SINGAPORE - Singapore is set to welcome the world's top 16 Dota 2 teams for the first time next June, with the teams to play for a prize pool of US$1 million (S$1.36 million) at a critical juncture of their season.
Announced on Wednesday (Dec 18), the first Dota 2 Singapore Major will be organised by One Esports with the support of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and e-sports company PGL.
Dota 2 is a five-on-five multiplayer online battle arena game and one of the most popular and lucrative e-sports titles in the world, averaging about 400,000 monthly players globally. Of the 40 top-earning e-sports professionals to date, only one is not a Dota 2 player.
One Esports is the e-sports arm of Singapore-based mixed martial arts organisation One Championship. It held its first e-sports event in Japan in October.
The June 20-28 Singapore Major will be the last of five major tournaments on the 2020 Dota 2 professional circuit that offer qualifying points to e-sports' richest tournament - The International (TI).
This year's TI in August featured a record US$34 million in prize money, with the winning five-man team OG taking home US$15 million.
One Esports chief executive officer Carlos Alimurung said next year's Singapore Major makes for exciting viewing, as it will be the deciding factor for which teams secure their tickets to TI being the last Major of the season.
"Dota 2 is a huge game with a global audience. It also has an open ecosystem and community, so that made it a natural choice for us (to stage an event)," added Mr Alimurung.
STB's executive director for attractions, entertainment and tourism concept development Jean Ng said STB is seeing an increasing trend of tourists coming to Singapore for major e-sports events.
"From STB's point of view, I feel that we've been a little late to the game for e-sports... So we are quite happy to have the opportunity to test the appetite for travel (for e-sports) through the Singapore Major next year," she added.
Asked if the Singapore Major will be an annual affair, Mr Alimurung said One Esports' commitment is only for next year's event and "we will take it from there after".
E-sports fans can get a taste of what to expect at the Singapore Major at the Singapore Indoor Stadium this weekend (Dec 20-22), where the US$500,000 Dota 2 World Pro Invitational will be held.
The event is also organised by One Esports, with Mr Alimurung expecting a capacity crowd of 8,000 to attend both Saturday and Sunday.
Nine out of 12 teams here for the World Pro Invitational have played in TI previously. They include 2017 champions Team Liquid and 2015 champions Evil Geniuses.
E-sports recently featured for the first time at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines in November. Six game titles were contested, with Singapore picking up a silver and bronze in Starcraft II and Hearthstone respectively.