Dota 2 and the International turned my Dotachums into schoolchildren last year. "Dendi. Have you got Dendi? I need Dendi," would come the Steam messages desperately seeking a picture of the Ukranian player's face for TI3's Compendium, a sort of Panini World Cup sticker album for Dota. "I'll swap you ixmike88 and ChuaN for Dendi!" Valve launched this year's new Compendium on Friday and it looks like it'll be ruddy huge, as sales have added over $2 million to The International 2014's prize pool.
To explain to non-Doters, The Compendium is a £5.99 mix of sticker album and lucky bag. It tracks all the teams, players, qualifiers, matches, and stats for July's big Dota 2 tournament, and comes with shiny prizes like rare cosmetic items for your wizards. More goodies are up for grabs through completing challenges like predicting results, watching The International matches, and collecting those player stickers (awarded by random at the end of matches, then swapped on the virtual playground).
Deviously, Valve are this year selling ways for players to directly unlock more Compendium prizes, with 'Compendium Points' to boost your book's level. It's a bit gross but sure to be a smash. If one can admire business without feeling a bit weird and gross, this Compendium's a masterpiece of making players spend money enthusiastically on free-to-play games rather than begrudgingly.
The Compendium also boosts The International's prize pool. Valve put in $1.6 million at the start, then adds 25% of all Compendium sales (books and Points) on top. As I write this, it's at $3,644,860. Gosh. The pool has 'stretch goals' too, with bonuses like giving all owners more shiny cosmetics or, curiously, unlocking new modes for every player. The All Random Deathmatch goal has already been hit, while 1v1 mid-only matchmaking will come when it inevitably hits that goal.
Bringing together the world's top Dota 2 teams (though some take issue with Valve's selection process), The International 2014 will run July 17-21. All games will be streamed free through the in-game spectator system. 11 teams have been invited, while the final five slots will be filled through qualifiers which kick off today.