If you’ve never played a game of DOTA 2 in your life, you might have never heard of The International.
Even if you have, you probably only heard of its massive prize pool (currently USD$24.7 million and running), funded by its rabid and dedicated fanbase.
Professional gaming has taken considerable strides in recent years, especially in South East Asia. Singapore recently hosted the first e-sports and music festival, Hyperplay, which coincided with the SHINE Festival hosted by the National Youth Council. Even Malaysia’s Minister of Youth & Sports, Syed Saddiq, who is an avid fan of DOTA 2, has strived to make e-sports relevant within his country.
And if you’re interested in knowing why DOTA 2 has inspired such a dedicated following, check out Free To Play, a documentary on professional players done by Valve.
As a truly new form of entertainment, you might be interested but wonder – how do I get into this game where machines, animals, and literal gods fight together on the same battlefield?
Fear not, for this article will be a true viewing aid to The International, the biggest DOTA 2 event of the year.
What is The International?
Currently in its 8th year, The International is akin to the World Cup of DOTA 2. For many a professional DOTA 2 player, only after winning the championship can one be considered the greatest.
DOTA 2 prides itself on innovation, strategy, and skill. It is a game so complex and mind-boggling for a new player that the term “learning curve” is an injustice.
In a 5v5 battle, each player takes control of a hero, with the only win condition being to take down the enemy’s main structure, the Ancient.
The championship trophy is called the Aegis, modelled after an in-game item called the Aegis of the Immortal that allows one to revive upon death. Top ranked players in the game are also given the rank Immortal, a symbolic gesture of the important of the Aegis.
The first International was done at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany in 2011. This was also the first public unveiling of DOTA 2 by Valve, a complete, standalone game modeled after one of the most popular Warcraft III: Frozen Throne mods of all time: Defense of the Ancients.
A then-humongous prize pool of US$1.6 million (for comparison sake’s, League of Legend’s Season One World Championship had a prize pool of US$99,500) was so unbelievable that Chinese DotA teams actually rejected the invite to play at the first International!
With Valve implementing crowd funding ever since the 3rd International, the prize pool almost doubled in size to US$2.8 million. It has only increased since then, and a cursory glance at the top prize pools in e-sports shows that The International has gone from strength to strength. It even paved the way for other e-sports to take up crowdfunding as an option for fans to support the game they love.
2017’s International was the biggest ever, with a prize pool of US$24.7 million. A tournament heralded as one of the most balanced patches in DOTA 2 history, with a 109 heroes picked and banned out of the available 112.
Here’s a video to get you up to speed on what happened in the TI7 finals, and the very human players that play the game at the highest level.