The International never fails to amaze in the prize pool department. It’s the one thing we get to consistently hold over League: TI Prize Pools reach unprecedented levels for eSports tournaments.
The International Prize Pool is typically increased by purchasing a compendium for $9.99. The compendium is a digital item that looks something like a book. Compendiums come with a few in-game items or perks and more are unlocked as the prize pool grows. Last year, Compendium owners gained a new terrain skin, a comic, various cosmetics, emoticons, and more. This year Valve is marketing a Battle Pass, which includes a compendium. The Battle pass has all kinds of extra features, including quests, challenges, and wagering. Perhaps the most ingenius aspect of both past years’ Compendiums and the Battle Pass is the level feature. You can spend money to level up your Battle Pass, which awards you some more perks.
I completely forgot about the Season Rank portion of the Battle Pass… but that’s a story for another time.
The Summit 5’s new crowdfunding
While we’re all eagerly awaiting TI6, there’s one more high-profile tournament coming up beforehand: The Summit 5. For those unfamiliar, Summits are sponsored by Beyond the Summit Studio in California. They’ve been held in the BTS house in the past – a casual, fun tournament where players and personalities hang out on couches and play party games.
Beyond the Summit took a new route with the Summit 5. Instead of offering a chest to increase the prize pool, BTS is selling tangible items. It’s set up more like a Kickstarter. When I checked earlier today, the prize pool had only increased by about $1000 USD. A couple of the items have no backers.
*Warning* opinions inbound
I didn’t have an issue with BTS running ads during the Summit 2 and onward. I understand that they need some ad revenue to finance the event, and I can always mute the stream and walk away. It did seem like there were a lot of ads at the time [of The Summit 2], but I think that stemmed from the meta favoring shorter game times. That, coupled with a few 2-0 stomps, left BTS with a lot of extra time to fill.
I’m not sure how I feel about the new prize pool monetization structure. I like the idea of tangible items (see disclaimer…) but I’m not certain I like the price points. For example, I can get a Summit 5 shirt, one of the items I am interested in, for $23 USD + $4 shipping. Half of the $23 goes to rewards levels. I’m not psyched about the design (small chest logo, nothing on the back) on a Gildan t-shirt. Same goes for the $10 wristband. $7.50 goes to the prize pool, which is great, but $10 feels really steep for a single wristband.
I’m not trying to flame BTS. I respect the studio and I love Summit events. But as of right now (Sunday evening), the prize pool isn’t even close to the level needed to unlock the All Star Match stretch goal. The event starts on the 13th. Just my two cents, but I think the items available for purchase are about 10%-15% too expensive. I like contributing to prize pools for the sake of the players, but I’d like a little more bang for the buck. On the flipside, some of the more expensive items contribute 85%-90% towards the prize pool, but they’re limited quantity (at this time, two of them are already sold out).
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It just seems like BTS got the concept down but the execution is lacking. I would be surprised if the prize pool reaches the All Star Match unlock level prior to the event. To be fair, this is the first time as far as I know that BTS has used physical items as their exclusive source of prize pool contributions, so maybe they just need to iron out the kinks.
If you’re not stoked about any of the items in the shop, you can use the direct donation button to contribute directly. I will probably utilize this.
Prize Pool Pros
Valve seems to hit it out of the park with crowdfunded prize pools. I mean it certainly helps that The International is the biggest event of the year, but the prize pool always seems to grow out of control. Last year, people loved the Axe comic and the other stretch goals. So far, community response to the Battle Pass is pretty positive. We’re on track to easily surpass last year’s prize pool of ~$18 million (I’m betting $22-$23 million).