The big picture: The International, the annual tournament for Valve’s wildly popular multiplayer online battle arena game Dota 2, has amassed the largest prize pool in competitive esports history. But with Covid-19 still looming, it's unclear when the tournament will be played.
The International’s prize pool is funded by sales of Dota 2 battle passes. A quarter of all sales go directly to the prize pool, so as more people continue to buy battle passes, the pot will only get bigger.
Covid-19 is largely to blame for this year’s record prize pool. The tournament typically takes place in early August but with the pandemic, Valve was forced to postpone it.
Earlier this week, the official Dota 2 Twitter account said the recent increase in unpredictability of the virus means they aren’t able to commit to new dates for the tournament. “We share your eagerness in returning to these events, and will announce updates as soon as we can,” the post added.
According to the Steam stats page, Dota 2 is the second most popular game on the platform by player count with more than 500,000 current players as of this writing.
At the current rate, it’s entirely possible that The International might not be played at all in 2020. Should that happen, one has to wonder what Valve would do with the current prize pot – perhaps roll it over to next year or donate some to charity?