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How A First-Year eSports Championship Got A $2 Million Prize Pool

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Early next month the top eight Smite teams in the world will converge on Atlanta to battle it out over a massive $2 million prize pool. How did a first-year MOBA get a pot so big? The same way DOTA 2 did it — crowdfunding.

As Valve used the DOTA 2 Compendium to raise this year's International prize pool to ridiculous levels, Georgia-based Hi-Rez Studios ran a 21-week Smite Odyssey event, in which players could purchase special limited edition skins and such, with a portion of each sale going to the prize pool. Players who purchased each of the 21 special items in the mythology-based MOBA were rewarded with an extremely special skin for the character Thanatos, as seen in the video below

And so the prize pool has exceeded $2 million making Smite the first game in eSports history to feature that big a pot in its first competitive season. First prize in January's tournament is over $1 million, for a game that's only technically been out since March. That's pretty insane.


Since the Smite World Championship is taking place in my own backyard on the weekend of January 11 (my mother used to hold dance recitals at the Cobb Performing Arts Center where the tournament is being held), I'll be hanging out making a nuisance of myself all weekend long.

Smite is a free-to-play MOBA with a unique third-person perspective, with some 61 combatants representing various real-world mythological pantheons. It's currently available for PC, with the game making its Xbox One gameplay debut during January's event.