A former pro player and current caster for Dota 2’s esports scene has warned that the current prize pools for The International are threatening the existence of lower leagues, all because Valve apparently want to match Fornite’s World Cup Finals.
Kyle ‘melonzz’ Freedman posted a long and heavily detailed article on Medium explaining how much the prize pool has increased in the last few years, this year’s being the biggest in TI history. He goes into the history of TI and how its prize pools have slowly gone up year on year as the esport grew in popularity.
In drawing the comparison between last year’s first place prize for TI and this year’s, melonzz has theorised that the huge jump is in response to Fortnite’s esports prize pool, explaining that “It’s no surprise that Valve would want to reward their winners with the most $ in all of esport… and a 44% cut might not have been enough to beat Epic’s $3,000,000 first prize.” This may be fuelled by player numbers too, as “Fornite saw its playerbase increase by 100 million since their World Cup. Dota’s has declined 20% since TI 9.”
Melonzz explains that the money has to come from somewhere to remain one of the biggest esports games and that ‘somewhere’ is the Seasonal Prize Pool. “Over the years, more and more money has been funnelled to the TI prize pool. More and more importance is put on TI, and less and less to the rest of the year.”
— Kyle Freedman (@keepingitKyle) October 9, 2020
This has been especially problematic in a year where a global pandemic has postponed indefinitely this year’s TI as well as the DPC. Revenue from this year’s Battle Pass has been enormous, and while it’s led to TI10 having a record-breaking prize pool, there’s been little else provided for the rest of Dota 2’s esports scene. In Kyle’s own words, “only TI could reap the benefits of massive community support”.
This is not exactly the first time that the TI prize pool has been called a “problem”, as just last year an analyst voiced his own concerns about the Dota 2 esports scene. Evidently, given melonzz’s exposé, not a lot has changed since then and it’s now taken an even darker turn thanks to the pandemic. We’ve reached out to Valve to comment on these allegations.