Last night Valve updeated Dota 2, and along with the usual addition of some cosmetics, and a few backend changes to make the game run more efficiently, they added Team Pennants to the store. What are Pennants, I hear you mumble to yourself incoherently, just in case it’s one of those things that everyone knows about and you’re about to make yourself look stupid.
It’s ok, I had to google it too. They’re like flags. Only not. A bit like a single bit of bunting. What’s bunting? You’re not from around here, are you.
Each Pennant is 69p, or a dollar in America, and you can slot it into your ‘fan slot’ of each hero. The idea is that then, when you watch your favourite team play in the International, it’ll track all of the accolades of that team. Things like First Blood, Hero Deny, Aegis Deny, Aegis Steal, winning games, that sort of thing. Not only that, but it’ll give you the chance of having random item drops. You can also upgrade your Pennant, which improves your chances and also raises the team’s Pennant score.
Which seems pretty cool. When you think about it for a second.
If you think about it for a little longer, you’ll realise that this is suddenly absolutely huge. This is selling football shirts in official merchandising outlets. This is the silly overpriced concession stands in stadiums. This is the way that Esports is going to fund itself, or at least Dota 2. And, if we’re really lucky, this is the way that the teams that we love, and that do so very well at entertaining us and competing for the big money, sustain themselves.
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Right now, all of this only works for the International, but the Pennants don’t run out after one use. So long as other tournaments cooperate, there’s no reason it can’t be a widespread feature. Right now there’s no word on whether any of the teams directly profit from the sale of the Pennants, but that would be the ideal, at least in my mind. To be able to directly support the teams you want to stick around, so the players can dedicate themselves to the sport that they love.
After all, it makes sense that an electronic sport should have electronic tat you can wear to show your support. So far there are only 11 pennants available, out of 16 teams in The International, but the rest should be added shortly.