That time I attended my first gaming viewing party

This article was written last year for one of the daily newspapers, unfortunately it was never published due to space contraints. Truth be told, I was never much into video games since the days of Super Mario Brothers and Pac-Man (you can tell how young I am :). 
So you can imagine my delight when the organizers of these events were impressed by my ability to translate the experience. They were amazed that I was able to break down the rules of the game in a way that the lay person could understand and feel the excitement. 
Of course I had to post it to my blog for that reason, especially because of the time and passion that was devoted to attending the event and crafting the story. So here it is at last.

On Saturday 12th August 2017, hundreds of millions of gaming enthusiasts around the world tuned in to cheer on their favourite teams at the grand finale of the 7th International Dota 2 Championships held in Seattle Washington USA with almost $25,000,000.00 USD in prizes to be won.

Sponsor of Dota2 viewing party, Christian Salloum

Here in Trinidad, Christian Salloum spearheads one of the best official viewing parties for Dota 2 diehards held at the Twenty2 Sports Bar, Maraval in collaboration with Carigamers and their sponsor Flow for the 3rd time.

Salloum says it is a baby step to put Caribbean Esports on the map and a way to give back to the TT gaming community.

This year the EU team ‘Liquid’ took home the first place prize of US $10.8 million, with the Chinese team ‘Newbee’ winning over US $3.9 million for the second place.

One may be wondering where does all this prize money come from. The organizer says that much of it is generated from the community through an online shop where limited edition in-game items with team signatures are released each year.

According to ESPN, Esports (gaming) may be officially included in the Olympics as early as 2020 as The International e-Sports Federation (a South Korean organization) has been contacted by the International Olympic Committee with steps to make it a reality.

Gamer viewing Championships via Virtual RealityThe Dota2 game is unique as it was created by a player (Ice-frog) rather than a large developer.

Organizers of these viewing parties, fondly known as ‘pubstomps’, says this particular game is so popular because the skill ceiling is so high.


Some players practice just as hard as others would to become a pro at football saying it takes thousands of hours to master.

One Dota2 enthusiast, Glen Saxon, shares his view while Salloum agrees, “It is the excitement of football and the mind strategy of chess. I clocked 7500 hours over the last four years,” Saxon says passionately.

The men took turns describing the object of the game while I [tried to] focus on the big screens around the bar! “Dota stands for ‘Defence of the ancient’ they say simultaneously finishing each other’s sentences.

Dota2 memorabilia sponsored by Salloum

For a novice [to gaming] like me, an ancient is a building or the base/heart of each team’s city. Once that is destroyed, the other team wins and once they have gotten strong enough, it is easier to destroy the other team’s ancient.

Each time a character/monster was strategically destroyed, the crowd at Twenty2 Sports Bar went wild as they cheered on their favourite team.

Meanwhile the same thing was happening on the other end of the big screens that were taking place live in Seattle.

“This viewing party can be compared to watching the Football World Cup as the excitement builds with each clever move of the players,” Salloum says. The tournament takes place annually at a packed state-of-the-art stadium equipped with jumbo-trons and augmented reality.

Dota2 diehards cheer on the favourite teams at the International Dota 2 Championships at Twenty2 Sports Bar, Maraval

He shares that there are leagues/circuits played globally leading up to this main event and some tournaments are referred to as ‘majors’, e.g. Boston, Shanghai major etc. Ten players compete in a lab with five persons per team.

Trinidad usually fall into the category of the Americas, but it is the hope of the organizer that one day the Caribbean will have a distinguished identity.

Salloum shares that the relative success of the viewing party in Trinidad has led to it being officially recognized by game officials and international organizers who show their support by providing collectibles to attendees.

“After each of these tournaments, I myself can’t wait to go home and try some of these strategies! I just want to see people with a common passion coming out in their numbers and having fun and that’s my reason for hosting the event,” Salloum shares.

Who doesn’t love a good group shot? 😉


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