The International 5 – Part I – The hype before the storm

In my introduction post I mentioned that I had a passion for Dota 2 and the pro-scene that accompanies it. Since we are only a week away from the first match of the biggest (financially) esports tournament of the year, I thought I’d do a few posts surrounding it to explain the chaos that is going to grip the Dota 2 community in the next few weeks, the prizes on offer and a few other things of my choosing.

The International is a Dota 2 tournament that is run by Valve and has been for the last 5 years. While League of Legend’s draws more people, I would argue the pro-scene is stifled by the fact that Riot Games, the creator of LoL, completely runs the pro-scene whereas Valve allows 3rd parties to host and run their own tournaments leading to a wider range of tournaments throughout the year.

Valve released “TI5 Compendium” a few weeks ago, a sort of online ticket which you can buy, and since then the prize pool for TI5 has been rapidly growing. Valve has put up $1.6 million of base prize money for the last 5 years and takes 25% of the cost of each Compendium sale (Compendiums sell for $10) and adds it to the prize pool. As a result the total prize pool for TI5 is a little over $16 million, a mind bendingly huge figure, and record breaking to boot. Below you can see how that will be distributed between those who compete.

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I’ll just take a second to explain why people buy The Compendium as the tournament itself is free to watch either in the Dota 2 client or from Twitch, with commentators broadcasting in all major languages. The way Valve makes money from Dota 2 is through in-game cosmetic sales and other such digital merchandise. As the prize pool increases the Compendium unlocks new cosmetic and digital items for the people who bought one, but after the year is over and the next International starts its own hype train, the last year’s Compendium won’t be available to purchase.

Each year, as you might expect, the prize pool has increased but I don’t think anyone expected it to be such a drastic increase from 2013 to 2014. TI3 in 2013 is, to some, classed as the best series of Dota in history, and it certainly is by me. Won by The Alliance with a 2nd place for Natus Vincere, this was the first TI that featured a Compendium and so the base prize pool of $1.6 million was inflated to $2,874,381, Alliance receiving exactly half of this. However, last year’s TI4 ended up with a prize pool of $10,930,698, a staggering increase which some attribute to the series of TI3 but was mostly, in my opinion, the result of a general increase in interest in esports in the West.

As the title implies, we are currently in a calm before the storm. The teams are yet to fly into Seattle, where the event is being held in the Key Arena. A few weeks ago the Dota 2 community was rocked by the Open Qualifiers. The winners got an invite straight to The International and 2nd place get a definite trip to Seattle but have to compete to get into the competition in the “Wildcard Matches,” where the 2 winners will compete in the main competition. Of course, all that is yet to come, the “Wildcard Matches” taking place on the 26th of July.

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