Dota 2’s The International: The Mind-Blowing Prize Pools

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40 million US dollars: This is the final amount of this year’s crowdsourced prize pool for The International.

How does Dota 2 continuously have the largest prize pool in esports? How does it compare to traditional sports? Most importantly, how does it change the lives of the players who are playing the game?

Dota 2's The International: The Mind-Blowing Prize Pools - Game High PH

How the hell does Dota 2 have these prize pools?

Every year, Valve releases a Battle Pass for the tournament. Players can buy levels and get exclusive items and cosmetics: 25% of all proceeds go to the prize pool of the tournament. The base battle pass comes at around P500. To unlock 50 additional levels (without playing the game), you have to shell out P1500; as for jumping up 100 levels at once, you have to pay P2500.

Valve provides only $1.6 million of the total prize pool; the rest is outsourced by players.

Given that the game has millions and millions of players worldwide, it’s rather easy to see how these purchases increase the prize pool in an astronomical manner.

Traditional sports: a comparison

Dota 2’s The International prize pool rivals and even surpassesthe total prize pools and prize purses that traditional athletes and sports superstars receive from their endeavors.

It is bigger than:

• FIFA Club World Cup prize pool ($21.5 million)
• The Masters prize pool ($11.5 million)
• Manny Pacquiao’s prize purse against Yordenis Ugas ($5 million)
• ICC World Test Championship – cricket ($3.9 million)
• Tour de France (~$2.3 million)

As a matter of fact, you have to combine the top three entries on this list in order to even get to this year’s total prize pool for Dota 2’s marquee tournament!


Changing lives

How does the immense prize pools of The International (and other Dota 2 tournaments) affect the lives of its players?

A quick look at the numbers on the Esports Earnings website reveals a lot of details.

The top ten highest earning esports players of all time (the figure only includes tournament winnings) all come from Dota 2. Meanwhile, only seven players in the top 50 come from other esports titles (Fortnite and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive); the rest are all from Dota 2.

Among our Dota 2 players, Djardel Jicko “DJ” Mampusti, currently the captain of multinational side Fnatic, is the highest-earning Filipino player at $823,373 (~P41.9 million) and stands at #77 among all Dota 2 players in the world when it comes to total tournament earnings. To put it into perspective: Around 2,330 people would need to work in a single month (at a salary of P18,000) just to earn what DJ has earned playing Dota 2. Alternatively, someone has to work approximately 194 years to match the earnings of that Filipino player.

Translation: Getting into the top of the professional Dota 2 scene changes lives by a huge, huge margin – especially in the Philippine context, where the minimum wage hovers somewhere between 200-350 US dollars.

Dota 2's The International: The Mind-Blowing Prize Pools - Game High PH


Despite the numerous memes such as “Dota 2 is dead” and “Dota 2 sucks”, among all the unprintable messages out there, the game’s fans have consistently supported the game for ten cycles of The International now.

In as sense, the never-ending growth of TI’s prize pool serves as a referendum of sorts for Valve’s MOBA game – and given that it has never went even a single step backward (on the contrary, it grew by leaps and bounds every year), it just shows the enduring support and love of its fanbase for the game.

Yes, regardless of what the naysayers say, Dota 2 is here to stay.


The Table

This assumes that the distribution is the same as that of the last edition back in 2019.

PlacingPercentageEstimated prize

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