The International 2016 Campaign Hits A Bump In The Road, But Prize Fund Still Cracks Last Year’s Record

Written By Robert DellaFave on July 26, 2016 - Last Updated on January 22, 2018

[toc]History was made on Tuesday evening, when the The International 2016 set a new record for the largest esports prize pool in the tournament era.

At last check, Valve’s annual crowdsourcing campaign has raised just over $18,440,000, eclipsing the old record of $18,429,613 set by the very same Dota 2 tournament in 2015.

That said, the campaign doesn’t appear to have much wind left in its sails.

Battle Pass and Levels purchases have petered out dramatically over the past three weeks — and with only two weeks left before the campaign meets its end, a hint of uncertainty remains as to whether the prize pool can reach our original base case prediction of roughly $20 million.

The hangover effect is real

Confidence that The International 2016 prize pool would shatter expectations was at an all-time high three weeks ago.

At the time Valve’s weekend sale has just concluded. The sale, presented in the form of a Battle Level bundle, was the equivalent of a 60 percent discount, and resulted in over $2.5 million in campaign contributions over a five day span.

For perspective, the prize pool generated less than one-third that figure in the five days prior.

In the aftermath of the sale, contributions slowed. This was largely an expected result. Less expected, was just how much they slowed by.

Data collected from shows that in the past seven days, the 2016 campaign has averaged just over $61,000 per day. In fact, if it weren’t for a mild sales uptick sparked by the reveal of the Legacy of the Fallen Legion package on July 12, we wouldn’t be looking at a new record until around the weekend.

International 2016 Prize Pool Predictions

Granted, during a similar timeframe last year, sales were slow as well, but this year’s trail off was somewhat more pronounced.

The only clear explanation for this discrepancy is what is known as the hangover effect. In short, most of the remaining players who would have bought additional Battle Levels stocked up during the weekend sale.

Following the sale, there was a dearth of incentive to make additional purchases, and sales suffered as a result.

It was believed that the High-Water Mark challenge, which awarded Battle Pass owners with three Trust of the Benefactor rewards once a new record was set, would stimulate purchases as the fund grew closer to last year’s mark — but it simply did not happen.

One more opportunity for an uptick

The prize pool is expected to be the beneficiary of one more modest uptick before the campaign closes. That’s because the third Immoral Treasure has yet to be revealed.

Last year, Immortal Treasure III was released on roughly the 70th day of the campaign. Considering that this year’s campaign is on Day 69, coupled with the fact that the overall campaign length is shorter, Immortal Treasures III is expected to go live any day now.

In 2015, the third Immortal Treasure precipitated the smallest sales spike of any major reveal. Still, the impact should not be underestimated.

From the 70th to 75th day of the 2015 campaign, the prize fund grew by an average of $208,400 per day. Should this year’s reveal have even 80 percent of the impact — which given current sales trends feels like a fair estimate — the prize fund will quickly swell to nearly $19.3 million.

Factor in regular sales rates for the remaining days, and you have a final tally that just barely crosses the $20 million barrier.

Paddy Power betting lines adjust to reflect recent downwind

Bettors on U.K based sports and esports betting site Paddy Power apparently share the belief that The International 2016 prize pool is no longer well-positioned to shatter the $20 million barrier.

As of two weeks ago, the highest confidence intervals for the final prize fund were in the $20 – $22 million and $22 – $24 million ranges — both offering odds of 17/10.

The tide has since shifted dramatically, with odds for the $20 – $22 million ranging dropping all the way to 8/11. Along similar lines, the payout for betting on a final tally of $18 – $20 million has dipped from 4/1 to 13/5.

On the other side of the equation, the $24 – $26 million range has dropped modestly, from 4/1 to 11/2. Anything above $26 million is considered a long shot.

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