We’ve seen eSports tournaments become more and more popular over the years, with fans flocking both in-person and online to watch their favorite teams compete in games like League of Legends and Hearthstone, among others. Leave it to Valve to host what is the biggest eSports tournament yet, if you look at the prize pool being offered.
The International kicks off this week in Seattle, bringing together the best DotA 2 players from around the world to compete for prizes at the Key Arena in Seattle this week. And not just a mere reward, either – thanks to the DotA 2 community (purchasing exclusive in-game avatars and items), the publisher will offer a whopping $18 million in prizes. That’s the biggest yet for an eSports tournament.
Fans and media gathered for the event in Seattle before it even kicked off, with players arriving to greet them – some even by limousine, according to the official DotA 2 Twitter feed.
Gabe Newell, CEO of Valve, was more than pleased announcing the kick-off of the tournament yesterday, according to GeekWire. He considers the eSports event the “highlight of the year” for the team at Valve, as well as its many fans.
The publisher is going all out for tournament attendees and fans, doing everything from bringing in an orchestra to perform themes from the game to hosting its own live-stream of the event, which can be found here, as well as on Twitch.
What’s more, it’s attracting mainstream media as well. ESPN, which previously hosted the Heroes of the Dorm tournament on television back in April, will be covering the International to some extent (its coverage can be found here), and it should get tremendous social media buzz all week long, between live Periscope broadcasts from fans and various messages across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Casual audiences can also view the action in 400 theaters across the nation. (Ticket information for those showings can be found here.)
Indeed, eSports are becoming bigger and better with each event. Imagine what 2016’s International tournament could hold. Chances are Newell and his team have already begun looking into it.