Dota 2 fans now able to watch games via VR

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The VR lobby lets players watch with friends or view a game at ground level

Fans of the Dota 2 video game can now watch the arena battle’s biggest tournament via virtual reality.

An update for the HTC Vive headset released this week lets owners view via a “spectator hub”.

This let players watch via a giant virtual screen or by moving around the in-game arena as players battle.

The hub has been released just before the start of The International e-sports tournament in which Dota players try to win a share of an $18m (£14m) prize.

Created by game developer Valve, Dota 2 is an arena-based battle game in which two teams of five players fight for control of a small map. Valve is also a key partner in the creation of the Vive headset.

Total control

Valve’s hub system revolves around a virtual “lobby” through which players can watch an archived match or follow a tournament game as it is played. The hub also lets HTC Vive owners set up a private lobby for themselves and up to 16 others.

Players can move around the lobby and talk to other people who are virtually present via voice chat. The system represents people as disembodied masks and also shows their hands as gloves.

Once in a game, the system lets people watch from overhead or dive down to ground level to see player-controlled characters battle each other and the game’s computer-controlled minions.

Writing on the Ars Technica news site, reporter Sam Machkovech said anyone watching Dota games via the in-game system would face a steep “learning curve” in getting used to the way the camera can jump around.

However, he said, his early experiences with the spectating system were “absolutely comfortable”.

“People have dreamed about this kind of crazy, in-game viewing scrutiny in professional sports leagues for years,” he said. “But instead of having total control of how we watch Lebron James or Lionel Messi, viewers can do just that for the likes of Dendi and Admiral Bulldog.”

In 2015, US Dota 2 team Evil Geniuses won the tournament and took home more than $6.6m (£5m) in prize money.

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