Those who don’t follow eSports or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games may not have heard of The International (TI), Dota 2’s premier tournament and regularly the largest prize pool in eSports. Last year’s tournament distributed nearly $34.5 million to the 18 teams competing and was watched by millions of fans worldwide. Every year, the Battle Pass (previously the Compendium) release is an event that dedicated fans of Dota 2 await like Christmas morning, as it brings new rare items, exclusive skins, and seasonal features. The tournament itself has been postponed until 2021 at the earliest, due to COVID-19, but the release of the Battle Pass goes on.
For Valve, Dota 2’s developer and publisher, it also brings a massive windfall in revenue. For every $1 spent on Battle Pass-related items, $.25 is added to the prize pool. Only $1.6 million of the total prize pool is staked by Valve; all of the additional funds are due to the fans, who take immense pride in building a prize pool that tops itself every year. Last year’s record $34,330,068 prize pool generated nearly $131 million in gross revenue for Valve, and the trend this year is no different.
The TI 10 prize pool is already nearly $11 million at time of writing, and is sure to grow from there. The first day of its release saw the largest ever first day for any TI Compendium release at just over $6.5 million, a 13% increase over last year’s massive first day. If the trend holds, it’s possible that the prize pool could grow as high as $40 million, a number that would bowl over even the biggest Dota 2 fans. This year’s Compendium sales have been staggering as many people expected numbers to be down as the world enters a COVID-induced recession and nations like the United States are seeing record levels of unemployment, so it’s too early to say.
Although fans of Dota 2 have been excited by the new content, some are disappointed with Valve’s perceived lack of support. Servers over the last few days have been slammed, leading some players experience less of a game and more of a slideshow. Additionally, many players have had difficulty connecting to Dota 2’s game coordinator, the system that allows players to connect to matches or report results. Peak concurrent users were below 12-month highs, as were average player counts, so players weren’t expecting so many issues.
Many player complaints do seem to have been addressed, and for now the fans are excited again and expectations are high. Can TI 10 deliver by continuing the trend of setting a new high water mark every year – possibly topping $35 million in the prize pool? Only time, and Dota 2’s generous fanbase, will tell.