The International 4: DOTA 2 winners Team Newbee crowned

Champions have been declared at The International 4 in Seattle, Wash., with a team of video-game wizards from China besting a rival squad from their homeland to take home more than $5 million.

All-star video gamers play for $10.8M US in front of rapt global audience

Are video games a spectator sport?

7 years ago
Millions of people worldwide tuned in this week to watch an international video game tournament, and the trend of gamers watching other gamers is growing dramatically 2:58

Champions have been declared at The International 4 in Seattle, Wash., with a team of gaming wizards from China besting a rival squad from their homeland to claim more than $5 million.

Team Newbee was crowned the victor over their competitors with Vici Gaming in the video game championship, known simply as TI4 by the initiated. The hugely popular four-day "eSports" event boasts a rapt audience of millions and a prize pool approaching $11 million US.

The $5-million grand prize and total prize pool of $10 million represented the richest purse yet for a video game tournament, but we're not talking some old-school arcade rivalry.

TI4 is a competitive event so huge it's beginning to blur the lines between online gaming and traditional sport.

Four days of intense competition and fierce rivalry came to an explosive finale Monday night as  professional Defense of the Ancients 2 teams digitally tried to slaughter each other in Seattle's  Key Arena.

Defense of the Ancients 2 — or Dota 2 as it's more commonly called — is a multiple player battle arena game. While the game play is virtual, the money involved was very real.

The runners up earned nearly $1.5 million.

About 10,000 loyal fans paid up to $499 US each to watch the action in the sold-out Key Arena —  tickets were snapped up within an hour of going on sale  but the screaming and jostling crowd in house is just a sliver of The International's true base.

More Internet traffic than Facebook

The vast majority of the fans followed the action online — including 300 people in Toronto who actually rented a movie theatre so they could watch together — via live streaming site Twitch.tv.

Watch: Eli Glasner's story Watching the Gamers tonight on The National on CBC Television 10 p.m./10:30 NT*

Or on CBC News Network at 9 p.m. & 11 p.m. ET/PT

If you're not a gamer, or if you're over 30, you're probably not familiar with Twitch. It's a three-year-old network consisting of gamers, or streamers, and spectators logged on to watch them play. 

During its peak hours the online broadcast site creates more Internet traffic than Facebook, and industry reports say Google is in talks to acquire Twitch for more than a billion dollars.

For Twitch's estimated 45 million daily users, it's about engaging with like-minded people.

Twitch co-founder and CEO Emmett Shear told CBC arts reporter Eli Glasner that "not only are [users] watching these entertaining and hilarious streamers, or really exciting eSports, or really creative builders in Minecraft, but you're also a part of a community of people talking about it and interacting."

For the past four days, devoted Dota 2 fans have been absolutely buzzing about TI4 on sites like Twitch.

When the tournament's victors are declared on Monday night, not only will they have seized a record-breaking multimillion-dollar pot, but the winners and their fans will have helped prove that competitive gaming is a powerful new a force in entertainment.

Be sure to tune into The National tonight for the full story with Eli Glasner.


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