Dota 2: The International Prize Pool Passes $15 Million

These pass for dollar bills, right?

The prize pool for Dota 2’s [official site] annual mega tournament The International has sailed past $15 million meaning it’s now ticked the boxes of all of the stretch goals Valve thought up for its crowdfunding drive.

The money comes via sales relating to a digital booklet called the Compendium which lets you take on little challenges and earn rewards. You can buy the Compendium itself but you can also spend money to make yours a higher level rather than slogging through games or pick up digital chests which contain cosmetic items and other doodads which you can use in game.

TI5 had already achieved the record for the biggest prize pool in eSports history the moment it surpassed the total raised for TI4 but I wanted to post this update for several reasons.

First is that this prize pool is monstrous. There’s no getting away from that. $15 million is noteworthy. It’s huge money. Lottery win money. And there is a whole month left until TI5 it will only get bigger. At this point it’s clearly a spectacle. I’ve spent the last year and a bit thinking about whether these sums of money going to a handful of teams is actually helpful (I reckon smaller prizes with a wider distribution would be far healthier) but yeah, it’s newsworthy money.

Second is a related point. Minus Valve’s initial $1.6 million investment that prize pool only represents a quarter of the money actually spent on contributing items. That figure is in the $53.6 million ballpark. That’s Scrooge McDuck cash vault territory.

I wanted to point that out because the companies whose games get positioned as eSports obviously have commercial interests and so what Valve does with Dota will have an effect on those developers and publishers, whether that’s trying to replicate the success, experiment with core ideas or deliberately pursue an alternate path. This level of money leaves a mark.

Third is that I predicted it would happen on Wednesday (which it did) and then that it would happen around 9pm UK time (it happened a few minutes after 9pm). These were predictions I made earlier this week and yesterday respectively BUT I wanted this success written down somewhere. I might also put it on my LinkedIn profile.

Fourth – and finally – is that, as I said further up the article, there is still a month to go so I’m wondering about further stretch goals emerging. I’m assuming there are several waiting in the wings, or were drafted as soon as the $15m mark looked achievable. Perhaps, in the fine tradition of crowdfunding, Chris Avellone’s services will be needed for one of them? Perhaps two?


  1. Sobric says:

    At the moment, each member of the winning team at TI5 will take about £850k each (based on last years prize pool split). If the total pot rises to about $17m (which is not impossible given that Immortal Chest III is yet to be released, and new stretch goals may be added), each player will take home about £1m.

    To put that in perspective, winners of the singles tournament at Wimbledon this year will take home £1.88m and Jordan Spieth (US Masters champion) took home $1.8m

    • Sobric says:

      Although I should add that I’m splitting the finals winning 5 ways in that scenario, which is unlikely to be how teams actually split the winnings so it’s over simplified

    • Philippa Warr says:

      Actually, if we’re taking last year’s split as guidance, Newbee walked off with just over $5m of the $10.9m prize pool – around 46%.

      46% of this year’s current prize pool is $6.9m which would see a $1.4m win for each player if it was divided just five ways (which is an unlikely scenario but teams will vary with how exactly they would divide up the cash so it’s hard to account for)

      If the pool rises to $17m, that same distribution would see the first placed team get $7.8m which is just under $1.6m if you split it five ways.

      • Sobric says:

        Yeah I was hopping between $ and £’s, which in hindsight looks pretty confusing, but yeah: $1.6m per player is just over £1m per player.

        It’s basically a fuckton of money whichever way you look at it.

        • Philippa Warr says:

          Ah, I see! Turns out I can’t easily register the difference between $ and £ in this font – that’s interesting! Sorry for making the same point as you in a second comment, then!

      • jrodman says:

        Historically, teams have split their prize winnings evenly among the players, as far as i know.

        However, I believe that current practice among sponsoring organizations (eg the Evil Geniuses company) take a cut as well.

        • Larwood says:

          Most teams operate as advertising platforms, they earn their money by selling advertising “space” on the team. Although I think the system is different in China, the teams there probably take a sizable cut because of how ACE operates, but the 3 western teams that are most likely to win (Secret, EG, Cloud 9) I would expect to see 90+% go to the players.

          • jrodman says:

            Considering that Secret has no attached organization at all, they’re going to get 100% of their winnings, minus any taxes.

    • SamLR says:

      Interesting to see where this ranks against Poker prize pots. Certainly looks like it’ll be in the top 20 (based on the wikipedia list. Still a way to go compared to sport’s prizes though (apparently UEFA champions league awards ~£1bn).

      Also well guessed Pip!

  2. felltir says:

    Your official site link is broken; It’s an href pointing nowhere, gives some weird behaviour.

  3. shaydeeadi says:

    Maybe Chris Avellone can write the lore of 1 or 2 forthcoming heroes as a stretch goal?

  4. Incanus says:

    There is a perfect word for that: portnawak.

    • Xeshor says:

      That’s the first time I read this word in another language than french. I wonder how you would translate it, or even explain how it came into existence.