Most Sundays, ESPN’s lineup would include the usual popular sports such as what the Americans call football and that other sport everyone else calls football but this Sunday you will also see snippets of a video game tournament – specifically Valve’s Defense of the Ancients 2 otherwise known as DOTA 2. This weekend is the championship finals where they will be competing for the biggest pot in all competitive video game history: $10 million dollars.
The entire four-day event will be broadcast on ESPN3, a multi-screen online streaming platform, where viewers can watch matches, analysis, interviews on demand. ESPN3, subsequently, is readily available to stream through various channels including AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku or through the official ESPN3 app on iOS or Android.
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Moreover, a brief 30-minute preview of the final will also air on ESPN2 on Sunday at 8:30 pm Pacific time. The preview will feature highlights, expert analysis, and commentary along with an appearance by Valve CEO Gabe Newell. This won’t be ESPN’s first foray into video game coverage but this will be the first time it will occupy a primetime slot of the Sunday lineup.
The announcement of ESPN coverage alongside the record-breaking prize pool underscores the growing legitimacy of video game competitions. Last year, Valve introduced The Compendium, a way users could contribute to the pool while bolstering in-game abilities. This year sales of the Compendium tripled the original $2.6 million pool. While the Hearthstone kerfuffle proves not all areas of the video game community might be ready for such growth, steps made by Valve and ESPN this weekend will do much to further this cause.
The past two weeks have been big indeed for video game competitions. This weekend’s DOTA 2 International follows last week’s Evolution 2014 the world’s biggest fighting game championship. Though fighting games suffer a more niche following, the competition also managed to break records in attendance, stream viewership and size of prize pool.