The world’s largest video gaming tournament - The International - have finally been won. Chinese team NewBee yesterday won the competition in the popular computer game DOTA 2, taking home prize money in excess of $5 million US dollars.
In the action role-playing game published by Valve Software and based off an earlier mod of Warcraft 3, players in teams of 5 control and single ‘hero’ unit, that has to work together with other plays in order to kill enemy players and finally their base. The game in itself is incredibly complex and skilled players need to rely on fast reflexes, deep knowledge game mechanics and efficient teamwork in order to win.
While this game (and its earlier derivatives) has been around for a while, the eSports scene has only begun to burst into the mainstream in the last few years. Yesterdays’ final was the fourth such iteration of The International, and each time it has expanding its audience. Evidence of this is in the viewership statistics for the event itself. Twitch.tv - a leading videogames streaming webside - recorded at least 300,000 unique views of its live stream of the tournament.
US broadcaster ESPN for the first time ran live coverage of The International
Such is the level of attention that eSports are now getting, that major established sporting TV channels are looking to get a piece of the pie. US broadcaster ESPN for the first time ran live coverage of The International on its ESPN3 channel, and have plans to expand further into coverage of other eSports events.
Indeed, while this is a new development for the US market, such live coverage of video game competitions is a well-established tradition in South Korea. There, major companies sponsor teams to battle each other in the popular Starcraft franchise of video games, and major events are broadcast across several TV channels.
As we move into the future, and video games and eSports begin to draw greater amounts of acceptance and followings from the wider community, we can expect to see yet more high-level competitions like The International broadcast on TV. Alongside this, it is only natural that advertisers and major companies will jump on board with sponsorships, further increasing the stakes.
It would seem the future for eSports is bright. Let’s just hope it doesn’t create another FIFA….
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