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  • In August 2011 a tournament featuring the popular

  • online strategy game Dota 2 was held in Cologne, Germany.

  • It offered the largest prize pool to date

  • attracting professional players from all over the world.

  • Yes, it is actually confirmed.

  • 1.6 million dollar prize pool!

  • I'm double-checking to make sure they haven't changed any details

  • since they told us last time.

  • 1 million in US dollars for First Prize.

  • That is for the winner.

  • 1 million dollars for winning Dota!

  • It's going to be huge. Dota2.com

  • The tournament tab is up, too.

  • Our website will actually change for the next 24 hours as well...

  • The day I transformed into an adult was the day I started playing Dota.

  • It's times like, when you go up on the stage,

  • you represent your country for something.

  • You get the prize.

  • It's the amount of satisfaction and achievement that nothing else can give you.

  • It's something I definitely don't regret ever doing.

  • Gaming is simply the proudest thing in my life.

  • It can be called "gamer," but for me, it's something different.

  • One way to forget about pain is to do something that you will be in completely.

  • So...

  • computer games.

  • For me, it was...

  • everything.

  • This is my career.

  • I've chosen to do it for so long.

  • Success in my eyes is always based on how other people see you.

  • In the eyes of the public,

  • it's up to them.

  • It's important to be doing things that you love and you really appreciate.

  • Because that's your passion, man.

  • You should really work for your passions.

  • Ok, guys, you have 7 minutes to set everything up

  • and then we go.

  • This is the first time I really wanted to take something seriously

  • and do something good for my life.

  • FREE TO PLAY

  • 10 years ago, competitive gaming wasn't even really a thing.

  • You would play for fun against your friends.

  • Maybe you would play for a cup of coffee or whatever you wanted.

  • When I started playing, we'd been fighting for

  • 24 bottles of beer as a first place.

  • I'm not joking.

  • From there, though, online happened.

  • And, all of a sudden, you weren't just trying to be the best on your block.

  • Now you're trying to be the best in the world.

  • And that opened up competitive gaming to a whole new landscape.

  • And one of the games really leading the way is Dota.

  • Dota is sort of a combination of football (or soccer for the Americans)

  • and Chess.

  • This is probably how I would try to explain Dota

  • to someone who's not familiar with it.

  • At least, that's what I did to my parents.

  • Dota is a game of momentum.

  • You as 5 players

  • try and battle against the other 5 players for momentum.

  • Every single player controls one unit.

  • And the main objective of the game is to destroy the final enemy building

  • which is called the "Ancient."

  • Everything else that happens in the meantime

  • is your amazing filler of a game.

  • You could play 100 heroes

  • in conjunction with 99 other heroes.

  • It's just nonstop possibilities

  • and it's so much fun.

  • And you know, it's like the same map every single time

  • but it literally never gets boring.

  • I would say Dota is a way of life.

  • When the prizes started coming

  • I was like, well we have tournaments

  • so obviously some people are going to come and say,

  • "This is a great game. Let's play it. Like, let's put money in it."

  • And it started progressing each year.

  • Those at the top level,

  • they just do like lots of calculations in their head.

  • Something like "A Beautiful Mind"

  • where you see like all kinds of things.

  • And using all this information

  • make your next move.

  • I see it in a lot of ways similar to basketball.

  • Just like a 5 on 5 game

  • where you kind of have to work together

  • and utilize each other's strengths and synergizing everything together.

  • The teamwork, and the trust, and the sacrifice

  • those are all true for every single team sport.

  • Dota is a game that unites everybody.

  • It doesn't matter what country you're from or race you are.

  • It's kind of like a bond that is shared

  • and when you're part of this tight-knit group of people.

  • It's like having a second family.

  • That's something you never let go.

  • Everyone's searching for something.

  • Fulfillment.

  • Fame.

  • Satisfaction.

  • It gives you the ability to become someone else.

  • A someone who is powerful.

  • Who can take down 5 opponents.

  • Express their creativity.

  • Break the rules without actually getting arrested.

  • All of these reasons are in there somewhere.

  • The player himself might not even know.

  • He might not even understand it himself.

  • But it's there.

  • Medford, Oregon

  • Gaming fulfills my competitive need.

  • I'm a very competitive person.

  • When it comes to sports, I consider gaming a sport.

  • So I use my competitiveness

  • and I fuel it with Dota.

  • So it fulfills that side of me completely.

  • Fear's one of the best in America, if not the best.

  • He has a lot of experience.

  • He's one of the old hogs, basically.

  • And he's generally just a calm guy.

  • So, in my opinion, that's his strength.

  • Really good basketball player.

  • I remember my coaches watch him playing

  • and just talk about picking him up the next year when he came in.

  • Always had nothing but good things to say,

  • but he wasn't picked on the team.

  • The reason was, yeah, he just wasn't tall enough, I guess.

  • So, I know that, yeah, he found the game.

  • He got really devoted in that and stuff

  • and just found something else that worked.

