THE final battle of “The International”, a tournament for the video game Defense of the Ancient 2 (Dota 2), will be fought on July 21st. With a prize pool of $10.9m, the sum is a record for such competitions, known as electronic sports or e-sports. Strikingly, the bounty was largely raised by fans. As in previous years, the organiser and developer of the game, Valve, only put up $1.6m.
Sales from “The Compendium”, an interactive programme with match details and in-game rewards, make up the rest. Around 4m programmes have been sold, which means that roughly half of Dota 2’s active monthly users have bought one. Last year, around a million people watched the final. (In South Korea, for example, e-sports are akin to a national sport and there is a television channel dedicated to them.)
The International’s success is impressive considering that Dota, and the genre of games to which it belongs, have only existed for a decade (while the Tour de France dates from 1903). But another tournament is bigger still: the League of Legends Championship final last October brought in 8.5m concurrent viewers and 32m viewers in total, a 400% increase from 2012. That, in turn, could be surpassed this year—for The International’s final will be streamed on ESPN 3.
Daily chart: Zap! Bang! Ka-ching! | The Economist