May 20 2014 - 1:47 pm

Prize pool for 'Dota 2' world championships hits $6 million

The prize pool of the biggest esports tournament of the world hit $6 million earlier this morning
Samuel Lingle
Dot Esports

The prize pool of the biggest esports tournament of the world hit $6 million earlier this morning.

After two decades on the fringes of mainstream attention, professional gaming is on the rise. The suddenly explosive esports industry has featured in a half-dozen trend pieces in the past year alone, from NPR to HBO. YouTube is rumored to be buying video game service Twitch for $1 billion, which is at its heart an investment in the future of esports.

And now the prize pool for Valve's yearly Dota 2 tournament, The International, has shattered its own record of $2.8 million. That makes it one of the richest sporting events in the world.

For any non-gamers out there, Dota 2 is a battle arena game, in which teams of five player-controlled heroes attempt to destroy the other side's base, known as an "ancient." It's the second-biggest esport in the world, after League of Legends, and on any day is one of the most popular games streamed on Twitch.

The prize pool is so massive because it's funded, in part, by the community. Valve sells an interactive tournament guide called the Compendium, with $2.50 of every $10 sale pushed into the pool. Valve also offers stretch rewards, like cosmetic perks and new in-game features based on how high the prize pool rises. Hitting $6 million unlocked the final perk—an item that allows a user to customize their base.

As of press time, the TI4 prize pot sits at $6,015,655 in total. Assuming it uses the same prize distribution as last year, with 50 percent of the pool going to the champion, that’s about $3 million  for the winning team.

We took a look at some of the the world’s biggest sporting events to see how The International stacked up.

While it can barely shake a candle at some of the most massive events, like the UEFA Champions League and its mind boggling $50 million first-place prize, it does stack up favorably to some of the world's most famous events.

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- The Boston Marathon awards a $150,000 top prize, with $806,000 money in total, easily dwarfed by The International.

- The Tour de France, cycling’s premier event, will hand out $616,500 to the individual winner and $3 million in total winnings this year. The individual amount is comparable to what each member of the winning team will earn.

- The Kentucky Derby out $1.4 million to the winning horse this year, with a pot totalling $2.2 milliion. Though the real money is made after the race and the lucrative breeding market. The owners of California Chrome purportedly turned down a $6 million offer to buy 51 percent of the animal before he won the Derby. Now they estimate his value is more than $30 million.

- Every year, golfers top the list biggest earners in sports, thanks mainly to endorsements. The prize money at The Masters, one of the sport's premiere events, is fairly comparable to The International. Bubba Watson took home $1.62 million when he won earlier this year, while the event handed out $9 million total, a number that Dota itself might reach before crowdfunding ends.

- Esports receives a lot of comparisons to Poker as a sport, but right now esports is a bit behind, prize-wise. That’s probably not surprising considering part of poker’s appeal is throwing around fat stacks of cash. The World Series of Poker had a top prize of $8.5 million in 2013, and that wasn’t even the highest stakes event of the year.

- The men and women’s singles winners at Wimbledon next month will take home $2.96m each, with $16 million on the line in each singles event. The total pot, including all three doubles categories, sits at $42 million.

- Auto racing is even more lucrative. Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. took home $1.5 million for winning that race earlier this year, but the pool totalled a whopping $19 million.

- The Indianapolis 500 gave out $2.3 million to the 2013 winner, Tony Kanaan, with $12 million overall. This year’s edition, set for this weekend, promises to hand out more.

But the real big boys are the team sports, a category that best suits Dota, as a five-aside game.

- The payouts vary based off ticket sales, but Major League Baseball and the National Football League award hefty sums to their champions. The 2012 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens pulled in $11 million. The San Francisco Giants raked in $19 million  in winnings by taking the World Series in 2012.

Soccer, though, is the undisputed prize pool champ.

- This year’s World Cup will award $35 million to the winning country, but the prize pool overall totals a ridiculous $576 million.

