Professional gaming hit a milestone this past weekend when, for the first time ever, a first place team received a check for one million dollars. The recipients: five members of the Ukrainian Defense of the Ancients (DotA) team Na’Vi, for winning the first ever DotA 2 tournament held at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany.
This event was the first for DotA2, the long awaited sequel to the coveted Defense of the Ancients. As a way to generate publicity and hype for the event, Valve, the game’s developer, announced that it would offer a 1.6 million dollar prize pool and invited 16 of the top DotA teams from around the world to compete at the games coming out party. Valve is currently reporting that they received more than 1.5 million unique views while streaming the tournament over a five day period. The game’s Project Manager, Erik Johnson, has already alluded to the fact that Valve may already be planning on re-hosting the competition next year with the same, if not a greater, prize pool.
Defense of the Ancients, created by a valve community developer “Icefrog,” is a modification (or mod) for the strategy game Warcarft 3, and was the first game in the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre. Since its inception the genre has seen many spin-offs, but has just recently garnered attention from the mainstream gaming community after the release of the free-to-play MOBA game League of Legends. Developed by Riot Games, League of Legends has been downloaded more the fifteen million times and averages one million players per day.
Valve is currently taking sign-ups for a closed beta which is expected to begin sometime within the next month. No current release date has been announced, but Valve has said they are targeting a 2011 release.