The $1 million Dota 2 tournament has started at Gamescom. You can follow all the action live right this very minute on the Dota 2 site . It's clear within a few minutes of watching that Valve aren't just rolling out a new game, they're trying to create the best e-sports spectator experience in the world.
Let's start with the tournament page itself. There are commentary streams for every nationality that you can switch between at will. The team lineups are below. This provides easily accessible information on each hero. Spectators new to the game can quickly see the stats, strengths and weaknesses of each character and gain an understand of what's happening, even if they've never played Dota before.
The most impressive addition is the live scoreboard. It's a pop up that streams real time game information straight to a web page. You can see how much gold each character has, their level, whether they've gained their ultimate ability and their current kill/death scores. When they use their ultimate, you can even see the cooldown timer counting the seconds until it can be used again. These stats are updated instantaneously. When level 18 Pugma saunters up to a level 16 Lich you'll know who has the advantage, and why.
It's a great system. Even in StarCraft 2 spectators are reliant on in-game commentators to access the stats and build orders of competing players. There's also no reason it can't work with other games. Imagine watching TF2, knowing exactly how much health each player has, which weapons they have equipped and what they do.
Valve are launching Counter-Strike: Global Offensive next year. Recently they flew a small army of top CS pros out to Seattle to test the game and make sure it will resonate with pro players. Between CS:GO and Dota2, Valve have the e-sports community firmly in their sites. This time next year we could be watching a $1 million CS:GO tournament, complete with live scoreboards, player bios, multi-national commentary streams. We wouldn't be surprised to see similar systems appearing soon for StarCraft 2, League of Legends and more.