- The UEFA Champion’s League, which pits the top teams from Europe's pro soccer leagues against another, is the most lucrative competition in the world. Bayern Munich pulled in almost $50 million for taking the title last year, and they made half that on top thanks to sharing of television revenue.

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While the The International now stacks up against many of the top sporting events in the world, prize-wise, the globe’s biggest games are still in a different stratosphere.

The International features a much more top-heavy prize distribution than most traditional sporting events. That’s been a point of contention among esports fans for quite a while. How can esports support a growing competitive scene, if only a select few teams make enough money to support themselves?

That ties in with the biggest difference between esports and these traditional events—money earned outside of the prize pool. Many of these competitions award extra dough based off television draw. Juventus, for example, actually pulled in more money than Champion’s League winners Bayern thanks to their bigger television draw.

Many athletes also pull in heaps of additional money thanks to sponsorship deals, or salaries that dwarf what they earn for winning. The esports scene is growing, but isn’t handing out million dollar contracts just yet.

One of the most expensive transfers in esports history happened a month ago, and for a relative pittance, rumored to be around $100,000 for an entire, five-person Call of Duty team. That’s a far cry from the $6 million thrown around for half a horse, much less the $2 billion needed to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But even so, The International's prize pool is impressive. It tops the Boston Marathon, the Kentucky Derby, the Tour de France. It’s close to The Masters and the Indianapolis 500. It’s a number big enough that you can reasonably declare that The International 4 truly is one of the biggest sporting events on the planet.

Photo by Tracy O/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) (remix by Jason Reed)

Jan 21 2017 - 5:09 pm

UFC champion Demetrious Johnson on video games, investing in esports, and why Infiltration is his favorite player

He's the best MMA fighter in the world, and esports has his attention.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via UFC | Zuffa

Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson has a nickname worthy of esports. Which is good, because it turns out the number one pound for pound fighter in the world is a fan.

In between defending the UFC flyweight championship, something he has done a near-record nine times, Johnson chills out the way he always has—playing video games. But now he does that while streaming to an audience of over 82,000 fans on Twitch.

Gaming and online broadcasting has become a massive part of Johnson's career. We spoke to the champ about gaming, esports, and how his two passions have aligned to make him one of the most unique and engaging athletes on the planet.

Obviously we will mostly be talking about gaming, but were you happy with how things went for you inside the octagon last year?

Hell yeah. I had an injury to overcome and got two fights in. Two wins, one finish and one pretty decisive war against Tim Elliot, so I'm pretty happy about that.

Your fighting career and gaming passion have intersected before. In the past you were the only combat sports athlete sponsored by Xbox. How did that come about?

It came about because of my gaming connection, and Microsoft were very passionate about getting behind athletes and Seattle, which is where the Xbox was originally created. I'm a huge game player, so the two brand just merged so well. I know people who worked at Microsoft at the time. It wasn't revolutionizing sports, but it was the first time they ever sponsored a fighter, and the first time ever the UFC was going to be streaming live on Facebook. That was pretty much the first livestream for the UFC. They don't do Facebook anymore, now we have UFC Fight Pass. 

Obviously I fit the brand really well but especially with Xbox, I was passionate about video games before Xbox was around. Back when it was Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Dreamcast, I was in love with that stuff. I played a lot while doing sports. So when the UFC was going to merge with that and doing Facebook live streaming, Xbox saw that as an opportunity to get their name out in the sport of mixed martial arts.

What games and teams are you following in the esports world?

The biggest ones that everyone follows, League of Legends, Dota 2, CS:GO. But I really like to watch the fighting game events, like Evo. Razer have an esports team, Red Bull have an esports team, but the one I really like to follow is Infiltration who plays for Razer, he uses Nash on Street Fighter V. I know I watched Northern Gaming in the World of Warcraft tournaments, but that stuff gets too stressful man! You about to kill a guy and next thing you know he gets healed all the way and I'm like "fuck!" It takes forever. I'm a big WoW guy, but I do wonder why I play it sometimes. I love the game but when it comes to streaming, it's not the most entertaining game to watch on the stream unless you're really really into it. But I love WoW. 

