ON August 25 an audience will gather in a small West Perth movie theatre for a state first: A public cinema screening of a global video game championship.
“Defence of the Ancients 2: The International” (Dota 2) is one of the biggest events on the calendar for electronic-sports, a serious-business subset of video games played by professionals who can earn millions at the highest level.
Dota 2 is one of the biggest e-sports games and on August 25, 18 teams of six players will gather in Shanghai to play as elves, wizards, centaurs and goblins in a fantasy clash with a prize pool of $31 million.
The games can be complex and bewildering to play, but they’re pretty easy to watch according to the two local groups staging the Perth viewing: Flaktest and Visor Immersive.
Flaktest CEO Brett Sullivan hopes holding the Dota 2 screening at a cinema can “reframe how consumers enjoy e-sports” and this’ll be the first in a series of screenings and seminars.
Usually the tournaments are just watched alone at home on a laptop late at night given the unfriendly timezone schedules.
But the hosts want the screenings to be social and approachable, and it’s a good event to start on given Perth shares a timezone with Shanghai.
Mr Sullivan says “our aim is to provide frequent access to live e-sports content in local communities, whether it be via a screening or live LAN event,” where players hook up their computers in person for lag-free games.
Visor Immersive CEO Ian Hale is hosting the Dota 2 screening at Backlot Perth, his small movie theatre on Simpson Street.
Mr Hale is a movie industry veteran, with Visor Immersive he’s branched out into virtual reality tech.
He says he hopes teaming up with Flaktest will create “a world class gaming and e-sports venue in WA at the Backlot Perth”.
It’s on at 21 Simpson Street, August 25 from 3.30pm-6.30pm. Reserve a seat via flaktest.com/dota2ti-screening
by DAVID BELL
Electronic sports is nearly as old as gaming, dating back to the ‘70s when players would try to get the highest scores in simple games like Space Invaders.
It evolved from a nerdy hobby into a huge industry in South Korea in the last days of the ‘90s, when the technophile nation fell in love with a clunky humans-versus-aliens game called Starcraft.
E-sports in South Korea is now serious business and game fans fill stadiums in greater numbers than footy fans fill the MCG.
Like the Olympics, extremely strong teams are fielded by China, Russia and the US. But where Australia punches above its weight in physical sporting, we’re a minnow on the e-sports scene, and part of that’s due to our shoddy internet and isolation.
While the big tournaments are held in person and players fly in from all over the world, all the thousands of hours of practice needed to get to the top takes place online.
A delay of 1/5th of a second as a signal travels through thousands of kilometres of cable means Australian players can be fried by a laser cannon before they can react.
Despite the lag hindering athlete development, we’ll have one Australian player on the big screen for Dota 2: TI. Sydney’s Damien Chok is one of the world’s best Dota 2 players. The 26-year-old has earned more than $1.5million playing games and is the 40th highest-earning e-athlete in the world.