Seven years after the then-universal SNL meme-anthem “I’m on a Boat” would have lent the stunt even the faintest scrap of cultural relevance, the organizers who brought you the Nanyang Dota 2 Championships and the Nanyang Dota 2 Championships 2: Revenge of Nanyang Dota 2 Championships—plus a brief but disastrous portion of the much-derided Shanghai Major—this week announced their most ambitious effort to date, Nanyang Dota 2 Championships: Cruise Cup #1. Four top (?) Chinese Dota 2 teams will battle it out on board the Sapphire Princess this October for approximately $45,000 and the unofficial title ‘Best Dota 2 Team on the High Seas.’
The first esports tournament ever to take place on a cruise ship.
This is a momentous occasion not only because it’s the first esports tournament ever to take place on a cruise ship, but because it opens up a whole new dimension of esports publicity stunts. What comes next? The first tournament on a commercial jetliner? What about a zeppelin? The first tournament on a nude beach? The first underwater tournament? Tournaments in the elephant habitat at the zoo? Would we call the first Dota 2 tournament in space the Intergalactical? How many years are we from the HearthStonehenge Invitational?
Maybe this is the way esports can finally blow traditional sports out of the water (pun most assuredly intended). Esports don’t require much more than space, power, and internet connectivity for a few humans and their computers. The only thing stopping us from making LCS the Lunar Championship Series is spaceship technology—but even if Elon Musk cracks that cosmic nut, I’d like to see the NBA Finals take place on the moon!
That was supposed to be sarcasm, but a basketball tournament in one-quarter gravity, maybe with hoops twice as high, could actually be amazing. (Yes, clever reader, we all know we’d call it Space Jam.) That’s an example of a gimmick that doubles as enhancement, like hosting an 100 meter dash downhill with a stiff tailwind. Putting a Dota 2 tournament on a cruise ship, on the other hand, won’t do anything but give a few players seasickness and make streaming the event a gigantic pain in the ass. The only option for connectivity at sea is satellite, which has higher latency and is generally less reliable than fiber; broadcasting a tournament has proven to be hard enough for the Nanyang folks on a traditional wireline connection, so I’ll just say that I have less than total confidence in their ability to pull this one off without a hitch.
Plus, there’s a dark side to cruise ships that I discovered whilst perusing the Wikipedia page for the Sapphire Princess, and it’s a doozy. In addition to being gigantic floating feeding troughs for the wealthy and locomotively-challenged, cruise ships are whale-murdering machines. In 2009, the Sapphire Princess ran into, speared, and killed a SEVENTY-FOOT fin whale, and DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE. (The whale was discovered and presumably peeled off upon the ponderous vessel’s arrival in Vancouver. Hate to be the maintenance guy responsible for that particular clean-up. I’m not sure how you remove a seventy-foot whale lodged on the bow of a cruise ship, but I’m guessing it’s neither a trivial nor especially pleasant-smelling task.) And in case you thought that was a freak occurrence, the ravenous Princess tasted blood once again in 2010, this time impaling a comparatively dinky forty-foot humpback.
Cruise ships are whale-murdering machines.
Listen, esports organizers, here’s the truth: we don’t care where your tournament takes place, as long as the best teams are there and the games are good. You don’t have to throw a whale murder into the mix to make us happy. We get enough of that out of SeaWorld.
Update: It has been brought to our attention by Esports Environmentalist Kyle Rogoff that the Sapphire Princess is the only ship in the Princess line ever to strike a whale. Apparently this is a very famous boat among the “Save the Whales” crowd. We apologize for casting generalized aspersions across the entire population of cruise ships, many of which have never once murdered even a smallish whale. However this does raise an important question: did Nanyang select this boat DESPITE or BECAUSE OF its spearheading (so to speak) of the nautical supervessel whale-murder movement?