Coronavirus hit Dota 2 the hardest among top international esports disciplines. Dota Pro Circuit system failed under the circumstances as it was impossible to hold big tournaments around the world. The scene moved online with regions being on their own. Which team became the most popular during online era? And why European teams dominate in the top?
Europe as a heart of competitive Dota 2
Many regional tournament operators didn’t see prospects in online championships. The DPC was canceled in early spring, and after that only three tier-1 tournaments (as of Liquipedia) took place until the end of the year. And all of them were for the European teams.
Events were held in other regions as well, but they were not very popular among a wide audience. Many strong teams, including Evil Geniuses and Fnatic, found themselves locked up in North America and Southeast Asia, respectively, where Dota is far behind Europe compared by audience interest in local scenes.
Eight of the top ten teams represent Europe (two more are from China) in the current ESL ranking. Last season kicked off with Nigma victory at minor, as well as Team Secret's triumph at the major in Leipzig. And then the online era began.
Team Secret dominated in Europe in the Spring-Summer 2020. Squad of Puppey had a phenomenal streak of six tournament victories. What’s even more impressive is that Secret finished all these finals with a 3:0 score.
Secret slowed down a little in Fall, so that other teams got chances to prove themselves at the highest level of competition. Team Liquid and Virtus.pro were the most successful among others at the second part of the season, as they won respectively ESL One Germany 2020 and EPIC League Season 2 Division 1.
Note that CIS started to strongly influence viewership statistics towards the end of the year. Russian-speaking viewers did not lose interest in the competition even without DPC. They actively root for local teams and watch other regional tournaments.
Nigma has no competitors
Nigma with the legendary captain KuroKy became the most popular team of 2020. Over the past year it collected 38.9M Hours Watched over 350 hours of airtime. Team had a successful start of the year with victory at the Minor, it also attended as the only major of the year
KuroKy’s roster was also the most popular one in 2019, but back then the team played under the Team Liquid banner. It’s also interesting that a year ago the team had over 50M Hours Watched. The number decreased by 22% in 2020 as The International was cancelled.
Nigma had over 358.8K viewers at peak; this many people simultaneously watched their game vs Evil Geniuses at DreamLeague Leipzig Major. Worth noting that by this metric Nigma loses to many other teams in top 10.
Team Secret is the best team of the season by trophies and prize money won, but it still finished second in the rating. Team collected 33.5M Hours Watched in 289 hours of air time. Team defeated Evil Geniuses in the final game of DreamHack Leipzig Major; this match became the second most popular in 2020 Dota season with 475,2K Peak Viewers.
Record of the season by Peak Viewers was set by Virtus.pro vs OG match in the final of ESL One Los Angeles 2020 that was supposed to be major but went online during the lockdown. The tournament was divided into regions; the decisive match of Europe / CIS division gathered 508K Peak Viewers (46% are viewers of the Russian broadcast).
OG is ranked #3 most popular Dota 2 team of 2020 with 31.1M Hours Watched. Interestingly, the two-time TI champions is the only one in the top 6 with under 100 matches in the season. Yet the team became second most popular by average number of viewers (115.6K).
The gap between Team Liquid and Alliance was less than 50K Hours Watched. INSaNiA's team had four matches more than [A] and got in the top 4.
Evil Geniuses (ranked #9) had the least airtime of 196 hours in 68 games. The team managed to get in the top 10 even though it didn’t play a single tournament from early September till the end of the year.
Young team ViKin.gg played the most matches (165 in 411 hours of airtime) over the year among the top 10 teams. Roster started getting popular after a series of successful online tournaments in 2020. The team also attended all the tier-1 tournaments and managed to finish 8th.
Note that the statistics didn't include academy rosters of organizations. In particular, this applies to OG Seed and VP.Prodigy.
All the Asian teams dropped out of the ranking of the most popular teams compared to last year. Viewership statistics of teams dropped, but KuroKy's roster remained on top even without The International.
Online championships became more important during COVID-19 pandemic. It helped some young teams, including ViKin.gg and Virtus.pro.
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