Valve’s most anticipated yearly DotA2 event, The International; dubbed “TI 5” for the 2015 year, hit a prize pool amount of over $17 million dollars as of July 21st.
DotA2 publisher Valve has contributed $1,600,000 to the base prize pool of each yearly International event. How then does the prize pool far exceed the $1.6 million investment offered by Valve for each yearly TI event?
It starts with two words: community contribution.
The International 2015’s Compendium purchases are the direct-way fans and players financially contribute to TI 5.
By purchasing the International 2015’s Compendium and point-packages which increase player’s Compendium levels, in-game DotA2 content is given to Compendium owners to customize their DotA2 hero skins and a wide-variety of the gaming interface.
Some of the options are:
These and other emotionally-stimulating content make compendium owners happy due to the cool in-game purchases they receive. Not to mention they get to feel directly a part of DotA2’s largest and most prestigious tournament which will be remembered in eSports history.
Although the core reason why the International 2015’s prize pool is absolutely massive is based in the DotA community’s dedication, over the last several decades there has been a sharp-decline in the cost of quality gaming PCs.
This has helped DotA2 (and other titles) gain eSports popularity as the barriers of cost: buying a computer and having an internet connection, have been lowered as peripherals become less expensive and the pervasiveness of quality internet connections has continued to grow.
With nearly 1,000,0000 gamers playing DotA each month, the scene and community have been growing like wildfire.
A few reasons why and how this is happening?
How the custom map called Defense of the Ancients (DotA) turned into having its own engine is the last piece in the puzzle, which explains how a tournament like The International can go from having $0-10,000 dollar prize pools to $17,000,000+ in just five short years.
DotA started to gain extreme popularity when IceFrog took over the custom map’s main-editing role.
Instead of doing what previous editors were known for within DotA’s Warcraft 3 engine; changing the mechanics of DotA based mostly on what they felt was needed, as one person or three, IceFrog went a different route.
He created a forum which existed to be constantly in-contact with the DotA community.
By involving the development of DotA’s mechanics with the community; asking which heroes needed buffs, which heroes needed to be nerfed and where and why mechanical features, changes, or settings should be in place or taken out, among thousands of other topics, DotA had a structure which worked around its community allowing it to exponentially grow in popularity.
So what are (some of) the reasons DotA2 has become so popular so quickly?
The result is a DotA community committed to the game, who are financially invested to its growth while likewise, being rewarded by that very same community and Valve for doing so.
On a global level, it’s EE and top teams such as Evil Geniuses and Team Secret, among other pro teams, who are dominating the attention of the 14-34 age group: the prime age and dream population sample in which advertisers target.
This makes advertising profits (business is after all, business) lucrative for organizers and companies involved in DotA2 tournaments and events.
The International has brought together the most elite and skilled DotA players from around the world and has them compete to earn the most prestigious tournament title known within the DotA community.
In hockey, it’s the Stanley Cup.
In soccer, it’s the FIFA World Cup.
In the football, it’s Lombardi Trophy.
For DotA players and fans, the trophy players earn with the title of being the best DotA players in the world is dubbed the Aegis of Champions.
To earn the Aegis of Champions, with the majority of the $17,000,000+ TI 5 prize pool, teams must work together to defeat each top-tier TI 5 qualifying team comprising of the best players around the world.
The reward for doing so is no-doubt worth it, as each player who comes in first this year will earn over $1,250,000+ for doing so with the bragging rights of saying they competed on a global level.
Not bad for an event that 5-7 years ago had a prize pool consisting of $200 to at most $1000 and bragging rights.
Although the large prize pools have increased the drive for upcoming and pro players to take DotA2 seriously, DotA gamers, more than anything, play the game to be a part of the community.
The global community is the heart of what the game has become today and being involved in its growth is a feeling DotA fans will never forget.
Just how big will the The International prize pool get?
I’m guessing $20,000,000+, and it isn’t unreasonable to suggest this when looking at the rapid and consistent growth of the TI5 prize pool: http://dota2.prizetrac.kr/
Written By Kyle Raney
Kyle Raney is an eSports enthusiast who covers the DotA2 scene from a North American perspective. For more of his work, check out Dota2pros.com.