7 January 2016 - 12:44

The year's first million-dollar esports event is live

The first esports tournament of the year featuring a seven-figure prize pool kicked off today in Atlanta
Dot Esports

The first esports tournament of the year featuring a seven-figure prize pool kicked off today in Atlanta.

The 2016 Smite World Championships will award $1 million in prizes, bringing teams from around the world together to clash in the culmination of a year’s worth of professional league play and competition.

The event features Smite, the MOBA game that features shooter mechanics from HiRez Studios. The title might not be a juggernaut like League of Legends or Dota 2, but HiRez has built a solid esports title through hard work and dedication towards building a sustainable ecosystem around their title.

Last year, the Smite World Championship featured more than $2.6 million in prizes, currently the sixth highest prized event in esports history and the highest outside of Dota 2. That’s due to a large crowdfunding component, with the Smite community putting up money to fund its esports scene. In 2016, HiRez has continued its esports commitment by building a pro league with regular match broadcasts and weekly competition and introducing esports crates that directly contribute funds to teams and players.

That’s created a thriving esports scene for a game that looks like a niche title compared to its bigger competitors. And this weekend, we get to see the best teams in that game battle for supremacy.

Ten teams from around the world began battling at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta today. The placement stage, a best-of-1 double elimination bracket, will decide which six of eight teams advance to the knockout stage. Tomorrow in the knockout round the top seeds from North America and Europe, the defending Smite World Champs Cloud9 and Europe’s top team Paradigm, will face off against the teams that survive today.

So far, Epsilon, Europe’s runner-ups, have bested the Latin American champs Isurus Gaming of Argentina. Then Brazilian champions paiN Gaming took out China’s top team, OMG. Next up North American runner ups Enemy will take on Australian side AVANT-Garde before Fnatic faces the Qiao Gu Reapers.

There’s still plenty of action today, so tune in on Twitch to watch an esports community cultivated through the combination of a developer’s efforts and the community’s support.

The event is scheduled to run through 7:3pm ET tonight, with Friday's matches beginning at 11:15am ET. The semifinals on Saturday begin at 11:15am ET, with Sunday's big grand final at 3:45pm ET.

Photo via HiRez Studios

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