The stakes are high. The clock is ticking. Tensions are rising. No, this is not a game of badminton or football. This is Dota 2
, a multiplayer online battle arena videogame that has caught the attention of gamers all around the world, including here.
The International 2014, the mother of all Dota 2
tournaments, is now reaching its final stages in Seattle, United States, with a total prize of US$10,836,442 (RM34,497,813) waiting for the winners. This is double of what was offered last year.
“People say there is no money in playing videogames. Just look at the prize money that is at stake at this tournament,” said Tan Thong Kai, an eSports enthusiast who feels that the videogame tournaments are not getting enough traction here.
“I think I speak for the Malaysian Dota 2
community in expressing that eSports is just as engaging and exciting to watch as a badminton match with Datuk Lee Chong Wei,” said the 27 year old.
Two all-Malaysian teams, Titan and Arrow Gaming, made it to The International 2014 but were eliminated. However, the Malaysian spirit is still alive, as our players are in two other Chinese teams.
Chai Yee Fung, 23 (Mushi) and Wong Hock Chuan, 22 (Chuan) are representing Team DK and Invictus Gaming, respectively. Mushi was formerly part of Malaysia’s Orange Esports which won the third prize in The International 2013.
“This is the year of the Chinese teams. Their execution has been flawless in the tournament so far. Having five of the Chinese teams qualify for the Main Event says everything,” said Raymond Sim, 24, a casual player who has clocked more than 2,000 hours in the game.
At the time of writing China (five teams), North America (one), Ukraine (one) and a mixed international team are still in the running.
Even though the matches take place during the wee hours here, it has not stopped Malaysians from following it online via live streaming.
“I have been watching a couple of matches every night and stopping around 3am due to my daytime job as a copywriter,” said Stephanie Yeong, 23, who has been playing Dota 2 since it was in beta build. She has played the game for over 3,000 hours.
“I definitely won’t miss the Main Event this weekend,” she said. The Main Event is the elimination stage which determines who advances to the Grand Finals on July 21 in Seattle.
Another avid Dota gamer, Jimmy Lim, 24, said he prefers if the tournament is hosted in other countries instead of the US, as more gamers would be able catch the games if the time difference were not as huge.
Beyond the game
While previously the spotlight was on the tournament alone, earlier this year a documentary Free To Play was released. It explores the behind-the-scenes and day-to-day life of three professional Dota 2 players — Danil Ishutin (Dendi) of team Na`Vi, Benedict Lim (HyHy) from Singapore and Clinton Loomis (Fear), now the coach for the team Evil Geniuses.
“I like how Valve, the company behind the game, has shown both the human and competitive sides of gaming which is still largely seen as a fruitless pastime for geeks in many parts of the world,” said Yeong.
Sim agreed with Yeong, saying “the documentary actually tells the real life story of professional gamers and the sacrifices they have to make to pursue their dream of becoming a top player in the world.”