Valve is setting a remarkable record for eSports prize pots with its Dota 2 International prize pool
, which is poised to surpass $10 million today.
That's more than what's awarded during professional sporting competitions like the U.S. Open golf tournament ($9 million) or tournaments for competing eSports like last year's League of Legends
Season Three World Championships ($2.05 million); it's also far more than the nearly $2.9 million in prize money awarded during last year's International.
The lion's share of that money comes from crowdfunding; The International's initial $1.6 million prize pool increases by $2.50 every time someone purchases a copy of The International Compendium, the interactive virtual sportsbook Valve sells as a complement its upcoming tournament.
As the prize pool hits certain milestones, new Compendium features -- exclusive in-game chat emoticons for Compendium owners, for example -- are unlocked.
Owners can also level up their Compendiums by completing in-game challenges or simply buying Compendium points, and 25 percent of those purchases also go to The International's prize pool.
The company debuted the $10 Compendium
in advance of last year's International as a means of monetizing interest in the tournament, and advertised the 25 percent cut for the prize as a way of redirecting some of the community's passion for the game back to its premier players.
Sixteen teams of said players are expected to compete at this year's International, which takes place July 18-21 at Seattle's KeyArena. The winners will take home the largest stake of the prize pool -- last year's winning team took home $1.44 million, roughly half of the total prize pot -- with the seven runners-up taking home progressively smaller prizes in accordance with their performance.