The International is an annual DotA 2 tournament where the best professional teams are invited to compete for the largest prize pool of the year. Last year, the prize pool topped out at $2,874,381, the largest prize pool in electronic sports history. Last year, Valve, the creators of DotA 2, contributed $1.6 million to the prize pool, and the rest was raised by the fans/community by buying interactive compendiums. The compendium contained user made predictions, for example, which hero would be picked the most? Which hero will get the most kills? Twenty-five per cent of sales from the compendium went towards the prize pool, which means $2.50 from every purchase. The community raised $1,274,381 from compendium purchases alone. Buying the compendium gave buyers rare in-game items that would be worth more than $10, so there was a better reason to buy the compendium, rather than just donating money towards the prize pool.

Last year’s International

This year however, is very different. The event will be held in Key Arena (17,459 capacity) in Seattle, a much bigger venue than the Benaroya Hall (2,500 capacity), which is also located in Seattle.  The DotA 2 community has grown exponentially over the last year, and now there are more players than ever before. Tickets were sold in within minutes of being released, and I’ll be the first to tell you, they were not cheap tickets. Valve contributed $1.6 million towards the prize pool again this year, and released an improved compendium this year, with more features and more rewards. As of right now, the prize pool for The International 4 is $7,881,656 and still growing! If anyone didn’t do that math already, Valve contributes 25% of compendium purchases towards the prize pool. That means over $31,523,624 was spent on compendiums!

Prize pool comparison chart

Electronic Sports has yet to make a huge breakthrough in North America, due to the fact that gaming is not seen as a source of entertainment to watch or as a career path. In Asia, professional gaming is comparable to hockey, baseball, football, etc. The Super Bowl in America can be compared to the LCS finals in Korea, if not bigger. The International is a big step forward for the North American Electronic Sports community. News stations are starting to take notice in the popularity of The International, which in turn, grows the community even more and is more accepted as an event that can indeed be televised.

The International can be viewed for free online via twitch.tv. Even if you don’t know anything about DotA 2, the commentators are good at introducing new audiences into the game. The International will be running from July 18-21.