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SEATTLE -- Eighteen-thousand fans from around the world are heading to KeyArena this weekend for a big championship series called The International.

It looks like any normal crowd packing into the KeyArena, until you venture down the stadium entry and step past the black curtain. Then the spectacle hits you: huge video screens, TV production sets, and a video gaming stage that looks like a game show. Teams come from around the world to compete in an online video game called Dota 2.

You pick different characters, all with different abilities, and you fill roles on a team, explained Ryan Hammond of Bothell. Everyone knows what their role is and what they're supposed to be doing.

Fans watch the gameplay between the two teams on big video screens. The big battles evoke cheers and moans from the crowd.

The production can compete with any major sporting event. You have play by play announcers, news coverage teams from Korea, Russia, and China. ESPN is streaming the event as well.

The $10 million purse tells the world this is big money.

Each member of the winning team before taxes is an instant a millionaire this weekend. Which is mine-blowing, said Adam Contini of Ongamers.com.

People are spending big cash, packing their goods into the biggest swag bag we've ever seen. Not so big is the ratio of women to men.

I thought it would be at least ten percent, but I think it's more like one percent, said Kristen Valnicek, a fan from British Columbia.

The players themselves have achieved rock star status. Some of them, like 19-year-old Ivan Skorokhod from Russia, were handing out their own signature cards.

They've quit their jobs and dedicated their lives to winning this championship. For local video game-maker Valve, The International is the ultimate feather in the cap.

This isn't just making a good game. This is a lot of people deciding this is the most important thing in their lives and they gotta feel good about it, said Contini.

Almost as good as the winning team will feel at the end of the weekend.

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