Serious Biz: DotA Team Bought For $6m

By Alec Meer on August 3rd, 2011 at 1:00 pm.

That's like $200,000 per pixel, right?

I note there was a lot of surprise that Valve would offer a $1m prize for their Dota 2 tournament at Gamescom: maybe this goes a little way to explaining why that sum is perhaps not so extraordinary (y’know, other than the fact that Valve live in houses made of platinum).

Chinese DotA 1/StarCraft 2/Warcraft 3 team Catostrophic Cruel Memories, aka CCM, was earlier this week bought out by businessman Sicong Wang, director of Wanda Enterprises, for the sum of 40,000,000 Chinese yuan – that’s about $6.2 million. Whaaaaat.


The five (that’s all) people involved have reformed as a new team, now owned by Wang, called Invictus. CCM was due to play in the Dota 2 tournament; Invictus will now take their place, by dint of being exactly the same people. Got that?

Valve’s tournament cashpot may have seemed absurd, but this rather seems like a vote of confidence in how lucrative an e-sport Dota 2 might prove to be.

__________________

« | »

, .

46 Comments »

  1. Wozzle says:

    I’m all for games taking a bigger part of our collective lives, but I really don’t understand how these numbers are becoming real. WAT ZE FACK

    • Nyst says:

      I’m worried about these numbers too. The higher they go, the more likely it becomes that people will attempt to live ‘in between’ this money. Like what you see in professional sports where players are surrounded by agents, managers, dealers and traders; all people who contribute little, but live off the flow of cash going back and forth.
      I really hope things stay reasonable and manageable, but time will tell.

  2. LionsPhil says:

    How needlessly confusing. That was the name of the developers who wrote 1NSANE, no?

    I mean, yes, it’s a word with a lot of meanings, but it already has one in the domain of computervideogames.

  3. Daniel Klein says:

    If this was “proper” sports, no one would be batting an eyelash. We’re getting there.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      “proper” sports recoup investments like this from spectator attendance, merchandising, sponsorship & other endorsement deals. How on earth do a faceless bunch of gamers, many of whom are nothing more than an interchangeable username/handle, make you money?

    • Jockie says:

      Could just be some kind of crazy super-fan with more money than sense looking for a pet team – that happens in real sports too.

    • sexyresults says:

      It’s true. Think about the arabs pumping silly money into Manchester City. That money is not being recooperated (well it is through “sponsorships” aka them sponsoring themselves to get around financial fair play rules).

      Same thing really probably, a rich man wanted a play thing in a (e)sport he enjoys.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      aka them sponsoring themselves

      Hey, it’s how I always do it when I edit in my fake local club in Football Manager. Sponsorship deal, a million Euro spread over five years; it’s just me, the owner, giving them a bit of cash. Which may not sound like much, but at the fifth tier of the German football league, it is a bit cheaty.

      If the Man City thing works, though, that’s a loophole you could drive the proverbial truck through.

    • Calneon says:

      Sponsors Y’all.

    • Reefpirate says:

      Just look at South Korea. Also, with Valve paying 1 million, and MLG getting bigger and bigger with their SC2 draws, there is some return on tournament winnings starting to pile up. But also, sponsorships are totally in existence in e-sports already. Samsung, IBM, etc. all have contracts with pro-gamers in Korea… I’m sure the more interest that is shown in Western markets, the more sponsorship deals will arise.

      Now we just need a more spectator friendly game/interface to really catch on and bingo… e-sports will be almost as big as personal video game entertainment. These numbers being thrown around for DotA (which I really don’t understand how freakin popular the trashy game is) is just the beginning I think!

  4. sinelnic says:

    CATOSTROPHIC CRUEL MEMORIES mankind has a chance.

  5. MadTinkerer says:

    Man, I need to play more E-sports.

    Actually, I am pretty good at TF2. Maybe I’ll look into joining a competitive team (not a for-money tourney though, I’m not that good yet) after I’m done moving into the new place.

    • sexyresults says:

      Not trying to burst your bubble, but the step up from smashing public servers to being good competitively is large.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Yeah, but after a time it gets tedious being the best player on the server all the time when I know that better players are out there that I could learn from. (I really don’t mind losing, especially if it means I learn something and improve my skills, but ever since the flood of F2P players it’s hard to find a public server that has most of the players at or near my skill level.) Maybe not competitive, but if I could get an invite to a good private server or something…

    • Sweedums says:

      If you really wana get good at a game like TF2, it would be very useful to join some sort of clan, even if they aren’t great. It gets you from being a good player, to being a good team-player, and when you get the hang of playing scrims etc, if you do really improve, you may be able to join better teams and slowly make your way up.

