The International

Published on: 20/03/2018

TI History & The International 2018

The International (or TI) is a Dota 2 world championship organized each year in Seattle by the company that owns the game, namely Valve Corporation. The event takes place at the end of summer (in August), lasts around 10 days, and brings together the best Dota 2 teams in the world.

The International has a great history behind it, being at its 8th edition this year. The first TI took place in 2011, after a shocking announcement from Valve: 16 of the world’s best teams were going to be invited at a massive Dota 2 event with a prize pool that exceeded everyone’s imagination: 1.6 million dollars.

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At the time, League of Legends was becoming more and more popular and had the first-mover advantage. To level the playing field (at least to some degree), Valve needed to do something spectacular. And being a highly successful company with a billionaire founder, what better publicity stunt could they pull off other than a tournament with a massive prize pool? Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) went home with 1 million dollars after that event, tripling Ukraine’s GDP for 2011 (just kidding).

The very first edition of The International was held in Cologne, Germany, but all the others took place in the United States. And, with the exception of the second TI (which had the same prize pool as the first), every edition of The International had a prize pool considerably higher than its predecessor.

  • The International 1: $1.6 million
  • The International 2: $1.6 million
  • The International 3: $2.8 million
  • The International 4: $10.9 million
  • The International 5: $18.4 million
  • The International 6: $20.7 million
  • The International 7: $24.7 million

Winners of The International

A fascinating aspect regarding The International is that it has never been won twice by the same team. We’ve had 7 different winners in 7 editions so far, which is a testament to the game’s complexity. With somewhere around 750 notions and mechanics that need to be grasped in order to understand the game even at its most basic level, Dota 2 is without a doubt one of the most challenging journeys that you can embark on as an esports enthusiast.

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In chronological order, these are the teams that managed to win The International”:

  • 2011: Natus Vincere
  • 2012: Invictus Gaming
  • 2013: Alliance
  • 2014: Newbee
  • 2015: Evil Geniuses
  • 2016: Wings Gaming
  • 2017: Team Liquid

Tournament invite system

Past editions of The International brought together either 16 or 18 teams. Some of these teams were directly invited based on their performance throughout the season, while the others were required to qualify.

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Starting with the 2017-2018 competitive season, things have become a lot more transparent, as a professional circuit (called the Dota Pro Circuit) with tournaments and qualification points was created. At the end of the season, the top 8 teams from the Dota Pro Circuit rankings will receive a direct invite to The International 2018. The other 8 teams will have to qualify.

Tournament format

The International is usually played in 2 stages. The first of these stages is called the Group Stage and it divides participants into 2 groups. Based the Group Stage results, the teams are paired up for the second stage, called the Playoffs. This second stage is played in a GLS format (double elimination bracket). This is particularly advantageous for teams that don’t manage to get the best start but are very good at adapting as they go along, because one loss doesn’t imply immediate elimination.

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In 2017 for instance, Team Liquid got sent to the lower bracket rather quickly, after losing their first upper bracket match against Invictus Gaming (score 1 – 2). However, thanks to their capacity to adapt to the tournament’s meta, they ended up winning the whole event with 6 wins in a row.

Star players

Being the most important Dota 2 event of each competitive season, The International is viewed by millions of fans around the world. And since people love winners and players who display tremendous skill on the digital battlefield, it’s easy to understand why some of the people involved in this esport have attained star-like status.

dota2 star players navi

Here are just a few of the names that are easily recognized by Dota 2 fans across the globe:

  • Danil “Dendi” Ishutin
  • Clement “Puppey” Ivanov
  • Sun “Aggresif” Zheng
  • Henrik “AdmiralBulldog” Ahnberg
  • Zhang “xiao8” Ning
  • Peter “ppd” Dager
  • Artour “Arteezy” Babaev
  • Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi
  • Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi

Most memorable moments

The 7 editions of The International we’ve had so far created some very memorable moments. Among them, I would list the following:

  • Na’Vi winning the very first TI in 2011
  • BuLba’s Clockwerk helping Team Liquid defeat LGD Gaming at TI 3
  • Na’Vi abusing Pudge’s Fountain Hooks at TI 3
  • Alliance winning the Finals against Na’Vi at TI 3
  • EG winning TI 5 thanks to UNiVeRsE’s “6 million dollars Echo Slam”
  • Digital Chaos making it all the way to the Finals at TI 6
  • Team Liquid winning TI 7

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Besides these great in-game moments, The International also offered people some excellent cosplays and other cool events. In 2017, several people from OpenAI, one of Elon Musk’s companies, featured their unbeatable (at the time) AI Bot in a 1v1 match against Dendi. The Bot destroyed Dendi in that Shadow Fiend vs. Shadow Fiend series, leaving the audience in a state of shock.

Dota 2 betting during The International

As you can imagine, The International is thoroughly covered by dedicated esports betting operators such as A wide variety of odds is usually offered for this event, so if you have good knowledge of Dota 2 and its professional scene, The International 2018 will be a great opportunity to put this knowledge to use.

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The International 2018

This year, The International will be held in Vancouver, Canada instead of Seattle, US between August 20th – 25th. Valve made this change as a result of past US visa problems for some of the participants.


Tickets sales for the event begin on March 23rd – 24th (depending on where you live in the world) and will be available on The tickets will be of two types: the Midweek ticket (125 Canadian dollars – first 4 days of the event) and the Finals ticket (250 Canadian dollars – last 2 days of the event).

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