Dota 2's The International 7 breaks esports prize pool record

Michael Hanson for ESPN

The prize pool for The International 7, DotA 2's largest tournament of the year, has climbed to $23,325,687 as of Wednesday.

The tournament surpassed last year's prize pool of $20,770,460 on July 12 and has continued to balloon since then. As of Wednesday, more than $21 million of the prize pool has come from contributions.

To put The International's prize pool into perspective, The Masters, the most prestigious event in golf, this year had a prize pool of $11 million. As of Wednesday, the team that wins The International 7 will earn $10,219,816.

The International's prize pool is easily the largest in esports and remains so mostly through crowdfunding. Valve chips in $1.6 million.

Leading up to The International, Valve releases a bundle of in-game goods for purchase, with 25 percent going toward the prize pool. This year, on Day One, Valve took in $3,182,066. That was more than the 2011, 2012, and 2013 total prize pools. Granted, in 2011 and 2012, Valve alone funded the pool and had yet to make it a crowdfunding event.

On June 22, Valve put the TI7 Battle Level Bundle on sale for one weekend only, and DotA 2 gamers bought it up in droves. It was such a good deal that Valve had to limit purchases to one per account. But some were able to buy it twice, once through the game, and again through PC game distribution platform Steam. Valve quickly corrected the error, but there was a major jump in the prize pool during the sale -- from $16,209,431 the Thursday before the sale and $19,367,048 by the end of Sunday, a bump of $3,157,617.

This year, 18 teams will fight for the Aegis. Oddly, players from last year's winning team, Wings Gaming, and the runner-up, Digital Chaos, will not attend the tournament, making it a first for The International.

The International 2017 is set to begin on Aug. 7, but next year, major changes are coming for how teams qualify for The International. Earlier this week Valve outlined that qualifying points will be the sole factor in deciding invites, and it would be getting rid of it's Valve-sponsored majors except for TI. Moving forward, if your tournament has a prize pool of over $500,000, it's a major, and if it's over $150,000, it's a minor. Valve will match those amounts for the prize pools as well.