Valve announced the first edition of The International on August 1, 2011. 16 teams were invited to compete in the tournament, which would also serve as the first public viewing of Dota 2, and it was streamed online with commentary in four languages; English, Chinese, German, and Russian. The tournament was funded by Valve, including the $1 million USD grand prize, with Nvidia supplying the hardware. It took place at Gamescom in Cologne from August 17 to 21 the same year.
The tournament started with a group stage in which the winners of each of the four groups were entered into a winner’s bracket, and the other teams entered the loser’s bracket. The rest of the tournament was then played as a double-elimination tournament. The final of this first tournament was between Ukrainian team Natus Vincere and Chinese team EHOME, with Natus Vincere winning the grand prize after beating EHOME in three out of the four matches. Runner’s up EHOME won a second place prize of $250,000 USD and the other top eight teams split the remaining prize pool of $350,000 USD.
The International was the central focus of the 2014 documentary Free to Play, which explored the lives of three of the players.
|Online Kingdom.Nirvana int||$25,000|
The International 2012 was announced in May 2012 and held during PAX Prime. The event was held at the 2,500 seat Benaroya Hall in Seattle from 31 August to 2 September, with teams situated in glass booths on the main stage. The total prize pool remained $1.6 million USD, with $1 million USD for the winning team, and it was again broadcast in multiple languages.
The previous winners, Natus Vincere, were beaten 3-1 by Chinese team Invictus Gaming in the final. In November 2012 Valve released a documentary following the event online for free featuring interviews with the teams and following them from the preliminary stages through to the finale.
Valve announced The International 2013 on April 25, 2013. It was again hosted at the Benaroya Hall in Seattle from August 7 to 11. The first team to be invited were the defending champions, Invictus Gaming. Sixteen teams participated, thirteen of which received invitations, and the final three being decided in two qualifying tournaments and a match at the start of the tournament. On May 6, it was announced that an interactive compendium would be available for purchase, detailing and cataloging the progression of The International, in addition to allowing for extensive interactivity to be made. A quarter of the revenue from the compendium was added to the original $1.6 million prize pool for the tournament, thereby extending the winnings of the participating teams. Via the sales of interactive compendiums, The International reclaimed its previous title as the largest prize pool in electronic sports history, exceeding the two million dollar prize pool from the League of Legends Season 2 World Championship. The total prizepool awarded to the winners was $2,874,381. KCPQ news anchor Kaci Aitchison acted as a host to The International 2013 and provided behind-the-scenes commentary and interviews with professional players and analysts. The International 2013 was viewed by over one million concurrent online viewers with many utilizing live streaming websites such as Twitch.tv.
On March 31, 2014, Valve announced The International 2014, which would take place from July 18 to July 21 at the KeyArena, which is a venue with a significantly larger capacity than Benaroya Hall from the previous two years. Unlike the previous three events, there would be three tiers for admissions, including general admission, floor seating and VIP passes. For The International 2014, eleven teams would receive direct invites, with an additional four spots determined by regional qualifiers taking place between May 12 and May 25. The sixteenth spot would be determined by a wild card qualifier between the runners-up from the regional competitions. The tickets for the event were sold out within an hour of going on sale on April 4, 2014.
The prize pool for the tournament broke records for being the largest in eSports by reaching the $10,000,000 (USD) mark on June 27, almost three weeks prior to the start of the tournament. At the end of the tournament, with a final total prize pool of $10,931,103 and over $5 million split amongst the five players of the 1st place team, eight Dota 2 players became the highest ranking players in terms of prize money won, surpassing the highest ranking player at the time, StarCraft player Lee “Jaedong” Jae-dong. All 5 members of champion team Newbee became the top 5 highest ranking players in terms of prize money won and Chen “Hao” Zhihao became the highest ranking player at that time.
The prize pool is as follows:
The invited teams were:
- Vici Gaming
- Evil Geniuses
- Team Secret
- Invictus Gaming
- LGD Gaming
- Cloud 9
- Team Empire
- Virtus Pro
- Fnatic[note 1]
The winners and runners-up of the regional qualifiers were:
|Americas||Complexity Gaming||Team Archon[note 2]|
|Europe||Natus Vincere||Vega Squadron|
|Southeast Asia||MVP.Hot6ix||MVP Phoenix|
The prize pool is as follows:
The first details pertaining to The International 2016 were revealed on March 31, 2016, with the announcement of ticket sales for the tournament. Open qualifiers for The International 2016 began on June 21, with regional qualifiers following on June 25. Following the qualifiers, the tournament main event is scheduled for August 3–11, with the finals being held on August 12 and 13.
The initial prize pool was seeded with $1,600,000 from the developers, with more to be added from players through in-game purchases of the 2016 The International Battle Pass.
On June 19, 2016, Valve released the names of the invited teams, as well as details for qualification through each Regional Qualifier. The number of invited teams was reduced to six (down from eight from 2015), resulting in both the winner and runner-up of each region (China, Europe, The Americas and Southeast Asia) obtaining qualification. The final two spots are made up of Wild Card teams, which are found through the Last Chance Qualifier.
The qualifiers for each region consisted of eight invited teams (five for the Americas) and two from open qualifiers (organized by FaceIt and Perfect World in China). These qualifiers placed all 10 teams (seven for Americas) into a single table where each team played the others in a round robin competition with the top team in each region advancing to The International as the Regional Qualifier. Of the remaining teams, the next highest four teams were placed into a double elimination tournament with each round played as a best of three, while the remaining five teams (two for the Americas) were eliminated. The Grand Finals winner of each regional playoff also automatically qualified for The International as their region’s playoff qualifier. The playoff runners-up received a spot in the Last Chance Qualifier; a single bracket, double elimination tournament held in Seattle before the main events, with the semi-final victors receiving the final two spots in as Wild Cards.
The invited teams were:
The teams that qualified through their respective Regional Qualifiers were as follows:
|Region||Regional qualifier||Playoff qualifier||Wild card qualifier|
|Americas||Evil Geniuses||Digital Chaos||compLexity Gaming|
|Europe||Team Secret||Alliance||Escape Gaming|
|China||Wings Gaming||Vici Gaming Reborn||EHOME.cn|
|Southeast Asia||TnC Gaming||Fnatic||Execration|
The final prize table was as follows:
|Vici Gaming Reborn|