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Valve is building fantasy sports directly into 'Dota 2'

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Fantasy games added a whole new layer to the fan experience for traditional spots. Can they do the same for esports?

Dota 2’s DreamLeague, a $100,000 12-team tournament based out of Stockholm, Sweden, is hoping to establish itself as the premiere online league for the second most popular esport in the world. The league, which features European and North American teams, kicks off on March 3rd.

It's already boasting a big arsenal to help reach that goal. Celebrity commentators, the backing of the venerable DreamHack brand, a new sleek television studio and a regular broadcast schedule should all help bolster the league’s standings. But the most interesting new piece of the puzzle is that Valve, Dota 2’s developers, are building a great looking Fantasy Dota competition into their game. And it could be huge.

To join a fantasy league, fans have to buy a $10 ticket for the DreamLeague, 25 percent of which goes to the league’s prize pool. Fans can then live-draft pro players in a six-person league and compete in a season-long round robin to determine a champion.

Valve already built a beta version of fantasy Dota for The International 3, Dota 2’s biggest tournament. However, this new system adds, among others, one key feature that was missing last year: Competition against friends.

Fantasy sports are a $4 billion industry across the globe, with the most popular sports being American football and soccer. It should go without saying that Dota 2’s efforts won’t rival those. However, with unprecedented developer support and access to metrics that are impossible to glean in traditional sports, fantasy esports has enormous potential to turn fans on to the competitive game in a big way.

Fantasy Dota will score players based on kills, deaths, assists, last hits, gold per minute, experience per minute, stuns, healing, tower kills, and kills of an NPC monster called Roshan.

In the same way that fantasy football helps new fans understand the game better, fantasy Dota is employing a simple but thorough system with a lot of potential to nurture a new side of the game’s fanbase.

Art via Valve