Last year, the Super Bowl of the gaming world (otherwise known as The International) raised a record-breaking $10.9 million in prize money — the largest ever for an e-sports event. This morning, it broke that record, with players of Valve's team-based Dota 2 contributing to a pot for The International 2015 worth more than $11.4 million and rising. Valve contributed $1.6 million of this, with the rest of the money coming from purchases of special in-game items.
Also proof of Valve's ability to sell trinkets
For this reason, it might be said that the new record is as much proof of Valve's ability to sell to its customers as it is a testament of Dota 2's popularity. But there's no doubting that The International is elevating e-sports to the level and prize money of more established sports. The $11.4 million pot for this year's tournament is more than the $9 million given out at last year's golf Masters, although, for a bit of context, it still lags behind events such as Wimbledon (which will be handing out more than $40 million to competitors this year) or the FIFA World Cup (a staggering $358 million was divided between participating teams in 2014).
The current prize pool for The International 2015 compared to last year's fund. (Dota 2)
The prestige of The International has led some to claim that the event now dominates the world of Dota to an unfair degree — sucking the life out of tournaments held during the rest of the year. Valve is anticipating this year's prize pool will eventually surpass $15 million does nothing to dispel this impression, although such massive prizes do guarantee continuing interest from amateurs and professionals alike.
Verge Video archive: A look back at when Dota 2's championship only generated $10 million (2014)