With no prospective sponsors in sight, Team Undying look to crowdfunding on Gofundme to help set up their bootcamp for TI10.
With two months to go until The International 10, Dota 2’s biggest event takes place, the competitors are deep into the preparation stage. The larger organizations will most likely also have periods of rest and relaxation in addition to their boot camps, funded by their many major sponsors that will guarantee the roster the best possible time ahead of what is the showpiece event.
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s a small team in North America going by the name of Team Undying. Established in January of this year, the team is composed of a mix of scene veterans and rising stars, winning the regional last chance qualifiers in convincing fashion. This makes them North America’s third representatives at TI10 alongside Evil Geniuses and Quincy Crew.
Despite qualifying for the big time, Team Undying are currently facing a serious problem, one that every small Dota 2 team is currently experiencing with a drought of proper tournaments. As revealed by soft support and acting captain David “MoonMeander” Tan, the team has failed to secure sponsors to support their boot camps, an integral part of the growth of the team as they prepare for TI10.
In the end, MoonMeander asked the Dota 2 community, and Team Undying fans, for help, setting up a Gofundme campaign that currently sits at nearly half the funding for the $20,817 goal, a number shared by MoonMeander to be the cost quoted by Waveform Entertainment, a company that provides boot camp services for different esports teams.
Team Undying and boot camp issues
Boot camps are especially integral to how Team Undying will perform in October, even more so than most of the other teams. This is due to the fact that the team, even though under the North American banner, features international players. Position 1 Enzo “Timado” Gianoli is Peruvian, mid-laner Jonathan “Bryle” De Guia and MoonMeander himself are Canadian, off-laner Jonáš “SabeRLight-” Volek is Czech and DooYoung “Dubu” Kim is Korean.
While this kind of diversity can be expected from a North American team, it is a nightmare in terms of logistics. As shared by Moonmeander in his Twitlonger, playing with other players living in another continent poses many downsides, most notably the lag involved. With so much on the line at TI10, every team expected to do well will have been together at least once for a big boot camp to find their tempos and learn to play together in a LAN setting.
However, boot camps are not cheap. As the team had not had much in terms of tournament winnings – some of which also went to paying a manager – or sponsorships, it‘s left up to the kindness of everyone on Gofundme if Team Undying would get to see a boot camp at all.
The current problem of Dota 2 esports
Team Undying’s current situation is by no means unique. Some of the recent benchings and breaks taken by many professional Dota 2 teams were clearly motivated by financial matters. Na’Vi were the canary in the coalmine with that regard; a few weeks ago the organization benched their whole Dota 2 roster, with COO Aleksey “xaoc” Kucherov noting the huge discrepancy of The International’s prize pool versus everything else in the scene. Na’Vi failed to qualify for TI10, which was one of the driving reasons for the benching of the entire roster.
EHOME followed suit soon thereafter, with the organization suggesting that they will be taking a step back from the competitive scene until after the end of TI10. Even TNC Predator, one of the biggest and most popular Dota 2 teams in the Southeast Asian region, will take a break until the next DPC season. Both teams had the option to compete in smaller tournaments, but the prizes offered are too low compared to offset the running costs of a team.
This brings up a wider issue within the Dota 2 esports scene: though The International always offers an obscene amount of money, this means that everything else in between pales in comparison. This kills smaller teams who cannot sustain themselves without sponsorships. That said, there’s something to be said about the determination and passion of some players, even without million-dollar sponsors behind them: Team Undying and their Gofundme venture may be a viable future for any team wanting to sustain themselves in this harsh esports scene.