The International is the most anticipated eSports tournament in the world. Valve’s annual Dota 2 event will run for the seventh year in a row and is arguably the biggest eSports event out there. The hype that surrounds it is similar to huge sports events like the Super Bowl or the Olympics. Excited fans, fierce competition, top-level production, and of course, high-level Dota gameplay.
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Table of Contents
- The Event
- The Prize
- The Venue
- The Format
- The Teams
- How to watch it
- The most iconic eSports tournament has already started
The International (TI) is the pinnacle of Dota 2's competitive season. Playing in the stage of such a massively popular eSports tournament is every professional player's dream.
Despite that, very few managed to do that so far, and even fewer returned home with the Aegis.
With the high production value and the multi-million dollar payouts, it’s hard not to acknowledge the impact Valve has had on the growth of eSports tournaments and events these past few years.
The first International was held in 2011. It was right after the release of Dota 2 was announced and the tournament would also serve as the first public viewing of the game.
Sixteen teams were invited to participate and fight for the chance to take home the grand prize. The majority of them didn’t have more than a couple of weeks to test their skills at the game, as it was still in beta.
The event was held during Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. The Natus Vincere (NaVi) team walked away with one million dollars, which, at the time, was the biggest prize pool of any eSports tournament.
Since then, Valve brought The International to Seattle, hosting their own event. The prize pool grew rapidly every year, resulting in a 25 million dollars prize pot for last year’s tournament.
Valve uses a clever and unique way to increase the prize pool of The International while keeping its community involved at the same time. They release a Battle Pass, an eSports tournament pass, which features bundles made for each year’s International.
For every dollar a Dota player spends in Battle Pass, the prize pool of The International increases by 25 cents. This crowdfunded system made The International the eSports tournament with the biggest prize pool in the history of video games.
This year, players will compete for more than $24,500,000, with the winning team taking home almost $11,000,000. Not bad at all for a Free-to-play game that started as a custom map for Warcraft III.
This is the first year since 2011 that Valve will host The International outside of the United States.
The Key Arena that they used for the last three events was in a pretty convenient location, only minutes away from Valve's headquarters, and an ideal place to host an eSports tournament.
But the building will be getting renovated over the next couple of years, so they had to explore some other options. This year, The International will move to the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada.
Like every year, the tournament will be played in a double elimination format, consisting of the Group Stage and the Main Event.
18 teams divided into two groups will play in a round robin format. The matches will be played in a best-of-two format. The top four teams in each group will advance to the Upper Bracket of the main event.
The bottom team in each group will get eliminated. The remaining teams will advance to the Lower Bracket of the main event.
Sixteen remaining teams will play in a double elimination format from the 20th to the 25th of August. Eight teams will begin in the Upper Bracket and eight in the Lower Bracket.
Teams losing in the Upper Bracket will move to the Lower Bracket. Teams which lost in the Lower Bracket will get eliminated. The matches are played in a best-of-three format with grand finals being best-of-five.
For some people, gaming is just a hobby. For others, it's a serious addiction.
But for the players of the International 2018, gaming is their full-time job. 18 teams will fight for the Aegis and a chance to win more than ten million dollars. Eight of them were directly invited, and the rest earned their ticket through regional and open qualifiers.
EG’s roster contains a nearly unparalleled amount of individual skill, with “superstars” like Sumail and Arteezy. Despite their young age, they don’t lack in experience, since all five of them have been playing Dota 2 professionally for years.
Gustav “S4” Magnusson won the second ever International while playing for Alliance, and has earned more than 1,500,000 dollars during his career. He is known for his Puck, and his iconic Million Dollars Dreamcoil play from The International 2012 finals.
Fly and Cr1t, the reunited OG support duo, were unstoppable back in 2016. Whether they will have the same chemistry or not will be decisive as to how far EG will go in this tournament.
Prediction: 8th-6th place
Why you should watch their games: Two of the most mechanically skilled players in Dota 2, playing under the same team. Their games are always exciting, even when they struggle.
Inconsistency seems to be an inherent trait for Southeast Asia teams. Similar to TNC Pro, Fnatic looks like they are capable of being both the best and the worst at the same time.
They’ve been no strangers to TI, but never had any major success besides reaching the semi-finals four years ago. This season, they were just good enough to win the regional qualifiers against TNC and secure their place in the event.
Jacky “EternalEnvy” Mao is the captain of the team and the "Nicolas Cage" of the Dota 2 pro scene. As in, you constantly question whether he is a genius or just a bad Dota player. There is even a subreddit dedicated to his questionable decisions and plays.
