Valve’s The International Dota 2 Championship, often abbreviated to TI4, is continuing to drive eSports to the same recognition as other sporting events. The company has now announced that the main event for TI4 will be streamed live on ESPN, with a special preview show scheduled to be broadcast before the finals. This announcement allows viewers to avoid sitting in front of their computers, and instead watch the TI4 games from the living room – the same way they would enjoy a football match. Like any other ESPN content, it will also be available on digital platforms through WatchESPN.
Dota 2 has been breaking new ground in getting eSports more coverage by traditional media. The impressive prize pool of US$10 million this year has captured the attention of the general public, especially as most of it was funded by players of the game through the sale of the Dota 2 Compendium. American broadcast stations have flirted with the idea of using gaming content to fill their hours, although this has only briefly resulted in a short run of shows from Major League Gaming. Which was not entirely competitive eSports at the time. Coverage of the whole weekend of TI4 could open the gates for other eSports to be screened next to traditional sporting events like football or basketball.
It should be admitted that Dota 2 can be hard to follow for the average sports fan who is unfamiliar with the jargon that accompanies the game. Valve has attempted to remedy this issue with the broadcast aimed directly at newbies, which has aimed to explain why some strategies exist and how all those confusing items and abilities affect the game. This newbie stream could have been the influencing factor in getting the event onto a major broadcaster like ESPN. Although it has admittedly had some teething problems with trying to simplify the commentary for beginners.
Admittedly, the main event for TI4 is a little less interesting with both the Malaysian teams already out of the running. The main event for TI4 starts tonight with ViCi and NewBee kicking things off.