Every player on Germany got $408,000 for winning the Fifa World Cup. Winning the Masters will land a player $1.6 million. How about $3.2 million for winning Wimbledon? The figures sure seem like a lot until you learn that a cool $5 million was awarded for winning at a videogame.
That’s how much a single team won at this years International – an annual tournament held to crown the Dota 2 world champion, also referred to as Defense of the Ancients 2. The competitive game has been known to blur the line between a traditional sport and an online game through its popularity. Much of its attraction comes from being an addictive, free-to-play multiplayer online title. Its main aim is to team gamers up against each other to explore maps and gain skills for characters called heroes, which are uniquely controlled by the player. With a steep learning curve, gamers are forced to learn strategies, combos, and teamwork to attain victory.
Team Newbee from China competed against 18 other international teams in Seattle’s KeyArena in front of 10,000 fans and millions more watching through streaming feeds via online and on their TVs before attaining the much sought after reward.
The $10 million prize purse made it the richest purse ever presented in a videogame tournament; a 522 per cent increase from previous competitions of its kind. Even the second and third place winners went home with over a million in their pockets.
Nobody would have predicted the $499 tickets for the event would sell-out in less than an hour either. The phenomenon many people see as a sport has earned such a legitimacy that the event was even broadcasted all over ESPN as millions tuned in over the four-day event to watch teams cast spells and battle one another.
Move over poker. ESPN’s broadcast across their multi-channel network is a sign of the times. The eSport community has been growing in popularity and some networks are finding that they need to win back some of the viewership they’ve lost over the years as a result of the internet.
“This year’s International really demonstrates how much competitive gaming has grown to rival traditional sports,” said Valve developer Erik Johnson in a press release statement. “We believe the teams have also pushed to a new level of play this year and will further demonstrate the incredible advances made across this tournament since it first began three short years ago.”
This upward trend of watching players game has been spreading like wild fire over the past couple years. Websites like Twitch and Ustream have allowed for communities of gamers to get together and socialize while they watched their favourite streamers do what they do best. These websites have even been integrated into the everyday functionalities of the PS4 and Xbox One as well, in allowing players to simply click a button and begin broadcasting their insta-hacking via Watch Dogs, or their crazy triple overtimes in NBA 2k14 among other feats.
As it stands, over 45 million users go on Twitch on a daily basis, which often sees more traffic during peak hours in comparison to Facebook. Comparatively, ESPN as a network averaged around 26 million viewers during the NBA finals, so it’s no secret as to the reasons why a major network would want a chunk of Twitch’s viewership.
eSports is a growing category in the world of sports and it’s becoming more and more legitimized every year.
As for the next tournament, The International is predicting an even bigger turnout with larger cash prizes for its Dota 2 world championship, which paints a fascinating picture for the future of sports entertainment.
Matthew Anness + Photos courtesy of Dota2.com