This weekend, Valve will conclude it's fourth International Dota 2 World Championship with the main event at Seattle's Key Arena. At stake? A total prize pool of more than $10 million USD.
What is Dota 2
Dota 2 is an entirely free to play multiplayer game, based on a community made and maintained modification of Blizzard's Warcraft 3 that gained widespread acclaim and tournament interest over time. Dota 2 blends elements of real time strategy games, role playing games, and sports like football and soccer. It takes place on a static, square playing field with two bases on the upper right and lower left corner respectively. The goal for each team is to destroy the central structure of the other team's base. Below, you'll find a newcomer's introduction to Dota 2:
What is the International?
The International is a tournament for the video game Dota 2. The International is organized by Valve, the publisher and developer of Dota 2. It also seeded the initial prize pool amount of $1.6 million. The remainder was generated through sales of an in-game item for Dota 2 called the Compendium, which awards perks and prizes to players within the game for completing various activities. $2.50 of every Compendium sale went toward TI4's pool, leading to a current and still growing amount in excess of $10 million. The International's main event will take place at Seattle's Key Arena, beginning on July 18 2014 and running through July 21 with the grand finals.
When to watch
The International's main event begins Friday, July 18 at 9am Pacific, and continues through Monday morning, starting each day at 9am Pacific. You can watch within the Dota 2 client with commentary, at the official site for The International, on the Dota 2 Twitch channel, or, as announced this week, on ESPN's various clients.
Valve invited 11 teams to The International, allowing them to skip regional qualifier matches required for other teams to participate: Alliance, Invictus Gaming, Na'Vi, DK, Cloud 9, Titan, Evil Geniuses, NewBee, Fnatic, ViCi, and Empire. Other teams competed in qualifier matches to secure four additional slots in the tournament. Finally, a wild card series between four teams was played to determine TI4's 16th spot in the tournament.
After two previous rounds of tournament play, The International's final phase has been solidified, and the eight teams below remain.
NewBee is a Chinese team whose current lineup has only existed recently, adding their last player at the end of April. The team consists of former members of high profile Chinese DOTA teams TongFu, Invictus Gaming, LGD and RisingStars.
NewBee struggled at times during phase two of TI4, but displayed a dominating performance in phase three, winning straight sets against every opponent. By winning the phase three bracket, NewBee is guaranteed winnings of at least $500,000 USD, and advances to the main event's winner's bracket. This is NewBee's first International as a team.
Invictus Gaming (or IG) is a Chinese eSports team who competes in Dota 2, Starcraft 2 and League of Legends. Formerly known as Catastrophic Cruel Memory (or CCM), the team was purchased and rechristened in 2011 by new owner Wang Si-Cong, the son of the reportedly richest man in China.
IG's performance started strong in phase two of TI4 but they gave up ground over the course of the week, eventually falling to fourth place in the overall standings. This was still more than enough to secure placement in The International's main event.
Invictus Gaming won the 2012 International. This is their fourth appearance in the tournament.
Team DK (or DK) is a Chinese team founded in 2010, and has seen a number of lineup changes since the squad first started playing Dota 2. Their current lineup was solidified in late 2013, though their anchor Xu "BurNing" Zhilei has been with the team since 2011 and is considered one of the strongest "carry" players in Dota 2.
This is DK's third International competition.
Cloud 9 (also referred to as C9) is an international team with members from Canada, the Netherlands, Romania and Sweden.
Cloud 9 became known for its League of Legends teams, but formed a Dota 2 squad this year by acquiring the now defunct Speed Gaming team. Speed Gaming's members played together as Rattlesnake.int, an international offshoot of Chinese team Rattlesnake. Cloud 9 has made an early name for themselves placing second and third in a number of major LAN events since March of this year.
This is Cloud 9's first International.
LGD Gaming (or LGD) is a Chinese eSports organization who founded their Dota 2 squad in 2012 and performed well enough to get invited to the second International competition after just a few months of tournament play. Their team has seen a high rate of turnover, with more than a dozen alumni in addition to their current six-man roster. This will be the first International for two of their members, Xu ZiYang ("Lin") and Wang Zhang ("Rabbit").
While LGD is considered to have gotten a comparatively late start with Dota 2, they have a storied history with the original DOTA. Their sixth member, Peng Weng ("Icy"), is not currently scheduled to play during TI4.
This is LGD's third International appearance.
ViCi Gaming (or ViCi/VG) is a Chinese eSports organization who founded their Dota 2 team in October of 2012. ViCi's Dota 2 squad was originally assembled nearly entirely of high-ranking amateur Chinese DOTA players.
Since their inception, ViCi has seen a high degree of player turnover - their current International squad were recruited after ViCi's disastrous TI3 qualifier performance last year. This new squad has acquitted themselves well, turning in a dominating phase two performance at this year's International with a 12-3 record and a guaranteed spot in the Main event.
This is ViCi's first time beyond the qualifier rounds of The International.
Evil Geniuses (or EG) is a North American eSports organization originally founded in 1999. They recruited their initial Dota 2 lineup in late 2011, including their current coach and inactive squad member Clinton Loomis (known by in-game handle "Fear"), who has been sidelined from active play due to an arm injury earlier this year.
EG was number two during the second phase of TI4 with an impressive record of 11 wins and four losses, and went straight to the upper brackets of the main event. This is the first International appearance for all but one member of the current EG roster, Saahil Arora ("Universe").
Natus Vincere (more commonly referred to as Na'Vi) are a Ukrainian eSports organization whose Dota 2 squad, founded in 2010, won the first International competition in 2011, which was chronicled in Valve's Dota 2 documentary Free To Play. They've been a dominant presence in Dota 2 for the duration of its presence in competitive gaming, and a fan favorite attributable in part to their eccentric mid-lane player Danylo Ishutin, who uses the in-game handle "Dendi."
They have a long history of first place finishes at various tournaments and silvered at last year's International. But Na'Vi have appeared to be off their game of late, and have often struggled to make the top three at recent tournaments. Na'Vi began the second phase of TI4 with a number of stumbles, but recovered enough to earn a spot in the main event.