To LAN or not to LAN?

We would like to present you an article written by Natus Vincere CEO, Alexander "ZeroGravity" Kohanovsky in which he compares CS:GO to DotA2 and draws conclusions about the importance of local tournaments. He also shares his thoughts on the current dominance of online tournaments:

In this article, I would like to briefly describe the relatively recent phenomenon which didn't have any logical reasoning behind it, at least up to this present moment.
What do CS:GO and DotA2 have in common? These two titles were produced by VALVe. THAT'S IT. The games are of different genres, audiences and most notably different popularity levels (300k+ online for DotA2 versus 30k+ for CS:GO).
However, the prize pools and the number of LAN-tournaments are greater for the shooter than for DotA2! The popularity and profit of these two projects are just incomparable. If we draw a parallel to real sports, it would be really weird to see American football catching up to soccer in statistics like these as soccer's popularity is way ahead of American football. The fact is, the total number of local tourneys around the globe determine a title's prestige.
Of course, we don't factor in The International, but trust me, if CS:GO were to be played by as many people as DotA2, VALVe might very well think about the same kind of championships for CS:GO. Considering the current rate of game fixes by the company and the improvement of the overall playing experience, alongside a free-2-play model and CS:GO’s workshop appearance, this is a real possibility. 



Dota 2

German ESL Pro Series Winter Season 2012

21 500


ESWC 2012

20 000

25 000

 SLTV StarSeries #4

15 000

15 000

DreamHack Winter 2012

40 000

29 500

THOR Open 2012

19 500

18 800

NorthCon 2012



Mind Sport Festival

12 500


Mad Catz Vienna

12 500


G-1 League


52 000



33 000


15 000

15 000

ESEA Finals*

36 700


G-League Season 2


42 600

K-1 League*

36 400




50 000


15 000

10 000

CPH Games

43 000


Total, $

298 600

290 900

* - Including / Only CS 1.6 prize money



** - Including DotA: Allstars prize money





Dota 2

Europe and USA

262 200



36 400


From the organizing stand point, as well as from the viewers' one, the profit coming from ONLINE leagues is extremely low. The key disadvantages online tournaments face are:
  • There isn’t a REAL competitive drive and atmosphere of a real-life competition;
  • There are no RELIABLE results. The online matches can't really prove how strong/weak a team is. Perfect examples would be EG and iG before TI2;
  • There are no GOOD ways to promote the sponsors and their products excluding DotA2 pennants which are fast becoming another number in sponsoring reports while being relegated to logo-graveyards;
  • There isn’t REALLY any bright and exclusive media-content. For example, Na`Vi's coverage from TI2;
  • There are no attempts to PERSONALIZE players. We would like to know our idols personally, be able to follow their progress, read unique interviews with them, right? For me (and I think for you too) odious teams such as CoL (now Liquid) would remain just the nicknames on the screen without T2;
  • There are no real PARTIES!


We can find out why the situation looks this particular way by looking into the past. How did Counter-Strike start in 2004 (maybe 2005)? It was the most popular FPS with millions of players and millions of dollars in prize pools every single year. The spirit of the competition in CS was cultivated on LAN. Back in the days, no top team would make an online-tournament their first priority, unless the event had some really exciting LAN-finals to follow right after.
Why can't the game which is most likely to eventually become the #1 eSports title overcome the less popular CS:GO without the direct intervention of the game developer?
Dozens of leagues, hundreds of tournaments of different caliber are going on every month for DotA2. Online play has swallowed the whole DotA2-community. Our organization tries to limit the number of events in which our teams participate.
I'm often asked by the players (not only my players) about when are we going to see a decent tournament with decent prize money? The only answer I can give them is that until the top teams stop playing tournaments with $2k as 1st place (even the 2-day events), you should not even think about seeing something bigger than that.
A pro-gamer in CS 1.6 would NEVER think about playing in such tournament. Back then, top teams didn't consider events with less than $25k-$30k for the champions.
To go back to soccer, if you rooted for Barcelona but they played every single day, would you watch ALL their matches (yes, all of them)? After a month or so of such a schedule, you’d start missing 20 to 30% of them.
Organizations shouldn't be talking the players out of participating in every tournament possible. It's actually the players' duty to understand that they will not boost the prize pools (and their salaries) by playing every single event. The better the player, the less often he should be playing to increase his value. Just take a look at the number of official matches played per month by the top players in CS:GO, LoL and CS2 - you'll get the picture. Not to forget the media-content which is the corner stone of a top player's potential income. For examples, Ocelote, Grubby and White-Ra.
So, what should the players, tournament organizers and eSports organizations do?
  • Top players should be more "picky" in choosing tournaments they play;
  • Organizations should encourage their players to participate in only really big events and limit the number of medium/small-tier tourneys;
  • The tournament organizers should think more about LAN-finals after the online-stage. For example, Starladder is the best example of this format at the moment;
  • If this concept doesn't change, then they need to add bonuses for the teams such as offering match statistics, sharing revenues from video-streams and from ticket sales. In the end, it's the teams who influence the event’s rating the most.
I hope that this article will persuade some developers, tournament organizers, players and teams to raise the quality standards in eSports which will, of course, greatly impact the development of our beloved eSports in general.
AuthorXeozor Date28 March 2013, 09:52 Views25281 Comments393
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