Throw Back TI; A glance at the past Internationals from 2011 to 2019

Dota 2 Cristy “Pandoradota2” Ramadani

The International 2020, hyped to be the 10th anniversary of the pinnacle of all Dota 2 events, was originally scheduled to take place next week in Sweden.

Last summer during The International 9, Valve announced that their 10th-anniversary iteration of the pinnacle of all Dota 2 events would be held in Stockholm, Sweden. European fans rejoiced as it would be the first International held on European soil since The International 1 was held in Germany. 

But the best-laid plans of mice and men —including esports and Valve — often go awry. 

The Coronavirus pandemic has put the entire world on hold and wreaked havoc on virtually everything under the sun. And esports and Dota 2 is no exception. 

The DPC 2019-2020 season had been interrupted. ESL One Los Angeles Major was 'postponed' and then changed to online league play without a Major status. Then One Esports Dota 2 Jakarta was moved until November. Teams started issuing work from home orders and sending players back to their home countries. Days later EPICENTER and DotaPit Minor were canceled by Valve themselves. Although One Esports Singapore Major qualifiers are scheduled for later this month, May 17 there is little doubt that Valve will also be canceling that in the near future. Especially considering the dramatic decision to already postpone The International 2020 until possibly 2021. 

After extensive consideration of the global health emergency stemming from COVID-19, we have made the difficult choice to delay The International. We have been exploring various date possibilities, but it is likely that the event will need to happen in 2021. Given the highly volatile landscape for local gathering restrictions, virus trajectory, and global travel policies, we don’t expect to have enough confidence to communicate firm dates in the near future. 

 We've looked back through the years since Dota 2 was first introduced at The International in 2011 and retraced the evolution of production, prize pool and fanfare. With a staggering $30,000,000+ prize pool and no end in sight, the sky is the limit and has far exceeded the expectations and dreams of the pioneers of the first TI. One can only imagine what to expect this coming for The International 10 (when it happens) and onward.


The International 2011

Venue Location: GamesCom
Seating Capacity: 275,000 visitors attended the conference itself
Prize Pool: $1,600,000 - the biggest prize pool of any esports tournament at the time
Championship team: Na'Vi
Funfacts: The venue was used by Valve to unveil Dota 2 to the world.

The International 2011 was held in 2011 over the course of five days at GamesCom in Cologne, Germany. This was the first event to feature Dota 2 and would introduce it to the world. The actual game itself was given to the 16 international teams that were directly invited only a short time prior to the event.

The event was held in the center of the convention, with standing room only for fans and player booths that were exposed to everything around them.

Na`Vi defeated EHOME in the Grand Finals 3:1 and took home $1,000,000 in prize money.




The International 2012

Venue Location: Benaroya Hall, Seattle Washington
Seating Capacity: 2,500
Prize Pool: $1,600,000
Championship team: Invictus Gaming
Funfacts: Grand Finals was the ultimate in East vs West between Invictus Gaming and Na'Vi.

By the time that The International 2 had come around, Dota 2 had already started to create quite a lot of hype, and was in swift meta development.

The overall atmosphere at TI2 was much more classy, with a well established and contained atmosphere with real production and light shows -the event had definitely stepped up a level. There was a main stage in the hall, practice rooms for the players and casting production desks next to the stage. There was still a long way things would evolve, but fans and players alike were impressed and the bar had been set high for future events.




The International 2013

Venue Location: Benaroya Hall  
Seating Capacity: 2,500
Prize Pool: $2,874,381
Championship team: Alliance
Funfacts: Introduction of the compendium and crowd funding

Valve took a new approach towards the tournaments, by increasing their base prize-pool through crowd funding, raising monetary contributions from large key audiences. The concept, as applied to esports, was first introduced by the company for The International 3, in 2013, with the release of the virtual “compendium”.

The starting prize pool was $1,600,000, and Valve raised an additional $1,374,381 through the sales to the community. This would be a drop in the ocean compared to the amount that was funded by the crowd in just two more years at TI5.

Alliance took down Na'Vi in an epic 5 game series that is still hailed today by many as one of the best moments in Dota 2 history.




The International 2014

Venue Location: KeyArena, Seattle Washington  
Seating Capacity: 17,000
Prize Pool: $10,930,698
Championship team: Newbee 
Funfacts: The International 4 broke all sorts of records including viewership and prize pool

The Dota 2 community contributed with a staggering $9,331,105 to swell the initial $1.6 million base prize pool of The International 4, making the total prize pool of almost $11 million the largest in esports history up until that time.

The production values of the event would set into motion a string of events that would ultimately create some of the best entertainment and experiences in the history of esports. The event caught the attention of mainstream media and coverage and reports from various sources started to create the aura around the event and prize pool.




