The 2014 edition of The International Dota 2 Championships, better known to gamers as simply
, will be broadcast live on ESPN3, while an exclusive preview of the final match that will include an interview with Gabe Newell will be carried on ESPN2.
The collaboration with ESPN was announced this afternoon by Valve, which revealed that the
, including matches, interviews and analysis, will be carried for the first time ever by ESPN. It will also be available online at WatchESPN.com, through the WatchESPN app for smartphones and tablets, and on streaming devices including the Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
"From the success of the Compendium to the collaboration with ESPN, this year's International really demonstrates how much competitive gaming has grown to rival traditional sports," Valve's Erik Johnson said in a statement. "We believe the teams have also pushed to a new level of play this year and will further demonstrate the incredible advances made across this tournament since it first began three short years ago."
The highlight of the coverage will be a preview of the finals on ESPN2, which will include expert analysis, highlights from earlier matches and interviews with players, as well as a talk with Valve boss Gabe Newell.
This year's International is the biggest ever, with a prize pool of more than
, and even though the event is hugely popular among gamers—the finals, being held in Seattle's 17,000-seat KeyArena, are sold out—the partnership with ESPN will open it up to a much wider audience than ever before. If there was any lingering doubt that eSports have become mainstream, I think this lays them to rest.
For everything you need to know about the International 2014, check out our in-depth look at the main event