A fascinating world of Chinese Dota

Mar 31 2020 7 min read

A fascinating world of Chinese Dota ⚡⚡⚡ Esports news, analytics, reviews on WePlay! The latest news on WePlay!

China, a state known as the Celestial Empire, in the language of gamers, is hidden by the fog of war for ordinary people on planet Earth. A great and mysterious country, whose powerful corporations set the pace for the global economy, while culture admires the most biased bores. Recently, China has begun to reveal itself to us and became closer thanks to the Internet and, of course, esports. Believe it or not, Dota 2 played a huge part in it.

This one is not about discussing the teams themselves, their tactical approaches and/or drama within the region, because the environment around Chinese esportsmen is built also by including many external factors. Here is a brief excursion into the symbiosis of a great Empire and no less great game, seasoned with interesting facts and eloquent data.

Esports in China

Let’s start from esports as a basis. Considering the overall audience, the Chinese are almost half of the global population of gamers. And most of their favorite esports disciplines are mobile projects like Honor of Kings, Kings of Glory (they even sound similar), Fantasy Westward Journey 2, and PUBG Mobile, oh, we mean Peacekeeper Elite. Speaking of PCs, there’s League of Legends, Crossfire, PUBG among the most popular. You can continue naming titles for a very long time, but the trend is quite obvious: MOBAs and fast-paced action games with quick matches.

Do you think we joked about powerful corporations? If you draw the strings from each popular title to the very top, they will converge on Tencent. This “dragon” finances and/or manages almost all of China's important esports disciplines: Overwatch, CrossFire, League of Legends, Honor of Kings, PKE, Happy Lord, Quan Min Chao Shen, Gunz Dash, Long Craft, WEFIRE. Only Fantasy Westward Journey 2 from NetEase and the foreign Dota 2 remain aside.

Tencent’s investors' relations release

As of the end of 2019, five out of the top ten most-popular smartphone games by daily active users (DAUs) internationally were developed by us.

Tencent does not hesitate to take existing ideas, adapt them to their market or even acquire the developer/publisher to ease releasing the game in China. Such an impudent and aggressive policy, to be honest, is actually good for game devs from outside the Celestial Empire: Tencent pays a lot and almost always leaves the reins to the company, preferring to observe revenue figures from the shadows.

List of companies sponsored or owned by Tencent:

Company  Projects
Riot Games LoL, TFT, Valorant
Supercell Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Brawl Stars
Activision Blizzard Call of Duty, Overwatch, Warcraft, Starcraft, etc.
Ubisoft Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Rainbow Six, etc.
Epic Games Fortnite, Epic Games Store

Obviously, Tencent has its own projects: the local Steam counterpart is called WeGame, the most popular messenger is QQWeBank is a successful and valuable bank, a combination of Youtube, Twitch and Netflix is called Tencent Videos, the most popular communication platform in the country is named WeChat, and let's not forget and about Weibo, known as “The Chinese Twitter”... Why come up with something new if you can use the external market's existing ideas that are closed to people inside the country?

However, it is important to determine: Tencent is by no means a movie-ish villainous corporation. Given the specific political, ethical and cultural beliefs of the state, Tencent is more likely a conductor or a bridge for useful things for its own nation.

Make Dota 2 work again

Surely, it is incredibly difficult to fight for an audience in a market that is almost completely monopolized. However, Valve continues to do so through a partnership with Perfect World Games. It is PWG who are the only Dota 2 client distributor in China. There are two main servers in the country: Perfect World Telecom and Perfect World Unicom.

During the Bukovel Minor, we managed to talk with Du “Monet” Peng about how Dota 2 works in China.

Firstly, Dota is a rather complicated and time-consuming game. You need to spend tons of hours to master it, and in the end, it may even not pay off. Meanwhile, League of Legends is more accessible and easier, not to mention the popularity of mobile MOBAs.

Secondly, in order to play Dota, you must register in Perfect World. This procedure is also not so easy for the Chinese, because it requires filling a large amount of personal data up to the passport photos.

Thirdly, precisely because of the first two points, the growth of youth in the game is very small. Today, you can count good Chinese players born in the new millennium using your own fingers, although before there were much more.


In addition, streamers will receive a much higher income than professional players. In 2014, Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng said that players receive several times less than streamers who receive money directly from platforms. Of course, this does not negate the facts of receiving prize pool shares. Just look at the prize figures below. These are statistics for all esports, but the top-10 is formed by only Dota 2 players.

Players Earnings
Somnus丶M $2,916,860
Fy  $2,214,413
Y` $2,034,872
Faith bian $2,016,372
Iceice  $1,999,547
Shadow  $1,969,792
BLink  $1,960,187
Xiao8  $1,831,076
Chalice  $1,779,902
Hao  $1,747,535

While the numbers on streaming platforms are scary to watch. For example, WeSave! Charity Play in China on March 21 had:

  1. BurNIng 2,500,000+ viewers

  2. Longdd  2,200,000+ viewers

  3. rOtk  2,200,000+ viewers

  4. 430 1,600,000+ viewers

Some familiar names, huh? Quite often former pro-players switch to streaming.

In addition, due to the fact that the rights to Dota 2 in China belong exclusively to PWG, sometimes there appear unique events and items that are not available anywhere else. Take a look at these unique promotions:

Trivia Time

The Chinese language is fantastic. It may surprise you, but the numbers in it are homophones for some words, that is, they sound just the same. For example, the well-known figure “4” sounds like the word "die", and “8” is like "wealth." Hello, Zhang “Director8” and Oleksandr “XBOCT (4)”!

We've decrypted some nicknames: 

Nicknames Meanings
820  Don’t love you
QQQ, known as 357 Born non-evil
LongDD, or 520 I love you
897  Short rise
71  Making you angry

Even speaking of technical details, China is very different from the rest of the world.

Low Violence Mod

China’s censorship is very strict about violence. Blood, bones, and entrails cannot be shown anywhere, so the Chinese Dota 2 client has a built-in Low Violence Mod — the official and mandatory mod that hides all the violence in the game. Literally: there is no blood, some models are different, all the skulls are removed, some icons are reworked. Moreover, Perfect World Games’ client has cut off growls, screams, and groans, and it automatically deletes all obscene expressions from the chat. Even in English.

This is how characters’ models that we know look in the Chinese client.


China + Dota 2 = ?

The myth that the Chinese Dota is slower and worse than the western one has long been dispelled. In the international arena, there are now some very strong teams from the Middle Kingdom, who can show flexibility, play fast and slow Dota, have fighting spirit, innovative solutions and the desire to pick up any possible trophy.

In the current DPC season, the Chinese teams reached the Minors’ finals three times (and won twice). They also got silverware at both Majors. Vici Gaming and Invictus Gaming are frequent late playoffs visitors, while PSG.LGD, Team Aster, Royal Never Give Up and EHOME are always taken seriously and over and over again prove themselves as strong teams. This suggests that the Tier-1 and Tier-2 scenes in China are pretty close to each other. Moreover, the quality of the game at the T2 level is much higher than in any other region: just look at these strong and stable Minor performances.

Another interesting point showing us that the Chinese region is ahead of the others is that right now, considering the global coronavirus pandemic, Chinese leading teams have organized their own online league within the region. The lads practice and take no pauses while the rest of the world has only received WePlay! Pushka League and ESL One being transferred to the online format.

Have you heard about Dota 2 Development League? Most likely no. In China, they have their own league for junior players, where almost all leading teams set young rosters to gain experience.

But, most likely, we are expecting a decline in the game’s popularity in this country. Even with the fact that Valve held The International 2019 in Shanghai, Dota itself does not get any easier. And Monet very correctly noticed that given the trend for fast games with dynamic gameplay that can be played on mobile devices, only very patient or committed youth will risk trying their hand at the game, and even less will succeed. Dota 2 turns into chess. However, low popularity does not mean that high-quality players and interesting teams will decrease. On the contrary, according to the laws of economics, there is less scope, more competition, higher quality.


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