eSports has always been popular to some degree, but when Dota 2 hit the scene in 2011, things exploded. Until that time, I didn’t know anyone that actually watched eSports, but since then, things have changed. With last week’s The International, a couple of friends of mine watched it for hours. The funny part? Neither has ever touched Dota 2. Now that’s something.
It seems that eSports popularity is only going to rise from this point forward. At both 2011’s and 2012’s The International, the top team walked away with $1,000,000 – in 2013, that was upped to $1,437,204. Further, it’s not just the viewership and prize money that’s increasing, it’s the interaction that those not participating in the event gain. For example, would you believe that the last The International had its own official fantasy league? Those actually at the event could collect in-game items simply by hitting up various booths. To me, this is all crazy, but the good kind of crazy.
With the fact that last week’s The International reached a staggering 1,000,000 concurrent viewers, I think it’s safe to say that the security of the event is good. Here’s a question I pose, though: it seems that nothing can touch Dota 2 in terms of eSports popularity… if the game were to simply disappear, would eSports continue to be as popular as it is right now? Or is there something about Dota 2 in particular that really does well to suck people in? Could HoN, LoL, or other MOBAs – or heck, any other games in general – manage to pull this off?