Damn, this is a lot of work to translate! I've got tons of errors but I'm using this as training and I guess it's still understandable.
Tournament on the keyboard
E-Sports is booming in Germany as well. Some players earn millions.
Suddenly six men on the stand lift their shirts. On their bellies they're sporting one black letter each: K-U-R-O-K-Y. KuroKy, 22, thick eyebrows, three-day stubble, is called Kuro Salehi Takhasomi in real life. KuroKy might be the Mario Götze of electronic sports, E-Sports for short. He's wearing sneakers without cleats, is field is a computer screen.
The men with the painted bellies are six in about 15.000 coming to Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt. To the ESL One, one of the biggest E-Sport-Events in Europe. KoruKy and his team, Team Secret, are playing for a silver cup and 250.000$ prize money.
E-Sports isn't new. Back in 1972 Stanford University in California held the "Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics". The trophy had been a little more lowly: a free one-year subscription for the Rolling Stones magazine. Shortly after the turn of the millenium Samsung and the Korean ministry of culture financed the first "World Cyber Games" in Seoul. Teams from all over the world were competing in different computer games.
In recent times E-Sports are experiencing a rise of professionalism: young players, often teenagers still, jetting, shielded by managers, around the world, filling stadiums and earning millions. They're the foundation of an industry, game publishers, event managers and sponsors.
Defense of the Ancients 2, Dota 2 for short, is the game KuroKy and his buddies are playing at the Commerzbank Arena. Dota 2 is a strategy game, two teams with five players each try to destroy the enemy's monument. Fantastic figures who seem to come straight out of a witches' cauldron scurry through rivers and forests. Grumpy monsters with shark teeth and elven-like creatures are fighting with firebeams, mines and drawn bows. No blood is flowing when they die, they just dissipate.
Many professional players know each other for years. In the beginning they played each other online, now they meet at the big tournaments, broadcasted on huge screens. Thousands are cheering for them: the fans at Commerzbank arena are loud, but peaceful, they're drinking beer, smoking. Where two weeks prior Helene Fischer [German pop singer] was singing and Bundesliga games required hundreds of policemen and -women, there's a single squad car today. Dota 2 does not have hooligans, and most fans don't care who wins. They're thrilled for every smart move. "Dota", one spectator says, "that's chess with reflexes."
KuroKy is the German star of E-Sport. "Sometimes his actions are so precise, so skillful", the young man with the "Y" on his stomach goes into rhapsodies. Football might have brilliant combinations, too, "but Dota is more exciting and versatile, more things are happening."
The first 15 minutes are uneventful. The teams are taking turns picking from over a hundred heroes. But this tactical foreplay, incomprehensible for a layman, is often game deciding: you have to choose the best team combination. Suddenly the crowd rejoces: "Techies!", spectators are roaring and look at each other, stunned. The commentators can't form a coherent sentence. KuroKy [actually s4, obviously] has picked Techies. The orange creatues, helmets always slipping on their noses, are able to place mines on the map - this drastically changes the dynamics of the game. They are almost never picked in tournaments. The stadium is going wild as if a penalty is about to come in a soccer match.
KuroKy doesn't notice much of this. His sweater's hood over his head, headset on top. He seems calm and is concentrating on the screen. For the next 35 minutes, until the end of the match, he will not look up once.
During peak hours, more than a million people are playing Dota 2. Publisher Valve's game is free to play. The money is in Dota T-Shirts, Dota-phonecovers and figurines of Dota heroes. As well as so-called microtransactions: for small amounts of money the players can alter the appearance of their heroes. This is wildly popular, although it doesn't give you any actual benefits. Valve is estimated to make around 200 million dollar from microtransactions alone.
That's massive. What's more is the amount of money Germans have spent on digital games in the last year: roughly 2.7 billion Euro according to the Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware (BIU). In comparison: The Bundesliga had a turnover of 2.45 billion in the 2013/2014 season. Germans mostly buy game licences, but also subscriptions and hardware - as well as, via microtransaction, DLCs and virtual goods: items they can use in just the specific game. Last year alone had a turnover increase of more than 100% (477 million Euro), says Maximilian Schenk, director of BIU.