The International (Dota 2)

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The International
The International logo.png
GenreDota 2 esports tournament
FrequencyAnnual
Location(s)
Years active2011–present
InauguratedAugust 17–21, 2011
Most recentAugust 20–25, 2018
Next eventAugust 20–25, 2019
Participants
  • 16 teams (2011–2016)
  • 18 teams (2017–present)
Organized byValve Corporation
Websitewww.dota2.com/international

The International (TI), is an annual Dota 2 esports tournament hosted by Valve Corporation, the game's developer.[1] The tournament consists of 18 teams, and follows a year-long tournament series known as the Dota Pro Circuit.[2][3] The prize pool is crowdfunded by players of the game via the "Compendium", a battle pass system in the game that was introduced on 2013.[4][5][6] Winners of the competition receive the largest percentage of prize pool, as well as the Aegis of Champions trophy.[7][8] Reverse side of the award trophy is engraved with names of champion, and in-game trophy will display every champions name located at the Fountain of each base.

To ensure that enough Defense of the Ancients (DotA) players would take up Dota 2 and to promote the game to a new audience, Valve invited sixteen accomplished DotA esports teams to compete at a Dota 2 tournament at Gamescom in August 2011, which later became The International.[9] Each iteration of The International has since surpassed the previous one's prize pool in succession.[10]

Champions[edit]

The Aegis of Champions trophy, which is awarded to the winner every year
Year Champion Prize pool Date Venue Location
2011 Ukraine Natus Vincere[11] $1,600,000 August 17–21 Koelnmesse[12] Cologne
2012 China Invictus Gaming[13] August 31–September 2 Benaroya Hall[14] Seattle
2013 Sweden Alliance[15] $2,874,380 August 7–11
2014 China Newbee[16] $10,923,977 July 18–21 KeyArena[17]
2015 United States Evil Geniuses[18] $18,429,613 August 3–6
2016 China Wings Gaming[19] $20,770,460 August 3–13
2017 Europe Team Liquid[20] $24,787,916 August 7–12
2018 Europe OG[21] $25,532,177 August 20–25 Rogers Arena[22] Vancouver
2019 TBD $33,700,000+ August 20–25 Mercedes-Benz Arena[23] Shanghai

History[edit]

2011[edit]

The International tournament area at Gamescom 2011

Valve Corporation announced the first edition of The International on August 1, 2011. 16 teams were invited to compete in the tournament, which would also serve as the first public viewing of Dota 2, and it was streamed online with commentary in four languages; English, Chinese, German, and Russian. The tournament was funded by Valve, including the $1 million USD grand prize, with Nvidia supplying the hardware.[24][25] It took place at Gamescom in Cologne from August 17–21 the same year.[26]

The tournament started with a group stage in which the winners of each of the four groups were entered into a winner's bracket, and the other teams entered the loser's bracket. The rest of the tournament was then played as a double-elimination tournament.[27] The final of this first tournament was between Ukrainian team Natus Vincere and Chinese team EHOME, with Natus Vincere winning the grand prize after beating EHOME in three out of the four matches.[28] EHOME, who finished as the event's runner-up, won US$250,000 with the rest of the teams splitting the remaining 350,000.[29]

The tournament was the central focus of the 2014 documentary Free to Play, which explored the lives of three of the players.[30]

2012[edit]

A crowd watches as the grand finals of The International 2012 commence in Benaroya Hall in Seattle, Washington.

