By Jingyu Zhang
Northwest Asian Weekly
The Chinese-based e-sport team “Newbee” snagged the top prize at the International Dota 2 Championships. This summer, the International Dota 2 Championships was held in Seattle and it was the third consecutive year that the tournament has been hosted here. Newbee defeated their fellow countrymen “VICI Gaming” in the grand finals.
They won the best-of-five series, winning 3-1, and won an impressive grand-prize haul of $5,028,308 (Yes, over five million dollars!). Dota 2 is a multi-player online battle arena video game, and it is played in discreet matches involving two five-player teams, each occupying a stronghold at a corner of “the map.”
This year, the tournament was held in Key Arena, which is about 10 times the capacity of Benaroya Hall (where the previous tournaments were hosted). Over $10 million in prize money was given out during this international competition. The tournament started with 16 teams and only eight teams came to the final tournament stage in Seattle. The teams were from different countries—five Chinese teams, two North American teams, and another one from the Ukraine.
The new champion team Newbee is a professional Chinese Dota 2 team, which was formed in February 2014. Termed the “Chinese Dream Team,” its members consisted of the monikers Xiao8, Mu, Hao, KingJ, and JSMJ.
Although the team did struggle a bit at the start of the tournament, they slowly caught up and managed to be the first team to advance to the final stage.
Because of the tournament, the game suddenly drew attention from the public, most who didn’t even know about the game. Most people were simply astounded by the size of the prize pool. What’s interesting is that over 70 percent of the prize money was actually crowd-funded from the Dota 2 gamer community. Amateur players can purchase items for gameplay and to support players during a specific period before the tournament. Twenty-five percent of the money spent will flow into the prize pool. Many thought that this was a clever campaign played by Valve Corp., the creator of Dota 2. It provides an easy way for gaming fans to show support to the star players.
Because of my friend Shuo Han, I happened to get a chance to go to Key Arena and watch the live games at the final stage. Although I didn’t know much about the game, I could feel the enthusiasm from all the fans toward their “dream” teams. Pro players were crowded by fans asking for autographed cards — cards can play a role and affect any particular hero or equipment in the game. The 10,000 general admission tickets were sold out immediately after the tournament was announced.
Because of the incentive of the giant prize pool, all the teams did their best to prepare for the final event. Winning the tournament is not only something that makes your “dream come true,” but it is also the opportunity to actually earn some impressive money by playing games. Since “playing a game” is still not perceived as a financially viable job by most people, not all the pro players were supported and understood by their families when they decided to choose this “career.” For the Newbee team members, winning the tournament was more about proving themselves.
Pro players spent more than 10 hours a day in average for training, which simply makes gaming not that much of a joy. One of the players of Newbee, Xiao8, actually announced retirement from the competitive gaming world after winning the tournament, saying that he wants to keep away from the pressure.
This year attracted a record amount of professional players in the international tournament’s four-year history. Dota 2 will certainly be recognized because of this year’s tournament. (end)