End of year DoTA 2 roundup and what to expect next year

It's been one hell of a year, right? We're in the final days of 2020, a year which has seen the world at large face up to the Coronavirus pandemic. Just how well it's been handled depends largely on where on earth you live, but it's hard to think of a single area of our lives that hasn't been impacted somehow by the virus. It's fair to say that the eSports scene as we know it has been decimated by COVID, and though it's found ways to adapt, many fan favourite events have been delayed, rescheduled or outright cancelled as organisers struggle to keep them running safely.

DOTA 2 is arguably one of eSports biggest titles, and the annual, much anticipated International tournament was delayed and finally cancelled this year. The game rages on with season two of the EPIC League, which is currently underway, giving players a chance at glory and a prize pot of half a million US dollars. It's currently the most watched DOTA 2 tournament of the year, and the fourth most watched DOTA 2 tournament of all time - proving definitively that the eSports scene is here to stay, pandemic be damned. In Russia, it hit over thirty million views, with more than 700 million minutes of broadcast time - and that's just the Russia broadcast. The English broadcast didn't garner such mighty figures, but they're still very respectable, with seventeen million views and five hundred million minutes of broadcast time respectively.

The Epic League second division matches ran from November 12th to December 13th, seeing Virtus.pro and Alliance teams clinching victory in the best of five match-ups while the tournament itself claimed a spot as the fourth most watched DOTA event of all time. The first, second and third spots are all held by previous iterations of The International, and it's probably the regular event's absence that has allowed the Epic League to get on the list in the first place. Regardless, they've put on a great show, and deserve a lot of credit for persevering throughout a very challenging year to deliver a successful tournament. Check out SBR for a great DOTA 2 Epic Division 1 preview which sums up everything you need to know about what’s happened so far.

It remains to be seen how the eSports landscape will look going into 2021 and beyond. There's certainly hope on the horizon, but we'll be sure to feel the impact of this year for quite some time. Venues, providers, organisers themselves have all been dealt a rough financial hand this year, and the additional cost of keeping everything COVID secure is sure to deal an extra blow. We might not see massive events like we did pre 2020 for a very long time. There's still no confirmed dates or much information at all about DOTA 2's 2021 International, which is probably intentional. There's not a lot of point getting caught up in the postpone - reschedule - cancellation cycle, which burns even more money and lets fans down.

The industry has adapted as best as it could, and the core of it all - the competition - is still very much intact. It certainly brings an array of new challenges - keeping a level playing field, compensating for the ever present challenge of varying internet speeds. Fans, at least, have displayed that they’re willing to engage with the content in whatever form it comes. They’re happy watching live-streamed matches with no face-to-face component. After all, that is how most people watch esports anyway.  But much like all those football players punting balls around empty stadiums, there's nothing quite like the excitement and atmosphere of a live crowd. Until vaccinations are rolled out en masse world wide, we're not likely to see huge events with audiences from around the globe.

For now at least it seems as though the DOTA 2 esports circuit is thriving against all odds. It’s still pulling in big numbers, and teams are still competing for big prizes. Things might not be back to business as usual just yet, but they’ll get there eventually. In the meantime, organisers will continue to innovate and adapt, teams will keep on battling it out, and we’ll all keep watching.

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Last Updated: Dec 23, 2020