The debate over whether or not eSports should be considered alongside real sports will likely never end, but it’s clear that a growing amount of people are interested in watching pro gaming tournaments. When it comes to these tournaments, it doesn’t get any bigger than The International.
Since 2011, this Dota 2 tournament has been gaining steam, and in the process, gathering and paying out increasingly large sums of money. Last year’s event The International 4 had a prize pool of nearly $11 million, much of which was raised from fans of the game via crowdfunding.
The prize pool for The International 5 is still growing, but it has already broken records, crossing $15 million so far. This isn’t just big money for eSports, it’s big money for any type of tournament. The 2015 Masters golf tournament only had a $10 million dollar prize pool.
Dota 2 fans don’t just donate their hard-earned money to Valve in order to raise the prize pool. Instead, money is raised via The Compendium, and in-game item that players can buy and then level up either through gameplay or by spending more money.
As with all things crowdfunding, certain stretch goals are built into The Compendium to keep fans paying up. The last of these stretch goals was hit when the prize pool topped $15 million, but IGN points out that Valve added further stretch goals during the lead up to The International 4 last year.
The International 5 will take place from August 3 through 8 at the Key Arena in Seattle. If you’re hoping to see the event in person, you’re out of luck unless you already have a ticket. Tickets went on sale in March of this year, but sold out within 10 minutes.
The event will be streamed on Twitch, and last year the tournament was even broadcast on ESPN3, with the final game appearing on ESPN2 as well. If you’re new to Dota 2, Valve even provides a “noob stream” to help viewers understand what’s happening in the game.