TI 2023 prize pool could be the lowest in years

By Kenneth Williams


Jul 31, 2023

Reading time: 2 min

The International is famous for its ridiculous prize pool, but 2023 may put up the smallest prize yet.

2023 is a transformative year for Dota 2. Gaimin Gladiators has swept every major for the first time in history, and the New Frontiers update is the biggest shakeup since the transition to 7.00. However, another major change may be bad news for the highest competitive level of the game. Based on Valve’s own announcements, The International 2023 could feature the smallest prize in nearly a decade of competition.

In June, Valve announced a massive shift in monetization related to The International. Instead of the traditional battle pass, Valve will have a smaller in-game update to celebrate The International. The developer confirmed that it would still be a crowd-funded event, but also said that skins would not play a major role in the update. With that change, the primary motivation to contribute to the TI prize pool has evaporated in 2023.

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The International 2022 set a precedent for this, with Valve splitting the battle pass in half. Only the first part of the battle pass contributed to the prize pool while the second Frostivus half went entirely to Valve’s pockets. While the distribution of free battle passes muddled the mix, the end result was a much smaller fraction of money going to TI than ever before. It’s now clear that last year was a test run for a completely reworked system that benefits Valve more and the pro scene less.

TI 2023 prize pool could be lower than Riyadh Masters

While we won’t know the prize pool for TI 2023 until Valve reveals the update, there’s a solid chance that the total will be under $10 million.

This number comes from the expected sales of whatever Valve puts into the game, which will be considerably lower than in previous years. Whatever the company is cooking has very little to do with skins, and if player cards and talent autographs are the primary focus, the amount of spending will be a small fraction of previous years. Consider that The International 2022 has four arcanas headlining an entire battle pass, yet only raised $19 million compared to TI10’s $40 million.

That could ultimately result in The International no longer being the most lucrative event of the Dota 2 esports year. Riyadh Masters featured a $15 million prize pool, with $5 million going to the champion Team Spirit. Between the first-party credibility and Aegis of Champions, TI will maintain its prestige. Its title as the world’s biggest esports tournament, however, may be in jeopardy.


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