$40 million, a new record for e-sports prize pool

This year, the prize pool that will be on offer for 'The International 10' (TI10) is more than $40 million

The International, Dota 2
Last year, at the ninth edition of the tournament, the prize pool offered was a whopping $34.33 million | Representative Photo: Twitter

‘The International’ is the premiere tournament for online multiplayer game Dota 2 and if the prize pool is to be considered, it is the biggest tournament in the world of e-sports.

Last year, at the ninth edition of the tournament, the prize pool offered was a whopping $34.33 million. This year, though the tournament has been postponed indefinitely, the prize pool that will be on offer for ‘The International 10’ (TI10) is more than $40 million.

The 10th edition was supposed to held in August and conclude latest by the second week of September. It was postponed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The location for the event is also uncertain and will be decided once it’s considered safe to hold a live in-person event.

TI10 will have the highest prize pool for an e-sports tournament when it is finally held and will put the previous record holder, TI9 at the second spot with its prize pool of $34.33 million. The Fortnite World Cup will slip to number 3 with its combined prize pool of roughly $30 million between solo and duo editions of the event.

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‘The International’, since its conception back in 2011, has been the tournament to beat as far as the prize pool is concerned. The very first edition of the tournament raised many eyebrows with $1.6 million on offer, an unbelievable prize pool for an e-sports event. The fact that the people playing professional e-sports were mostly young kids did nothing but make it harder to digest.

In 2013, the tournament became partially crowd-funded. The concept of how tournament funds could be raised is simple: A battle-pass is made available for purchase to the players within the Dota 2 game. Each pass is sold for a base price of $10. From the sales of this battle pass, 25% of the money generated is added to the base prize pool of $1.6 million.

The idea could be considered a bit of an instant success as the amount generated through this method in the first year was nearly as much as the base prize pool. In 2013, the tournament offered $2.87 million as prize pool, of which $1.27 million was generated via battle-pass sales. The consecutive years witnessed a rise in crowd-funding; today, the base prize pool is peanuts compared to the amount that is generated through battle-pass sales.

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There are a multitude of reasons due to which the amount spent by the fans each year has been on the rise. The simplest of these is the fact that the first few years of the battle-pass sales had no option for the players to buy extra levels. This additional method of levelling up was made available a bit later. The other reason is the increasingly tempting rewards given to players who reach higher levels on their battle-pass.

When one looks back at 2013, there were only ‘Immortal treasures’ (once known as Immortal strongboxes) holding exclusive ‘Immortal’ ranked in-game cosmetics, and today, the battle pass does not just continue to offer these ‘Immortal’ items! Starting 2018, the battle pass has offered at least one in-game cosmetic ranked at the Arcana level.

The defining fact of an Arcana cosmetic is the fact that the in-game hero is modified to a large extent and even possesses and alternate backstory at times. Every single Arcana changes the basic animations for the hero in-game. The Arcana offered by the battle pass remains an exclusive Arcana that is not possible to obtain in any other way.

The fact that the items offered for levelling up battle passes have only become better over the years is one of the reasons why the spending continues to rise. The growth of e-sports industry alone would not be enough to explain why players continue wanting to spend.

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A few weeks back, TI10 looked poised to not just generate a prize pool of $40 million but possibly even reach $45 million. This was aided by the fact that at one time it had the highest ever daily increase in prize money recorded in the history of the battle pass, an incredible $355,000 per day.

However, the last few weeks witnessed an increase in the amount slowdown to a crawl in comparison. This was due to the cancellation of the ‘Trove Carafe’ that is released in the final week of the battle pass. If the original schedule had been followed, the battle pass may not even have reached $40 million.

The battle pass was extended by an extra week and then three more weeks, all the way till October 9. Before this, every year the battle pass had been concluded by mid-September. Despite this extension, the prize money crossed $40 million, a mere 10 minutes before the close of the battle pass.

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