The International prize purse hits $18 million just hours before main event

The esports tournament that makes its winners instant millionaires just can't stop breaking records—and making its competitors richer

The esports tournament that makes its winners instant millionaires just can’t stop breaking records—and making its competitors richer.

Hours before the main event of the tournament begins the prize pot for The International hit $18 million, shattering the $10.9 million esports record at last year’s tournament. Last year’s tally made The International one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. This year’s number puts the event in even more rarefied airs, nearing the $20 million prize pool for the Singles awarded at Wimbledon this year.

The prize pool is funded by fan contributions through sales of The Compendium, an interactive guide to the event that allows players to interact through challenges like predictions. Compendium owners get in-game perks for their purchase, and funding the prize pool unlocks stretch rewards for further Valve development of Dota 2.

This single tournament equals 81 percent of the total prize money awarded for all League of Legends competitions in history, the esport with the most money awarded excepting Dota 2.

But while the overall purse nearly doubles that awarded in 2014, the winners won’t walk away with all that much more than last year’s champions, Newbee, who became instant millionaires when each of five teammates won their share of $5.03 million. This year’s champion is currently set to take home $6.43 million thanks to a new prize distribution that spreads the wealth a little further. Teams that fall in the opening round today will still win over $50,000, with a single victory enough to boost that total to $216,000.

That $18 million prize pool is great for The International and its Dota 2 competitors. It’s even better for Valve, who raked in over $49 million from the crowd funding effort.

Apparently, though, $49 million doesn’t buy a solid internet connection at the venue. The Main Event kicked off at noon with a bang. After an impressive introduction for Valve headman Gabe Newell with accompanying epic fanfare, the live streams for the event on Steam, Twitch, and YouTube promptly shut down.

Today’s matches begin with two upper bracket battles worth $1 million. LGD Gaming faces Team Empire followed by Cloud9 and CDEC Gaming in matches worth $1 million. But the more interesting part of day one is the lower bracket round—four single elimination games with $150,000 on the line each. 

At least the four teams going home today will walk away with $50,000, but that’s hardly a consolation prize with the money thrown around at the biggest esports event in history. 

Screengrab via Dota2ti/Twitch

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