Dota 2's huge official tournament, known as The International, has achieved the biggest prize pool in all of eSports. The pool is $24,973,783, and will be distributed among 18 places. But perhaps the most fascinating thing about the record-setting prize is that it's mostly being paid for by Dota 2 players who aren't even in the tournament.
The International is hosted by Valve, the makers of Dota 2. This year's event is being held in Vancouver, Canada. There's a bit of buzz around the 2018 tournament in particular, as a point system was implemented to determine which teams from the Major and Minor leagues of Dota 2 would be invited to participate in The International. This change puts more "sports" into the eSport, and the giant prize pool only furthers its prestige.
Fans have been able to participate in the hype by buying The International Battle Pass. The battle pass is becoming more and more common in free-to-play games as a way to offer bundles of perks to entice players to drop cash. The International Battle Pass is no exception, offering buyers everything from a game-changing new mode to silly cosmetic items like sprays and taunts.
But in buying The International Battle Pass, players are actively adding to the actual tournament's prize pool. The webpage for the pass states that "25% of all Battle Pass sales go directly to The International 2018 prize pool." That player contribution is the very reason why the prize pool for The International is so staggeringly high. In fact, the officialtracker for the games shows that Valve only contributed $1.6 million to the prize. That means the other $23,373,783 came from the players and Battle Pass sales. With so much money in the pool, that means that the 18 highest-rankers will take something home.
Those winners will be revealed soon, as the tournament is already underway. While the obvious avenues of watching it, such as buying tickets and tuning into a livestream, are available, Valve has also teamed up with several pubs and restaurants so that fans can watch The International over drinks just like any huge sporting event. As eSports continues to grow, it's certainly an exciting time to be a gamer.