A report by the Esports Charts (ESC) revealed that this year’s iteration of Dota 2‘s annual premier tournament, The International 2018 (TI8), had a total of over 52.8 million viewers.
The ESC got its figures for the tournament from the total hours watched by viewers on both YouTube and Twitch.
That figure highlights the growth of Dota 2 over the past year, as TI8 had over 9 million more people watching than TI7, which drew around 43.8 million viewers.
Perhaps one of the driving forces behind that surge in viewership for TI8 was the compelling Cinderella story for champions team OG. They went on an improbable, if not outright miraculous, run to win the tournament and take home the grand prize of over $11 million.
A roster overhaul had most people counting OG out of conention early, but the eventual champions defied all expectations and pulled out multiple come-from-behind wins against much more favored opponents. This continued in the Grand Finals, where they faced the Chinese juggernauts PSG.LGD and came out as champions after miraculous comeback victories in games 4 and 5 of the best-of-five final series.
OG also took home the biggest prize for a single esports tournament in TI8. That record that has been continually held by the tournament since it debuted in 2011 with a $1 million prize pool, an amount that was unheard of in esports at the time.
TI8 had, as expected, a record-breaking prize pool of over $25 million, thanks in large part to the Dota 2 community that crowdfunded much of the purse.
The TI8 champions also broke the pattern for TI champions, which had Western and Chinese teams taking turns winning the tournament. It started with the legendary Ukrainian-Russian team of Natus Vincere winning TI1 and ended when OG took home the championship in what was supposed to be a Chinese year.
Their win at TI8 vaulted OG through the esports stratosphere, with their captain Johan “n0tail” Sundstein even garnering inclusion in Forbes’ ’30 Under 30′ list.
Dota 2 developer Valve Corporation has even produced a documentary focusing on what went on behind the scenes during OG’s finals matchup with PSG.LGD. That will premiere on January 15, 2019 through an online broadcast and a live premiere in the Nordisk Film Cinema Palads in Copenhagen, Denmark.
It’s not too far-fetched to say that TI9 next year might be even bigger than TI8, as the tournament will be held in Shanghai, China. That will mark the first time that the tournament would be held outside of North America since it debuted in Germany back in 2011.
With China arguably being the biggest esports market in the world, TI just might reach new heights unheard of even for an esport event of its stature by next year.