The biggest eSports tournament in the world is coming to Vancouver this summer, and it has gamers and professionals alike excited for what it could mean for the local industry.

The “Dota 2” championship is moving to Vancouver’s Rogers Arena this year after taking place in Seattle for the past six years.

Also known as “Defense of the Ancients,” “Dota” is a team-based online video game, and the championships have a purse totalling more than US$20 million.

“Last year it was viewed by more than 10 million people on Twitch,” said Brenda Bailey, executive director of DigiBC. “That puts it in the category of the Masters or the Tour de France.”

DigiBC is the industry association for professionals working in interactive and digital media in the province. Bailey thinks the massive interest in the tournament is a reflection of the vibrant industry in Vancouver.

“Vancouver is an absolute hub for creative technologies,” she said. “The video game sector, building videogames and selling video games, is actually larger than forestry in British Columbia.”

Located just a three-hour drive or short plane ride from Seattle, Vancouver is an easy city for organizers and fans to get to. Bailey says the Canadian location will also make it easier for some players to attend.

“There were challenges in regards to visas for people to attend in the U.S.,” she said.

The objective in “Dota 2” is for players to work with teammates to protect their “ancient,” a kind of home base. At the same time, they’re trying to attack someone else’s.

“It’s one of those games that’s easy to learn and really difficult to master,” Bailey said.

Players who make it to the championships have put in thousands of hours to hone their skills. Bailey likened it to a player breaking into the NHL or the NBA.

There are a few well-known professional “Dota 2” players from Vancouver, including Artour Babev, known by his handle Arteezy, and Kurtis Ling, known as Aui_2000. Ling’s team won the tournament back in 2015.

The championships are happening from Aug. 20 to 25, and Bailey anticipates it will bring tourism revenue for its duration.

Rogers Arena holds just under 19,000 people, and tickets to the finals — priced upwards of $250 — have already sold out. Mid-week tickets to the six-day long event are still available, and they’re going for $148.45 on Ticketmaster.

“55,000 people who love playing video games online are attending,” she said. “It’s fantastic. It’s like our Super Bowl.”

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Julie Nolin





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