The International Dota 2 Championship (TI) is being held in Singapore this year, hailing its 11th iteration of an esports event that has changed the mainstream audience's expectations of production value and prize pools in esports.
The prize pool for TI 10 in 2021 exceeded US$40 million (S$56 million), with the champions of the tournament taking home a whopping US$18 million.
That is still the largest prize pool in the history of esports, breaking a record that was only held by its predecessor awarding US$34 million in 2019.
For those out of the loop, these eye-watering prize pool amounts are essentially crowd-funded through the release of the TI Battle Pass.
The TI Battle Pass is an annual tournament pass and in-game features bundle (similar to what you see in modern free-to-play games), that offers players exclusive in-game cosmetics, numerous quests, achievements, and other earnable rewards.
Originally started in 2013 as The International Compendium, 25 per cent of all Battle Pass purchases would be contributed to that year's TI prize pool, as a way for the player base and community to give back to the scene that they love.
Since then, the prize pool for The International has been breaking records year-on-year for the largest esports event in history.
However, it does not seem to be going the same way this year. The 2022 TI Battle Pass was released on Sept 2, 2022, and as of writing it stands at US$8,406,960.
According to Dota 2 Prize Tracker, this puts it tracking below both 2019 and 2021's prize pool contributions, which has not happened before.
It is very possible that this would be the first time since its inception that the prize pool of The International 2022 would be lower than that of previous years.
There are a couple of reasons that could explain why the player base isn't feeling too hot about it and just taking a short visit to r/Dota2 gives us quite a clear picture.
This year's Dota 2 Battle Pass has four main rewards, each one giving players exclusive Arcana and Persona skins. These Arcana and Persona are (and their respective Battle Pass Level unlock requirements):
- Conduit of the Blueheart Persona (Crystal Maiden) – Level 148
- Exile Unveiled Persona (Phantom Assassin) – Level 296
- Voidstorm Asylum Arcana (Razor) – Level 383
- Claszian Apostasy Arcana (Faceless Void) – Level 495
Other Milestone rewards and their respective levels are as follows:
- Announcer Pack – Level 75
- Stoneclaw Scavengers Towers – Level 176
- Primal Beast Prestige Bundle - Level 223
- Treasure Collection (three of each except Trust of the Benefactor) – Level 229
- Treasure Collection (three of each except Trust of the Benefactor) – Level 575
- Legacy Caster Chat Pack – Level 675
- Legacy Caster Chat Pack – Level 771
- Legacy Caster Chat Pack – Level 883
- Collector's Aegis – Level 1,000
- Pouches - Aegis of the Immortal Style Unlock – Level 1,055
- Legacy Epic Caster Chat Pack – Level 1,131
- Legacy Epic Caster Chat Pack – Level 1,245
- Trust of the Benefactor 2022 – Level 1,498
The Battle Pass pricing remains unchanged from previous years, and it's as follows:
- Battle Pass Level 1 Bundle - $9.99
- Battle Pass Level 50 Bundle - $29.35
- Battle Pass Level 100 Bundle - $44.99
Compared to the previous year, the number of exclusive items as well as the number of treasure chests available, has been reduced.
However, this is not the biggest gripe the player base has with the 2022 Dota 2 Battle Pass.
Most of the complaints come from the fact that almost 70 per cent of the Battle Pass rewards, are either labelled as "Coming Soon" or "Available in Part 2".
The only Arcana available for use immediately upon purchase is the Faceless Void set, which is unlocked at level 495.
For anyone wondering how much money is needed to unlock that, it costs $59.95 for a level 100 Battle Pass, and $220.25 for the rest of the 395 levels, bringing the total cost to $280.20 if you're impatient.
Hence, even for players who are used to shelling out cash year after year for all the rewards the Battle Pass offers, this year's experience can feel hollow because there aren't any flashy sets they can show off even after spending that much money.
For players who are planning to grind out the free levels, it is an even worse experience this year.
A bunch of mechanics rewarding players with battle points or free levels have been removed, namely wagering for battle points in-game, achievements, Rylai's Blessing spin and Immortal Treasure III, which gave a chance for a 50-level drop.
Usually, the Battle Pass is released about three months before TI actually starts, which gives the prize pool a period of about 100 days to grow and exceed its record-breaking amounts.
This year, due to some developmental delays, Valve released the Battle Pass only about 40 days before TI starts.
With Part 2 of the Battle Pass continuing after TI, Valve has announced that none of the proceeds that come after that will be contributed to the professional scene.
There is a growing concern in the community that Valve has done this by design, to avoid having to contribute 25 per cent of the earnings to the prize pool.
The overall sentiment of the player base is that the 2022 Battle Pass is mediocre at best, and they are understandably frustrated since it feels like Valve is releasing an unfinished product.
And it seems like Valve is aware of this as well. A Roshan Replica which is usually earned at level 2,000 is not included in this year's Battle Pass, as the Battle Pass progress track does not go past level 1,905.
"We are not sure if this omission is by design, especially since some of the unfinished rewards are marked with "Coming Soon."
Ultimately, buying the Battle Pass would be worth it if you genuinely enjoy the game, then it should be an easy decision. At the same time, do make sure to jump in only during Part 1 for your contribution to be added to the competitive prize pool.