Dota 2: The International to be screened on ESPN

The U.S. may finally be taking video games and eSports seriously, as Valve announces plans to broadcast Dota 2 championships The International live on ESPN.

Coverage will be presented on the live multi-screen sports network ESPN3, with an exclusive show previewing the final match airing on ESPN2 on Sunday July 20 at 8:30pm Pacific (What’s that in my timezone?).

Alliance, winners of the 2013 International Dota 2 Championship

Alliance, winners of the 2013 International Dota 2 Championship

In case this whole “world championships for Dota 2 thing is news to you, let us quickly recap. The event is set for this weekend – July 18-22 – and is taking place at Seattle’s sold-out KeyArena. This year, the prize pool is a record-breaking US$10 million+ – the largest ever for a competitive gaming tournament (and bigger than many professional sporting events).

Traditionally, the event is only streamed online, but Valve is pleased to confirm that all the matches, interviews and analysis across four days will be offered on ESPN3 – viewable at WatchESPN.com, via the WatchESPN app, and streamed through devices like the Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku. You can even watch a little Dota 2 on your Xbox 360 or Xbox One, if that’s how you roll.

Even if you don’t have an entire weekend to spare, the event on Sunday night looks like it should be pretty great: It’s promising highlights of the weekend’s games, interviews with the players and with Gabe Newell, ahead of an exclusive preview of the tournament’s final match-up.

Valve‘s Erik Johnson explains:

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. We believe the teams have also pushed to a new level of play this year and will further demonstrate the incredible advances made across this tournament since it first began three short years ago.

The first ever The International event was held in Cologne, Germany, as part of the 2011 Gamescom. The prize pool back then was a now measly US$1 million.

The second event, in 2013, took the event to the U.S., with gamers adding their own money to the prize pool thanks to the Interactive Compendium. The US$2.8 million up for grabs seemed impressive at the time, but was blown away by this year’s efforts – again, largely driven by fans.

Playoffs for The International 2014 have been running since July 8, but the Main Event kicks off in 17 hours or so, at 9am PDT July 18 (What’s that in my timezone?).

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