Dota 2's The International 2019 is just 10 days apart. The highest prize pool Esports event will take place in Shanghai, China this mid-August. Boasting a prize pool of $31+ million, The International 2019 far exceeded expectations when doing such a feat.

What is the secret behind the enormous 8-digit number in Dollar? How could The International 2019 surpass the seemingly undefeatable Fornite World Cup 2019? The answer is crowdfunding.

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The International 2019 is crowdfunded

A community-contributed event

Dota 2 since The International 2013 has allowed the crowdfunding in helping to raise the total prize pool of The International. Each year, Valve would publish Battle Pass to give unique rewards to fans who contribute to the prize pool. 25% of the earnings from Battle Pass would go to the total prize pool. In addition, Valve would add the initial $1.6 million to the prize pool.

Initially, The International 1 & 2 started out as regular big tournaments like any other major Esports events. Valved fielded $1.6 million in the prize pool. At the time, The International was the largest tournament, surpassing any Counter-Strike events.

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Event The International 2011 has a prize pool of $1.6 million, among the highest at the time

Eventually, when Valved realized the potential of the game, they fielded The International Compendium in 2013. The first The International to feature the crowdfunding was The International 3. The 2013 event was a decent success with the total prize pool of $2,874,380, around $1.3 million gathered from fans. For the first time, viewers could contribute to their favorite game to hype up the mood.

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One of the most enticing The International grand finals ever

The matchup between Alliance and Natus Vincere that year was so iconic that people would go on to name it El Classico of Dota 2. Two of the most dominant forces clashed in the enticing 5-map grand final. The two teams eventually fell apart but many people still cherished for the iconic matchup.

A leap forward

Realizing the huge potential of Dota 2 as an Esports, people began to accept the game as one of the most exciting Esports in the world. The International 4 was a massive success with a big leap in the prize pool, almost 4 times the prize pool of last year’s event with $10,923,977 on the line.

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The Chinese team Newbee claimed the 4th The International Aegis trophy with $5,025,029

Also note that aside from the base $1.6 million, only 25% of the Battle Pass purchase actually went to the prize pool. So the actual fans' contribution in TI4 far exceeds the total Compendium money in 2013. The money people used to purchase TI4’s compendium was 7.3 times more than the TI3’s.

Newbee claimed the lion’s share with $5,025,029. For the first time in the history of Esports, a single tournament can actually make you a millionaire. Dota 2 was on the rise with many new teams and what they could bring on the table.

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Claiming such an achievement for your country is an honor

At this point, there was no going back. The International continued the growth each year, boasting the sky-high amount of prize money. The International 2015 was another blast with 8 more million dollars in the prize pool. The $18 million tournament witnessed the rise of the North American powerhouse Evil Geniuses. Sumail became the youngest Esports athlete to become an overnight millionaire. Dota 2 made headlines for weeks after that.

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SumaiL has become the youngest Dota 2 player to claim such a multi-million dollars prize

Comfortable on top

Since then, The International has become something normal in the world of Esports. People each year would cherish for the most well-funded tournament as the prize pool skyrocketed. The International 2016, 2017, and 2018 was stable with over $20 million prize pool. Each year’s winner would instantly have their names in the top-earning list.

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Last year's TI winner is OG after defeating PSG.LGD in 5 games

However, this year’s The International was some explosion of the Big Bang scale. The prize pool has reached the unimaginable $31+ million. With the rise of the Fortnite World Cup 2019, The International has managed to retain the top position with 1 million more than its competitor. This was all the contribution of Dota 2 fans around the world.

What is so tempting about this Esports?

The question is how and why? Why would people spend tons of money on such a video game, just to see 5v5 competitions? There is more to it than meets the eye. Dota 2 has gone far beyond your generic “video game”. It has become something of an iconic Esports, true competition with sportsmanship like any traditional sport.

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Esports has become a competitive sport, no longer just "video game"

Time has changed, people are more open-minded about the concept of everything. Hyping over one interesting football match is nothing different from one enticing Dota 2 match. Cheering for your favorite team and watch them win the tournament is the most thrilling experience as a fanboy.

The potential in-game rewards

Valve never failed to satisfy the fans’ desires. The Compendium and the Battle Pass offered an incentive to get attached to Dota 2 even more. In recent years, the Battle Pass introduced the Immortal Treasures. They are basically lootboxes which contain flashy cosmetic items as rewards. The more treasures you open, the higher chance you get the rare rewards. Some exclusive rewards offered the unique luxurious privileges in the game.

Last year's exclusive Emblem of the Crystal Echelon is worth around a thousand dollar

After each year, Valve has been innovative in the reward system. It gave players the drive to spend more money to upgrade their battle pass. The International 2017 introduced the voice chat wheel of historic moments. Last year’s The International champion – OG has been notorious for using the feature as a tactical play.

Iconic moments in chatwheels

As a result, the last year’s iconic moment has been included in The International 2019 Battle Pass. This is one of the most tempting features in the game. You can show off your great contribution with how long the Ceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeebbbbbbbbbbbbbbb chat wheel goes.

The call of his lifetime

Also, you can get your vote in the Arcana voting system. Each year, Valve give their fans the freedom to vote for which hero to get an Arcana cosmetic item. Watching your favorite hero in flashy costume is the one privilege fans cannot simply resist.

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Which hero will win this year's Arcana vote?

After all, Valve has been consistent in delivering quality contents to the fans. It comes as no surprise that The International has broken so many records in the prize pool.