What is it?
The International is an annual world championship of Dota 2, bringing together the best Dota 2 teams in the world. The tournament already has an impressive history behind it, being at its seventh edition this year.
It all started in 2011, when Valve invited the best 16 Dota 2 teams at that moment to participate in the first edition of what would become The International. The competition was held in Cologne, Germany, and featured a 1.6 million dollars prize pool, which was considered a staggering amount at that point. Natus Vincere (or Na`Vi) won the tournament, taking home 1 million dollars.
The next editions of The International took place in the United States, in Seattle, and, with the exception of the first (which featured the same prize pool as the 2011 edition), every one of them had a prize pool significantly higher than its predecessors. 2.8 million dollars in 2013, 10.9 in 2014, 18.4 in 2015, and 20.7 in 2016. This year, the tournament features a ~23 million dollars prize pool, which is the largest in the history of eSports. The winner will take home 44% of that amount, or around 10 million dollars.
Just like the previous 3 editions, The International 2017 will be held in Seattle’s KeyArena, which has a total seating capacity of over 17.000. The group stage starts on August 2nd and ends on August 5th, while the main event takes place between August 7th and August 12th.
The International 2017 will have two stages:
- The group stage: during this stage teams will be divided into two groups. A total of 8 matches will be played by each team. All of these matches will be Bo2s. A win provides 2 points, a draw provides 1 point for each team, and a loss provides 0 points. The bottom team is eliminated from each group at the end of this stage. The top 4 teams from each group start in the upper bracket of the main event, while the other 4 start in the lower bracket.
- The main event: upper bracket matches are played in a Bo3 format. The first round of the lower bracket ones are played in a Bo1 format. Afterwards, lower bracket matches are played in the same format as upper bracket ones. Teams that lose an upper bracket match drop to the lower bracket. Teams that lose a lower bracket match are eliminated. The Grand Finals will be a Bo5.
A total of 18 teams will participate in this year’s event. Six of these teams received a direct invite to the tournament, while the other 12 had to go through regional qualifiers.
The teams that received a direct invite
- pro: by far the strongest team in the CIS region at the moment, Virtus.pro is one of the contenders for the Aegis this year. Coached by former Na`Vi player Ivan “ArtStyle” Antonov and lead by Alexei “Solo” Berezin, the team has had very good results in recent months, taking second place at The Kiev Major and winning The Summit 7 tournament in spectacular fashion: by picking a set of 5 entirely new heroes every game, until the very last one, at the score of 2-2 against Team Secret in the Grand Finals of the competition.
- OG: the team is best known for winning 4 out of the 5 Major tournaments organized by Valve in the last two years, with two different rosters. Last time they won was at The Kiev Major, where they defeated Virtus.pro in the Grand Finals (score 3-2). However, since then the team has looked shaky and had a series of poor results.
- Evil Geniuses: winners of the 2015 edition and a top 3 team at the last 3 editions, Evil Geniuses are for sure among the tournament favorites.
- Team Liquid: they won 4 important tournaments in the last 5 months and are looking stronger than ever. With one of the best mid-laners in the world (Amer “Miracle” Al-Barkawi) and a legendary captain (Kuro “Kuroky” Takhasomi), the team looks ready to fight for the Aegis this year.
- Invictus Gaming: they won the Dota 2 Asia Championships at the beginning of April and placed 3rd – 4th at The Kiev Major. Since then, the team hasn’t done anything notable and is a big question mark for this year’s TI.
- Newbee: one of the strongest Chinese teams at the moment (together with LGD and LFY), Newbee has had several good results in recent months (2 tournament wins, one second place and one third place) and is expected to do well at The International 2017.
The teams that had to qualify for the event
- Team Secret: they won their group stage in the European regional qualifier and took second place at The Summit 7 tournament, but they’ve also had a lot of poor results this year. The team looks rather weak at the moment, even though it’s lead by a formidable captain and former TI winner (Clement “Puppey” Ivanov), and has a 10K MMR mid-laner (Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng).
- HellRaisers (former Planet Dog): they are a heavy underdog for sure, but they’ve come a long way to get to this tournament and may cause some serious upsets.
- Team Empire: they won their group stage in the CIS regional qualifier and have looked pretty strong in recent months against tier 2 teams, but it remains to be seen how they will deal with the best rosters in the world.
- iG Vitality: they were the winners of the Chinese regional qualifiers and have one of the best mid-laners in the world, but the team as a whole hasn’t achieved much this year.
- Forever Young (LFY): they grabbed the second qualification spot reserved for the Chinese region, by winning the second phase of the region’s qualifier. They’ve also had a number of good results this year, including a 3rd – 4th place at Epicenter and a 2nd place at the Mars Dota 2 League tournament.
- LGD Gaming: they were the third team to qualify for The International 2017 from China. They recently won the Mars Dota 2 League tournament and have looked very strong in the last few months.
- TNC Pro Team: they took first place in the SEA regional qualifier. They also took third and second place respectively at the recent Galaxy Battles and StarLadder i-League Invitational #2 tournaments. They’re the strongest team in Southeast Asia at the moment.
- Fnatic: they took second place in the SEA regional qualifier and won its second phase without dropping a single game, but apart from this they haven’t had any notable results in a long long time.
- Execration: they were the third and final team to qualify out of the SEA region. They are likely to be eliminated early from this year’s TI.
- Cloud9 (former Team NP): they won the North American regional qualifier and are the second strongest North American team at the moment. It remains to be seen how they perform against the tournament giants, but they should get a decent result if they don’t run into the strongest teams right after the group stage.
- Digital Chaos: not too many people expected them to be here, and they also have a world class 10K MMR mid-laner (Abed “Abed” Yusop) who might be able to help them defy the odds. They certainly are a team to watch out for at this year’s TI.
- Infamous: winners of the South American regional qualifier, but going up against much stronger teams at The International 2017. In my opinion, they’re very likely to be eliminated right after the group stage.