Fans of Dota 2 have a special fondness for The International (TI) each year courtesy top quality matches and incredible runs that they get to witness. All complaints and woes surrounding the game and its competitive scene vanish into oblivion for two weeks because of the magic of TI.
As it turned out in this preceding season, Team Spirit, a team that nobody thought would lift the Aegis of Champions, went on to do the unthinkable - winning TI10. With players as young as 18 years old, the team went from complete unknowns to the new standard bearers of competitive Dota 2.
Yet, as with every year, there is one looming issue that persists behind the celebration and grandeur of The International. While it has been discussed throughout the years after TIs, few meaningful changes have ever been implemented. Team Spirit, the champions, won $18.2 million USD at TI10. To put this in context, all five of their members, four of which played at TI for the first time ever, earned more prize money than Clement "Puppey" Ivanov did in his entire esports career and Puppey is the only remaining Dota 2 pro to attend all ten TIs.
This highlights that Dota 2's ecosystem is so heavily invested in TIs that consistency and stability during the remainder of the season are not rewarded as much as they should be. If this is the case with one of Dota 2's most storied players, it is difficult to imagine what this comparison would look like with the rest of the Dota 2 pros.
The ever-growing TI prize pools have created an ostentatious display, which hides the unfortunate reality of Dota 2's pro scene. Even though it appears fascinating from a distance, a closer look reveals problems.
There is more to be said about the distribution of prize money in other Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) - the term used for Dota 2’s competitive system - events that require attention. Several of the other components of the DPC, including the format and structure of some of them, are far from ideal, with both the community and players openly calling for change. It is important to understand that all of these issues seem to be closely tied together when viewed holistically. Unfortunately, Valve has failed to address the majority of them.