In an almost homestand win, Dota 2’s Team Spirit won The International Dota 2 Championship tournament earlier this month, taking home a whopping $18.2 and the lion’s share of more than $40 million of the community funded prize pool. 

Taking place in Bucharest, Romania, Team Spirit made an impressive run at the esports event with the largest prize pool in history, defeating teams like OG (the defending champions from last years tournament), Fnatic, Virtus Pro, and more while they battled their way through the lower bracket before their championship win. The team was knocked out of the upper bracket of the tournament in the first round before having to climb back into the championship bout. Peaking at almost 2.7 million viewers, the tournament saw the first Eastern European team since 2011 to win the entire thing.

The larger story, though, is the insanity of the massive prize pool on the line for this year’s tournament. Over $40 million dollars were put into the pot by both funding from the DOTA 2 community purchasing skins and battlepasses in game throughout the previous year, alongside contributions from the developer of DOTA 2 Valve.

Team Spirit have to be over the moon with the prize pool winnings they took home (upwards of $18 million dollars from this tournament alone) since before The International 2021 the team had recorded just under $600,000 total since 2015 in prize winnings.

In the final tournament, the bottom two teams get 0.25% of the prize pool, or roughly $100,000. The first-place team gets about 45% of the prize pool. While $40 million has set the record for the largest prize pool in esports history, don’t think for a second that next year won’t be even larger; DOTA 2 has consistently beaten it’s own record for largest prize pools over the past ten years, and doesn’t look to be letting up soon. The International prize pool has been rumored to have a larger Valve contribution sometime in the next few years after the monstrous growth of the developer.

Everything didn’t go to plan for the event, however, as it started off in a bit of controversy; slated to originally be set in Stockholm, Sweden, the country (technically, the Swedish Sports Federation) denied permission for the event take even take place in the country as they denied esports being accepted into the country’s sports federation.

Soon after though, it was announced that The International would still be taking place, this time though in Romania. And while that seemed like the end of problems for the event, another hit came when Valve had to halt selling tickets and instead had to issue refunds to all ticket holders due to a massive spike in the city’s overall Covid cases. Valve wanted to counteract the lack of an audience by adding an option they called “Spectator Cheering”, an option that was eventually panned and removed due to a massive backlash from fans attempting to view the event. 

International champions in the past have mainly seen a dominance of Western European teams over the past ten years since it’s inception in 2011. The world championship for Dota 2 is the main competitor to rival Riot’s own MMO League of Legends and their World’s tournament. The total prize pool of LOL World’s tournament usually tops out around a few million dollars, reaching only $2.2 million dollars. The Dota 2 international champions Team Spirit do not compete in League of Legends, however, they do field teams in Hearthstone and Counter Strike: Global Offensive as well.