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E-sports: How can Dota 2 have a bigger prize pool than the Super Bowl?

Updated on May 12, 2016

E-sports, sports redefined

What are e-sports?

We all have that one friend that likes to remind you that formally chess is a sport. Of course many people tend to disagree, because they see no connection between the boardgame and a game on the field. However, sport can be defined broadly, and a match even more so, and fans of sports in the orthodox fashion are in for a giant change to the definition of sports.

Now that computers and the internet have become a standard commodity in nearly every household, videogames have replaced the old fashioned boardgame at a rapid rate, and now they've started to nibble at the area of sports. In recent years, the term e-sports has been popping up. The definition of E-sport is "a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated by electronic systems; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the eSports system are mediated by human-computer interfaces", or in short, playing certain games competitively.

Of course this definition includes many video games, however, there is a big difference between online multiplayer games and a e-sport. A e-sport has 3 main differntiatiing qualities:

1. The games played are matches. Every player Always begins at level 1 without starting items. The items or levels gained in other games are non-transferrable. Quitting a match is always punished by the game, and a quitter will not be replaced by a new player.

2. The matchis won when a certain objective is completed, either by destroying a building or taking an objective, there has to be a clear winner at the end of a game, but it can't be based on kills or deaths.

3. There must be a clear team effort in winning these games, when you play single player as 1 person versus 1 person you are most likely playing online multiplayer instead of a e-sport.


Moba's (Multiplayer online battle arena's) are games in which (often) 5 players fight against 5 other players. Every player starts at level 1, without any experience or item advantages. Both teams pick characters with which they will fight this match. The players will then level up and earn gold by killing enemy players and AI units. People form professional teams and train themselves to play and win these games, like one practices to win a basketball match.

Moba's are strategy based games in which analysing team strategies and your opponents strengths and weaknesses are very important. Many players in game tend to refer to it as a more complicated version of chess. The reason these games are viewed as more complicated, are because of the wide selection range of characters and skills, the differences between characters (making character A strong versus character B, but weak versus character C and vice versa). In chess the rules are clear in advance, however due to the limitless options in items and character development, every game in a MOBA is different than the last one, with no guarantee of winning.

Another aspect of the MOBA, as mentioned before, is the team effort. You always play with more than 1 person in your team. This means that you are dependent on others, this makes the game have more depth, but can also cause frustration among players. Partly because of this dependency on others, MOBA communities are viewed as one of the most toxic (because of insulting, violent, threatening comments) in the gaming world. However, this frustration shows how seriously people take the game. When a person enters the game unprepared and playing poorly, people will often discourage further play by calling him names (noob). Just like if one of your teammates comes onto the footballfield hungover and unmotivated, everyone in the team will be annoyed, and one player's disfunctioning will seriously harm your chances of winning.

E-sports; dota had a 18 million dollar prize pool in 2015.

Over 20 million unique accounts of players log into dota every month. This means there are more \fota players than Dutch people worldwide. Dota is a free to play game, however, the commited community will gladly donate money by buying aesthetic upgrades or tickets for live matches. This way dota had raised a prize pool of over 18 million dollars for the International championship in 2015, which was viewed by 2 million people worldwide.

A whopping 16,5 million dollars in the prizepool was raised by players, making 2015 a landmark year. 2015 was the first year that even ESPN acknowledged e-sports as a sport, and gave live coverage of the dota 2 championship games. The international tournaments have started in 2011, and have since only gained in popularity.

Ever since the media coverage that has been caused by this enormous prizepool, moba's have gone mainstream. League of Legends and Dota 2 have been mentioned in media sources with rapidly increasing frequency, and the term e-sport is starting to find ground. In 2016 popularity is again expected to rise, and there's no reason to expect a turnaround in this trend.

Maybe, in a ten years, father's will be taking their sons to Dota matches, telling stories about how they practiced and practiced, but never made it to the big leagues. E-sports is truly redefining our vision of sports and entertainment, and is seemingly here to stay as a permanent addition to sports.

Best plays of the international 2015


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