This decade-old esport still packs a lot of competition.
Over the years, esports has grown from a simple pastime to a real career for some. As the audience for esports has exponentially grown over the years, so have player earnings. From tournaments with multi-million dollar prize pools, to sponsorships, brand deals, and advertising, there are a plethora of ways for an esports competitor to make money. With many aspiring gamers wanting to join the ranks of the sitting esports champions, the competition is fierce, and the stakes are growing higher and higher. Every year, it seems more money goes into prize pools, with many teams or individual players walking away with millions of dollars. Because of this, many people have started wondering which esport makes the most money. Whether or not they are willing to climb that game's competitive ladder, many gamers' curiosity has grown over the years.
This is why it is extremely shocking to know that the most lucrative esport is Dota 2. Dota 2 is actually an acronym, as it is the sequel to Defense of the Ancients. Players and competitors alike have shortened the name down to Dota 2, as it is easier to say and recognise to most. Dota 2 is the sequel to Defense of the Ancients: All Stars, which was shortened to Dota. Dota is actually a custom mod for Warcraft III, created by developer and modder IceFrog, whose real name and identity are unknown. Impressed with IceFrog's ever-popular game, Valve hired him as a lead designer for Dota 2.
Published on July 9, 2013, by Valve, Dota 2 has truly been a staple of esports for a good part of the last decade. It is a multiplayer online battle arena (popularly abbreviated to MOBA), and is the most definitive title in the genre. Dota 2, originally operated on the Source engine, was ported to Source 2 on September 9, 2015, which solidified its place in history as the first Source 2 game. Afterwards, Dota 2 saw it through a huge part of esports' growth - and it only continues to grow.
It is surprising that such an old game still continues to make a lot of money, especially with competitors such as Fortnite, VALORANT, and Call of Duty: Warzone. In fact, the competition doesn't even seem to pack a punch against Dota 2. Over the past decade, Dota 2 has awarded $229,321,216.55 to players across the globe. This spans over 3,894 players and 1,471 tournaments. The closest competitor is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), which has made $107,352,278.43, with over 13,363 players and 5,423 tournaments. Fortnite doesn't even surpass $100 million in its winnings- with 4,465 players and 673 tournaments only amassing in a total of $99,362,917.41.
With this massive amount of money at play, many wonder how exactly Dota 2 manages to pull together such a massive prize pool. Considering the game is nearly eight years old, it is shocking that it is still able to award so much cash to so many players. While looking further at the data presented above, it is also interesting to see that Dota 2's prize money has gone to fewer players and tournaments than Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Yet, it still cashes out higher prizes to both teams and individual players.
Many might wonder why this is- and they should look no further than crowdfunding. Crowdfunding has helped the Dota and Dota 2 scene tremendously over the years. With each player contributing a small amount to the prize pool, Valve and other tournament hosts can ensure that payout for winning big. Every year, the prize pools have grown and grown, which is largely due to the game's growing popularity as a competitive esport.
Possibly one of the biggest tournaments Dota 2 has to offer is The International. First held at Gamescom in 2011 as a promotional event for Dota 2, the tournament has taken place nearly every year since. The tournament features 18 teams, 12 of which are invited due to their performance in the Dota Pro-Circuit, and 6 of which must win in regional qualifying brackets. Only one winner is selected from each of the following regions: South America, North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, China, and the Commonwealth of Independent States, which includes Russia. All 18 of the selected teams play in tournament brackets until the finals, when a winner is declared.
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The tournament's first few years in 2011 and 2012 featured a mere $1,600,000 prize pool, which has grown significantly over the years. The International 2019 saw a $34,330,068 prize pool, which was won by legendary esports team, OG. OG is headed by Johan "n0tail" Sundstein, esport's highest-earning player. OG is the only team to have won The International twice- let alone twice in a row. The team boasts victories at both The International 2018 and The International 2019.
Dota 2, due to its worldwide popularity and gripping tournaments, will likely be an esports staple for many years to come. The game is not only fun and addicting, but the tournament stakes are high, making many want to challenge themselves to be the best. With huge cash prizes at nearly every competition, there are a lot of options to choose from, but also a lot of contenders. With so many people from a variety of different countries fighting to get to the top, it's easy to see why Dota 2 is as successful and lucrative as it is.
Images via Valve Corporation