Fri. Mar 31st, 2023

On Thursday this weekend is The International, the fourth annual Dota 2 gaming tournament hosted by the game’s creators at Valve, received a giant mainstream shot in the arm in the form of an ESPN partnership.

According to a statement from Valve Software to Ars, the U.S.’s largest cable sports network will “broadcast all matches, interviews and analysis during the four-day event on ESPN3,” the company’s internet-only streaming service. More importantly, network cable station ESPN2 will air a half-hour preview of the final game of the tournament this Sunday at 8:30 PM PST, featuring gameplay highlights, analysis, and an interview with Valve co-founder Gabe Newell .

American TV networks, sports and otherwise, have rarely dabbled in broadcasting e-sports, the major exception being a Sunday morning MLG series that aired on the American cable network in the mid-2000s. CBS Interactive signed its own MLG deal in 2012, but that move only brought esports to online properties like Gamespot. ESPN’s half-hour “preview” special, as fans might hope outside of the “live finals” coverage, will still enjoy a remarkably visible spot in ESPN2’s Sunday night lineup.

ESPN’s interest in esports has rarely left the world of EA Sports Madden NFL games, including the reality TV series Madden nationbut The International may have made it to ESPN thanks to this year’s $10 million prize pool, a number that has clearly surpassed many other mainstream sports leagues. [Update: MLG reps reminded us that they partnered with the X Games in April, and that portions of that gaming competition aired on ESPN and ABC.]

According to Valve, ESPN3’s streaming coverage will mirror streams hosted on Valve’s site “entirely over the weekend.” As of writing, has not updated its listings to include Dota 2 Coverage.

By akfire1

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