The Dota 2 International is the global year-end tournament organized annually by Valve. Originally introduced at Gamescom 2011, the tournament has taken over mainstream media outlets due to its staggering prize pool, which is solely crowdfunded.
The International spans over the course of 10 days, with the first couple days being dedicated to group play matches and the rest being divided into the playoff portion.
The recent International consists of two groups of nine, where each team will play two matches against each team to determine the overall standings.
The four teams atop each group will then get seeded into the Winners Bracket portion of the playoff bracket.
Then, the next four teams will be slotted into the Losers Bracket, and the last team in each group will be eliminated from the tournament.
Watched by millions worldwide each year, The International has risen to become one of the world's best esports events and the premier Dota 2 tournament.
With over $33 million in prize money being given out this year, you may be wondering how we got here.
Let’s take a look at each year of The International and their prize pools.
The International 2011
The tournament that kick started it all, the very first International was held at the annual German video game convention --- Gamescom.
Being the first International, there was ample amount of excitement surrounding the event. It blew up when Valve announced the $1.6 million prize pool. This figure was unheard of at the time in esports. It was life-changing money for everyone competing in The International.
At the end of the first International, CIS organization Na’Vi was the winner of the event, with Chinese team EHOME coming in second place.
This was also the kickstart of one of the world’s most popular Dota 2 players and personalities: Danil "Dendi" Ishutin.
The superstar player for Na’Vi has risen to become the face of Dota 2 over the years, and it can be thanked in large part to the first International.
The International 2011's prize pool was as follows:
1st place: Na’Vi - $1,000,000 - 62.5% of total prize pool
2nd place: EHOME: $250,000 - 15.625% of total prize pool
The International 2012
The second International was the start of a six year trend where the Valve-organized tournament was held in Seattle.
This year’s International also produced one of the best Dota 2 plays of all time. Done by Dendi, “The Play” has become one of the staple plays in all of Dota 2:
The International 2012 final saw Na’Vi make a second consecutive appearance, but this time they ultimately fell short against IG.
The International 2012's prize pool was as follows:
1st place: IG - $1,000,000 - 62.5% of total prize pool
2nd place: Na’Vi - $250,000 - 15.625% of total prize pool
The International 2013
The third International was yet again a final in which we witnessed Na’Vi. But again, they ultimately fell second to the winners, Alliance.
This year's tournament was also the first year that Valve introduced crowdfunding, where fans could purchase the in-game Interactive Compendium.
25% of the revenue generated by the sale of it would go directly to the overall prize pool. At the end of the funding, the prize pool total was at a staggering $2,874,380 ($1,274,380 added), the largest to date.
The International 2013's prize pool was as follows:
1st place: Alliance - $1,437,190 - 50% of total prize pool
2nd place: Na’Vi - $632, 364 - 22% of total prize pool
The International 2014
The International 2014 was the tournament that took over mainstream media. Since the crowd funding concept was implemented the year before, fans started to contribute more and more to the tournament.
For every Compendium sold, Valve would contribute $2.50 of each sale directly to the prize pool. At the end of the funding, the total prize pool of The International 2014 was $10,923,977 ($9,323,977 added).
This was by far the largest esports prize pool tournament ever, and it shattered the prize pool of 2013’s tournament.
The International 2014's prize pool was as follows:
1st place: Newbee - $5,025,029 - 46% of total prize pool
2nd place: Vici Gaming - $1,474,737 - 13.5% of total prize pool
3rd place: Evil Geniuses - $1,037,778 - 9.5% of total prize pool
The International 2015
Much like The International 2014, 2015 saw a massive increase of the prize pool. This time around, it rose to a staggering $18,429,613 ($16,829,613 added).
2015 was also the first time a North American team lifted the trophy at the end of the tournament. Evil Geniuses were successful in becoming The International 2015 champions. Their roster consisted of 15-year-old Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan, who quickly became one of the world's youngest millionaires.
The International 2015's prize pool was as follows:
1st place: Evil Geniuses - $6,634,661 - 36% of total prize pool
2nd place: CDEC Gaming - $2,856,590 - 15.5% of total prize pool
3rd place: LGD Gaming - $2,211,554 - 12% of total prize pool
The International 2016
2016’s iteration of The International was the first one where the prize pool eclipsed the $20 million plateau. At the same time, 2016’s tournament was one of the most forgettable ones.
None of the household names made a deep run into the playoff bracket, except for EG who was stopped before the grand final.
For eventual winners Wings Gaming, though, they surely will never forget this tournament. The total prize pool of the International 2016 was $20,770,460 ($19,170,460 added).
The International 2016's prize pool was as follows:
1st place: Wings Gaming - $9,139,002 - 44% of total prize pool
2nd place: Digital Chaos - $3,427,126 - 16.5% of total prize pool
3rd place: Evil Geniuses - $2,180,898 - 10.5% of total prize pool
The International 2017
The International 2017 was the last tournament held in Seattle, which marked the end of what seemed as the Dota 2 hub of the world.
This year of The International saw European mix Team Liquid rise to the top. This International was one of the most watched, and it was received as one of the best match wise.
Upon the conclusion of the funding from the in-game sales, the total prize pool of The International 2017 was $24,787,916 ($23,187,916 added). This was the highest esports prize pool ever.
The International 2017's prize pool was as follows:
1st place: Team Liquid - $10,862,683 - 44% of total prize pool
2nd place: Newbee - $3,950,067 - 16% of total prize pool
3rd place: LGD.Forever Young - $2,592,231 - 10.5% of total prize pool
The International 2018
Last year’s International was the story of the underdog, with heavy hitters such as PSG.LGD, EG, and Virtus.Pro all seen as tournament favorites to take home the $25,532,177 USD ($23,932,177 USD added).
To the world's surprise, OG won the event. Led by their all-star captain, Johan "N0tail" Sundstein, this was seen as one of the best esports underdog stories ever.
The International 2018's prize pool was as follows:
1st place: OG - $11,234,158 - 44% of total prize pool
2nd place: PSG.LGD - $4,085,148 - 16% of total prize pool
3rd place: Evil Geniuses - $2,680,879 - 10.5% of total prize pool
The International 2019
This was the year when the community managed to break the $30 million prize pool plateau.
With the total prize pool reaching $33,470,440 USD ($31,870,440 USD added), and this year’s tournament being the first one not located in North America, this year’s playoffs may be the best yet.
The International 2019's prize pool is as follows:
1st place: TBD - $15,227,305 - 45.5% of total prize pool
2nd place: TBD - $4,350,658 - 13% of total prize pool
3rd place: TBD - $3,011,995 - 9% of total prize pool
4th place: TBD - $2,007,996 - 6% of total prize pool
What was your favorite International?
Let us know in the comments below!
Top image via Liquipedia Dota 2
This article was written by Nick Farrell, an experienced esports writer who aims to provide insightful yet proactive articles daily.