SEATTLE - When James Harding of England started winning video game competitions in Europe more than a decade ago as a teenager, a prize might be a new computer case.
Today he's a TV analyst commenting on the third International Dota 2 Championship held at Seattle's Benaroya Hall, the venue that normally hosts the symphony.
On Wednesday, the top prize is $1,421,086. Yes, nearly one and one half million dollars - purses that rival some in professional golf.
Dota 2 is the product of Valve Software of Bellevue. Valve's been in the video game business since 1995. Dota 2 is played on a personal computer and has become an international sensation.
The company estimates that more than a million people are watching the competition online. It's being broadcast over the air in China and Sweden. About 1,800 $50 tickets for the five-day tournament sold out in a matter of seconds, and scalpers are rumored to be getting $400 to $500 for one ticket.
This is the third international championship involving 16 professional teams from around the world. The first was held in Cologne, Germany, and the second was also in Benaroya Hall. Next year may need a bigger venue.
The International Dota 2 Championships are a high tech, slick and professional production. A far, far cry from the parental image of emptied popcorn bowls and empty soda bottles piling up around teenage boys huddled around the TV or computer screen dedicated to video game play.