Competitive gaming or eSports is now a sport in its own right, with professional leagues and huge cash prizes that rival offline games, and Dota 2 remains as one of the most attractive.
Released in 2013, Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena game (MOBA) made by Valve Corporation, the company behind the digital distribution platform Steam.
According to the chart on Steam, it’s one of the most played games, averaging about half a million players a day, peaking at 1.29 million.
Dota 2 is the sequel to Defense Of The Ancients (Dota), which was in turn a mod based on Blizzard’s World Of Warcraft III launched a decade earlier in 2003.
Like its predecessor, the game is made up of two competing teams of five players that have to attack their opponent’s base while defending theirs. The game ends when one team destroys the other’s Ancient, a structure heavily guarded within the base.
It’s a free-to-play game with an ever-growing roster of heroes. The game makes money by offering loot boxes and a battle pass that provides cosmetic customisation for characters.
The battle pass is the key to the game’s longevity, as the profit is split 3:1 between Valve and its Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) league which leads up to the world’s most lucrative eSports tournament, The International (TI).
The prize pool has grown from US$2.8mil (RM11.58mil) back in 2013 to US$34mil (RM140.6mil) in 2019, all raised through battle passes.
Although TI was postponed last year due to the pandemic, it is making a comeback this year.
Though the game is nearing the 10 year mark, Valve keeps it fresh with new content, heroes and patches that balances gameplay.
Recently, the developers introduced a new hero – Dawnbreaker – a giantess who is a cross between a Valkyrie and thunder god Thor, and wields a celestial hammer.
The game allows for a great variety of strategy, as teams can mix and match heroes of different types.
However, a balanced team requires heroes with specific roles. The lingo varies but the roles are generally referred to as Carry, Mid, Offlaner and Support.
According to industry tracker eSports Earnings, three Malaysians have netted over US$1mil (RM4.1mil) in winnings – Yap “xNova” Jian Wei (US$1.88mil or RM7.77mil), Zheng “MidOne” Yeik Nai (US$1.78 or RM7.36mil) and Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung (US$1.03mil or RM4.26mil).
The first of two six-week seasons of the DPC kicked off on Jan 18 for all regions. Each season leads to a Major that grants points for qualifying for the 10th edition of TI.
The first Major – ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021 with a prize pool of US$500,000 (RM2.07mil) – came to a close on April 4.
Four Malaysians took part in the contest but in different teams – Thiay “JT-” Jun Wen and Chan “Oli” Chon Kien for team Invictus Gaming (China); Kam “Moon” Boon Seng for Fnatic (South East Asia); and Cheng “NothingToSay” Jin Xiang for PSG.LGD (China).
Two of the teams made it to the top: Invictus Gaming snatched first place, earning US$200,000 (RM827,100) and 500 DPC points, while PSG.LGD came in third, winning US$75,000 (RM310,150) and 400 DPC points.
The other teams representing South East Asia – Fnatic, OB Esports x Neon and T1 – didn’t make the top five.
The top twelve teams with the highest point totals will receive direct invites to this year’s TI, which will be hosted in Stockholm, Sweden in August. The other invited teams will be determined by regional qualifiers.