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A source familiar with the situation told The Esports Observer that Cloud9 will announce that it will be looking to field a Dota 2 team. The announcement, which could come as early as next week, will mark the organization’s fourth entry into the esports title, the last being in 2017.
Cloud9’s return to Dota 2 comes at a time when the “big four” esports have seen significant movement from major esports organizations leading up to the 2020 season. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has seen a number of high-profile organizations jump into competitive play, while slots in the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) have been sold and teams rebranded.
Teams such as OG, a Dota 2 powerhouse and winners of the last two Dota 2 Internationals, as well as 100 Thieves have expanded into CS:GO. Echo Fox left the LCS due to a forced sale imposed upon the organization by Riot Games because of racism allegations leveled at a member of the ownership group, with its spot acquired by Evil Geniuses; and the Beasley Media Group entered into the Overwatch League by purchasing the Houston Outlaws.
Organizations are looking to build their individual strategies to best leverage what esports titles they should invest in by adding competitive teams. While Cloud9 does field teams in League of Legends, Overwatch, CS:GO, and many other games, Dota 2 is a competitive space in which good teams can thrive financially with prize money. In 2019, over 88 players were able to earn six-figures in prize earnings alone, with 33 more earning over $35K.
Dota 2 was the No.1 esport in terms of prize money distribution from 2013 to 2018, according to Esports Earnings, doling out over $164M USD during that span. Fortnite usurped the No. 1 spot in 2019 by giving out over $64M, but Dota 2 still set the record once again for the most prize money ever handed out at a single event at $34M.
The reason for these large payouts started in 2014 when Valve Corp., publisher of Dota 2, started a crowd-sourcing initiative that would help bolster the amount of prize money awarded at it’s premier event–The International.
While details are scarce in terms of what players Cloud9 is looking at signing, it does have a history of acquiring significant talent.
When Cloud9 first entered the Dota 2 arena in January of 2014, the organization picked up members of the now former Speed Gaming squad. That roster consisted of players such as Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao, Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling, and Johan “pieliedie” Åström, with the team finishing 5th/6th at The International 2014 and taking home over $655K for the event. The team would then disband after The International, having taken in over $1M in prize money for the year.
In 2015, Ling and Åström would be replaced by Johan “N0tail” Sundstein and Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen, with the team finding moderate success. A 5th/6th finish at the Dota 2 Asia Championships and a 9th/12th finish at The International 2015 propelled the club to over $546K in winnings that year.
After disbanding in 2015, Cloud9 would not field another team until 2017 when it acquired the roster of the Danish Bears. A team that saw the return of Ling, Åström, and Mao to its lineup, Cloud9 struggled to finish 13th-16th at The International 2017, taking home just over $500K for the year. The team would once again disband after The International.
Cloud9 had no comment about this story when contacted by The Esports Observer.
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