KUALA LUMPUR: While all eyes are on the Malaysian contingent competing in the Asian Games in Indonesia, one Malaysian gamer created history by earning a podium finish at the prestigious The International 8 Dota 2 tournament today.
Local esports fans rejoiced after professional Dota 2 player Yap "xNova" Jian Wei and his team, PSG.LGD, placed second at the event, earning themselves more than US$4.1 million (RM16.8 million).
Earlier this year, Paris Saint-Germain became the first major European football club to sign a partnership with Dota 2 organisation LGD Gaming, and the team has since been playing under the name PSG.LGD.
Dubbed as the most lucrative tournament in esports history, The International is an annual event showcasing the best Dota 2 teams around the world battling it out for top honours and a cut of its huge prize money.
The prize pool for this year’s premier Dota 2 tournament is more than US$25.4 million, nearly US$1 million more than 2017’s pool.
Yap's team, which is based in China, lost in the grand final to European team OG, who walked home with the lion's share of US$11.2 million (RM45.8 million).
Last year, Tue "Ah Fu" Soon Chuan and his team, LGD.Forever Young, placed third at the event, earning themselves more than US$2.6 million (RM11.2 million).
In 2016, team Fnatic from Malaysia won US$1.4 million (RM5.6 million) in the wildly popular competitive game after clinching fourth place.
The last time an all-Malaysian team performed well in the tournament was in 2013 when Orange Esports bagged third place, albeit with a lower cash prize of RM1.15 million.
Only one Malaysian has managed to lift the coveted trophy so far. Wong Hock Chuan, who played for another Chinese team Invictus Gaming, was inducted into Dota 2’s hall of fame by winning the event in 2012.
Esports is making its debut as a major global athletic event at the Asian Games this year as a demonstration sport, meaning medals won in this sport will not be counted included in the official overall medal tally.
It is a trial run before esports is included as an exhibition event in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.
Last year, the Olympic Council of Asia announced that esports would be added as a medaling sport to the 2022 Asian Games.
For the uninitiated, Dota 2 is a multiplayer online video game in which two teams of five players compete to collectively destroy a large structure defended by the opposing team, known as the "Ancient" while defending their own.
The matches were played in front of a sold-out crowd at the Rogers Arena stadium in Vancouver and were "streamed" live to millions of viewers around the world. Next year's The International 9 will be held in Shanghai, China.
Million dollar winnings have become the norm in esports, and to put things in perspective, Dota 2’s prize purse has eclipsed that of some of the world’s most established traditional sports.
This year's The International prize pool is a larger haul than either the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup, the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup or the Masters 2017 golf tournament offered.
In comparison, the Badminton Super Series Masters Finals offers a total prize pool of RM2 million, while the total pot of prize money handed out at Le Tour de France this year amounted to RM10.1 million. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd