The second US$3 million Major for Dota 2 is just around the corner, and as everyone expected Valve has pushed out a major update just ahead of their stop in Shanghai.
As is often the case, there's plenty of bits and pieces to unpack. But perhaps one of the more intriguing aspects is the expansion of the in-game tipping, with Valve giving players a weekly stipend for the express purpose of betting.
Here's how it works. Each week, players will receive 1000 tokens to bet on your matches. Tokens don't roll over from week to week, and you only have half a minute in-game to place your bets.
It's more or less an expansion of the tipping system that's been around for a while, but the Winter Pass takes that a touch further. "Achieve victory to receive double your wagered amount as Battle Points. The balance of the losing team's wagers will be split evenly amongst the victors as Battle Points," the landing page explains.
Players will also be able to tip teammates or opponents after the match is done, adding an extra element of reward to matches. The rewards only come in the form of Battle Points, of course, which is Dota 2's version of XP.
It's an intriguing element just ahead of the Shanghai major and it'll be interesting to see what, if any, plans Valve has for in-game wagering when The International rolls around. The extension of the in-game wagering mechanics also has a parallel with the growth of real-world betting in esports, with Dota 2's major tournaments a popular target for punters and betting agencies thanks to the sheer number of matches that are played over the course of the tournament.
The Winter Pass update also includes a suite of rewards and cosmetic items, with the introduction of quests especially interesting. The quests are basically just challenges re-branded into three separate "Paths", with each path tailored towards particular roles (solo, carry or support). There's unique rewards for completing each Path and, as you'd expect, separate rewards will also unlock once enough community members advance far enough in their quests.
All of this comes with a price tag though: $11.39 at the time of writing. Purchasing the pass grants you the Compendium for the upcoming Shanghai major, however, so for many Dota diehards this will undoubtedly be an automatic purchase.