The International 2012 was announced in May 2012 and held during PAX Prime.[31] The event was held at the 2,500 seat Benaroya Hall in Seattle from August 31 to September 2, with teams situated in glass booths on the main stage.[32] The total prize pool remained $1.6 million USD, with $1 million USD for the winning team, and it was again broadcast in multiple languages.[33][34]

The previous winners, Natus Vincere, were beaten 3-1 by Chinese team Invictus Gaming in the final.[35] In November 2012 Valve released a documentary following the event online for free featuring interviews with the teams and following them from the preliminary stages through to the finale.[36]

2013[edit]

Valve announced The International 2013 on April 25, 2013. It was again hosted at the Benaroya Hall in Seattle from August 7 to 11. The first team to be invited were the defending champions, Invictus Gaming. Sixteen teams participated, thirteen of which received invitations, and the final three being decided in two qualifying tournaments and a match at the start of the tournament.[37] On May 6, it was announced that an interactive compendium would be available for purchase, detailing and cataloging the progression of The International, in addition to allowing for extensive interactivity to be made. A quarter of the revenue from the compendium was added to the original $1.6 million prize pool for the tournament, thereby extending the winnings of the participating teams.[38] Via the sales of interactive compendiums, The International reclaimed its previous title as the largest prize pool in electronic sports history, exceeding the two million dollar prize pool from the League of Legends Season 2 World Championship.[39] The total prizepool awarded to the winners was $2,874,381. KCPQ news anchor Kaci Aitchison acted as a host to The International 2013 and provided behind-the-scenes commentary and interviews with professional players and analysts.[40] The International 2013 was viewed by over one million concurrent online viewers with many utilizing live streaming websites such as Twitch.tv.[41]

2014[edit]

The International 2014

On March 31, 2014, Valve announced The International 2014, which would take place from July 18 to 21 at the KeyArena, which is a venue with a significantly larger capacity than Benaroya Hall from the previous two years. Unlike the previous three events, there would be three tiers for admissions, including general admission, floor seating and VIP passes.[42] For The International 2014, eleven teams would receive direct invites, with an additional four spots determined by regional qualifiers taking place between May 12 and 25. The sixteenth spot would be determined by a wild card qualifier between the runners-up from the regional competitions.[43] The tickets for the event were sold out within an hour of going on sale on April 4, 2014.[44]

The prize pool for the tournament broke records for being the largest in esports by reaching the $10,000,000 (USD) mark on June 27, almost three weeks prior to the start of the tournament.[45] At the end of the tournament, with a final total prize pool of $10,931,103 and over $5 million split amongst the five players of the 1st place team, eight Dota 2 players became the highest ranking players in terms of prize money won, surpassing the highest ranking player at the time, StarCraft player Lee "Jaedong" Jae-dong.[46] The prize pool is as follows:[47]

2015[edit]

The first details pertaining to The International 2015 were revealed on January 5, 2015, with the preliminary announcement of the tournament. Sixteen teams attended the event, which took place from August 3 to 8 at the KeyArena in Seattle.[48] The prize pool totalled more than US$18 million, of which US$16.4 million was contributed by players.[49]

2016[edit]

A main event match at The International 2016, again at the KeyArena

The first details pertaining to The International 2016 were revealed on March 31, 2016, with the announcement of ticket sales for the tournament.[50] Open qualifiers for The International 2016 began on June 21, with regional qualifiers following on June 25. Following the qualifiers, the tournament main event took place from August 3–11, with the finals being held on August 13.

The initial prize pool was seeded with $1,600,000 from the developers, with more to be added from players through in-game purchases of the Battle Pass. The final prize pool reached $20,770,460, making the tournament have the largest prize pool in esports history.[51]

On June 19, 2016, Valve released the names of the invited teams, as well as details for qualification through each regional qualifier. The number of invited teams was reduced to six (down from ten from 2015), resulting in both the winner and runner-up of each region (China, Europe, Americas, and Southeast Asia) obtaining qualification. The final two spots were made up of Wild Card teams, which were found through their own qualifier.[52]

The qualifiers for each region consisted of eight invited teams (five for the Americas) and two from open qualifiers (organized by FaceIt and Perfect World in China). These qualifiers placed all 10 teams (seven for Americas) into a single table where each team played the others in a round robin competition with the top team in each region advancing to The International as the regional qualifier. Of the remaining teams, the next highest four teams were placed into a double elimination tournament with each round played as a best of three, while the remaining five teams (two for the Americas) were eliminated. The Grand Finals winner of each regional playoff also automatically qualified for The International as their region's playoff qualifier. The playoff runners-up received a spot in the Wild Card qualifier; a single bracket, double elimination tournament held in Seattle a day before the main event, with the semi-final victors receiving the final two spots.

