One week to go before the ninth edition of The International takes place, and it's pretty saddening to me, a Dota 2 enthusiast, that mainstream media are completely overlooking this event.
There has been a ton of coverage for the Fortnite World Cup which ended over a week ago and boasted a USD$30 million prize-pool, and I'm very glad that esports is getting the recognition it deserves. However, I find it both saddening and frustrating that mainstream media pay little to no attention to Valve's The International which recently surpassed the USD$32 million mark which makes it the biggest event in the history of esports in terms of prize money awarded.
Dota 2 may not have the fanbase and appeal that Fornite does, but not covering The International despite all the good it has done for esports is very disappointing. There are a lot of jokes about Dota being a "dead game", but the fact is that Dota 2 is one of the three game titles that stood the test of time along with RIOT's League of Legends and Valve's CS:GO.
The International has a special heart in my place for very good reasons. In early 2010, I had taken the decision to retire from esports after years of volunteering in this industry, but Valve suddenly announced Dota 2 and subsequently, The International, the-then biggest esports event in the world with USD$1.6 million in prize money. The involvement of Valve as well as this large investment into Dota made me believe that I should postpone my career switch, and I'm so glad I did.
Three years later, I attended my first ever International event, my second esports event, in Seattle, USA. This is the event that changed my life forever and ever. This was also my last chance at trying to make it in esports. I remember lying to my mom about which hotel I would stay at in Seattle because the truth is, I had no money left on my bank account after buying my flight tickets. I didn't have any money left to book a hotel room nor was I able to purchase a ticket to attend the event. A Valve employee was kind enough to give me ticket so I could attend while a good friend helped me with a room. Back then, sleeping on the floor of a hotel room was kind of a luxury for me, but at the end, this was worth it.
By the end of the event, I had received four offers which includes one from Mars Media, the company that I have been working for for over four years and a half. Two years after being hired by Mars Media, we were given the immense opportunity to do the Chinese production of The International 2016 which saw Wings Gaming come on top.
The International has given me so many fond memories, and seeing so little coverage of the event somehow hurts. I personally feel that Dota 2 and CS:GO are the last games that were once described as "hardcore" and "extremely difficult to master". Nowadays, newer game titles are much more casual while still being competitive, but they are definitely not as complex as the aforementioned game titles. I like to see Dota 2 as art! Everyone can paint, but not everybody can create art.
I might not be able to make it to the Mercedes Benz Arena to follow all the action live despite living in Shanghai, but I will certainly tune in to watch, again, the biggest event in the history of esports. The Fortnite World Cup may have awarded USD$3 million to Kyle "Bhuga" Giersdorf, but by the end of The International, five Dota 2 players will (most likely) return home USD$3M richer, and nobody is talking about it.