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Dota 2's upcoming The International 11 (TI11), which takes place for the first time in Singapore, released pricing for tickets on Thursday (4 August).
And for some fans, it's somewhat of a shocker, with day tickets for Playoffs costing S$88 (US$64), each and a two-day ticket for the Finals costing a whopping S$498 (US$360).
This puts it way above Bucharest's TI10's pricing, which had Playoffs tickets costing US$51, and Finals costing US$206.
Conversely, TI9 weekday tickets were sold at US$70 for a two-day bundle, and US$300 for the Finals in Shanghai.
Factor in the one week break between the Playoffs and the Finals, and tourists looking to visit Singapore for esports' largest tournament will have to dig deep into their pockets, especially for those on a budget and given current inflation trends.
However, the consensus from most fans around the Southeast Asia region is that they would likely only attend the Finals, if they could afford it.
Too expensive for Malaysians
For Malaysian Dota 2 fans, Singapore is just a quick one-hour plane ride away, or a six-hour bus ride from Kuala Lumpur.
But staying in Southeast Asia's most expensive city, especially for the one week break, may be a bit too much.
One Malaysian Dota 2 fan, Ivan Chai felt, that the ticket prices were expensive after conversion. Chai also added that if he had a choice, he would only attend the Finals.
"It's too expensive in Malaysian ringgit at around RM800 a day. I haven't even factored in flight, accommodation, and expense for the two days I'll be in Singapore," Chai said. "I would rather watch at home in the Dota 2 client. It's free, and I can control my camera for a much better viewing experience, as well as place bets for the Battle Pass."
"Plus, I don't have to queue for the toilet during breaks," Chai added. "Also, with COVID now ramping up, it's not a good idea to go to crowded places with a lot of screaming and shouting."
Accommodation costs are also a factor for Malaysian customers, said Jonathan Toyad, Content Director at Kakuchopurei. However, he remains optimistic that the show will still easily bring in the numbers and ticket sales.
"Offline experiences are something you treasure for yourself that usually sticks to your mind, especially the breath-taking ones. The organisers know where to put the brunt of the charging costs: in the most-viewed part of the whole TI tournament with the high production values and grand spectacle of it all," said Toyad.
"They know that for all the complaints they will be getting for countries with less-than-favourable exchange rates, people are going to show up regardless and tickets will sell out. It’s just business, especially with a tournament with high demand from a region known for its love for free-to-play MOBA."
Toyad also added that the high prices may also set a precedent for future high-tier Southeast Asian esports events.
"I think S$88 for the Playoffs seems all right, and I would definitely consider getting a ticket to watch my favourite teams," said Lydia Ho, who works as a Narrative Designer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
"However, S$498 is a lot for a Malaysian, and while it is the finals, unless the tickets come with other perks, it is very pricey after conversion," Ho said.
"I imagine I'd have to really love the atmosphere of being there live for the finals or be a huge fan of the teams in the finals to justify paying that much."
New format requires more vacation days
Likewise, for Dota 2 Filipino fans looking to fly down to Singapore, the ticket cost is definitely making them reconsider coming.
"The S$500 ticket for the finals is actually quite expensive if converted to Philippines prices. But I feel like people who really want to watch TI live can afford that. But for me, nope. The event will be streamed live anyway so I’ll just watch it from there" said Alejandro Rey, who works as web developer.
Others, such as JB Adolfo, a data analyst, told Yahoo Esports SEA that while he had already booked a flight and hotel, he had to change his plans after the new format was announced.
"It's way too long, I only have so many vacation days. I'm planning on just watching the finals live and hoping my favourite teams make it there. While I can still afford the increased ticket prices, I think that it's too much for most other Dota fans from the Philippines," said Adolfo.
"I worry Valve didn't really consider the event's accessibility for your average Dota fan from Southeast Asia," he added.
Expensive in Singapore, too
Meanwhile, in Singapore, Dota 2 player Julian Song said that he wouldn't be buying all the tickets due to the price. However, he's willing to fork out at least S$498 for the Finals.
"If I were to choose, I would prefer to go on the first day so there's more stock at the Secret Shop, and the Grand Finals, where all the excitement is at. However, there needs to be more perks that just being able to watch the live competition at that price," said Song.
Retired Dota 2 pro Wong "NutZ" Jeng Yih felt that T111 prices, in comparison with other events such as F1 or concerts, were too high.
However, given that most Dota 2 players would spend on Battle Passes and skins, NutZ expected there would be those willing to pay for these "exorbitant ticket prices" to fill up the event.
Similar to others interviewed, he also felt that the prices were way too much for others in the region, adding that he himself would probably give the Finals a miss.
"Twitch is free. I'll probably be sitting opposite at Kallang Wave Mall with my phone and power bank, waiting for [PSG.LGD's] XinQ to finish his Finals," said NutZ.
— Additional reporting by Kurt Lozano
Aloysius Low is an ex-CNET editor with more than 15 years of experience. He's really into cats and is currently reviewing products at canbuyornot.com
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