Invictus Gaming crushed the competition at Valve's second International DotA 2 Championship.
It may not get the same kind of attention as physical sports, but a thriving professional gaming community exists with its own celebrities, commentators, and even scandals. If you needed any convincing of this fact, you need look no further than The International 2012, a Defense of the Ancients 2 championship held in Seattle last week. The tournament attracted teams from around the world, finally cultimating with China's Invictus Gaming team taking home an impressive one-million-dollar grand prize. And that's for a game still in its beta phase.
The International Grand Final consisted of a best-of-five game series between iG and last year's champions, the Ukrainian-based Natus Vincere (Na'Vi). The Chinese team pulled off a stunning victory by winning 3 of the 5 planned games to take home the million dollar prize, while Na'Vi was rewarded a $250,000 second prize for their efforts. The entire tournament made use of Valve's new tournament-streaming features, allowing fans and interested spectators to stream the event through either the International's website or an in-game event viewer.
I've never personally played MOBA games like DotA 2 or League of Legends, but it's hard to deny that the professional tournaments built around them are an important fixture of the gaming landscape. Competitive gaming may not be quite as influential as baseball or football games, but Valve clearly sees value in supporting million dollar championships, filling stadiums with cheering fans, and even making documentaries about professional finalists. If these trends continue, perhaps we can see professional gaming become a much bigger, and more accepted, industry in the next few years.