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Competitive MOBA gaming is a hostile landscape, fractured with drama and stalked by kappas. The ranked ladder is almighty. Thousands of players struggle for positions in the top 0.5% of the playerbase, while thousands more labor to get out of “trash tier,” or the other 99.5%. Many are drunk. It is a desperate spectacle with all the pathetic urgency of a fistfight in a Great Depression bread line – except everyone is calling each other Peruvians – and yet a select few rise through the scrum.

Even then, the legendary status of a Dendi is out of reach for most MOBA pros, who are more likely to achieve notoriety for fantastic own goals. But they can at least make bank. The International 2015 (TI5), the Valve-sponsored flagship Dota 2 tournament, is well on track to feature its largest prize pool yet: funds raised at this date are higher than a similar point in the leadup to TI4 last year. Given that TI4 is the highest prize pool in esports history, TI5 will almost certainly be the next record holder. The winning team will receive as much as 50% of the pool, according to precedent.

The funds putting TI5 over the top come from fans via a 25% contribution from sales of the Compendium, a book of potential Dota 2 cosmetic items and item sets that unlocks its rewards based on a number of different pathways. At this date, so much money has been raised that Compendium owners have now received the final tier of treasure, or “Immortal Treasure III.” Each chest unlocks one out of nine possible hero items, each with unique effects.

Promotional details are here.

What do you think TI5’s winnings mean for esports? Nothing bad, hopefully.

Francis Kelly

I'm an enthusiast writer who grew up in the 64 tradition - Commodore, then Nintendo. In the following years, the Internet has given me both online publishing and online multiplayer. It's a wash.