The young star of the team Abed, after being one of the youngest players to attend a TI, is ready to prove that Fnatic is more than a meme team. If he brings his A game to Vancouver, Fnatic can dream big.
Predictions: 10th-8th place
Why you should watch their games: Maybe you will be the first one to understand what’s inside Jacky Mao’s head. Also, EternalEnvy memes.
The former Chinese powerhouse has certainly seen better days. The last year wasn’t exactly a success for them, as they were absent from any major Dota 2 eSports tournament.
Despite the underwhelming season, their roster doesn’t lack talent or experience. If they manage to find some synergy, they can make a decent run in the tournament.
Although unlikely, it could be The International 2018's Cinderella story; a story that every eSports tournament needs.
Prediction: 18th-16th place
Why you should watch their games: Four of their players came really close to winning an International but fell short in the end. They will be hungry for success and willing to prove those who doubt them wrong.
They surprised everyone by winning the Dota 2 Asian Championship while beating PSG.LGD. Their roster includes two very experienced veterans, Mushi and IceIceIce, who are no strangers to Valve’s events.
They finally started to adapt to the new meta, and with some good drafting, as well as some luck, they can compete against any team.
Prediction: 7th-5th place
Why you should watch their games: Aside from an iconic Dota 2 player, IceIceIce is one of the most entertaining personalities in the scene.
The two-time Major winners have a history of underperforming in the stage of The International. Moreover, their roster was assembled just two weeks prior to the qualifiers.
They managed to win the qualifiers and secure a trip to Vancouver, but their competition wasn’t exactly high level. Nobody expects them to have any success and it will be the first eSports tournament where they will be considered to be the underdogs.
Gamewise, the current patch doesn’t really fit their playstyle, and they will need to figure out a way to adapt. If they don't redefine their style, they are due to an early exit.
Prediction: 18th-16th place
Why you should watch their games: Playing as the underdog for the first time might take away the pressure and bring the best out of them.
There is a tradition that Chinese teams should win The International in even-numbered years. PSG.LGD is China’s best bet to keep that tradition alive.
They were the best performing team this season and had an overall incredible year. The major roster changes they did at December helped them win the Epicenter XL and MDL Changsha Major tournaments.
Ther roster consists of both veterans and up-and-coming stars, and they look invincible when their game is in sync. Nobody is going to be surprised if they win it all.
Prediction: 1st place (it’s a Chinese year)
Why you should watch their games: They are the best eastern team and they make a case for the best Dota 2 team in the world right now.
Last year’s champions will travel to Vancouver to defend their title, hoping to be the first ever Dota 2 team to win two Internationals.
The team didn’t get complacent after their success and they stayed hungry for more throughout the season, experimenting with drafts and strategies.
Last year, their unparalleled chemistry, along with their individual performances, made them look unbeatable. They even became the first team to sweep their opponents on TI finals.
Whether or not they are still motivated to pull off another unbelievable run on the stage of TI remains a question.
Prediction: 3rd place
Why you should watch their games: They are the defending champions and the best, or at the very least the second best team right now.
The North America Regional Qualifier winners are not an easy opponent for any team. The leadership of their captain, SVG, and the skill of their carry player, Resolut1on, can’t be overlooked. But the same goes for the lack of experience of the other three players.
VGJ.Thunder can be this year’s dark horse, exceeding everyone’s expectations and reaching the later stages of the tournament. Or they could have a mediocre run, without making much noise while going home early.
Their success depends on how well YawaR, Sneyking, and MSS will handle the pressure of playing in the big stage.
Prediction: 12th-10th place
Why you should watch their games: A mechanically skilled player like Resolut1on is a joy to watch when he is in the zone.
A team of five outcasts from the CIS region that shocked the Dota 2 scene by almost eliminating last year’s The International champions, Team Liquid, in Epicenter.
Despite their defeat in the semifinals, securing the 3rd place was quite an achievement. After the event was over, they were picked up by the Russian organization Winstrike.
Their captain, Bogdan “Iceberg” Vasilienko, said in an interview that he created this team out of despair. Their roster consists of players that were unable to find a high-level organization through the season and took a bet by deciding to create their own team.
Even though winning the CIS qualifiers and securing their spot in TI is not an easy task, they often appeared unable to close out games and they can struggle even against much worse teams.
Prediction: 14th-12th place
Why you should watch their games: Every eSports tournament need a good underdog story. Playing with a chip on their shoulder might bring the best out of them.
The last year’s runners-up didn’t raise any eyebrows with their performance this season, but was enough to secure them an invite for The International.
