The International is upon us, poised at the ready to pit eighteen of Dota 2’s elite against one another in a two-week long tournament for its seventh consecutive year. It is Dota 2’s most prestigious event, and we know that Valve won’t be pulling any punches this year. Fans can be prepared for a top-tier talent lineup, fan favorites Toby “TobiWan” Dawson and Austin “Capitalist” Walsh reprising their roles as commentators while Peter “pdd” Dager and Troels “syndereN” Nielsen take to the analysts’ desk, and spectacular stage effects to enhance every nail-biting game’s hype.
Yet, for as talented as these players are, for as high as the production value will be, there is one particular part of The International that grabs everyone’s attention: The prize pool.
When the inaugural The International was announced back in 2011, news of the promised $1,600,000 USD prize pool spread like wildfire. It was a staggering number, especially when one took into consideration that $1,000,000 of it would be awarded to first place, and it was the largest prize pool in esports history.
Oh, how far we have come.
Since then, The International’s prize pool has consistently blasted through its own records, making history with each passing year as the pot increased exponentially. This is entirely due to Valve having introduced what is called The International Battle Pass: a package containing exclusive multiplayer campaigns, items, and achievements that can be purchased directly from Valve for $9.99 USD. These rewards include seasonal in-game terrain, the Weekend Battle Cup Ticket, The International 2017 Music Pack, Hermes the Hermit Crab, Immortal Treasures, and several other exclusive items.
Additionally, a player can purchase “levels” for their Battle Pass to unlock even more exclusive content for themselves. By default, a basic Battle Pass is purchased at level one, but levels can be purchased in increments of five, eleven, and twenty-four for $2.49, $4.99, and $9.99, respectively, until a player reaches level one thousand. Alternatively, one may purchase a level seventy-five Battle Pass for $36.99 and work up from there.
Of course, it’s not just about the in-game goodies. Purchasing a Battle Pass also allows players to play in Siltbreaker, the two-act cooperative campaign where three players set out to defeat an evil being in the Dark Reef. This year’s Battle Pass also introduced queue trivia, where fans can answer trivia questions to boost their passes’ levels, put their MMR on the line in a ranked wagering system called Rank Double Down, and new team quests.
For all of the fun experiences that they provide, the most rewarding part of the Battle Pass that 25% of every Battle Pass sale goes directly towards increasing The International’s prize pool from the base of $1.6 million set by Valve. As esports continues to grow at an almost explosive rate, that unprecedented prize pool of $1.6 million has become but a distant memory as this year’s available prize money has surpassed $23.2 million. Roughly $10 million will be awarded to the first place team, alone, with second, third, and fourth receiving approximately $3.7 million, $2.4 million, and 1.6 million, respectively. Teams who place fifth and sixth will each receive just over $1 million in winnings, and the winnings continue to breakdown into the hundreds of thousands from there. $100,000 will be reserved for the winners of the All-Star match, the special 10 v 10 event where pros and fans from the crowd compete in an All Pick match.
The International is currently live at the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. Group stages are slated to run until this Saturday, the main event running from 8/7 through 8/12. For those unable to attend the event, the entire tournament will be broadcasted online to Twitch, and will be available to watch in the Dota 2 client, where viewers can control their own camera and watch matches from their favorite players’ points of views.