The Electronic Sports League (ESL) have announced a huge Dota 2 tournament today with a base prize pool of $150,000. The event is set to take place at one of Germany’s 2006 World Cup football stadiums and home of the Bundesliga representative Frankfurt - the Commerzbank-Arena.
The event will take part over the course of two days, starting on the 28th and finishing on the 29th of June. It will be the first event of the ESL One series featuring Dota 2 under the name of ESL One Frankfurt. A total of eight of the world's best Dota 2 teams will participate in the event for a large share of the $150,000 prize pool. The prize pool will also be boosted by the sale of new in-game items bundled along with the Dota TV ticket.
The news comes straight off the back of yesterday's Reflections teaser video featuring Michal 'Carmac' Blicharz, the Managing Director for Pro Gaming at ESL, who made a hint about a brand new Dota 2 league which will be on par with Intel Extreme Masters.
As this event will be hosted at the Commerzbank-Arena World Cup Football Stadium, it has the potential to easily become the largest spectator event up to date for Dota 2. ESL proudly announced that the venue will be able to welcome over 35,000 Dota 2 fans at the ESL One Frankfurt 2014 event.
“Dota 2 saw the first ever million-dollar prize pool and this year I am pleased to say it will see its first ever packed stadium. With a capacity of over 35,000, ESL One Frankfurt 2014 is poised to be the largest esports spectacle Dota 2 has ever seen,” said Managing Director of Pro Gaming, Ulrich Schulze.
“Our newly launched ESL One season will see some of the best Dota 2 action the world has to offer. I’m very excited to see finals played out at the center stage at such an iconic stadium. With a focused goal of creating legendary esports experiences for our fans, ESL One Frankfurt will be the first of many massive scale ESL events in the years to come.”
According to ESL Product Manager James Lampkin, the goal of ESL One is to reorganize the EMS One (ESL Major Series) league and simplify and unify the brand. EMS One activity around Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Battlefield 4 will transition over to ESL One, with the $250,000 community-funded CS:GO event at Katowice, which will also be the final event, as the EMS brand will retire afterwards.
"One of the high-level projects we’ve been working on at ESL for the last 4-5 months is a restructuring and organization of our branding, communication and how products fit in", Lampkin told onGamers. "We started EMS One as tournament series feeding into IEM, but it quickly evolved into it’s own. We’re at a stage now, especially with Dota where we’re ready to take the product to a lighthouse level - to stand equally beside Intel Extreme Masters and be it’s own powerhouse in the eSports sphere."
"The major reason for the rename and rebrand is to reflect this evolution of the tournament and create a stronger relationship with ESL. In short, we will retire the EMS moniker and roll it into ESL One. It’s as simple as this. We are really good at production. We are really good at making big events like IEM. Lets make something really cool that can celebrate Dota 2 on a global scale and blow everyone’s minds."
While the casting crew, sponsors, and other details on the bundle for the Dota TV ticket are yet to be announced, Lampkin says that ESL's partnership with joinDOTA to broadcast the online qualifiers and Toby 'TobiWan' Dawson's inclusion in the trailer make it highly unlikely that the viewers will not see the Australian caster. Those fans who want to experience the event in person can follow the event live from the Commerzbank-Arena, where Lampkin says they will be awaiting esports fans.
"One of the cool parts about our date is that it will take place during the World Cup playoffs and it’s right in our back yard (well, a 1.5 hour drive from Cologne). We are used to producing shows in remote locations, but things are just logistically much easier and you can do a lot more when you play at home."
"The guys at Commerzbank-Arena are really excited by the esSports phenomonen and we quickly came to an agreement to take ESL One to a massive scale in the arena."
Major League Gaming, DreamHack, and StarLadder have all hosted large-scale Dota 2 tournaments with much fan interest in recent months, and Lampkin expects nothing different from this event, as this event will be the biggest event in Germany since the first edition of The International held at GamesCom in 2011.
"Once I show you guys what we are going to broadcast live on, I imagine there will be a few people", he said. "When we first started talking to people about loading a stadium with Dota 2 fans, there were some obvious 'yea...good luck' comments, but if you look at the rate of growth of Dota 2, the size of the Western European audience in compressed area, and how quickly events like Blizzcon, The International and LoL World Finals sell out….it’s not that big of a leap."
"We don’t want to put an exact number on the number we expect because it’s not that useful of a qualifier. We expect there to be a ton of roaring dota fans from all around the world. The total venue capacity is 51,000 but we will cut off a small portion for stage, screens etc. The main field can fit about 10,000 people seated which are the seats we will sell first. If we really wanted to push we could fit 40,000 people and peak."
"We aren't hosting a Dota 2 finals in a stadium as any sort of one-up-manship. We just believe based on the way Dota and eSports is trending especially in Europe, that it can be successful. There are a lot of games that probably could, but we are very confident."
With the nature of the event being held on the football court itself, there are concerns about various technological, Internet, and gamesmanship issues. During Riot's Season 2 World Finals held outside at LA Live, connection issues caused a crash and replay of the Game 3 of quarterfinals match between Counter Logic Gaming Europe and China's World Eilte. Later, Korea's Azubu Frost was fined with $30,000 by Riot Games for looking at their opponent's minimap during the first game of their quarterfinals. Lampkin is aware of the issues.
"It’s something we are thinking a lot about. I wonder how successful sound-proof booths will be if there are 30,000 thousand people roaring when Alliance tries to level 1 Rosh. We’re putting a lot of thought and effort into player comfort for the event. Each team, their management and guests will have a private VIP booth to rest, practice or watch the other matches from."
Lampkin insists this event will be an unforgettable experience for all the fans of competitive gaming.
"We have a lot of stuff in the works that will make the show truly unique and a must-attend event for all eSports fans, not just Dota ones. We will be talking more about that as we get closer to the event."
You can find the full event details and ticket page here: http://www.esl-one.com/dota2/frankfurt-2014/