Despite their strong start at the season, winning Team Liquid and taking revenge for the sweep at the finals, their performance seemed to be regressing.
But with five incredibly skilled players in their roster, whoever writes them off will be up for a surprise. If they manage to reignite the spark that made them the best team in China last year, they will be a scary team for any opponent. If they don't, they are up for a disappointing run.
Prediction:11th to 9th
Why you should watch their games: Sccc and the rest of the team will be hungry for revenge.
They were the most successful NA team this year, yet they had to go through regional qualifiers to earn their TI spot. They had a decent run at ESL Birmingham Major, securing the 2nd place, and they also won StarLadder Minor.
Optic Gaming's raw skill or talent is definitely not their strongest feature, but they are one of the most interesting Dota 2 teams right now.
Their captain, TI winner and former CEO of Evil Geniuses, Peter “ppd” Dager, is known as a great Dota 2 strategist and one of the best leaders in Dota history.
Even though their roster isn’t the strongest one on paper, Peter Dager and his ability to outsmart his opponents is not to be underestimated.
Why you should watch their games: OpTic Gaming is one of the teams that can exceed everyone’s expectations if they find their groove early in the tournament.
Only the second South American team, to ever appear at an International. They will travel to Canada to prove that their win against TI champions Team Liquid wasn’t just luck.
Their roster consists of four not so well-known Brazilian players and former TI finalist, Avir “w33” Omar. They are capable of getting surprising results against better teams, but they didn’t show any sign of consistency in their performance.
Prediction: 16th-14th place
Why you should watch their games: They are capable of upsetting better teams in single elimination games.
TNC Pro Team
By far the most unpredictable and inconsistent team of this year’s tournament. They are capable of having a monumental run, and at the same time, they can just end up going home right after the group stage.
On a good day, they can beat anyone and appear as the most dominant team in the tournament. They are the only team that has beaten both Virtus Pro and Team Liquid, the top 2 teams right now.
But at the same time, they managed to lose to teams which were considered to be way below their level.
Why you should watch their games: You never know which face TNC will show. They can beat anyone and lose to anyone.
Team Secret never lacked talent in their roster. However, every year, they go home early in the tournament.
Their biggest TI placement was the 8th place at The International 5. This season, they had some decent results, but the gap between them and the top 2 teams (Virtus Pro, Team Liquid) is quite obvious.
Iconic Dota 2 player and TI 1 winner, Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, is one of the very few players who has been to every TI. Along with the star of the team, Yeik “MidOne” Zheng, they will be ready to snatch the Aegis away from their competition.
Prediction: 4th-3rd place
Why you should watch their games: Unpredictable drafts and questionable strategies. They don’t always work, but when they do, it’s quite enjoyable.
An unknown Chinese team who crushed the Chinese Regional Qualifiers and made quite the noise by winning against IG and LGF.FY. Their style is unorthodox and they don’t seem to care about the metagame.
There are no big names or stars on their roster, but they make up for that with their fresh, innovative ideas and their fantastic teamwork. They are definitely the biggest dark horse in this tournament and if they succeed, it will be quite a Cinderella story.
Unknown Chinese teams who come out of the regional qualifiers have a history of exceeding the expectations and even winning it all in the case of TI6 winners, Wings Gaming. Despite that, it seems that even a top 10 finish will be a success for Team Serenity.
Why you should watch their games: One of the most fun teams to watch at the event. Also, who doesn’t like rooting for an underdog?
The Russian powerhouse is known for their strong presence in eSports tournaments in a variety of games. They had a dominant season and they are hungry for an Aegis. One of the top 2 teams in the world right now, VP seem more mature and ready than ever to win it all.
With minimum roster changes during these past few years, they have created a talented squad with few weaknesses. It’s quite an achievement that the last time they placed lower than 6th on a tournament was almost three years ago. Winning The International is the only thing that’s missing from their long list of accolades.
Anything besides a grand finals appearance would be a disappointment for VP
Prediction: 2nd place
Why you should watch their games: Dominant gameplay with very few errors and an overall solid team. Arguably the best Dota team in the world right now.
How to watch it
Due to the complexity and the constantly evolving nature of the game, watching The International 2018 can be exciting even if you are not a Dota player. Provided you understand the basic concept of MOBA/ARTS games so you don’t end up feeling lost in the constant action.
As with every other eSports tournament, you can watch TI through the official Dota 2 Twitch streaming channel. If Twitch chat is not for you, you can always download the game (it’s free) and watch it through the in-game client.
The most iconic eSports tournament has already started
Have you ever watched any eSports tournament? Do you plan on watching The International this year? What is the biggest eSports tournament in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below.
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