The International (TI) 2023, Valve’s annual Dota 2 eSports competition kicks off in early October, but something strange is happening with the prize pool. The prize pool for TI has grown every year since it started in 2011, but 2023 looks to offer pros the lowest prize pool to compete for in almost a decade.
Fans are confused about why the prize pool is so low, but they’re also not surprised, given the usual source of funding has been turned off and delayed. If something isn’t done soon, the prize pool may remain low, making it a struggle for pro teams to turn a profit even if they win.
TI 2023 Prize Pool for Dota 2 is Off to The Slowest Start in Years
Image via Dota 2 Prize Pool Tracker
In the past, Dota 2’s Battle Pass sales have added to the prize pool for each TI. Since the competition’s inception, Valve has always put up $1.6 million, and up until 2021, the pool saw year-on-year growth. However, fans started to get complacent with Battle Passes, leading to some volatility in the total prize pool for each year.
TI 2023’s prize pool sits at a total of $2,234,630 at the time of writing, according to Dota 2 Prize Tracker. While we’re still yet to hit the end of day 1 of funding, it’s the slowest growth a TI prize pool has seen since 2014 and may end up being the lowest day 1 prize pool since then too. While it was reported earlier this year that Valve would pony up $3 million as the base prize pool, we’ve seen nothing to suggest it has at the time of writing.
Fans seem to be switched on to Valve taking more money from this year’s contribution item than in previous years. It indicates that the company needs to reap more profit from the game to keep supporting it, but it could cost the eSport scene greatly.
The issue still seems rooted in how the prize pool is being funded. Earlier this year, Valve vowed to alter how it released Dota 2 content to make something for everyone and has reiterated it on the Dota 2 blog. It didn’t help that fans had grown tired of the game’s Battle Pass cosmetics too. Instead, this year’s TI is being funded by 25% of all sales of the Compendium. This is an event tracker filled with activities for players to complete during TI 2023, awarding all sorts of cosmetics and rewards.
Unfortunately, the current prize pool seems to indicate that fans aren’t buying the Compendium at either its standard price of $7.49 or the upgraded version with extra rewards for $29.99. If fans don’t buy this in-game add-on, the prize pool’s growth will rely on third-party sponsors donating to it in exchange for ad space or sponsorships.
There’s still time for fans to find and buy the Compendium and push that prize pool up. If they don’t, TI could become unviable for many of the pro teams. Organizations behind the pro teams take a large percentage of the winnings, and if that amount is enough to justify attending and competing, the organization will drop out.
This happened earlier this year with NRG and ALGS. The pros are paid an income by organizations that earn revenue through merch and other income streams from those players. But if the bulk of the income an organization needs isn’t there, it doesn’t make sense for the business to be involved when it could find the money in another game.
The prize pool for Dota 2’s TI 2023 has shown the slowest growth in almost a decade, and it could cost the eSport its pro teams.