  • I was your typical parent.

  • "Clinton, you're spending too much time playing computer games."

  • "You need to go to school."

  • "You need to go to college."

  • and he would tell me,

  • "I want to be able to play games and get paid for it."

  • Now he said this at a very young age

  • before Dota ever came along.

  • And I thought, well, you know, he's going to grow out of it.

  • He's going to get sick and tired of sitting there

  • in front of that computer and playing.

  • Never did. Never did.

  • Singapore

  • In Singapore the families actually put a lot of stress on us

  • in terms of our education.

  • I would say it's been tough on me trying to juggle

  • both studies and gaming at the same time.

  • My grades have dropped for two years already.

  • And my parents have treated the gaming as the cause of it.

  • I mean there was this phrase that they used. They said,

  • "Gaming will be the death of you one day."

  • He's a great player and a great captain.

  • I would say he's the top player in Singapore.

  • Easily.

  • My parents and my family,

  • they don't actually speak much of my gaming career.

  • They don't tell their friends and my other relatives

  • that I'm actually that good at my games.

  • All along they have only been bragging about my studies.

  • Because I used to be an "A" student.

  • Yeah, they go on and on. And...

  • And it seemed like that was the only thing they could ever be proud of.

  • Actually, there has only been one person

  • that has always been very supportive of me gaming.

  • And that was my ex-girlfriend, Huayan.

  • She's from the female Dota team in Singapore.

  • There are a lot of things that we share in life.

  • So many things.

  • In my case, it felt really good, you know, to have someone

  • who truly appreciated what you did best.

  • And loved you for it.

  • She was aware of what I'm doing and what I'm passionate about.

  • The breakup was her decision and I respected it.

  • We'd been together for close to three years

  • and ever since the breakup, I haven't gotten over it.

  • I recall the last time she spoke to me

  • she named me as a bastard so...

  • *Laughter*

  • We're not in contact anymore, yeah, but...

  • life goes on.

  • L'viv, Ukraine

  • I'm from Ukraine.

  • My nickname is Dendi.

  • I finished my university, and

  • I'm just playing computer games right now.

  • He was doing music.

  • He played the piano.

  • He was doing dancing.

  • At school, he had musical plays in which he played the main role.

  • Audiences were always impressed by his artistic ability.

  • When their kids' group was showing,

  • Danil would always stand out.

  • When we were growing up

  • it wasn't a good time financially for our family.

  • But my grandma helped us to get our first computer in 1997.

  • Early, compared with other kids in Ukraine.

  • We got visitors every day.

  • The friends of my older brother used to come to visit us

  • and we were playing games.

  • And Danil, every time looked at what we do.

  • Every time we would try to push him away

  • but he would come back and look again.

  • It was more prominent with him than with other kids.

  • During all his conscious life

  • we were trying to stop him from playing.

  • We were hiding our computer cord everywhere in our apartment

  • but he always found it.

  • I always wanted to understand him better.

  • Including that hobby, I wanted to understand him better.

  • There were certain reasons.

  • I'm not going to mention them now.

  • I think somewhere deep inside he's a little bit sad.

  • She stopped preventing him from playing Dota.

  • She gave Dendi the freedom to choose

  • what is the best for him and his life.

  • Tournaments back then were really low prizes.

  • And a lot of prize money didn't even get to the players.

  • There's been a lot of scams with the managers and stuff like that.

  • There were, like, some rumors that it's going to be $50,000 first place,

  • and everyone was going, like, "Nah, it's not going to be like that."

  • August 10, 2011

  • Watch the forums go nuts, guys.

  • Watch the forums go nuts.

  • It is actually confirmed.

  • It is off the fricking hook.

  • 1.6 million dollar prize pool!

  • That is for the winner,

  • 1 million dollars for winning Dota!

  • Dota, the game I've played for 5 years now.

  • Which I played for fun.

  • For some food money or whatever, you know.

  • Ok, it's actually getting big.

  • It's the largest prize pool of any gaming competition to date.

  • It just felt like the start of something big.

  • Like a revolution.

  • You know, we had everything we needed

  • for the game to become big and respected as an E Sport.

  • It would kind of like vindicate us.

  • We're not just playing because we're addicted.

  • There's a goal, a motive.

  • That we can actually reach out and grab if we are good enough.

  • Beijing, China

  • Over in Asia, professional gamers are treated like rock stars.

  • It's a viable career opportunity.

  • They actually live in gamer houses.

  • So it's set up to be a thing all year long.

  • I think their approach to practice is that it's like a day job.

  • The fan base is immense.

  • It probably is as big as the whole western audience together.

  • Or even more than that.

  • So now you really have to play good.

  • You really have to try hard.

  • It's first place. It's go big or go home.

  • The big teams get big money.

  • But the 9th to 16th place earn nothing.

  • And their salaries are not worth considering.

  • While in sports, you have a salary that you can live on.

  • With pro gaming, I think that's one of the toughest parts is

  • living game to game.