Dimitri Vallette – Mars Media – From China to Disneyland Paris

International esports tournaments aim to capture the attention of esports enthusiasts from all over the world and event organisers are trying to do this by delivering something new and unexpected.

A Major Dota 2 tournament took place in Disneyland Paris in May, providing an experience unlike any esports audience had seen before. It has been seen by some as a successful case of a major, non-endemic collaboration in the esports scene.

To delve into the MDL Disneyland Paris Major, we spoke to Dimitri Vallette, Director of Events at Mars Media.

Dimitri Vallette, Director of Events at Mars Media

ESI: How did you work begin working with Disney to develop and host the tournament?

Dimitri Vallette: Our first talk began in November of last year. Disneyland® Paris were very keen on co-producing a big Dota 2 event, and while we had plans to host the Major in China, we thought it was a very good opportunity for us to host an MDL event outside of the country, which is an event we never did before. It was a big challenge for us as we had to work with a big company with little experience in the esports industry while also facing many obstacles such as language barriers, cultural differences, and so on.

However, our experience in hosting and producing esports events and their experience in many different areas helped us both learn a lot from each other and allowed us to host the first Dota 2 Major in France.

Dimitri Vallette – Mars Media – Showcasing Chinese esports to the world
Photo credit: MDL

ESI: Are there any plans for more overseas collaborations in the future?

DV: As we showed that we are capable of hosting a successful Dota 2 event outside of Asia, we will be seeking for more opportunities like this one as long as it makes sense for both parties. We have been wanting to host an event outside of China for around two years, but couldn’t find a suitable partner to do so. Disneyland® Paris were eager to co-produce the event with us that it wouldn’t have made much sense for us to say no.

“I’ve received the trust from Mars Media, but also the Chinese fans, and I’m trying my best to pay it back.”

ESI: Why have you decided to devote yourself to developing esports in China?

DV: As a matter of fact, I started to get interested into the Chinese Dota 2 scene because nobody did back in 2012 (the year where the Chinese teams transitioned from DotA to Dota 2). I wrote about the Chinese teams and tournaments even though I was more interested in the Western scene, but I started to like the people I got to talk to daily. After a few months talking to managers, players, media and tournament organizers from China, I saw they were working very differently than Western people, and it got me both curious and excited about the future of the scene.

Now I’m working for Mars Media, the first esports company to give me a chance to do what I love. I’ve received the trust from Mars Media, but also the Chinese fans, and I’m trying my best to pay it back.

Dimitri Vallette – Mars Media – Showcasing Chinese esports to the world
Photo credit: MDL

ESI: What do you think is the main difference between esports in China and the West?

DV: I feel that Chinese esports organization don’t take full advantage of the players and teams that represent them. In other words, they don’t market their players and teams well enough — something that would also benefit them. Western esports organizations had to rely on sponsors in order to grow, and in order to get sponsorships, you need to give them more visibility which is why social media was — and still is — an important tool for them. You need to be able to show sponsors numbers in order to get financial gains.

In China, too many esports organizations rely too much on their founder — often wealthy — and therefore do not have much income. I believe that many Chinese esports organizations would be in trouble if their founder suddenly decided to stop investing in the project.

With that said, the Chinese esports organizations have recently started to sign lucrative deals, and I believe that one of the reasons is that it’s such a competitive market, and if you want to remain at the top, you need to pay better salaries. Although some Chinese esports teams may obtain profits from the franchising system in recent years, it is still costly to join the league. Many team owners are probably unwilling to spend millions of dollars to get a slot in a league, which is why I think they recently started to bring in more partners.

“I believe there will be fewer ‘International’ tournaments, but more regional ones.”

ESI: What trends do you think we’ll see emerging in the future for both Chinese and Western esports?

DV: I believe there will be fewer “International” tournaments, but more regional ones. A lot of game titles that have been played until now such as StarCraft, Warcraft III, Dota 2, CS:GO, League of Legends and so on were all a worldwide phenomenon, but the newer game titles are either a hit or miss in some regions. Many of the newer games on PC weren’t received well in some parts of Asia while the Mobile version did a lot better.

Mobile games are extremely popular in Asia, while the West is still playing PC and console games, and I don’t think this is going to change anytime soon. It just makes sense for Asians to play mobile games. Not everyone can afford a PC, but everyone owns a phone – while in the West, almost every gamer owns a PC or console, and I believe it’s more appealing to play on PC/console than on a phone, which is why I don’t think Western players will not play mobile games in the near future.

Nowadays, most of the popular game titles that are released on PC will quickly get a mobile version which will be played primarily in Asia. Honor of Kings, Mobile Legends, and PUBG Mobile are all very popular in Asia, not just China. The Asian market is quickly transitioning to mobile while I believe it will take more than five years for the West to follow suit. I think the recent announcement from Tencent giving up on Arena of Valor proves that.