The Digital Athletes Of The Future: Earning $1.6 Million Behind A Keyboard

By Erin Winick

If you’ve never watched a game of Dota 2 before, you might be overwhelmed at first. You’ll see a screen full of animated characters, special effects, and battles on battles. It can be difficult to keep tabs on all the action.

Clement Ivanov, however, views the scene differently. He sees each character as a pawn in a slow-moving strategy game, similar to chess. “You can individually play each character, but there is always one guy that understands its potential,” says Ivanov. “It’s not a fast-paced game. Once you get to a certain level, strategy is more important than the reaction times.”

Dota 2, officially known as Defense of the Ancients 2, is one of the most popular games in the global arena of electronic sports. Last year’s premier competition, The International, hosted by the game’s creator, Valve, had over 92 million online viewers, the majority based in China. While collectively over 509 million hours of play were watched, 465 million hours came from viewers there.

Clement-IvanovIvanov, 28, who is based in Estonia, is better known in the professional gaming world as Puppey, captain of Team Secret. One of the top-earning Dota 2 players in the world, he went pro in 2010, and his career growth parallels the growth of e-sports as a whole. According to E-Sports Earnings, he has racked up over $1.65 million in prize money from 93 tournaments. The e-sports craze itself brought in $1.5 billion of revenue in 2017, according to statistics company SuperData. Such games are even being considered for the 2024 Olympics. Consequently, the best players have rocketed to celebrity status within that niche world. “This job is really a hobby and a weird career overall,” says Ivanov.

Source: MIT Technology Review

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