Every year in Seattle, Valve holds its yearly DOTA 2 tournament, called “The International.” Valve ponies up $1,600,000 of its own money for prizes, but that’s not what makes the funding for this tournament interesting: The last two years have seen Valve’s sale of “DOTA Compendiums,” the profits of which go toward the prize pool. Fans raised an additional $1,274,381 last year; this year, with over a month before the tournament, fans have already raised an extra $6,332,765 (as of the time of writing this article).
For those not in the know, Dota 2 -- otherwise known as Defense of the Ancients 2 -- is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA game. It started as a custom map on Warcraft 3 and after a rise to limited popularity, gave way to the release of League of Legends and to the acquisition of DOTA developer Icefrog by Valve. Soon after, Valve began working on Dota 2 and entered beta in 2010. In 2013 it was officially released and is now free to play on Windows, Mac, and Linux through the steam client.
What is the DOTA 2 International?
This year is Valve’s fourth International. Like the last three, Valve invited several teams and held qualifying tournaments to determine the rest of the 16 competing teams. Valve invited eleven teams this year: Alliance, Invictus Gaming, Natus Vincere, Evil Geniuses, Team Empire, Team DK, Vici, Newbee, Cloud 9, Titan, Fnatic. Another four teams won placement into the tournament through qualifiers held earlier in the year: North American Rejects, Arrow Gaming, LGD Gaming, and mousesports. The 16th and final slot will be determined by a wild card tournament to be held just before the The Invitational. Team Liquid, MVP Phoenix, CIS Game, and Virtus.pro will compete for this slot.
The Invitational is host to the biggest DOTA 2 teams in the world and unsurprisingly more than a few big-name players prowl amongst these teams.
Players to Watch
Perhaps the biggest name in DOTA 2 is “Dendi.” The 24-year-old Ukrainian has led Natus Vincere repeatedly over the last three years. In the last three Internationals, Natus Vincere has finished in the finals every time, winning the first one. Dendi started playing DOTA back in 2006 all the way until DOTA 2’s release in 2010. Since then, he has become one of the game’s most popular and most respected players.
Team DK’s BurNIng is another old name from DOTA. Hailing from China, BurNIng started in 2008 and even though he’s changed teams several times, he’s consistently been one of the game’s best carries.
A rising name in the game, Arteezy hit the scene late in 2013 at MLG Columbus. The young Canadian was a last-minute ringer on Speed Gaming for the tournament. Speed Gaming started 0-3, but managed to win five straight games to get them into playoffs where they managed to beat Sigma.int and Team DK to win the entire event. This massive victory was largely accredited to Arteezy, who went on to join S A D B O Y S before joining Evil Geniuses. Now we wait to see if Arteezy can keep the legend alive at the International.
Lastly, The International’s dark horse, North American Rejects: The young North American team formed two months ago, one month before the qualifier that won them their entry. On top of this, they don’t even have a sponsor. This could be the team’s big break.
Given the massive amount of money in this year’s prize pool, the diversity, and depth of skill, this year’s International should be an event to watch. The event itself starts on July 18th and you can watch it on Twitch or through the DOTA 2 application itself, something I encourage you to do.
- Keegan "HornetSting" Gallick.