The International — This name is very familiar to everyone who has ever played a little bit of The International, regardless of the discipline. But in today’s world, even people who are far from virtual competitions may have heard of the legendary annual tournament where young and not-so-young people compete in Dota 2 for the right to become world champions. They also become dollar millionaires.
Since its inception, the Dota 2 World Championship has become an extremely significant event that has dramatically affected the esports industry, as well as the income levels of professional players and organizations. But like any other phenomenon, The International Series tournaments have their strengths and weaknesses.
In this article, we will discuss the dynamics of The International prize pool growth and its financial impact on the Dota 2 scene, the changing format and tournament structure of the main event of the year, the impact of streaming and content creation on the World Championship, and the legacy of such a notable event series.
Rising Prize Pools and Financial Impact on Dota 2
As soon as Dota 2 was released in beta test in 2011, there were rumors that Valve, the developers of this esports discipline, were going to hold a major international tournament. When The International 2011 was announced, many people could not believe their eyes because the presented prize pool was equal to a staggering $1,600,000. And this was an astonishing and record-breaking amount by the standards of the early 2010s. Back then, the Ukrainian team Natus Vincere earned $1,000,000 in prize money for winning The International 2011. Dendi and his teammates literally ensured a comfortable life for a long time.
The following year, 2012, the prize pool remained the same at $1,600,000. Valve then came up with an elegant way to increase the prize money at the Dota 2 World Championship and make a nice profit. They came up with the Battle Pass, as it is known today by almost everyone in the gaming industry. Back then, it was called Compendium.
It’s worth noting that Valve abandoned Battle Pass in preparation for Dota 2 International 2023, promising to introduce some new system. The way Compendium and later Battle Pass worked was that when purchased, 25% of the amount was added to the tournament’s total prize pool. In return, upon reaching certain levels or monetary goals, Battle Pass holders received prizes and rewards.
Thus, the prize pool of The International Series tournaments grew from year to year and, in 2021, totaled a record $40,018,195. Team Spirit’s victory brought an impressive $18,208,300. It is also important to take into account that last year’s The International 2022 failed to break the record of its predecessor, being limited to $18,930,775 in prize money.
In general, The International has become the main goal of the year and the centerpiece of the DPC system in Dota 2, thanks to the huge amount of money that can be earned from it. After all, to get a good income it is enough to at least get to the TI. And if your team takes high places or even wins the World Championship, you have all the chances to become millionaires and live a long time without any thoughts about money.
Changing Format and Tournament Structure
The format of The International has also undergone several changes as it has evolved. One of the most significant is Valve’s abandonment of open qualifications. At one time, this allowed completely different teams to get into the Wild Card stage and compete for a place in the main stage of The International. Now, only teams from the Dota Pro Circuit ranking system compete at The International.
Compared to last year at The International 2023, Valve has made changes to the format and tournament structure of the championship. The Last Chance Qualifier has been canceled, and two regions, namely Western Europe and South America, have been allocated an additional slot in the regional qualifiers. Now, the group stage of The International will be divided into two parts. In the first phase, the 20 participants will be divided into four groups. The teams that will take the fifth place will leave the tournament. The remaining participants will play one bo3 match each in the second phase for seeding in the playoffs.
Gabe Newell and his team have made the group stage more comprehensive, but it’s hard to say how much of a positive impact the changes will have on the tournament’s attractiveness to spectators. After all, many experts have long said that the excessive number of professional matches in Dota 2 has a detrimental effect on the number of views and viewers because it is impossible to simultaneously watch 3 to 4 matches in a row when they are also in several parallel streams.
The Role of Streaming and Content Creation
Streaming and content creators play an important role in the development and growth of The International series tournaments. Live match broadcasts, analytics studios, and entertainment shows between professional bouts gather tens and hundreds of thousands of viewers from all over the world. The most popular streaming platforms are YouTube and Twitch. The recordings of all matches are often available there.
An integral part of the World Cup is the work of bloggers, analysts, International reviewers, and other content creators. Their videos help to build interest in The International, attract new audiences, and provide new information for fans who like to follow everything that happens on stage and behind the scenes at The International.
Legacy and Influence
The legacy of The International is hard to overstate. It was written about by the world’s leading media and became a flagship event that showed that it was realistic to win big money in esports. With the appearance of The International, the trend of prize money growth accelerated not only in Dota 2 itself but also in other esports disciplines. Nowadays, it’s hard to surprise anyone with a prize pool of $1,000,000, although it’s still a huge amount.
The high competition at The International and its scale has led to the professionalization of the esports industry. Players have become more thorough in their preparation to be at their best, and a whole host of esports professions have emerged. For example, journalists, presenters, observers, broadcast directors, and many others. Documentaries have been made about them, and the most famous of them are like rock stars in terms of their recognition and cult following in their industry.
The future of The International Series tournaments is somewhat murky. After all, everything depends directly on the decisions that will be made by Valve, namely the ways of monetisation and replenishment of the prize pool, as well as possible reforms of the entire competitive ecosystem in Dota 2. After all, the game and the esports scene have already formed a core of loyal fans. Now, the main thing is not to lose them. The International here and work on attracting more and more fans of esports battles in Defence of the Ancients 2.