The $40 Million Dollar Esports Tournament

Even if you’re not a fan of MOBAs or DOTA2, it’s hard to ignore the prestige and the prize money that comes along with Valve’s Annual conclusion of the DOTA Pro Circuit, the International. For the past 10 years, the prize pool for this tournament has continued to grow.

In 2011 at the first International, the total prize pool stood at $1,900,000 dollars, as did the following year in 2012. 2013 jumped up to $2.8M, but it was 2014 that saw the first big leap in the amount that would continue and make the Internationals Prize Pool one of the most riveting numbers in esports.

In 2014 the prize pool was a staggering $10.9M and this year, at the tenth International the prize pool has surpassed $40M for the first time. The winners of the International are looking at such a big payday, that even after the organization and team takes its cut, the players deduct taxes, they’re still taking home more money than Tom Brady earned post season incentives with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But how does an esports prize pool get so high for one game? It’s the game itself that helps with that through crowdfunding. Most esports rely on cosmetics to make money, especially in a free-to-play game, you need players spending money constantly. So DOTA2 offers special skins for their characters, limited-time cosmetics and a cut of that goes to funding the Internationals Prize Pool.

This means that the more people who play DOTA2 and buy the cosmetics, the higher the prize pool will be. Some people think that eventually, it has to even out, it can’t continue to go up every single year…but the jump from 2019 to 2021 (2020 was cancelled due to Covid-19) was a $6M jump. I think it’s safe to say this number is going to keep climbing for 2022 International.


Feature Photo by Hu Chengwei/Getty Images

About The Author

Robbie Landis Host of the CheckpointXP National Show, Other Identity comic book podcast and a Dungeon Master. Robbie Landis has been playing games since Yoshi's Cookie Factory was released on the NES. He enjoys RPGs, APEX Legends and World of Warcraft.

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