The International is the biggest annual esports tournament in the world and one every fan of professional video gaming should watch. It showcases the best Dota 2 talent on the world-stage every year in August and is famous for having the largest prize pool for a single esports tournament around the globe – breaking its own record for the last three years.
2018 will see the eighth iteration of The International, organized entirely by Dota 2’s creators, Valve. Fans and industry analysts alike are expecting another record-breaking cash prize amount fronted by Valve, and we can’t wait to see how the competition adapts to the higher stakes. Here’s what we know of this year’s plans so far.
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An introduction to The International
In 2019 The International will be held on Chinese soil for the first time, as it moves to the Mercedez-Benz Arena in Shanghai.
With high production values and multi-million dollar payouts, tickets sell-out guaranteed, and it’s hard not to see why people point to The International when they think of why esports has grown so big in the past few years.
For Dota 2 esports players who play year-round, it remains the best possible shot at top bragging rights and a million dollar payout (and more) every single year.
The 2017 – 2018 Dota 2 competitive season received a massive revamp last year to streamline the qualification process and match format to make it easier for both participating teams and fans of all types to understand how it works.
The International 2019 qualification structure
Professional Dota 2 teams around the world must participate in Valve Majors and Minors, officially sponsored tournaments run by third-party organizers like Electronic Sports League, to earn an invitation to The International.
These events make up the aforementioned eight-month long Dota Pro Circuit and offer massive prize-pools and titles of their own, but the main reason to participate is Qualifying Points (QP), which are awarded to individual players by Valve based on their performances in Majors and Minors.
Only the top 3 players with the most points per team contribute to the group’s total QP. The more points a team has, the better chance they will get invited to The International 2018.
As suggested by their tier, Minor tournaments grant less QP while Majors give the most as it is awarded based on the total prize pool of a tournament. The total points every subsequent tournament also scale based on the time of year, as the 2018 The International gets closer.
Unlike the match format, the qualification structure changed in 2018. Instead of two Valve Majors largely determining which teams play in The International as was done in the past, there are now over 11 Majors and 16 Minors that comprise the Dota Pro Circuit and offer QP, giving teams from every region more chances to earn their way to the big event this year.
The International 2019 match structure
Every year, the eight best teams of the Dota Pro Circuit with the highest QP, the defending champion and other season wildcards make it to The International.
While there are multiple qualifiers beforehand, the main event itself features sixteen teams battling it out in a double-elimination format over six gruelling and intense days.
With eight teams in the Upper Bracket and eight in the Lower Bracket, competitors must be adaptable and skilled to survive the numerous match format changes. For instance, last year’s First Lower Bracket round was a Bo1 (Best of 1) which then shifted to Bo3 (Best of 3) until the grand finals, where the best two teams played out a Bo5 (Best of 5) series.
It is still unconfirmed whether The International 2018 will make further changes to the Main Event this year, but it’s safe to say we’ll hear more news as we get closer to the final date.
The International 2019 – Other changes
One of the newest changes to the road to The International 2018 is team coaches are now allowed to remain with their players for the duration of the pre-game draft phase, including in-draft discussions. This will help teams discuss bans, picks and strategize better.
Valve is also stepping into a more active role this year with its tournaments. It now schedules all Majors and Minors to help avoid collisions and make the path to The International a lot less convoluted.
What is the prize-pool for The International?
The prize-pool for The International is ever growing thanks to Valve’s immense contribution and investment.
Given they are one of the wealthiest gaming companies in the world supporting esports, it makes sense Valve want to see their most successful property continue to lead the way in the booming pro gaming circuit.
In the last few years, Valve has crowdfunded the prize-pool by selling a digital compendium, the ‘Battle Pass’ to hardcore fans, with 25% of all revenue generated from sales put directly into the tournament’s prize-pool.
Valve has released the current numbers for The International 2018’s prize-money and the exact placing distribution.
|Standing||The International 2019 prize distribution|
|5th / 6th Place||$1,110,956|
|7th / 8th Place||$617,198|
|9th / 10th / 11th / 12th Place||$370,319|
|13th / 14th / 15th / 16th Place||$123,440|
|17th / 18th Place||$61,720|
Dota 2 Pro Circuit 2018 Schedule
The International may be the most exciting Dota 2 tournament to watch, but it’s only once a year. For fans of competitive Dota who want to keep track of the top teams competing in the Dota Pro Circuit, we have the currently announced schedule of Valve Majors and Minors listed in the table below.
|Jan 4 – 7||Captain’s Draft 4.0||Dota Pro Circuit||TBA|
|Jan 19 – 21||Galaxy Battles II: Emerging Worlds||Galaxy Battles||$1,000,000|
|Jan 23 – 28||ESL One Genting 2018||Electronic Sports League||$400,000|
|Feb 1 – 4||StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4||StarLadder / SLTV & Dota Pro Circuit||$37,500|
|Feb 8 – 11||GESC: Indonesia Dota2 Minor||Dota Pro Circuit||$150,000|
|Feb 13 – Apr 26||DreamLeague Season 9||Dream League & Dota Pro Circuit||$250,000|
|Feb 17 – 25||GESC: Thailand Dota2 Minor||Dota Pro Circuit||$300,000|
|Feb 20 – 25||ESL One Katowice 2018||Electronic Sports League||$1,000,000|
|Mar 4 – 11||The Bucharest Major||PGL||TBA|
|Mar 30 – Apr 7||Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018||PGL||€50,000|
|Apr 27 – May 6||EPICENTER XL||Dota Pro Circuit||$750,000|
|May 14 – 20||Mars Media||Mars Media||TBA|
|May 25 – 27||ESL||Electronic Sports League||TBA|
|Jun 4 – 10||PGL||PGL||TBA|
|TBA||The International 2018||Valve||TBA|