Every now and then a little idea turns the world on its head. A game, derived by a mod, supported by the community and taken in the hands of giants, Dota 2 has since became a true trendsetter in the eSports community. Even though there are various eSport games and events and there are a lot of arguments regarding which one is better, we are going to step away and look at the broader picture. A fantasy for some may become a reality sooner than you think, with eSports getting bigger by the day, the lines between sports and eSports is getting slimmer by the day.
Introduction to eSports and Dota 2
Let’s start off with a quick introduction of eSports and Dota 2 for those who don’t know (yet). Dota 2 is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA for short) or simply a PC game, where two teams face off in a five vs. five match that tests their intelligence, quick reactions and of course, clicking skills. Electronic Sporting Events, also known as eSports, are generally competitions and tournaments, much like your regular sports, but instead of testing your physical agility, they test your mental agility, much like Chess does. Even though eSports have been around ever since video games were born, they didn’t really achieve great popularity, until recent years. While currently the term eSports is coined for these events, there is a huge controversy as to whether these events can be categorized as “sports” or not. Even though it is uncertain when the term was first used, most of the people that are involved in eSports claim the games to be of the level of real sports, as the games challenge your mental skills, as well as your physical reflexes. However, even though the U.S. government recognizes the eSports professionals as professional athletes, this controversy is yet to be settled.
So what about the International 2014 Dota 2 Championships?
Well it’s the fourth edition of the annual The International (TI) event. One of the biggest eSports tournaments to date, TI4 gathers the best Dota 2 teams from almost all the corners of the world and lets them compete for the ginormous prize of five million dollars. Currently in its final stages, the main TI4 event will take place in the next three days, where the remaining eight teams will fight it out to determine who is going to be the winner and probably one of the first eSport millionaires.
A prize fund to match footballers’ wages
If the prize of over six million dollars has surprised you, then you should know that the total prize pool of the tournament is actually over ten million. However, that is not the most interesting part. One of the biggest innovations in the eSport tournament system was made by Valve last year, when they gave a chance to the public to buy tickets and in-game items via which they sponsored the tournament. Much like crowdsourcing, The Dota 2 International event for the 2013 reached a wide audience and after a ton of eTickets were bought the prize was above one million dollars. This year with the increased popularity of the game, as well as the eSports event, the prize poll got over ten million dollars. Even though this may not seem much compared to the biggest sporting events, it is far more than what some official sports manage to get.
However, at this point you might ask yourself, what does that have to do with changing the world and eSports as a whole?
The Snowball Effect
We are living in a world driven by economy. Just four years ago, a prize pool of one million dollars was considered breathtaking for an eSports event. Even though eSports have existed long before, it is just now that the sponsors are realizing the true potential they possess.
With its huge prize pool, The International 2014 Dota 2 event is receiving an extensive amount of popularity. The more popular a sport (whether electronic or not) the more sponsors can be easily found. People have already made their voices heard via the “crowdfunding”-like system of the tournament, but now it’s time for the big corporations to start paying attention.
There are players, there are viewers and there are a ton of money, the only thing The International 2014 Dota 2 event needs currently is just a bit of a push from the sponsors to reach an even wider audience and we can actually partake in the birth of a new (already) worldwide trend, as eSports start to take over regular sports.
Do you think that this sounds a bit far-fetched or do you think that it will truly be an interesting time for eSports in the next few years? What do you think eSports need in order to achieve better popularity amongst a wider audience? Have you played esports before and if so what did you think?