      The better the people you train with, the better you will get, kinda simple really :)

    • Koozer says:

      MadTinkerer, find a server full of regulars, the standard is much higher. Public servers are for when you need to let off steam and feel superior.

    • nubbuka says:

      I myself always dreamed of moving forward, game-wise. I’ve been recently embarressing
      myself in close matches of a team of 6, or 9 at TF2lobby dot com.
      Until you find a team, if you find, this will be a place for you to dodge the public servers, hope I helped
      and good luck :P

  6. ATwig says:

    “Whaaaaaaat.” was EXACTLY what I thought when I read the headline…

    Also I tired HoN for the first time yesterday, that game has a lot more subtleties than LoL… It’s a lot more fun and I wish I could make money by playing it.

    • Koozer says:

      By “subtleties,” do you mean “overly complicated?” Personally I find all the extra keys for such simple things as standing still and not charging a third of the way across the screen to autoattack a bit pointlessly convoluted. Also, it took me 5 minutes to figure out how to buy things from the shop.

      I’ve played 4 games, and will probably have another go, but please enlighten me as to any positive subtleties I’ve missed!

    • Falcon says:

      No, Koozer, you’re really right. I’ve played both games extensively and really both games are just “different”. I don’t think the skill ceiling is as much higher in HoN as all the DotA/HoN people want to believe, it’s just most didn’t play enough LoL to really get into the metagame and assumed since that it’s easier to start playing it must take less skill.

      There are a lot of things in HoN that are more knowledge-based but don’t take much/any skill to pull off once you know how to do them. Things like creep pulling (takes next to no skill whatsoever, you just have to know it’s possible and then when to do it), etc. I think a lot of those are bad design, but once people know all those little things it makes them feel superior and so they use them to say that the skill ceiling is higher when that’s not the case at all. A lot of it is knowledge and not skill execution, which to me just simply isn’t as important. Knowledge should be helped as much as possible via good game design and the UI. It helps new players get better/get to the metagame faster and it really doesn’t affect highly skilled players much if at all.

      I do feel that the combat in HoN is a bit more visceral and the powers tend to feel stronger, but there have been some extremely satisfying characters in LoL (Poppy and Leona especially) that I will really miss when I start playing Dota 2. Granted, there are characters from HoN/DotA (like Nymphora, Empath, and Pestilence/Slardar) that I really miss since I play mostly LoL these days.

      I like both HoN and LoL. They’re both great games. They’ve made some different design decisions and I think some of the decisions in LoL are better decisions, and some are just different and not any better or worse. The genre has a long way to go, so I hope Valve aren’t afraid to make a lot of changes based on statistics and feedback if it makes the game better.

  7. TheApologist says:

    Does anybody know how eSports make this kind of serious money?

    Is the $1M just Valve using DOTA2 marketing money to excite an enthusiast niche, or does it have a genuine future as a money maker? If so, where does that income come from?

    • ZekkPacus says:

      I would imagine a fair chunk of that money is marketing – however, the top end eSports (DotA, LoL, SCII, CS:S) can theoretically make that kind of money. For example, Fnatic, one of the top teams at Dreamhack LoL this year, is sponsored by MSI & SteelSeries. TSM (team SoloMid) who are purely a LoL team are sponsored by Thermaltake and Kingston. Whatever the sponsorship deals entail that’s some big names, and if they get guaranteed advertising to 500,000+ stream viewers, all of whom are going to be the kind of customer they want to target anyway, it’s good marketing.

    • Moni says:

      Sponsorship basically. The same as any sport.

    • tungstenHead says:

      E-sport broadcasters often charge a subscription to their services and then the leagues themselves get a number of advertisers involved to make some more money. Then they sell tickets for the peanut gallery at the events themselves. Finally, add in that some cyberathletes are actually big enough to do endorsements in certain markets and the whole thing is moving around some serious money. Undoubtedly, there are a few rich patrons — this particular instance is one, I suspect — but really, e-sports make their bucks the same way real sports make them.

      One thing to remember if you’re always on websites like RPS or Joystiq or whatever is that those are industry news websites more than they are community news websites. Put another way, RPS is focused on the art of making games and not the art of playing games. (On that topic, if anyone knows a good e-sports news website, I’d be interested.)

