Esports have officially gone mainstream. Cable sports giant ESPN will broadcast the entirety of The International, a global championship for the game Dota 2 that boasts a nearly $11 million prize pool, a source close to the negotiations confirmed to the Daily Dot.
The tournament, which play out in front of a sold out crowd at Seattle’s Key Arena, runs Friday through Monday and boasts teams from China, the United States, and the Ukraine. ESPN will broadcast the entirety of the tournament on ESPN 3, while a special preview of the final will run Sunday on ESPN 2 at 8:30pm.
Dota 2 is one of the most popular esports, or competitive video games in the world. The game combines elements of real-time strategy games and role-playing games, ptting teams of five “heroes” against one another. Last year’s edition of the International broke esports viewership records, with viewership hitting a peak of 1 million simultaneous viewers over the course of the event.
The deal was finalized just this morning and was brokered entirely at ESPN’s behest, the source said. ESPN has been looking to do more in the esports space, and The International, with its record prize numbers, was an ideal place to start, the source added. Games begin tomorrow at 9am PT.
Richard Lewis contributed to this report.