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.

The 2019 tournament is the ninth edition of The International, organized entirely by Dota 2’s creators, Valve. This year’s event is the richest yet, with the prize pool topping $30 million for the first time, 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.

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Betting markets on The International are currently not open. With the event held in August each year, there’s still plenty of professional Dota 2 tournaments, part of the Dota Pro Circuit, which you can bet on all year-round at the many highly-reviewed sites listed in the table above, geo-targeted to only display the best options for customers from your country.

An introduction to The International

The International annual Dota 2 esports event
The International is easily the highlight in the annual esports calendar based on production alone.

The International acts as the definitive championship tournament for the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), an eight-month season of Dota 2 competitions held around the world. Each DPC event awards Qualifying Points, used to determine which teams get direct invites to The International, held every August.

In 2019 The International will be held on Chinese soil for the first time, as it moves to the Mercedez-Benz Arena in Shanghai. It took the Chinese market only 53 seconds to buy out all 26,804 tickets, with the 8,268 Weekend Bundle passes – which include access to the grand final – selling out in a mere 27 seconds.

For Dota 2 esports players who play year-round, The International remains the best possible shot at top bragging rights and a million-dollar payout (and more) every single year. Valve has implemented some big changes for 2019, making the whole qualification process smoother, more transparent and more rewarding to the teams that perform well throughout the season.

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 eight-month long Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) and offer massive prize pools and titles of their own, but the main reason to participate is to collect DPC ranking points. Awarded to teams based on their performances in Minor and Major tournaments, these points ultimately determine who takes part at The International. The more points you earn, the better your chances of making the cut.

As suggested by their tier, Minor tournaments grant less DPC points while Majors grant 30 times as many. A total of 500 points can be won in a Minor, whereas 15,000 are awarded to the winners of a Major.

The 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit removed the Qualifying Points (QP), which were awarded to individual players. The new system associates the qualifying points with teams instead of players, thus giving the teams more flexibility with roster changes throughout the season.

An additional change to the 2018-19 DPC season saw only five Minors and Majors, held in pairs, with qualifiers of each held in exclusively scheduled windows. There were no direct invites to Minors nor Majors. The winners of a Minor did, however, earn themselves a spot in the Major that happened shortly afterwards.

For The International 2019, Valve also decided to send out direct invites to the 12 top-ranking teams on the Dota Pro Circuit. In previous years, only the top eight teams were guaranteed a place in the tournament.

That change also forced some changes to the qualification routes. A total of six single-elimination qualifying playoffs brackets were held in July 2019, with winners of the regions of China, CIS, North America, Europe, South America and Southeast Asia earning invites to the main event.

The International 2019 match structure

With 12 invited teams who earned their spot via Dota Pro Circuit standings plus the six champions of their respective regions, the 2019 Dota 2 International will just like last two years feature a total of 18 teams.

The group stage will seed the 18 teams into two groups of nine. Within each group, teams will compete in a two-game series, round-robin format, with only the top four teams from each group advancing into the upper bracket of the main event, whereas fifth-eighth placed teams advance into the lower bracket.

After three days of the group stage, the remaining teams will get two days to rest before they jump into the playoffs.

With eight teams in the Upper Bracket and eight in the Lower Bracket, competitors must be adaptable and skilled to survive the match format changes. For example, the first round of the lower bracket will be played in best of one (Bo1), which will switch to best of three (Bo3) in round two. Bo3 is then used for all the remaining rounds in both upper and lower brackets up until the Grand Finals, where the finalists battle it out in a Bo5 series.

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 2019’s prize money and the exact placing distribution.

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