      Is the $1m prize for Valve’s Dota 2 tournament part of their marketing budget? I’d wager so, yes. Is it a good expenditure of $1m in marketing money? Absolutely! There’s a big, preexisting audience for this and an even bigger potential audience. If Steam gets expanded to include an e-sports channel, e-sports will explode.

    • TheApologist says:

      Thanks all – I just didn’t realise any competitive tournament had that volume of viewing audience, with the possible exception of StarCraft. Makes much more sense now.

      @tungstenHead A whole new world!

    • Srethron says:

      “if anyone knows a good e-sports news website, I’d be interested.)”
      I don’t know of one that encompasses all e-sports (reddit maybe?), but most of the e-sport games have great community news sites:

      Starcraft and Starcraft 2 have teamliquid, which is amazing. Recommended.
      Heroes of Newerth has HONcast, which is love it or hate it, but unquestionably passionate about HON.
      League of Legends has some huge portal, but I’ve just forgotten the name.
      I’m sure there are others.

    • Daz says:

      Yeah, as others mentioned, MLG last weekend had over 100,000 viewers at peak and all the steams feature ads inbetween matches just like real world sports.

      I believe the LoL steam from dreamhack had over 180,000 viewers at some points, tho I’m a bit hazy on that.

      All these streams usually feature a premium high quality stream which I suppose would be the equivalent of front row seats at a stadium etc.

      Then you have all the sponsorships by hardware and software vendors on top of that, it really is not a lot different from real world sporting revenues.

      I just really wish all the large e-sport organisers would band together to create a tv channel or something like that, really punch into the mainsteam that way.

  8. markcocjin says:

    I imagine Morgan Freeman reading a poem to these Chinese players just before they step out into the tournament hall.

    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll.
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

    After which, one Chinese dude looks to another..
    “Whaaaa? I jus wan mah one meeleon dolah!”

  9. Serious J says:

    I’d put money on this just being a successful businessman that is a big WC3/Dota fan that wanted spend some of his fortune on something he loves. It doesn’t hurt that epsorts is getting huge really quick and he’ll get some return (but obviously not 6mil) on his investment.

    And before you scoff, consider that MLG Anaheim logged over 30 million views in the span of a weekend. The Valve tourney numbers are going to crush that with the prize pool that’s being offered, it being the first real showing of DotA2, and with the Chinese market interest.

  10. pakoito says:

    Welcome everyone to the age of e-sports. Do your part: http://www.honcast.com/video/2011/07/19/do-your-part

  11. Cinnamon says:

    I watched a replay of a match in this game and found it even less interesting than foot-to-ball.

  12. OOS says:

    I had no idea that there was even close to that kind of audience for this game. The only one that I thought could get this kind of cash being bandied around was Starcraft 2, but I guess that’s due to my own lack of knowledge of this sector of gaming.

  13. Limey says:

    I’m even less of a fan of e-sports than I am of real sports.

  14. Radiant says:

    DOTA = starcraft for the Chinese.

    I hear mooing. But it’s a strange mooing tinged with the sound of money.

    • Radiant says:

      I also see a commotion at Valve’s offices.
      It’s people they’re all kneeling in front of Gabe Newell.
      They’re saying something… wait let me get closer.

      “MORE PIES FOR THE PIE GOD”

  15. somnolentsurfer says:

    I don’t get it. What was Mr. Wang buying if all the players were free to immediately leave and start a new team? Is his $6m purchase not now somewhat worthless?

    • St4ud3 says:

      They didn’t leave and start a new team. He bought the team named CCM and just renamed them to Invictus Gaming. So he still has all the players, just under a new name.

  16. edgeblend says:

    Wang… Ha ha ha

  17. innociv says:

    Why can’t I find the sum on the apparent source, http://dota.178.com/201108/106254967117.html ?
    It sounds like someone took a page they could spin in a language people on an English forum likely don’t speak, and added some exaggeration(lies).
    That, or google translate is failing me, but I at least expect it to translate numbers properly.

    “the confirmed news is that he paid each lgd player 50,000 RMB, aka 7766 USD.”

    • Jinnigan says:

      Yeah, from what I can tell the abstract of the original article just says “Wanda Group [Think Chinese Wal-Mart] CEO leaked/said via microblog that [we? he? are? is? ] considering owning a powerful e-Sport team, and to advance this new business forward.” Which doesn’t discount that this is a real thing which may have happened – the Wanda Group is pretty fucking rich, and 6 million bones is a drop in their bucket – but the particular linked article doesn’t mention it.

  18. Fumarole says:

    How the title of this wasn’t pwned by Wang is beyond me.