The International 2019, a tournament that lets players compete in Valve's hit PC game Dota 2, now has a massive prize pool of over $30 million. The competition, which features a crowdfunded purse to award lucky winners, has continued to grow ever larger ever since crowdfunding debuted and the Battle Pass released in May 2019. It's only getting bigger from here. With every few minutes that pass, additional cash is going to lining the potential winners' pockets, and if you're even a casual Dota 2 fan (or esports observer in general) this is one event worth watching. This tournament is now home to the biggest prize pool in gaming history.
Dota 2 is a popular MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena). According to Steam Charts, the game has attracted an average amount of 477,998 players over the last 30 days, with a peak player count of 796,209. These numbers rarely change from month to month, and typically fluctuate from around 400k and up most of the year. And at the time of writing, the prize pool for The International tournament is currently sitting around $30,227,617. It's not as if you can just toss in a donation, though. Players are getting plenty of incentive to throw more money at Valve for the tournament – and there are lots of players to throw said money, as evidenced above.
Hardcore Dota 2 fans are paying for three different tiers of a Battle Pass: $9.99 for Standard, $29.35 for Level 50, and $44.99 for Level 100. The two level-specific passes get you a Standard Battle Pass as well as Level 50 or Level 100 Starting Points, which are essentially ways to become more powerful quickly. You can purchase additional levels for various fees, too. They max out at 1,000 levels, so you can imagine the potential for how much money could feasibly be spent here.
The Battle Pass ensures that players can explore several new game features, such as the limited-time Wrath of the Mo'Rokai area, a Living Towers mechanic that lets players test their might against a variety of enemies to level up their Battle Pass, and more. Players will be showered with in-game items, powerful weapons and abilities, and more of the game to explore — but they have to pay. Luckily, most of the money they're spending goes back into the community, but not all of it.
Considering that only 25% of each Battle Pass sale goes directly to the International 2019 prize pool, as the portal page explains, you've got to think about it this way: enough people have purchased these passes to amass over $30 million even though the whole of their contributions aren't even going to this event. To qualify for the tournament, players must earn points throughout the year throughout smaller events, with a small number of teams that rank highly enough being invited to the tournament.
Unlike the Fortnite World Cup, it isn't open to every player who wants to attempt to qualify, and instead requires several rounds for interested parties to play multiple games to prove their worth first. So, if you were curious, you can't just buy a Battle Pass and get into the tournament. It's a lot more complicated than that. You have to practice all year before you can even think about joining, for one.
There's also a lot more money on the line, too. For reference, the Fortnite World Cup, which is set to begin in just a few days, has topped out at just $30 million for its prize pool, which is more than what the previous International event offered when it took place in Vancouver in 2018. Developer Epic Games is currently offering a $3 million prize to the best solo player to emerge from the competition. The previous International competition's $25.5 million purse is now nothing but a memory, given that Dota 2 players have been hurriedly throwing more and more cash into the pile. How far will it continue to grow? That's anyone's guess.
Teams will compete to claim their own chunk of the ridiculous amount of money up for grabs, and whoever wins will receive a sliver of it paid out across each team. Previously, the prize pool distribution of last year's funds went like this: $11,234,158 went to the first-place winners, while second-place teams received $4,085,148. The rest of the money was split up between the rest of the combatants evenly, with teams as far down the totem pole as 18th place still netting a cool $63,830. The official breakdown for 2019's Invitational hasn't been shared just yet since it's impossible to know how much money the pool will continue to gather.
Interested in seeing how everything plays out? The International is set to kick off on August 20 in Shanghai. That means there's still plenty of time to purchase additional battle passes to keep that prize pool growing ever larger. Who knows how large it's going to get by the end of it all?