On Tuesday, the Dota 2 International 6 prize pool broke last year’s mark of $18,429,613 to become the largest prize pool in the history of esports. It currently sits at roughly $18.7 million, but that number is still rising.
After putting up $1,600,000 of their own money, Dota 2 developer Valve boosted the pool by selling an in-game “Battle Pass” that offers players items through a quest-like system of progression. A quarter of all Battle Pass sales go directly towards The International 6 prize pool, though players can also purchase levels to instantly increase their progression.
The more you play Dota, the more in-game items you earn. This year features couriers and wards that evolve into magnificent, magical artifacts.
The International 6 kicks off on August 2 in Seattle with Wild Card matches, leading into the group stages a few days later. On August 8, the competition moves to Key Arena, where the 16 top teams will play out a double-elimination bracket in front of thousands of cheering fans.
Last year, North American squad Evil Geniuses stunned the world by topping their group and making an incredible run through the bracket, beating three of the world’s best teams in LGD, CDEC, and EHOME to bring home the Aegis and a whopping $6.6 million in prize money.
One of the most epic moments in esports history occurred in the grand final match between CDEC and EG. Smelling blood in the Rosh pit, Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora blinked in and executed what is now referred to as “The Six Million Dollar Echo Slam”:
The four frontrunners heading into TI6 are currently Wings Gaming, Team Liquid, Newbee, and OG. How much will the winner take home this year? That remains to be seen, as the prize pool will continue to rise until Valve officially calls it.
Dylan Walker is on Twitter @dyluuxx