By Radu Muresan
August 9, 2019
The International 2019 has the largest prize pool in the history of esports competitions. The amount is staggering and there’s enough time for it to get even bigger. So far, Valve has managed to raise $32 million. And with such a massive amount for just 18 teams, the question arises: how will the distribution be made? How much for the winner? How much for the runner-up? How much for the last place? What about the rest of the competitors?
In this article, I will take a brief look at the prize pool offered at The International 2019 and give you my thoughts on Valve’s recent announcement regarding its distribution.
The prize pool of TI9 has been mostly raised through community contributions. Over the last few months, people have been buying Battle Passes and Battle Pass levels. And since 25% of the BP sales goes to the TI9 prize pool, a community of over 10 million players has certainly proved that the marriage of Valve’s amazing content and their passion for the game can go a long way.
Thanks to this community achievement, which is getting close to $33 million, Valve has succeeded in proving to everyone that Dota 2 is here to stay. Many had assumed that the game was dying and that soon, the players would start to leave in droves. But that wasn’t the case. The number stabilized at around 10 million and in recent months it grew by around 250,000. The statistics show that Dota 2 currently has over 10 million players and that the number is increasing.
Compared to last year, the main changes for the TI9 prize pool distribution have to do with the percentage amount offered to the winning team and the 9th – 16th place teams. That involves half of the participants if you think about it. And their earnings have been raised substantially.
Let’s start with the winner. The team that will lift the Aegis of Champions this year will get close to 15 million dollars. Right now, the exact amount is $14.7 million but it will likely surpass the 15 million mark until the start of the tournament. The prize pool percentage that will go to the winning team is 45.5%. That’s 1.5% more than in 2018. So, you may ask: what’s wrong with this picture?
Well, the answer becomes apparent when we look at what the runner-up receives: $4.2 million or only 13% of the total amount. The difference is gigantic: $10.5 million. Personally, I can’t think of a single sport or esport that does this. The gap is designed to simply raise the stakes in that final match. But from any other perspective, this way of doing things looks awful. Instead of doing what they did, Valve could have simply offered the best team $10 million and then use a more generous distribution among the rest of participants. Sure, they did increase the amounts for the bottom half, but that is still far from what could have been done with tiny changes. Because let’s think about it: when the prize pool is $32 million, even 1% of that amount is $320.000.
Offering almost half of the total amount to the winner doesn’t go well with the Dota Pro Circuit tradition either. At every DPC Major, the winner gets 35% of the total amount, or $350.000. It would have made perfect sense to use the same system for The International 2019. Instead, the prize pool for the winning team is grotesque, just to increase the pain felt by the runner-up. When you’re in the Grand Final of The International, you want nothing more than to win. Regardless of what the prizes are. But when you also know that the winner takes home $10 million more than the second-place team, the disappointment for the losing side is that much greater. Even though, let’s be real: $4.2 million is the equivalent of winning 12 Majors.
The teams that will take part in the Main Event and finish in the bottom half will be rewarded more generously than last year. Instead of 0.5% and 1.5% respectively, these teams (13th – 16th and 9th – 12th) will receive 1.5% and 2% of the prize pool. That’s a huge increase given the total amount. The exact figures are the following:
To put these numbers into perspective, last year, the same eight teams had these earnings:
As you can see, thanks to the prize pool, which is $7.5 million better than last year, and the new distribution chosen by Valve, the 13th – 16th place teams from The International 2019 earn more than the 9th – 12th place teams from The International 2018.
Right now, the complete prize pool distribution for The International 2019 is the following: