Dota 2 Viewership Hits 3-Year Low With T11: Is The Esport Healthy?

T11, the biggest esports event in Dota 2, didn’t meet viewership expectations this year. EsportsCharts revealed that 67,692,105 hours of the tournament were watched over the course of the T11, and the viewership peaked at 1,748,392 viewers. These are large figures, but lower than the numbers from the previous iteration of the tournament.

Whatever way one spins it, it’s hard to not consider this a worrying trend. On the one hand, it remains the third most watched edition of the event, which is largely healthy – but a decline is a decline.

T10 had over 107,239,277 hours of viewership, with a peak concurrent viewership of 2,741,514. This was a significant upgrade over the T9 event two years ago, which had over 88,202,849 hours of combined viewership, with a peak concurrent viewership of 1,965,328.

In short, there was a significant trend upwards over the last two editions which hasn’t materialized this time around.

Dota 2 The International

A Product In Need Of A Quality Boost

There were complaints throughout the T11 tournament from fans on online forums like Reddit regarding the tournament. One of the most persistent complaints of the community has been with regards to the production quality of the tournament.

Things like soundproofing didn’t seem to get the required attention from the organizers according to fans, but this complaint wasn’t limited to fans. Even teams like Aster reported that there was an issue with soundproofing during the course of the tournament, which is a rather disappointing reality for the scale of the T11.

Fans who watch these events are usually well-versed one the happenings in the esports world, and want the passion that they and the players exhibit to be showcased by those who organize these events. When there’s a drop in standards, it can affect everything around the tournament. The spectacle dies, and so does the enthusiasm. Players start becoming more aware that they’re showcasing their talents to disgruntled fans, and the vibe around the events dampens – and in this case, a suddenly reduced prize pool had already established a level of disgruntlement before production issues popped up.

Dota 2 Hasn’t Done A Great Job Of Tackling Its Competition

There are issues that go beyond the event. The game itself is decreasing in popularity. Just earlier this year, Janne “Gorgc” Stefanovski, one of the most popular Dota 2 streamers, had this to say about the game’s status within the video game industry:

“I get why people don’t play Dota 2, I really do. I would never pick up Dota, if I wasn’t early in Dota. Like if I didn’t start ten years ago, I would never pick up Dota right now personally. It is way too complicated, too noob-not-friendly. I kind of get it… I am not going to hate on people who don’t play Dota. I would f**king pick up Valorant or Fortnite right away, you know some simple games, Dota is way too complicated. It is for us nerds who have been playing it for a few years now. We’re too pot-committed to get out.”

This was an extremely concerning comment from someone who has a great influence on how the game is received. Of course, it’s true that the pandemic affected multiple industries, and esports – and Dota 2 – was no different. A point to back up Gorgc’s statement is just how many new games audiences switched to during the pandemic.

Dota 2 remains widely popular, but it is currently going through a bit of a decline. It was one of the games at the top of the esports tree, but has seen its stock drop with new games like Fortnite and Valorant capturing the imagination of younger audiences.

Of course, the organizers could still do a much better job of hosting these tournaments. That will help the events. An event like T11, in particular, can’t have issues like soundproofing.

A smaller prize pool also sends the wrong message across the board, deterring players from joining the Dota 2 esports scene. There’s no doubt that it’ll retain many fans, but all stakeholders need to provide some solutions to the malaise.