The International 2024 Tickets Are Too Expensive!

Why are fans being priced out of TI

Vignesh Raghuram
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>The International 2024 Tickets Are Too Expensive!</p></div>
The International 2024 Tickets Are Too Expensive!


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Few esports events capture the imagination and fervor of fans quite like The International (TI) Dota 2 Championships. Orchestrated primarily by Valve, with support from PGL, this event stands as the undisputed crown jewel in the company’s esports calendar. Its significance and unparalleled importance to the Dota 2 community is further underscored by the presence of Valve’s reclusive founder, Gabe Newell, who makes a rare appearance solely for this occasion.

Since its inception, The International has grown exponentially in prestige and scope. It continues to be the most coveted championship for Dota 2, despite newer tournaments—such as the Riyadh Masters, now rebranded as the Esports World Cup—surpassing it in terms of prize money.

For any Dota 2 esports enthusiast, attending The International is a dream, a pilgrimage to the heart of their beloved game. I, too, have been swept up in its allure, with my most cherished esports memory being TI 2022 in Singapore.

Yet, many fans, despite their eagerness to be part of the spectacle, find themselves unable to attend this year. The soaring ticket prices have rendered the event financially prohibitive for budget-conscious fans. The steep costs have forced many to reconsider their plans, unable to justify the expense of what has traditionally been an accessible celebration of their passion.

Popular Dota 2 content creator Lara “hoxieloxie” Schofield lamented, “My favorite part about TI is when my friends all come together to collectively agree they’ve been priced out of going by ~€650 tickets.”

Former TI5 champion, Peter “ppd” Dager, also criticized the ticket prices and predicted that the ticket sales for the tournament will be slower than ever before. At the time of writing, tickets are still available for purchase through the official ticket seller, TicketMaster. This is in stark contrast to previous years when tickets sold out within minutes of the sale going live.

How The International Became a Fan Favorite—And Why It's Facing Backlash Now

The International Dota 2 Championships originally evolved into a monumental event, thanks to its grassroots approach that emphasized affordability while expanding its scope and grandeur. For a decade, ticket prices, though gradually increasing, remained accessible for most fans.

Here’s a look at the ticket prices over the years:

  • 2011 (TI1): Held at Gamescom, Cologne, Germany. Tickets included with convention admission, free for attendees.

  • 2012 (TI2): Benaroya Hall, Seattle, USA. Tickets priced at $49 for the entire event.

  • 2013 (TI3): Benaroya Hall, Seattle. Ticket price remained at $49.

  • 2014 (TI4): KeyArena, Seattle. Tickets priced at $99 for the entire event, with VIP options up to $500.

  • 2015 (TI5): KeyArena, Seattle. Tickets priced at $99.

  • 2016 (TI6): KeyArena, Seattle. Tickets priced at $75 for midweek and $99 for finals.

  • 2017 (TI7): KeyArena, Seattle. Tickets priced at $100 for midweek and $200 for finals.

  • 2018 (TI8): Rogers Arena, Vancouver, Canada. Tickets priced at $95.76 for midweek and $191.52 for finals.

  • 2019 (TI9): Mercedes-Benz Arena, Shanghai, China. Tickets priced at $72 for midweek and $304 for finals.

  • 2020 (TI10): The tournament was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scheduled for Bucharest, Romania, ticket prices were set at $108 for midweek matches and $236 for the finals. These were refunded after spectators were not allowed due to COVID concerns.

The 2022 edition, held in Southeast Asia, marked a significant turning point. For the first time, fans expressed notable displeasure over escalating ticket prices. Despite expectations for affordability in the region, tickets soared to $250 for midweek and $360 for the finals. Compounding the frustration was the reduction of weekend days from three to two.

However, the worst was yet to come. In 2023, The International did away with midweek matches, selling tickets only for the finals, which returned to Seattle, USA, at a staggering $699.

This year, Valve has maintained the same high prices, even as the event moves to Copenhagen, Denmark. Fans are left questioning whether the tournament can continue to justify such costs without alienating its core audience. 

