May 1, 2012 at 5:44 PM ET
Riot, creator of the popular multiplayer online battle arena "League of Legends," has created a tournament with cash prizes unprecedented in size among similar contests: $3 million will be shared among the winners when they square off at the University of Southern California later this year.
The news could be seen as an attempt to leapfrog Valve, whose DotA 2 will likely be LoL's biggest competitor when it launches; not only that, but Valve has already established a million-dollar purse tournament to promote the game. Riot clearly felt the need to raise the stakes.
They also hope that their new Spectator Mode will be put to good use once the regional championships kick off in July. "We know that we're getting millions of viewers during our tournaments, and continue to gain momentum and traction from each event," said Riot's Dustin Beck. With a community of millions tuning in to the almost-live broadcasts, the opportunities for cashing in are easy to imagine.
If you're interested in taking part here in the U.S., you'll have to make your way to PAX Prime in Seattle, where three teams will be selected in the usual elimination fashion on Aug. 31.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.