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ESL Will Have Its Own Dota 2 Esports Circuit

As one of the largest event producers in all of esports, it appears like ESL will entirely revamp its Dota 2 operations in light of the constantly shifting Dota Pro Circuit scenario.

ESL and Valve’s bigger professional Dota objectives have previously been inseparably linked, but with the 2023 DPC season, the steadfast partner was not allocated one of the regional tours to run after running two. The Berlin Major will be held to round up the Spring Tour, but it will probably be the extent of ESL’s involvement in the events leading up to The International this year.

The ESL 2022 Stockholm stage
The ESL 2022 Stockholm stage

ESL seems to be returning to the pre-DPC regional tour model where it would organize a number of sizable events alongside any other competitions Valve would join forces with, as its role is reducing in terms of Valve’s direct circuit. According to a recent rumor, the Saudi-owned corporation will redesign its current event circuit into a new three-part circuit in this situation.

Documents that reporter Richard Lewis was able to collect and publish show that ESL is actively redesigning its Dota 2 event plans internally to center them around the Riyadh Masters tournament series, which will be inaugurated by the Saudi Esports Federation in 2022.

By using this strategy, ESL will transform their venerable DreamLeague competition into an online qualifier that serves as the “primary qualification track” for Riyadh Masters. A broadcast will be held in Stockholm, and 16 teams will participate remotely over a two-week period from a place of their choice in Europe for a $1 million prize fund.

Following that, ESL One will return as a live tournament with the customary qualifier and invite structure familiar to Dota 2 fans. According to current reports, the following edition will take place in Thailand and offer a prize fund of $1 million.

Esports personality and commentator Richard Lewis
Esports personality and commentator Richard Lewis

Although the materials Lewis reviewed only described how the multi-week DreamLeague competition will really tie into the Riyadh Masters, both of these competitions will serve as a precursor to ESL’s new circuit. Other “financial incentives for involvement” that were not mentioned in the initial overview are apparently also going to be present.

Regarding Riyadh Masters, we already know that Gamers8 will incorporate it to some extent into its Land of Heroes event, which will begin on July 8 and last for eight weeks and feature a variety of other games including Rocket League and Fortnite.

Although it is divided among all competitions, the prize pool for that expanded event will be the greatest in all of esports history at $45 million. With a prize pool of $4 million, Riyadh Masters 2022 did have the highest non-TI prize pool for Dota 2.

This year, as ESL starts casting their nets wider and testing the water, that prize pool will probably rise. On paper, this choice could appear to indicate that ESL wants to compete with Valve, but the internal documents and the TO’s past make it clear that this is not the case.

Major Dota 2 tournaments held by ESL that weren’t associated with Valve or the DPC almost always fell on days when elite players competing in the DPC could freely attend in between working for that coveted TI invite. This will reportedly remain the case for this new global circuit, as ESL specifically aims to “compliment” the DPC rather than fight it.

Dota 2 players will probably be excited by this news, but it will also highlight Saudi Arabia’s steadily growing dominance in gaming and esports. Expect plenty of conversations surrounding this news and the wider concerns it brings based on the country’s stance against the LGBTQ+ community and generally poor human rights records.

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