As Other Esports Events Strive for Accessibility, The International Drifts Off Course

Major titles like Valorant, League of Legends, and Rocket League have managed to strike a balance, ensuring that fans from diverse economic backgrounds can partake in the spectacle. Yet, Dota 2's The International seems to be veering off course, alienating a significant portion of its fanbase with prohibitive pricing.

Consider Valorant's marquee event, VALORANT Champions Seoul 2024, scheduled from August 1-25. Riot Games has adopted a fan-friendly pricing model, with tickets ranging from a modest $20 for the playoffs to $120 for the grand final. This strategic pricing ensures that fans from various economic backgrounds can experience the event, fostering a sense of inclusivity.

Similarly, the 2023 League of Legends World Championship, held across multiple stages and venues in South Korea, offered tickets priced between $23 and $189 per day. This broad spectrum of prices enabled a wide audience to experience the event firsthand, maintaining a delicate balance between accessibility and exclusivity. The Mobile Legends M5 World Championships in the Philippines in 2023 echoed this approach, with entry prices starting at just $8.78 for group stage matches and peaking at $56.21 for the grand final.

Rocket League's World Championships 2024, set for September 13-15 at Dickies Arena in the U.S., also embody this inclusive philosophy. Regular tickets begin at $64.50, with premium options available at $465, providing various tiers of access to suit different fans.

Even the Esports World Cup 2024, featuring 21 different titles, has maintained highly accessible ticket prices, spanning from $3.20 to $5.33 per day, ensuring the event remains within reach for a broad audience.

In a surprising contrast, Valve's other premier esports title, Counter-Strike 2, demonstrates a fairer pricing model. The recent CS2 Major at Copenhagen’s Royal Arena—where The International 2024 is also set to be held—offered tickets for as little as $250 for all four days, with the most expensive tickets costing $374. In contrast, Dota 2 enthusiasts face a staggering $699 charge for just the three-day finals weekend of The International 2024.

While other major titles prioritize accessibility, The International risks alienating its loyal fanbase with exorbitant prices, making it increasingly difficult for dedicated fans to be part of the experience. 

While this move might seem like a blatant cash grab, there could be a more strategic rationale behind it: combating ticket scalpers.

Opinion: Why Valve's Pricing Strategy for The International Might Be a Necessary Evil

Scalping has long plagued major live events, from concerts to sports games, and esports is no exception. In previous years, The International has seen its tickets snatched up within minutes of going on sale, only to reappear on resale sites at significantly marked-up prices. 

TI11ticket scalpers listing tickets for thrice its original value

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This not only frustrates fans but also tarnishes the event's reputation. By raising ticket prices at the outset, Valve could be attempting to strike a balance where tickets remain available longer, giving real fans a fair chance to purchase them at face value.

Of course, Valve could have considered alternatives, such as selling personalized, non-transferable tickets verified at the event, to curb scalping more effectively than by raising prices. While the price increase did deter some scalpers, it raises the question of whether the financial burden on fans is a fair trade-off.

Valve's decision to cut the Battle Pass model, which previously funded a significant portion of TI's prize pool and production costs, could be another reason for the raised ticket prices. The International is renowned for its top-tier production, with intricate stage designs, immersive live streams, and engaging audience experiences. Without the Battle Pass, Valve might be relying more heavily on ticket sales to cover these expenses.

Unfortunately, it seems like many genuine fans have been priced out of this year’s TI and possibly future editions as well if Valve continues to maintain this pricing strategy.

As the debate over ticket pricing continues, it is clear that alternative tournaments like ESL One, PGL, and BLAST will play a pivotal role in providing fans with affordable ways to experience top-tier Dota 2. For many fans, these events may become the new go-to for live Dota 2 experiences, ensuring that the thrill of competition remains accessible to all.

It is just unfortunate that Valve's financial strategy may be inadvertently gatekeeping The International from economically disadvantaged Dota 2 fans.

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Vignesh has been covering the esports industry for nearly 5 years starting with the early days of the DPC. His industry expertise includes experience in Dota 2, CS:GO and Mobile Esports coverage.