The dates for the 2015 Dota 2 Championships were announced by Valve on Wednesday. Known as The International, the tournament set records last year for the largest prize pool in eSports at nearly $11 million, 10,000 tickets sold, and live broadcasts on ESPN. Will this be another year of growth for eSports?
The International Dota 2 Championships will take place over the course of six days from Monday, August 3 through Saturday, August 8 in Seattle, Washington. The brief blog post from Valve did not reveal the venue, but did mention that ticket purchase availability will be announced at a later date.
Invitations will be sent to 16 top teams on May 1, 2015. That’s up from 2014, when 11 teams received direct invites. Four other teams earned their way in via regional qualifiers, with another four added as wild cards.
Valve was able to offer the nearly $11 million prize pool for the Dota 2 Championships thanks to crowd-funding through the game’s community. The developer sold the Compendium for $2.50, which was a virtual booklet that players could use to collect in-game rewards.
Additionally, Valve offered rewards to those that purchased the Compendium rewards each time a new prize pool milestone was passed. More than 20 such milestones were passed, unlocking challenges, new map effects, character models, and more.
This kind of crowd-funding for prize pools is becoming more common in eSports. Hi-Rez Studios did something similar with The Odyssey for the SMITE World Championships that is taking place this weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. The prize pool for that tournament has grown to over $2.5 million, a strong sum of money for a game that does not share the same level of popularity as Dota 2.
Riot Games has already made clear that it is not going the same direction for its League of Legends tournaments. The company told Polygon last year that it was not interested in “begging” its community to contribute to tournament prize pools.
Poylgon‘s Emily Gera wrote the following.
“Riot hopes to avoid the possible long-term issues that a crowdfunded prize pool could produce, we’re told… According to [Riot head of EU eSports Jason] Yeh, this method potentially sets a company up for having a year with less money than the previous year, which by all accounts would be a ‘disaster.’”
With Dota 2 still growing in population, it doesn’t seem like this will be the year that the prize pool size will take a step back for The International. If anything, the earlier announcement of the 2015 Dota 2 Championship suggests that Valve may make the crowd-funding period longer than last year.
Did you enjoy the setup of the Dota 2 Championship for 2014? How do you think the 2015 edition could be better? Sound off in the comments below.