Drodo Studio is taking a page out of Valve’s playbook.
The original creator of Dota Auto Chess and designer of its Epic Games Store-exclusive standalone version has begun detailing its esports plans for the title. The first stop is a tournament for the game that features an eye-catching $1 million prize pool.
“We are pleased to announce that Drodo Studio, Dragonest Network, and ImbaTV will bring you the Auto Chess Invitational,” the designer posted on its Facebook page. “The competition will be held in Shanghai in October 2019 with a total prize of one million US dollars…We are looking forward to the first world champion of “Auto Chess” to be crowned!”
The announcement comes a day after the first live tournament was announced for the Valve-made Auto Chess spinoff Dota Underlords. The move is reminiscent of the early days of Dota 2’s esports endeavors when Valve sought to take some of the shine off competitive League of Legends with a million-dollar tournament for their own moba.
The $1 million tournament dwarfs anything seen across any Auto Chess iteration to this point. ESL’s recently announced Dota Underlords side event for ESL One Frankfurt 2019 is interesting based on it being the first live event of its kind, but it features a comparatively tiny $5,000 prize pool. There have been some higher profile endeavors for Dota Auto Chess including the Auto Chess All Star Invitational and the Twitch Rivals series, but neither has yet evolved beyond novelty.
Having a legitimate, steady esports scene for Auto Chess could be a difference maker for Drodo Studio and with competition fierce in the scene, that’s critical.
Though Drodo Studio started the Auto Chess boom with the wildly popular Dota Auto Chess game mode within Dota 2, the genre has since become crowded. Following Drodo’s decision to work with ImbaTV to make a standalone version of Dota Auto Chess, Valve opted to make its own version in the form of Dota Underlords.
The popularity wasn’t lost on League of Legends publisher Riot Games who decided to make their own similar game in Teamfight Tactics, which has been well met by fans of the series.
Drodo Studio’s Auto Chess now owns a clear edge in the esports departments and it will be interesting to see how Valve and Riot respond.