The International 2015: Prize Pools, eSports Interest Bigger Than Ever

Published: Aug 18, 2015 - Last Updated: Apr 26, 2019

Just some days ago the biggest eSports event in the world, The International Dota 2 Championships 2015, was finished.

The event was held in Seattle and organized by Valve, an American video game development and digital distribution company headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena video game that has been quickly gaining popularity in the last couple of years.

It was the fifth annual edition of the event and in comparison with the first event it grew massively in viewer numbers as well as prize pool money.

How the International works

The event is structured with different steps towards the main event – some teams are invited while others have to qualify to get into the tournament.

There are a total of 16 teams, eight of which are invited, six of which qualify before the event for the available spots and two spots are the so-called “wild cards,” where four teams battle for the remaining two spots at the start of the event. The games are either best out of two or best out of three, while the final game is best out of five.

The final prize pool of this year’s tournament was a whopping US $18 million, making the tournament the largest eSports event to ever take place.

The majority of this pool is collected through in-game items released by Valve, including the TI Compendium 2015, a digital book tied to the event that comes with many bonuses.

The initial stake of the prize pool was US $1.6 million, which means that roughly US $16.4 million was contributed by the community. But in addition, since only 25 percent of the total contributions go towards the prize pool for the event, the actual contribution of the supporters was US $65.6 million, a huge increase from last year’s US $39.7 million.

Prize pool has grown as has interest in eSports

The first ever event of these series, The International 1, which was held in Cologne, Germany in 2011, had a prize pool of US $1.6 million.

Even though the following year’s event, TI2, had the same prize pool as the first one, the future events quickly gained the support of the crowd and TI3, which took place in 2013, had a prize pool of US $2.8 million.

But that was only the start. As mentioned before, last year’s tournament prize pool jumped to a staggering US $10.9 million, making it the biggest ever at that time.

Fans and dollars are counted in millions

As to the viewer volumes, last year’s tournament sold out in less than one hour, and was viewed online by over 20 million unique viewers during the whole period.

The International was broadcast via the Internet, television, at pubstomps, and the finals were shown in over 400 theaters in the United States.

Peak concurrent viewers, which usually happened during the finals of each event, was 1 million for TI3 and 2 million for TI4. 3.5 million people were watching the final two teams fight to be the best Dota team in the world during this year’s TI5 finals.

Even though last year’s Dota 2 championship lagged behind the League of Legends season finals, which were held in the same year, it still saw impressive growth compared to past years. One of Dota 2’s chief rivals in the genre, League of Legends drew 32 million viewers total in 2013, with 8.5 million peak concurrent viewers, according to numbers released by Riot Games.

Seeing the progress of the present year in comparison with the past, it is certain that such events are gaining more and more popularity and are in line with the massive growth of the entire eSports industry.

Image Vladimir Wrangel /

ESB Staff
ESB Staff

Since: August 10, 2015

At we are a group of independent journalists with one big passion: Esports. We've been following the industry and have contributed to its growth since 2015.

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