The largest e-sports tournament in the world finished yesterday in Seattle, with Chinese team NewBee beating rivals Vici Gaming to take home more than $5 million in prize money.
The tournament, known as The International, sees teams of gamers compete in Dota 2 (Defense of the Ancients 2); an arena-based game for the PC that sees two opposing teams attempt to destroy their rival’s base – an artefact known as the ‘ancient’.
The game was created by US company Valve as a spin-off from the popular World of Warcraft series and has spawned a whole genre of MOBA titles (it stands for multiplayer online battle arena) – free to play titles that make their money from players buying merchandise and in-game accessories.
With its roster of 107 individual heroes and a complex vocabulary, Dota 2 (and other MOBAs such as League of Legends) can be confusing to outsiders, and its publishers have been attempting to fix this by offering matches with basic commentaries for the uninitiated and even releasing a feature-length documentary about the game.
The tournament itself has been hailed as a milestone in 'bringing e-sports to the masses' with millions streaming the final over the internet and the game even appearing on the frontpage of ESPN’s website.
The total prize money was $10.9m, with the runners-up receiving $1.4m and the remaining $4.5m distributed among the other 19 teams taking part. The $5m taken home by the winning team is more than three times what golfer Rory McIlroy claimed for winning the 2014 Open earlier this week.
However, despite the prize money, vocal fanbase and increasing awareness, professional gaming is still very much an enthusiast's sport, with players relying on prize money rather than salaries to survive in the industry.
There are also widespread failures to welcome female players: the internal culture of Dota 2 is often described as sexist and not a single female gamer has competed in The International during the four years it's been running.Reuse content