The International 2017 will be the richest in esports history. The prize pool for the premier Dota 2 tournament put on by the game's developer, Valve, is up to more $23 million this year, nearly $3 million more than 2016's pool.
Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2 for short) is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA for short) game where players level up heroes and try to destroy the opponent's base, known as the Ancient. It's similar to another very popular MOBA -- Riot's League of Legends.
But last year's League of Legends World Championship had a prize pool of slightly more than $5 million. According to esportsearnings.com, the top three tournament pools ever are for Valve's The International Tournament from 2014-16, and 2017's iteration will top them all.
Where did this money come from?
Valve funds this tournament by selling a Battle Pass. Twenty-five percent of all Battle Pass sales goes directly to the prize pool. Purchasing a battle pass unlocks access to the Siltbreaker multiplayer campaign, as well as a myriad of other quests, achievements and rewards for its owner.
What can $23 million get you?
To help put the prize pool in perspective, consider this:
The NBA offseason has been incredibly lucrative to many free agents, but only 25 players will make $23M or more in 2017-18.
There are only 13 MLB players who made $23M or more in 2017. Over 1,200 players have appeared in a game this season.
Just four NFL players will make $23M or more in 2017, including two quarterbacks (Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins).
The highest paid NHL players for 2017-18 are Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews at $13.8M each.
The main event begins August 7 at KeyArena Center in Seattle with the best-of-five Grand final on August 12. It's a 16-team, double-elimination tournament.
The winning team will take home over $10M. Not bad for a couple weeks of work.
The large prize pool has attracted a stacked field, but last year's winner, Wings Gaming, is not participating in this year's tournament because the group was disbanded due to financial issues.