A “dream team” of professional gamers from China won the historic $5 million prize at The International video-game tournament that concluded today at Seattle’s KeyArena.
Team Newbee won three “Dota 2″ matches in a row to vanquish another Chinese powerhouse, Vici Gaming, in a final playoff that was webcast around the world and broadcast by ESPN. The 10,000 tickets sold for the event sold out in less than an hour.
Online fantasy-action game “Dota 2″ has more than 20 million players but The International attracted mainstream attention as its prize pool swelled to a record-setting $10.9 million, putting the event in the realm of professional sports.
Bellevue game company Valve, the event organizer and publisher of “Dota 2,” put $1.6 million in the pot and the rest came from purchases of a virtual booklet and bonus material called “The Compendium.”
Newbee’s five members take home the grand prize of $5,028,308 and a shield-like trophy called Aegis. ViCi didn’t get the metal but still won $1,475,699.
“I feel very happy,” said Newbee’s Ning Zhang, 25, who uses the screen name Xiao 8.
Zhang has played for four years but he’s still not sure what he’ll do with his share of the prize.
“I have not thought about how I’m going to spend the money,” he said. “I just won it.”
Other team members are Chen “Hao” Zhihao, Wang “Sansheng” Zhaohui, Zhang “Mu” Pan and Wang “Banana” Jiao.
The prize pot was more than three times higher than the $2.8 million raised for last year’s tournament, held at Benaroya Hall.
So will next year’s prize pool be $30 million? Valve spokesman Doug Lombardi wouldn’t predict the next pot size but said the company sees more potential for the Compendium approach with virtual goods supplementing the host’s contribution.
“If we do those things,” he said, “I assume there’s room for growth.”
(Thank you Janet Tu for interviewing Zhang)