years. 2018 had the highest viewing figures in the history of the website. By virtue of being hosted on a website with more traffic, Dota is simply attracting more people as viewers, but not players.

The DPC also aided viewership; with an increase in Valve events, the stakes were higher. DPC tournaments became worth more money and their outcome held more weight in the professional scene. Combined with the fact that Dota is a notoriously difficult game to get into, it becomes a bit clearer as to why a pattern is emerging.

The TI8 grand final was watched by just under 15 million people. Photo credit: Valve

To conclude

It looks like the statistics suggest that the game is stagnating. We definitely, however, do not have the full picture. A huge proportion of Dota 2 viewers come from China, which makes it difficult to find historic data. From the data available, it seems that the scene in China is still growing, but it’s hard to be certain.

Regardless, these statistics don’t even necessarily spell anything bad for Dota, after all, before TI8, many people would have said that n0tail’s career had peaked.

Photo credit: Valve

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