Dota 2 is by far and away the most lucrative esport for pro players due to the enormous prize pools offered at the big tournaments. This multiplayer online battle arena game, short for Defense of the Ancients 2, is widely considered to be one of the greatest titles ever released. It boasts a widespread competitive scene and eye-watering prize purses, meaning that the top 44 highest earning esports stars of all time are all Dota 2 players. Here are the five richest tournaments to look out for:
This is an annual tournament that sees the world’s leading Dota 2 stars battle it out for fame and fortune as millions watch the action unfold. It has previously been held in Cologne, Seattle and Vancouver, and it is moving to Shanghai for 2019. To give you an idea of its importance in the world of competitive gaming, the top five most lucrative esports tournaments of all time are: The International 2018, The International 2017, The International 2016, The International 2015 and The International 2014. Only then do you come to the League of Legends 2018, and that shows you just how dominant The International is.
In 2011 and 2012, developer Valve Games stumped up $1.6 million for The International, making it a pretty big tournament. But in 2013, it had a light bulb moment: it decided to charge fans $9.99 for an in-game “digital compendium” and 25% of that money went into the prize pool for The International. That saw it raise $1.3 million, taking the total prize money up to $2.9 million, and it has soared each year since. In 2014, it reached a record breaking $10.9 million, and in 2015 that shot up to $18.4 million. In 2016 it reached $20.8 million, in 2017 it climbed to $24.7 million and last year it hit $25.5 million. By contrast, the richest LoL prize pool of all time is $6.4 million, for Fortnite it is $4 million and for Call of Duty it is $2 million. Fortnite is threatening to overtake Dota 2 as the most lucrative esport in the world, but right now The International reigns supreme.
The sixth richest Dota 2 tournament of all time was the 2015 Asia Championship, which carried a prize purse of just over $3 million. It followed the same format as The International, as a number of big teams were directly invited and a compendium contributed to the tournament’s prize money. It was organised by Perfect World and Mars Media and hosted in Shanghai, causing it to be billed as “The International of the east”. American collective Evil Geniuses walked off with almost $1.3 million after beating Vici Gaming in a gripping final. The Asia Championship did not return in 2016, but Perfect World managed to bring it back in 2017, although the prize money was just $611,987 then. In 2018 that rose to $1 million, and it remains to be seen what will happen with it this year.
Major Championships Series
There are several Major Championships on the pro Dota 2 circuit and they take place around the world throughout the year. The first was The Frankfurt Major, which took place in November 2015 and carried prize money of $3 million. In the 2015/16 season, fans were also treated to the Shanghai Major and the Manila Major, and both of them also offered up $3 million in prize money. The trend continued in 2016/17, with the Boston Major and the Kiev Major both at $3 million, but the landscape changed in 2017/18. By this point the scene expanded to include ESL One, DreamLeague and EPICENTER, and The Bucharest Major carried just $1 million in prize money. In November 2018, the $1 million Kuala Lumpur Major took place, and this month will see the Chonqing Major. If you take a look at the esports betting odds, you will see who is favourite to win the competition.
In 2018, Valve introduced the China DOTA 2 Supermajor in Shanghai, replete with a prize pool of $1.5 million. This is now the final Major of the Dota pro circuit and it is an extremely prestigious tournament. It features 10 invited teams and six regional qualifiers, and they are split into four groups. The top two teams in each group advance to the upper bracket of the main event and they battle it out for glory in an elimination format. Team Liquid, the champions at The International 2017, won the tournament with a 3-2 victory over Virtus.pro in the grand final, ensuring that team captain KuroKy remains the highest earning esports player of all time.
ESL One Series
ESL One is the successor to the ESL Major Series and it is run by Electronic Sports League, featuring Dota 2 as well as CS:GO and Battlefield 4. The prize money typically stands at $1 million for these events, and they count as major championships for Dota 2 players. So far we have had ESL One Hamburg 2017, ESL Katowice 2018 and ESL One Birmingham 2018.