2006 Germany World Cup football stadium the Commerzbank-Arena is set to host ESL’s largest ever Dota 2 event come June 28th: ESL One Frankfurt 2014. The announcement came several weeks ago as ESL launched its new tournament series ESL One, which aims to act as a counterpart to the Intel Extreme Masters circuit currently featuring StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and League of Legends.
Ahead of the announcement, Director of Pro Gaming at ESL Michal Blicharz sat down with Duncan “Thorin” Shields of onGamers and hinted at the new Dota 2-focused ESL product, promising it would be “on par” with the existing tournament series – not a rival, but rather a counterpart.
Just as the Intel Extreme Masters supports multiple games, ESL One is also set to feature a variety of games (Dota 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Battlefield 4) with multiple stops for each. Unlike most of the Dota 2-based events around today, ESL One will host competition over one uninterrupted season with individual qualifiers for each event, as revealed by James Lampkin (ESL Product Manager) in an interview with Jon Gaudiosi shortly after the announcement.
Coincidentally, the recent Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in Katowice hosted the last EMS One event before its retirement in favor of ESL One. “We started EMS One as tournament series feeding into IEM, but it quickly evolved into its own,” said Lampkin in an interview with onGamers. “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 its own powerhouse in the eSports sphere.” In a nutshell, that is what ESL One aims to do.
Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt
ESL One Frankfurt 2014 is the first major step in that direction. Seating over 35,000 people, the Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt, Germany is a venue that usually plays host to the likes of Madonna, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson when it’s not busy entertaining Eintracht Frankfurt FC season ticket holders. Come June the 28th, it will host a horde of eSports fans as eight teams from across the world take to the stage to battle it out for US$150,000 in prize money, a sum that is sure to grow as fans are able to further contribute to the purse by purchasing event-tailored in-game items. You can take a virtual tour of the stadium and find out more about the venue here.
“Western Europe is really an untapped market for large events,” James Lampkin told the Daily Dot. “If you look at events like BlizzCon, The International, League of Legends World Finals, etc., these are events that are massive, but are almost always on the West Coast of the United States. There is a massive gaming audience in Europe, especially in the PC market, so keeping it in our backyard made a ton of sense.”
Coming off the heels of the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in Katowice, it’s not hard to imagine the Commerzbank-Arena packed with Dota 2 fans. The time for eSports is now, and Dota 2 is ready, especially with Free to Play (Valve’s Dota 2 documentary) having been released a few days ago. The hype is real and not without reason.
Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice (more photos on Flickr)
The third wave of tickets is currently live! Be sure to get your ticket over at http://www.esl-one.com. Will we be seeing you in Frankfurt?