On Aug. 15, the current Dota Pro Circuit concludes. Rogers Arena in Vancouver hosts 11 days of top-quality Dota 2 action — the eighth annual edition of The International, the richest tournament in esports.
Organized and sponsored by Valve, the developers of Dota 2, The International has grown from a relatively small tournament in its formative years into a total behemoth. The prize pool for this year’s event has already reached in excess of $24.3 million. That number is expected to continue growing and eventually set a world record. A total of 18 teams will compete for what’s likely a million dollar-plus payday for the winners.
Let’s learn a little about the history of The International before we look at the current rules and favorites.
The International’s history
The first tournament was held in Cologne in 2011 and featured 16 teams competing for a $1,600,000 prize pool. In 2012, the venue switched to Seattle with the same money.
By 2013, the prize fund had climbed to just over $2.8 million dollars. Then, the tournament exploded into life. The 2014 tournament offered up over $10.9 million. That increased to more than $18.4 million in 2015.
After hitting $20.7 in 2016, The International prize pool set a new world record for tournament prize pool with $24.8 million in 2017. This year, the prize fund is already at $24,332,019, and that figure is likely to increase over the course of the tournament to set a new world record.
The International winners and runners-up
- 2011 – Winner – Natus Vincere – Runner-up – EHOME
- 2012 – Winner – iG – Runner-up – Natus Vincere
- 2013 – Winner – Alliance – Runner-up – Natus Vincere
- 2014 – Winners – Newbee – Runner-up – Vici Gaming
- 2015 – Winners – Evil Geniuses – Runner-up – CDEC
- 2016 – Winners – Wings – Runner-up – DC
- 2017 – Winners – Team Liquid – Runner-up – Newbee
The International 2018 tournament schedule
Having already played through a series of Open Qualifiers and Regional Qualifiers in June, the final 18 teams are ready. In the Group Stage, the 18 are divided into two groups and will play a Round Robin best-of-two format.
The top four teams in each group advance into the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. The teams finishing fifth through eighth advance into the Lower Bracket. The bottom team in each group is eliminated.
In the Main Event, eight teams play in the Upper Bracket and eight in the Lower. The first round in the Lower Bracket is a best-of-one contest with all other matches being best-of-three, apart from the Grand Final, which is a best-of-five match.
The draw for the Group Stage
The 18 teams have been drawn into either Group A or B as follows:
- Invictus Gaming
- Evil Geniuses
- Team Liquid
- Winstrike Team
- paiN Gaming
- Vici Gaming
- Team Secret
- TNC Predator
- OpTic Gaming
- Team Serenity
Current odds for Outright Winner
The odds provided are from Betway.
- Virtus Pro – 14/5 favourites
- PSG LGD, Team Liquid – 63/20
- Team Secret – 10/1
- Evil Geniuses – 12/1
- Vici Gaming – 13/1
- Mineski – 17/1
- Newbee, OpTic Gaming, VGJ Storm – 22/1
- Fnatic – 24/1
- OG – 25/1
- Team Serenity – 29/1
- TnC Predator – 34/1
- Winstrike – 39/1
- paiN Gaming – 49/1
- Thunder – 57/1
- Invictus Gaming – 74/1
It’s not difficult to see why Virtus.Pro, PSG.LGD, and Team Liquid are the clear favourites to win the event. The three teams dominated in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings and have enjoyed multiple successes in recent times.
Virtus.pro were the top seed, and since appearing in The International 2017 (where they finished 5th/6th), they have won five top events: ESL One in Hamburg and Katowice, the Bucharest Major, ESL One Birmingham 2018, and the Dota Summit 8.
PSG.LGD’s improvement came quickly after the French soccer team Paris Saint-Germain became involved as a sponsor of LGD. They then finished second in the Dota 2 Asia Championship in April before racking up big-money wins at EPICENTER XL and MDL Changsha Major in May.
As the current holders of The International crown, Team Liquid followed that win up last year with a solid season. Still, it took until June for them to win a Premier title, the China Dota 2 Supermajor.
Although other teams may feel they stand a chance at the title, the bookmakers don’t agree. While Virtus.pro’s consistency makes them an appealing option, the fact that Team Liquid could become the first two-time winners of the event this year makes them an appealing bet.
For me though, I think PSG.LGD’s huge improvement in performance has them as the strong choice heading into the event. I’d back them to win outright.
Remember that Betway is offering a massive selection of bets on The International. This includes match betting on each game and a number of other markets. Prop bets are available too.