Tomorrow, 16 teams meet in Seattle, Washington, to compete for a share of $19.2m in prize money, the largest prize pool ever for an esports tournament.

The prize pool is funded by the community: players in the community are able to purchase a Battle Pass which contains cosmetic items, and can be “leveled up” to earn more cosmetic items and special perks in Dota 2.

25% of the monies generated though Battle Pass and level up purchases are added to the prize pool.

Even the losing teams get almost $100 000 each

The split of the winnings is always a breath-taker. When this crowd-funding model was first used the winning team walked away with $1.3 million. This year, the winner will walk away with $8.4 million though this figure could climb higher as players are still buying Battle Pass levels and Battle Passes.

The rest of the winnings are split as follows:

  • 2nd place – $3.1 million
  • 3rd place – $2 million
  • 4th place – 1.3 million
  • 5th and 6th place – $865 821
  • 7th and 8th place – $481 012
  • 9th, 10th 11th, and 12th place – $228 607
  • 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th place – $96 202

The only way a team doesn’t win a cent is if they get kicked out of the Wild Card matches tomorrow.

When and where to watch

While the tournament begins tomorrow, the main event doesn’t take place until next week Monday.

Tomorrow, starting at 9AM PDT (that’s 6PM locally) compLexity Gaming, EHOME, Escape Gaming and Execration compete to see who will be joining the other 14 teams in the group stages.

From Wednesday through to Friday, you will be able to watch all 16 teams compete in the group stages from 9AM PDT (6PM CAT) daily.

The main event will start on Monday 8th August and run through until Saturday 13th August. Matches on the 13th start one hour later (7PM local time), so be sure to set your clocks.

The tournament can be watched through the Dota 2 game client on Steam and through the official The International website.

All games will be streamed through YouTube and Twitch as well.

At the time of writing, these channels aren’t officially listed and I hesitate to link to the existing Dota 2 streams as these may or may not be used for The International broadcasts. We will however, update this story when they are listed.

[Update: We’ve embedded the official Dota 2 YouTube stream below.]

While YouTube and Twitch are fine it’s worth mentioning that if you watch in-game you’ll be eligible for item drops when a player completes an action during the match.

In the past there have also been Pubstomps, a way for players to watch the game with other Dota fans. While the rest of the world seems to have a number of locations for these Pubstomps there don’t seem to be any for South Africa just yet.

We will, of course update this story if any pop up in the next week but you can also keep an eye trained on Barcraft United’s website.

You can also catch up on any games you missed on The International website.

Who to watch?

The International this year is a bit different because Valve has done three mini-tournaments in the build-up to this gargantuan tournament. This sets the scene as to who the favourites are rather nicely.

This OG and Wings Gaming are currently top of mind as to who will take the whole shebang. OG has won two Dota 2 Majors (Frankfurt and Manila) this season and Wings just recently won The Summit 5.

While they might not be favourites to win, a match-up between Alliance and Natus Vincere will certainly be worth watching. These two teams always have incredible games and with nearly $9 million on the line, it should be a tense match. This is provided the two teams even get to face each other.

Over and above this, I absolutely recommend joining the r/Dota2 subreddit for near-instant updates, and following the Dota 2 Twitter account.

You might also want to check out the Twitter accounts for the shoutcasters: TobiWan, LD, Redeye and Noxville the statsman for in-depth analysis and extra bits of information that help to round off the experience.