Dota 2: The Six Million Dollar Championship...So Far

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Steve Anderson
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Dota 2: The Six Million Dollar Championship...So Far

When July 18 dawns in Seattle, reports suggest it's going to bring a slice of history right along with it. What's the big driver of this particular bit of history? Well, it all has to do with Dota 2, the popular action-strategy title from Valve, that will be having its championship event at the Key Arena in Seattle. While this might not mean so much to casual viewers, this year's Dota 2 championship is set to be the biggest such event ever recorded. Not only is it set to have the biggest viewership in the game's history thanks to online viewership numbers, but as the title implies, the prize purse is also set to be the biggest in Dota 2 history, at least $6 million. But that's likely to change between now and then.

Reports suggest that the prize pool will actually clear $6 million by the time the competition starts in July. As it turns out, when Valve set up the tournament, it kicked in $1.6 million for a prize pool. Pretty good by most any standard, especially for professional gaming, but then Valve opened up the floodgates by tying the prize pool to sales of The International Compendium, an e-book that offers ways to keep up with the event, as well as earn points for watching the championship. Said points can then be turned into items for other Dota 2 characters, and when a Compendium is purchased at $10, $2.50 goes into the prize pool. Given the number of Compendiums sold, and the number that are still likely to be sold, it's a clear sign that the prize pool for the Dota 2 championship is likely to climb from here.

This is the thing that really should be making people take notice of e-sports in general. While we've seen a lot of evidence before that e-sports is a growing market—the fact that there were even reports that Google wanted to drop $1 billion to land Twitch should have driven that home beyond all hope of doubt, especially when Google didn't laugh the first person to ask about said reports out of the room—the recent events make it almost impossible to believe anything else.

And why not? Why wouldn't e-sports be huge? Consider the concept of e-sports for a minute; we've got a field here with about as many viewers as, say, hockey, but without the need to build enormous stadiums or pay the players much more than a living wage, if at all. Massive prize pools can be offered, and a profit still made—remember that Valve gets about $0.75 on the dollar for every Compendium that gets sold, even if a slice of that goes to keeping the tournament up, running and online—and an ever-increasing number of users are watching. Not only do they get to watch the fun of a tournament—at bargain-basement prices compared to most any sporting event one cares to name that isn't staffed by people too young to vote—but they also get to walk away with material they can in turn play at home. They watch the game...then they play it themselves. Those who become sufficiently good at it may well end up playing professionally as well. That's disturbing and amazing by turns, and a perfect illustration of just what's going on in e-sports.

For those who doubted the overall impact that e-sports will likely have in the near-term future, the Dota 2 championship with the $6 million purse should do the job. By the time July hits, that number may well even break $10 million. But even if another nickel doesn't go into the prize pool, Dota 2, and e-sports in general, has made its point. It's here, and it's likely here to stay.

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