2015 is coming to a close, so it is a good time to look back at this year in Dota 2. It has been a period of the biggest changes that Dota 2 has ever seen. What happened in 2015 suggests that things are going the right direction, and the game has a bright future ahead. What is more, the competitive scene itself has also evolved in many interesting ways. Let’s take a look at what 2015 brought us.
Huge prize pools: not a one-time phenomenon
The tournaments in 2015 have confirmed, without a doubt, that humongous prize pools are going to be a regular thing in Dota 2, rather than a one-time phenomenon. The Dota 2 Asia Championships in January boasted an unprecedented success for a non-Valve sponsored event, doubling its prize pool in the first day thanks to community contributions and achieving a final prize pool of $3,073,451. This is the the third largest prize pool in all of eSports to date.
There had been many sceptics when it came to whether The International 5 could replicate the success that TI4 had with the compendium and the rise of the prize pool. A booming $18 million in prize money, which far exceeded the $11M prize pool at TI4 was a clear answer and an indication that we are yet to reach the peak. Additionally, it is proof that TI will continue to be one of the richest tournaments in the world.
Image courtesy of dota2.prizetrac.kr
Introduction of Majors
Another thing that guarantees millions of dollars in prize money each year and brings stability into the Dota 2 scene is the introduction of Majors. Four of them will be held each year, three with a set prize pool of $3 million, while the fourth, The International, will most likely have a larger prize pool increased by the community contribution as it was in previous years.
The introduction of Majors is something that many have been demanding for quite some time, and it was a needed change. Thanks to that, Dota 2 isn’t just about one tournament per year anymore. The teams aren’t only building up for a single highlight of the year, feeling like everything else is just qualifiers or practice for that one event. In 2015, we experienced a taste of how the scene is evolving, with DAC acting almost like a trial Major and the recently-finished Frankfurt Major taking place shortly after TI5. All of this could also contributed to improving communication with Valve, which is addressed further below.
Introduction of Majors was a needed change. Image courtesy of ESL.
Change of generations: the era of pub stars
Tournaments and prize pools weren’t the only thing to evolve this year; the mentality and the approach of the pro players changed as well. Back in the day, it was nearly impossible to get into a top team without the connections. For the most part, it was about the exact same players just switching around in a certain group of teams.
However, this pattern has changed tremendously this year. Teams realized that the mechanical skills and the ability to single-handedly win games that so-called pub stars (players with the highest MMR) have are incredibly valuable. With right guidance and a little bit of work, these players can be shaped into brilliant competitive teammates. We had shining examples of that throughout the whole year and this trend will most likely continue.
Dendi and SoNNeikO have also taken less experienced players under their wings.
Communication with Valve
Communication with Valve has always been an issue. For years, it was basically nonexistent: no rules or guidelines for the players and the organisations, no information regarding decisions that were made and no consistency about who was responsible. However, 2015 has been a huge step forward. The introduction of the Majors can be viewed as something that Valve implemented based on the requests from the community. Additionally, Valve has talked personally with some players, and the whole “player union” movement at the very least indicates that some dialogue is happening. However, …
Without a doubt, one of the most significant changes of 2015 was the introduction of Source 2. The new engine was implemented essentially four years after Dota 2 first became available for players. The renovation of a still relatively fresh game and improvement of the engine should have been something that the whole community could be happy about, but unfortunately the way the implementation was handled has shown how much communication is still lacking.
The sudden change and complete removal of the previous version of the game was a horrible experience for the competitive scene. Not only were there countless bugs, but also issues such as inability to watch replays from the previous version and so on. Those were all unwelcome surprises mostly, but not exclusively, for the players.
Such surprise, without any indication of it happening, affected tournament schedules, results of matches, prize pools, cosmetics and so on- basically, the whole Dota 2 infrastructure. If the fact that the Reborn is coming had been communicated beforehand, it would at least give everyone a chance to prepare for it. If Valve had a little discussion about it, the switch could have been made way more smoothly and wouldn’t have such negative effect on the whole pro scene.
Summing up, with humongous prize pools becoming a standard, tournament circuit not being only about one event a year and fresh blood coming to the pro scene, Dota 2 is nearly incomparable to what we had about two years ago. Valve is improving their communication but, if we really want to push Dota 2 to another level, communication still needs more structure and improvements in general. Beside that, looking at how everything else around the pro scene evolved in 2015 we can only be optimistic. Expect a bright future for Dota 2 competitive scene and a lot more great action in the upcoming year!