DOTA 2 has quickly become something of a phenomenon in the competitive gaming scene in recent years. With the growing popularity of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre, one of Valve Software’s flagship titles is among the juggernauts of the industry, sitting alongside titles Riot Games’ League of Legends and Blizzard Entertainment’s Heroes of the Storm.
It is no surprise then that ESL has undertaken the task of hosting a brand new set of DOTA 2 tournaments, starting with the Frankfurt Major in Germany. This marks the debut of the major classification style tournament for the game and the set of events are being sponsored by Valve themselves, who wish to capitalize on DOTA 2’s rabid success. A lot is riding on this tournament for our 16 competitors, what with a prizepool of $3,000,000 up for grabs, including a whopping $1,100,000 for the winning team.
The format for this particular event will see the teams split into 4 groups each containing 4 teams. All matches besides the first round of the lower brackets and the Grand Final will be a best of 3 scenario. The top two teams will progress to the upper bracket and the bottom two teams will go into the lower bracket for a fight for survival. Lower bracket teams will have to win more matches to make it to the final. However, all teams will take home at least a portion of the overall prizepool this year, at least rewarding those who fought hard in the qualifiers to get here.
A burning question is: where did this zeitgeist of MOBA popularity come from? The genre has been around since at least the late 90s, where the original DOTA was just a mod for Blizzard Entertainment’s Real Time Strategy game, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. MOBAs are essentially just a genesis of the RTS genre, where instead of commanding a whole army; players are tasked with managing a single Hero unit that can be personalized to their liking. Perhaps the biggest draw was the rise of the Free-2-Play (F2P) model in recent years, which accompanies pretty much every major MOBA out there. Whilst the skill ceiling may be high, players can find comfort in knowing they don’t have to spend a single penny on a game to try it out and see if it is to their liking. F2P games are assuredly becoming a huge part of the industry and MOBAs are a frontrunner for the business regime.