Vol 12, Issue 6
KAI LIU and CHI HAN YEO
The Esports Enquiries: Tales of Terror from the Two Most Handsome University of Melbourne Law Students Currently Scoping out the Scene.
Part One: DotA...the D stands for Death
It was a rainy day when trouble walked into my office...then it became a sunny day...then it became a rainy one again...Melbourne’s funny like that. He wore a red shirt, and a badge on his chest with the words, ‘Hi, I’m Tim’. Warning signs. If I knew exactly what they were warning about maybe I would have thrown him out right there. But I didn’t. What I knew was that I was two weeks behind on my clerkship applications and I needed the distraction. Anything will do when you’re as desperate for a client as me. So I took the job.
“I need an article on my desk by Friday...something snazzy...something that the public will eat up...and no more fake news...there’s too much heat on me as it is….can you do it?”
“I can do it...but I ain’t cheap and neither is my partner. We charge $500 a day, plus expenses. And we got a lot of expenses.” But he’d walked out after I said I could do it, so I’m not sure exactly how much I’m gonna get paid for this. But that’s not unusual in the life of a Unimelb student.
“So tell me about this game we’re snooping out,” I said, devouring a breakfast pastry.
My partner Kai looked at me with one bleary eye. If he’d slept more than four hours last night I was a monkey’s uncle. He sat there, mumbling something about suspiciously polite Spanish snakes and wearing a cap emblazoned with the flag of China.
“Oh it’s good, real good...like 24 million dollars good,” he replied.
I let out a whistle. That seemed like an awful lot of money for playing video games, I thought.
“That seems like an awful lot of money for playing video games,” I said.
That seemed like an awful lot of money for playing video games to Kai too. So he dug a little deeper. For some reason his cap was emblazoned with a white horse now. Weird, but there you go.
“It’s called DotA 2, and the tournament is the International. $24 million prize pool, $10 mill to the winner...and you won’t believe this...the money’s going up!”
I spat out my bon bon.
“Where’s the money coming from? Casinos? Drugs? The mob?”
“All three,” said Kai, “Except none of those three. The money comes from the fans. The company hosting the tournament puts up a base prize pool, $1.6 mil, then they sell in game items. Hats they call them. Every purchase contributes 25% to the prize pool.”
“But if the prize pool is now at $24 million from $1.6 that means they’ve grossed…”
“Almost a cool $100 mil.”
It was a lot to take in. What were we getting ourselves into? But it was too late to back out now. I selected a fresh bon bon.
“Tell me about the game.”
“It’s free to play, basically you control one character in a team of five. There are over a hundred to choose from, each with unique abilities and strengths. The goal is to destroy the enemy base.”
“That seems simple enough.”
“It’s a game of strategy, real time reactions, and the ability to dodge hatred spewed at you by internet fans. Takes a lot of patience.”
“Sounds like my kind of game. And what’s this about the International?”
“It’s the seventh in a long line of multi-million dollar tournaments. eSports is a big deal now. They’re athletes, competing for millions. A whole lot of trouble.”
If I’d known exactly how much trouble, how much of a disaster it could be, maybe I’d have closed the investigation right then and there. Might have gone into esports myself. But I was younger then...much too naive.
“Alright let’s get crackin’, when is this International?”
“It ended last week, way too late to do a piece for De Minimis.”
“Well darn….does Tim know?”
“Probably not, the rube.”
“Alright we’ll write up what we’ve got so far and send it in. Pretend the tournament’s not over yet. And by Odin’s beard start recording those expenses!”
Coming soon: The Esports Enquiries: Tales of Terror from the Two Most Handsome University of Melbourne Law Students Currently Scoping out the Scene Part II, A Dance With DEATH!
Kai Liu and Chi Han Yeo are uncover cops who pose as MLS students during the day
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