The International prize pool is a “problem” according to a Dota 2 analyst

OG The International 2019

A prominent Dota 2 analyst has warned that the Dota 2’s esports scene could be at risk if Valve continues to pour time and money into The International’s prize pool.

Alan ‘Nahaz’ Bester, an esports economist, known for gracing the desk of many Dota 2 tournaments, voiced his concern on the OMEN Esports Report last month, where he spoke in depth about the so-called Shadow of The International.

The tournament’s prize pool this year totalled $35 million (£28.4m), making The International the biggest esports tournament on the planet. But its rapid growth should concern you. Over 80% of The International’s  prize pool was awarded to the top four teams in the competition, creating considerable pay gaps in the esport. If things continue to go this way, Dota 2 may find itself in jeopardy.

“The International is, in my very biased opinion, the biggest event in esports,” Nahaz explains on the show’s segment. “It continues to deliver some of the best and most compelling storylines across all of esports. At the same time the footprint TI takes up relative to the rest of the year grows every year, and that to me is a problem.

“The prize attribution was not announced until right before TI, and it was pretty obvious to me that there was a lot of desire to eclipse Fortnite [and its prize pool] . But the cost of that is how many teams know that they’re going to be able to eat and pay rent next month from playing competitive Dota? And the answer to me is: not many.”

Nahaz makes a fair point on the show about prize money, and the level of uncertainty that comes with going pro. Evil Geniuses and Vici Gaming took home $1.2 million (£974K) for coming fifth and sixth respectively, and Royal Never Give Up and Infamous were awarded $858K (£696K) for coming seventh and eighth. Those numbers all pale in comparison to the minuscule amounts the remaining teams were awarded for placing elsewhere.

All of these problems stem from the desire for Dota 2 to be classed as the largest esports tournament in the world, and Nahaz is worried that something is going to give soon.

“If you look at the total prize pool money awarded outside of TI, that number is going down over time – that’s a huge red flag to me,” he says. “If the TI balloon starts to deflate, then what is going to happen to the rest of the scene?”

The lack of support for the Dota 2 scene is a concern for pros and fans alike. If Valve gave the same attention to the competitive scene that it did to The International, these concerns would be addressed.