'I'm over the moon': Dota 2 tournament a big win for Vancouver gamers

The Dota 2 tournament is poised to turn Vancouver into a global stage for the eSports community.

The International Dota 2 Championships will be played outside Seattle for 2nd time

Fans react during The International Dota 2 Championships at Key Arena in Seattle, Wash. (Jason Redmond/Reuters)

The International Dota 2 Championships tournament has all the makings of a polished sports event, including play-by-play announcers, post-game interviews and enthusiastic fans.

Michael Medley, founder of the University of British Columbia eSports association, has been to plenty of hockey and basketball games, but says nothing compares to an arena packed with video game fans. 

"Everyone's just on their feet and screaming at the top of their lungs," he said on CBC's On the Coast

The tournament is poised to turn Vancouver into a global stage for the eSports community, whose presence in the city has grown in recent years, said Medley. 

Last spring, Pacific Coliseum hosted the championship series for League of Legends, a hugely popular online battle arena game. 

This summer's Dota 2 tournament — the world's biggest in eSports — will also draw millions of viewers via livestream. 

Michael Medley says eSports events in Vancouver have grown over the past several years — and Dota 2 is the city's biggest get. 7:32

Interactive online sport

The five-player, team vs team online game is set in ancient time. Players choose the attributes of their character or hero. Fans can watch games online. The tournament will offer that viewing experience in Rogers Arena from Aug. 20-25.

Last year's tournament offered a prize purse of $25 million. This year's is expected to be larger.

"That makes it bigger than the Masters Tournament of golf or the Tour de France in terms of the prize packages," explained Richard Smith, the director of digital media at Simon Fraser University.

Smith says a portion of the prize money comes from the sale of accessories for the players in the game such as boots, belts or hats.

1,000s of practice hours required to compete

Tickets to watch the event start at $125.

"I'm over the moon," said Hang Yang, who attended last year's event in Seattle and is planning on buying a ticket to this year's in Vancouver.

Yang says only players at the top of their game compete.

"If you want to be a professional player, you probably need 10s of thousands of hours of practice." 

Former UBC student Kurtis Ling won the tournament in 2015, nabbing a $6.6-million US prize. 

He told CBC he was making in the "low six figures," and occasionally e-sports fans would stop him on the street and call him by his gaming handle, Aui_2000.

Tickets for the event go on sale March 23.