Last month, a team of five young men earned more than $5 million by winning a tournament for the strategy video game “Dota 2.”
And no, they didn’t luck out. They beat the world’s top teams in a grueling series of games part of an annual tournament called The International. This year, the prize pool for this one event was more than $10 million.
But these competitions aren’t really about the money (which, in the case of the International, is mostly supplied by fans of the game). They’re about the lightning-quick plays, the strategies, the comebacks, the crushing defeats – all the things that make people scream and weep when watching traditional sports.
Competitive video games, or esports, is an emerging phenomenon. Not only do these games now have huge player bases, they also have massive, hardcore audiences. For this year’s International, 20 million people watched the tournament. And for the game “League of Legends”, 32 million people watched the finals of last year’s championship series.
To put that in perspective, about 18 viewers million watched this year’s NBA finals.
But enough numbers. You came for the moments.
And while you might not have a clue what’s going on in these games, just try to take in the action, the passion, and (in some cases) the surprising production value.
1. The Alliance tops Na’Vi in the The International 3 Finals
Seeing this just makes you want to slam your fist on a desk.
2. Daigo Umehara Outplays Justin Wong In “Street Fighter III: Third Strike”
This is a comeback of comebacks. Just when hope is all but lost, the plays come.
3. Justin Wong “Returns” At UMVC3 EVO 2014
Go to the end, and watch the video game equivalent of the Lambeau Leap…or roll.
4. League Of Legends: Crazy Ending In ‘El Clasico’
This clip even explains what’s going on for you.
5. Smash Melee Grand Final Apex 2014
You might have thought Nintendo’s “Super Smash Bros. Melee” was a party game. Turns out, there’s a die-hard competitive scene that’s been around for years.