What is Dota 2’s The International?

dota 2 the international

Dota 2 has a competitive history that spans well over a decade and has grown to be one of the biggest esports titles out there. At the peak of its esports dynasty is The International – Dota’s largest event and quite likely the grandest tournament in all of esports. 

But what exactly is The International and what makes it so important?

The History of The International

The International is undoubtedly the biggest Dota 2 tournament, organized by developers Valve to give a place for players to compete at the highest level and permanently place their names in the Dota history books. 

Its history goes all the way back to 2011, when TI 1 took place in Cologne. The event was organized by Valve to unveil Dota 2 to the world and do it with a bang, giving the tournament a, at the time, mind-blowing $1.6 Million prize pool. 

Sixteen of the best Dota teams (that’s Dota 1, the WC3 custom game) from around the world were invited and battled it out in just four days of action. Natus Vincere managed to claim the first-ever Aegis and legendary names like Danil “Dendi” Ishutin and Clement “Puppey” Ivanov etched their names in Dota 2 history. 

Na`Vi, the winners of TI 1.

As planned, Valve made a splash in the esports scene with The International and the game became a massive hit. Since then, Valve have hosted the event each year. 

The International was instantly one of the biggest events on the entire esports calendar, but starting in 2013, it moved up in the rankings and quickly became the esports’ premium event. This is due to the introduction of the compendium – this was essentially a battle pass for Dota 2, themed around TI. It was purchasable by any Dota 2 player and a portion of proceeds went directly into The International prize pool. 

It was slow at first, with TI 3 having a $2.8 Million prize pool. Then it rose to $10 Million the next year, $18 Million the year after, and finally topped out at $40 Million in 2021 – the biggest prize pool in esports history. 

The continuous rise in prize pools attracted a lot of attention and The International quickly became not only the most important tournament in the Dota 2 calendar but also the biggest in all of esports. Winning the event, or even placing in the top few spots, transformed players from well-paid athletes to millionaires overnight – it was, and is, life-changing. 

What Makes The International so Important?

Now that we have a bit of background about The International – What exactly makes it so important?

Well, there are a few factors, both in Dota 2 itself, as well as in esports as a whole.

Starting with Dota, it’s quite simple. The International is the event, it’s the game’s world championship, comparable to the Super Bowl, The World Cup, or any other massive sporting event. 

Winning TI means going down in Dota 2 history forever. The team is etched into the Aegis and anyone who has any interest in competitive Dota will know who the winners are. 

In addition to the prestige of the event, there’s also the prize pool. The International’s prize pool is famous across all of esports for being the largest in the world and although Valve are toning it down a lot, there are still millions of dollars at stake. 

Overall, winning The International is absolutely life-changing, from achieving one’s ultimate goal to securing a comfortable life thanks to the sizable prize purse.