I watched Echo Fox compete at the H1Z1 Invitational, I competed against them. So if there's a game I like, I'll see if there's an esports scene and see if there's a player I like. But the one that really sticks out to me is Infiltration.

Have you ever made it to an esports event in person?

I have not. The only event I've ever went to was the H1Z1 Invitational when Echo Fox were playing, but I was in it. 

We'll see which ones are going on, I know TwitchCon has already been announced and I'm probably going to go to that. H1Z1 is probably going to have an Invitational there. I'm sure Echo Fox will be involved there. I know they have the Dota 2 event at the Key Arena in Seattle.

Right now, traditional sports figures are lining up to get involved in esports. Do you see yourself turning esports from a passion into something more?

Yeah, hopefully. I'd love to sit down with them [UFC owners WME-IMG] and see how the business side works of an esports team. I haven't really had a chance yet. One of the Echo Fox managers used to manage [former UFC champion] Rampage Jackson, and he talked to me about potentially looking into it and seeing if I wanted to get involved. But at the same time it's got to make good business sense for me. I don't understand the logistics of it. You buy an esports team, what's your return, you're hoping that your team wins? There's a little bit more that I need to understand.

Now being a commentator? Whatever the game, I'd absolutely love to do that.

Do you think these people from traditional sports are doing the right thing, investing in esports? Is it the next big thing that they need to be a part of?

If the people are passionate about it and follow it absolutely. It depends on what the investment opportunities are and what the payout is. It's a little bit difficult. Guys like Rick Fox, they have other things and they've made millions and millions of dollars. I heard someone say an esports team costs at least $40,000 or something to get started. It all depends on the opportunities. You got to look at all of the logistics of it. It's a cool idea and a badass thing to be apart of, but it's got to be more than just thrown in for me. We'll see what happens.

Is there any game that isn't currently a major esport that you would love to see on the big stage?

Oh man. If it's an esport, it has to be competitive. I would say Dead Space multiplayer. You would have to fight each other, and also have the necromorphs coming at you as well. Almost like a free-for-all. The one I would really love to see make it as an esport is H1Z1, but there's just so many variables and things that don't work out. Everybody doesn't get a fair chance to start out, so I think it will be hard placed right now.

Today - 5:32 pm

G2 Esports defeat dismal Fnatic in ELEAGUE Major opening round

The Swedes looked all over the place at times.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via Turner Sports

In the pick of the opening round games G2 Esports defeated Fnatic on day one of the ELEAGUE Major, as the Swedes continued their poor run of form.

The teams were evenly matched throughout much of the contest. G2 were able to gain small advantages in the early rounds, including a huge clutch from Richard "shox" Papillon in the initial pistol round, but Fnatic were able to fight back every time and were level as far as 10-10.

However Fnatic found themselves tactically outmanoeuvred by G2, eventually falling behind as their economy was constricted. An all-in buy late in the game meant that Fnatic were unable to take risks in those later rounds, instead desperate to save their guns.

With the French team close to a victory Fnatic's movement was in disarray, and G2 could sit back and pick them off. Unable to recover from economic disaster Fnatic were taken apart by G2 as the game came to a close, claiming a 16-10 win.

With Shox and Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom often the players to watch for the French side it was Cédric "RpK" Guipouy who dominated, topping the scoreboard with 28 kills.

Both Fnatic and G2 Esports could well be playing this Major as one of the last appearances for their current lineups, with Swedish and French shuffles heavily rumored for after the tournament.

In the opening game of the day the debuting North, formerly known as Dignitas before joining the new FC Copenhagen-owned team, dropped 8-16 to Gambit Gaming. Veteran Danylo 'Zeus' Teslenko, formerly of Natus Vincere, led the way for his team as the Danish side stumbled.

Under the Swiss system neither losing team is eliminated. Teams must win three times to advance, which means G2 and Gambit are one third of the way to the playoffs.