Valve would never say so themselves - they don't brag - but this weekend marked a significant milestone for Dota 2 as an eSport. For a brief moment during the opening weekend of the International 3, their viewership had actually doubled that of League of Legends - their chief rival in MOBAdom.
“Thank you every Dota fan watching!,” read an in-stream message from the overeager stat team of streaming organisation joinDota. “Dota 2 currently has double the amount of viewers of LoL on Twitch alone.”
The figure isn’t entirely surprising, given the International’s billing as the “eSports Super Bowl”. Thanks to Valve’s accompanying Compendium, anticipation for this weekend’s opening rounds has mounted in tandem with its now $2.8m prize pool. Both had reached absurd heights by Friday, when the Dota 2 International started.
In League of Legends, by contrast, Friday and the weekend that followed were creep-bashing business as usual. While League of Legends’ player numbers are consistently larger than Dota’s, Riot’s own tournament, the LCS, doesn’t reach its climax for weeks.
Shortly after the event, joinDota’s chief caster apologised for the stat team's message, which he worried was in bad form. Beloved Dota statsman Bruno Carlucci was reportedly uninvolved in this particular broadcast.
“It was an idea by the guys working on the stats,” wrote TobiWanKenobi on Reddit, “an idea which was instantly stopped once it was seen. This shouldn't be a pissing contest - just a fun time had by all.
“All other jokes that were made about other games were made in the best spirits,” he added, “and quoted out of the context and mood of the livestream are easy to take wrong.
“This won’t happen again.”
We’ve been following the Dota 2 International group stages all this weekend, with coverage and analysis from resident PCGN Dota 2 experts Nick Wilson and Phill Cameron and eSports specialist Rob Zacny - none of whom have slept nearly enough over the last few days. Who've you been staying up to watch?