Valve's international prize pool for the Dota 2 International competition has surpassed $10 million today, according to the company. As Gamasutra points out in its reporting, this prize pool is larger than many familiar professional sporting competitions like the U.S. Open golf tournament ($9 million) or tournaments for competing eSports competitions like last year's League of Legends Season Three World Championships ($2.05 million). It's a dramatic increase over the prize pool from last year, which reached right around $2.9 million in prize money awarded.
Most of that figure comes from crowdfunding efforts, with The International's initial $1.6 million prize pool increasing by $2.50 every time someone purchases a copy of The International Compendium, an interactive sportsbook Valve is currently selling as a supplement to its upcoming tournament.
This is driving more and more money into the tournament because every time a new milestone is met, Valve is adding new Compendium features such as exclusive in-game chat emoticons for Compendium owners. Owners can also level up their Compendiums by completing in-game challenges or by buying Compendium points – 25 percent of which goes into The International's prize pool.
The company debuted the $10 Compendium in advance of last year's International as a way to monetize interest in the competition, and advertised the 25 percent cut for the prize as a way of redirecting some of the community's passion for the game back to its best players.
Sixteen teams will compete at this year's International, which takes place July 18-21 at KeyArena in Seattle, Washington. The winners will take home the largest stake of the prize pool, which is substantial this year. To give you some perspective on just how massive the payout is; last year the winning team took home $1.44 million, or roughly half of the total prize pot, and seven runners-up took home significantly smaller prizes. Unless Valve adjusts the prize money for runners-up, this means the winning team could take home close to $5 million.