2017[edit]

As with previous years of the tournament, a corresponding battle pass for Dota 2 was released before the event, allowing the prize pool to be crowdfunded.[53][54][55] Known as the "Compendium", 25% of revenue made by it was sent directly towards the tournament's prize pool.[55] This was also the first year that the tournament started to invite 18 teams, which was increased from 16 in previous years.

The tournament initially began with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), China, Europe, North America, South America, and Southeast Asia regional qualifiers in June 2017.[56] Prior to the main event on August 2–5, two separate best-of-two round robin groups consisting of nine teams each were played, with the bottom placed team of each group being eliminated.[57][58][59] The remaining 16 teams moved on to the double elimination main event at the KeyArena in Seattle from August 7–12, with the top four finishing teams from both groups advancing to the upper bracket, and the bottom four advancing to the lower bracket.[58][57][56] The first round of the lower bracket was treated as single-elimination, with the loser of each match being immediately eliminated from the tournament.[57][59] Every other round of both brackets was played in a best-of-three series, with the exception being the grand finals, which was played between the winners of the upper and lower brackets in a best-of-five series.[57][59] This also marked the first time in an International where the winning team of the tournament won 3-0 in the grand finals.

2018[edit]

The International 2018 was held at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada from August 20–25, 2018.[60] The location change was due to the KeyArena undergoing renovation construction at the time.[61] As another change from previous Internationals, it featured a series of tournaments, running from October 2017 until June 2018 and known as the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), that awarded qualifying points with the top eight ranking teams receiving direct invitations.[62][63][64][65][66][67] The grand finals took place between OG and PSG.LGD, with OG winning the series 3–2. Their victory was considered a Cinderella and underdog success story, as they had came from the open qualifiers and were not favored in matches throughout the competition.

2019[edit]

The International 2019 will be held in Shanghai at the Mercedes-Benz Arena from August 20–25.[68][69]

Venue[edit]

The first tournament took place in Cologne, Germany at Gamescom in 2011 and was held shortly after the public reveal of Dota 2, with a total prize pool of $1.6 million. The second International took place in 2012 at the Benaroya Hall in Seattle, and retained the same $1.6 million prize structure. For the third International in 2013, again at Benaroya Hall, Valve introduced an interactive, digital "compendium" which fans could purchase to follow the event and contribute to the prize pool; which reached a $2.8 million prize pool with $1.2 million added from compendium purchases.

The fourth International, this time held at the larger Seattle venue KeyArena in 2014, continued the practice of compendium sales and ultimately broke records for having one of the largest prize pool in esports history, with a total of nearly $11 million. The fifth International took place in 2015, with the prize pool totaling over $18 million,[70] making it the largest esports prize pool for a single tournament until being consecutively surpassed by the sixth and seventh Internationals.[71][72] The eighth International was held at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada in August 2018.

Media coverage[edit]

The primary medium for The International coverage is through the live streaming platform Twitch.tv. Throughout each year, tournament coverage is done by a selection of online gaming and electronic sports organizations who provide live streaming, commentary, and articles surrounding games in the progress, similar to sports commentators and analysts.[41] Multiple streams are provided in a variety of languages. The International also sometimes provides a "newbie stream" that is dedicated to casting each game for viewers who are unfamiliar with the game and its rules.

For The International 2014, Valve announced that coverage would also be presented in collaboration with ESPN on its live multi-screen sports network, ESPN3. In addition, an exclusive show previewing the final match was presented on ESPN2.[73]

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External links[edit]