What is The International? The Story Behind the World’s Largest Dota 2 Esports Tournament

After a one-year delay due to COVID-19, The International has made a spectacular comeback this year in Bucharest, Romania. The 10th edition of the tournament will pit eighteen professional esports teams against one another for the Aegis trophy and title of the best Dota 2 esports team. But what is the story behind the world’s largest esports tournament? Read on to learn more about the history of the International. 


What is Dota 2?

To first understand the tournament, we first need to take a look at the game it is centered on, “Dota 2”. Dota 2 is a popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game which combines elements of real-time strategy and tower defense. Each match consists of two teams of five players who all control different kinds of fantasy characters from mages to beasts to assassins. The aim of the game is to destroy the opposing team’s Ancient which is a massive structure located in each team’s bases.

Dota 2 first began as a game mod for another popular MOBA game called Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos by Blizzard Entertainment. The mod, titled Defense of the Ancients or DotA was created in 2003 by an unknown individual who goes by the pseudonym “Eul”. The mod has since become hugely successful and even spawned a number of cloned spinoffs upon the release of The Frozen Throne expansion pack for Warcraft III.

A decade after the creation of Defense of the Ancients (DotA), the lead designer of one of the mod’s spinoffs, “IceFrog”, partnered with the game studio Valve to create Dota 2 which is the standalone sequel to the popular mod. The game has since spawned one of the largest esports tournaments in the globe and is currently the second most-played game on the Steam game platform with a peak number of more than 700,000 players playing the game in a single hour.


Tickets for The International 2019 are sold out - Dot Esports

What is The International?

In 2011, two years before the game’s public release, Valve invited 16 teams from across the world to the Gamescom gaming event in Cologne, Germany to compete against one another in Dota 2 as part of a move to publicize their game.

The tournament, now known as The International, would later become an annual esports event with 18 teams competing to become the best Dota 2 team across the globe. For the past year 10 years since The International’s debut, it has attracted promising teams from North and South America, Europe and Asia including Natus Vincere (Ukraine), Vici Gaming (China), Team Liquid (Netherlands) and Evil Geniuses (United States).

Interestingly, The International’s prize pool (save for the first two tournaments) was crowdfunded through an in-game battle pass system known as the “Compendium”. Through this crowdfunding system, Valve was able to raise millions of dollars to be given away as prizes for the competing teams. In fact, The International 10 had raised more than $40 million which eclipsed the previous tournament’s prize pool.


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Who To Look Out For In The International 10?

Fans of The International should definitely look out for OG, the two-time winner of The International for the years of 2018 and 2019. Besides the International, they also hold the most number of victories in other Valve-sponsored Dota 2 tournaments including Frankfurt Major 2015 and Mars Dota League Macau.

Another team that has the potential of taking home the Aegis is the Chinese-based PSG.LGD. This team has seen some success in a number of major Dota 2 tournaments including first place in the Epicenter XL 2018 and the WePlay AniMajor which took place a few months ago in Kiev. They were also placed among the top 3 teams in 2018 and 2019 editions of The International tournaments.

Evil Geniuses which ranked first in the Dota Pro Circuit 2021 is also another team competing in the tournament. They were the winners of the 2015 edition of The International at Seattle, USA and the Upper Division of the Dota Pro Circuit 2021 North American Qualifiers.

Last but not least, T1 is an up-and-coming team from South Korea representing the Southeast Asian region. They recently won the Southeast Asian Qualifiers of the Dota Pro Circuit 2021 and were placed third in the WePlay AniMajor. T1’s victory in The International could make them the first team of the Southeast Asian region to take home the trophy.

Ultimately, only one team will win The International and be declared the Dota 2 champion. Luckily, the tournament is still in the group stage and there’s still plenty of time to catch the action live via the “Esports” page of the Dota 2 website (https://www.dota2.com/esports/ti10/watch/0/0/series) or via Twitch.

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DISCLAIMER: This article is in no way sponsored by Valve Corporation, Blizzard Entertainment, participating teams of The International 10 or other relevant parties.