Dota vu: Valve’s world cup of e-sports is having another moment in the spotlight

Every year for the past half decade, like clockwork, Valve’s Dota 2 tournament has broken the record for biggest prize pool in e-sports history. Dubbed The International (TI), this competition started off with $1.6 million of Valve’s own money in 2011 before adding a gamer-funded component that accelerated it north of $10 million by 2014, past $20 million last year, and close to $25 million for The International 7 that just concluded. These eight-figure prizes have attracted the eye of mainstream media, and Dota made it to the front page of The New York Times after TI4, but the frisson of popular excitement never seems to last. As a devoted Dota fan, the way I see the game being perceived by the wider public is similar to the way I see Americans approaching football, the sport they call soccer. Outside of a passionate niche audience, football is mostly neglected in the US until the quadrennial FIFA World Cup brings 32 national teams (soon to be 48) together for a grand exhibition of The Beautiful Game. So it is with the Dota International: its bountiful prize pool attracts attention from people outside the Dota sphere, but much as with football after… Read full this story

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