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UK Esports team wins £7.4m in video game battle

More than 10,000 spectators cheered as a team of UK-based competitors won £7.4 million.

The victory was marked not by a goal or the crossing of a finishing line but the smashing of a monument by brightly coloured creatures.

Tundra Esports, video game players from London, won The International 2022 contest in Singapore after proving unbeatable in Defence of the Ancients 2, a combat game based on the World of Warcraft series. The cash prize was raised by the fans of the game.

Anthony Graham, 21, who co-founded Tundra in 2019 with a friend he played the football game Fifa with, said it was a big moment for Wu Jingjun (of the US), Neta Shapira (Israel), Oliver Lepko (Slovakia), Martin Sazdov (North Macedonia) and Leon Kirilin (Germany). “We went from being the underdogs as a relatively new team to winning a global event,” Graham, who trained for a career in finance, said.

Twenty teams took part in the group stage from October 15 before the finals on Saturday and Sunday. Tundra pay their players and provide support from a coach and psychologist.

Players train for 11-12 hours a day, which is why most were expected to quit in their mid to late-20s, Graham said, citing nerve-related injuries, stress and “a lack of personal life”.

Prize-money for esports tournaments is set to reach £10 million by 2030. It has an estimated worldwide audience of 475 million for some contests.

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