Team Spirit reigned supreme at The International 2023 (TI12), the world-renowned Dota 2 championship, by decisively defeating Gaimin Gladiators 3-0 in a one-sided Grand Final. The event, held in Seattle, Washington, marked the culmination of a competitive season in the multiplayer online battle arena game that has captivated millions globally.
This year’s International followed an extensive Dota Pro Circuit featuring three tours, each climaxing in a Major event, and saw 20 elite teams vying for the championship. However, it ended on a concerning note as the prize pool recorded a significant dip, hinting at underlying issues within the community and the game’s popularity.
Initiating with a base of US$1,600,000, the TI12 prize pool was expected to burgeon, supplemented by 25% of Compendium sales on Steam, Valve’s digital game store. Unexpectedly, contributions stagnated, with the final pot stalling at just $3,143,593 USD, a stark contrast to previous years and only marginally higher than the inaugural TI held in 2013.
Team Spirit, a prominent Russian esports organization founded in 2015, clinched a victory reward of US$1,414,623, a sum that starkly contrasts with their previous monumental haul of $18,208,300 in 2021. This win, though significant, highlights a dramatic dip from their prior earnings, emphasizing the shifting financial landscape in the esports arena. Last year’s overall prize pool was a hefty $18,930,775, with Tundra Esports, the champions at the time, taking home an impressive $8,518,822.
Industry analysts and community observers correlate this downturn trend to a waning enthusiasm for Dota 2, compounded by Valve’s controversial alterations to TI12 Compendium. The recent strategy, which unexpectedly eschewed cosmetic items, has evidently impacted the community’s eagerness to invest, reflecting the disenchantment of the game’s once-loyal base.
As one Redditor wrote about the Compendium, “I will not donate money to Valve to fund their tournament without getting anything in return.”
The foreboding decline poses unsettling questions regarding the esports’ trajectory. “The dynamics of the professional Dota 2 scene are shifting,” commented a Dota 2 analyst. “If the enthusiasm continues to wane, and prize pools keep diminishing, we might witness a comprehensive metamorphosis, or even worse, the downfall of the professional arena that enthusiasts have followed for years.”
Looking forward, third-party circuits are slated to make a comeback in 2024, offering a glimmer of hope for the community and stakeholders. However, this beacon is threatened by the persistent financial descent, casting a shadow over the future of professional Dota.
Relive the magic of The International by watching the video of the finals on its official channel below.
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