Dota is one of the most popular competitive esports games. You may have heard about that one game that is giving away $40 million in prize money for a single event. No other company has achieved this amount of funding for its main competitive event, outside of Dota 2 and Valve.

But how has Dota 2 managed to be such a success? The answer is simple, yet fascinating – grassroots. For the longest time, Dota has been competitive. When the game was a flabby ill-conceived map modification of Warcraft, nobody really thought that it would go onto become one of the cornerstone esports experiences.

In fairness, though, the concept behind Dota was never lacking. It created a new genre, or in the very least mastered it, and it inspired a series of other games, including League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Heroes of Newerth, Smite, and other representatives of the MOBA genre.

Yet, Dota is the only title to has achieved global recognition and to have relied on its community. In fact, $38 million out of the $40 million contributed as this year’s prize pool, for example, is based on grassroots involvement.

Long Before the Big Money Rolled In

Aug 24, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Members of Team Liquid plays Team Evil Geniuses in the second semi final of the International Dota 2 Championships at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The championships are eSports largest annual tournament with approximately $25 million U.S. in prize money to be awarded. Dota 2 is a free 10-player online video game with two teams of players from all over the world competing against one another in each game. Team OG won and will play in Grand Final Saturday. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The most important milestone the Dota community has achieved over the years is how it has been able to differentiate between other games. While back in the 2000s, only a few games could argue they are competitive and back that claim up – Dota was one of them.

At the time, there were only a handful of competitive teams that actually wanted to compete. They were mostly based in the CIS and Southeast Asia regions and parts of China. Communities were built and localized forums emerged.

As Warcraft began to decline, lacking support from Blizzard, Dota began consolidating its status as a competitive game, only it wasn’t a game. When it was finally announced that Valve would recreate the map as their own standalone game, nobody expected how big the game would be.

Valve didn’t allow many speculations and launched the game in a beta in 2011, along with the first esports event featuring a $1 million prize pool. Yet, community members were not ostracized and Valve came up with a funding model allowing fans to contribute so much that the pool increased progressively in the following years. 

Grassroots Push the Prize Pool

Since 2013 on in, the community has been contributing a fair bit of money. The Dota 2 crowds have been massive and funding – even more so. The popularity of the game has reached so high that esports betting opportunities have been abundant at dedicated and trusted websites as Esports betting around Dota has been one of the driving forces in the community, although admittedly not the main one. Still, betting on Dota 2 is a big part of the experience. Fans do so today, betting on live events as well as placing future wagers on who will win Dota Pro Circuit events and The International itself.