Valve announced today that The International, the annual e-sports tournament for its blockbuster Dota 2 MOBA game, will be shown live on ESPN3—a pretty big coup, since it seemingly legitimizes e-sports as “real sports.” There will also be a show on ESPN2 at 8:30pm Pacific this Sunday previewing The International’s final match, featuring interviews with players and Valve managing director Gabe Newell.
The International is the largest video games tournament in the world, with a prize pool this year of over $10 million. That’s an enormous jump from last year’s $2.8 million pool. And as in the past, this year’s enormous pot is all thanks to the Dota 2 community—players bought access to The Compendium, a special companion item to The International that helps follow the tournament while also providing in-game rewards. Proceeds from the $10 compendium go straight into the prize pot.
“From the success of the Compendium to the collaboration with ESPN, this year’s International really demonstrates how much competitive gaming has grown to rival traditional sports,” said Erik Johnson of Valve in a Steam news post.
The tournament itself runs from Friday, July 18 through Monday the 21 at Key Arena in Seattle. Sixteen teams will compete in the main event. ESPN3 is accessible through WatchESPN.com or the WatchESPN app available on phones, tablets, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
Not an ESPN subscriber? You can also tune into the International via the Dota 2 website.