The International 2015

Venue Location: KeyArena, Seattle Washington
Seating Capacity: 17,000
Prize Pool: $18,429,613
Championship team: Evil Geniuses
Funfacts: Prize pool surpassed all other esports events and even some traditional sporting events.

The TI5 prize pool continued to soar high above any other esports event and has even surpassed the prize funds of some well-known traditional sporting events, such as the Cricket World Cup, The Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, and others.

With an astounding total of over $18,000,000, the TI5 prize pool had outpaced the combined prize funds of all previous four Internationals - $17,005,079.

The TI5 prize pool had also exceeded the top three biggest Dota 2 purses until that time combined: TI3 ($2,874,381), TI4 ($10,930,698) and Dota 2 Asian Championships ($3,057,519), with a combined total of $16,862,598.

The event not only boasted the largest prize pool in history, it featured a live orchestra for the opening ceremony, a stage that had special effects in synch with hero ultimates, private practice rooms and group stage rooms, private casting and observer rooms for even the group stages, a sensational All Star Match, and a closing ceremony featuring progressive-house, electro-house, topped off with electronica music performer Deadmau5.




The International 2016

Venue Location: KeyArena, Seattle Washington
Seating Capacity: 17,000
Prize Pool: $20,770,460 
Championship team: Wings Gaming
Funfacts: Prize pool shattered records for prize pool

With a contribution of $19,170,460 added to the prize pool fund, TI6 became another record breaker. Thanks to such an extensive prize pool, Wings Gaming ultimately received a certificate from the Guiness Book of World Records for winning the largest single prize in esports – $9,139,002.

It was an event to remember for a myriad of reasons besides the mindblowing prize pool. It brought about shocking results, fairy-tale storylines and triumphs that will remain in the Dota 2 history. The main event itself kicked off with a phenomenal start with an opening ceremony featuring Lindsey Stirling that opened the gates for spectacular production including augmented reality features on stage and at the hosting panel, incredible segments by Kevin “Godec” Purge, Puppet panels and Kaci’s Timbersaw cosplay. A highly entertaining All-Star Match was stacked with action, kills and surprises. And perhaps the most exciting piece for many devout players was two hero releases were announced – Underlord and Monkey King – to usher in a new meta and year for Dota 2.




The International 2017

Venue Location: KeyArena, Seattle Washington
Seating Capacity: 17,000
Prize Pool: $24,787,916
Championship team: Team Liquid
Funfacts: Team Liquid became the first team to win an International with a roster consisting of five different nationalities (six including their coach).

After dropping to the lower bracket and going through a number of tough series, Team Liquid brought on their best game in the grand finals against Newbee, whom they beat 3-0 to take the title of The International 2017. What was so special about this run of Team Liquid? It was the first time in the history of The International that a team came back from the second round of the lower bracket and won the whole thing. Before this, all the teams that have won have been a part of the upper backet finals. This is also the first time that a team has won with a clean sweep, i.e., 3-0 scoreline, in not just a TI grand final, but a Valve grand final. 




 The International 2018

Venue Location: Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada
Seating Capacity: 19,000
Prize Pool: $25,532,177
Championship team: OG
Funfacts:  For the first time ever, The International was held in Vancouver, Canada 

Aside from the prize pool continuing to surpass previous years and all other esports events, this was the first time that The International was held outside of the United States following the first iteration in 2011 that took place in Germany. 

The International 8 was witness to one of the greatest anime comeback stories of our time. Right near the end of the season in May, the departure of Tal "Fly" Aizik and Gustav "s4" Magnusson shook the entire team —and fan base's world. In their place, the ‘dream green’ team picked up Anathan "ana" Pham and Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen in the witching hours before TI8 open qualifiers. OG defied all the odds and exceeded expectations as the European squad with a new roster qualified through the open qualifiers and then made it to the grand final through the upper bracket. There, the team prevailed after a gut-wrenching 5 games series against LGD. 

 Noteable points of TI8 included when the OpenAI team of five bots faced off against some of the best professional teams in the world and Clement "Puppey" Ivanov pulling out a Chen send-back strategy, combining with Storm Spirit  - reminiscent of The International 3 when Na'Vi faced off against Tongfu in the upper brackets round 2 where Puppey Used the send-back spell from Chen combined with Pudge's hook to create a combo that some praised and others screamed abuse.




 The International 2019

Venue Location: Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai, China
Seating Capacity: 18,000
Prize Pool: $34,330,068
Championship team: OG
Funfacts: First time a team won 2 TI championships (and back to back no less)

Fortnite thought it would steal the spot for largest prize pool of all time when it announced a thirty million dollar prize pool for their World Cup — but no. The International 9 prize pool surged past thanks to the fans, and became the largest prize pool in esports history!

Aside from TI9 being the first TI in China, it also made history when OG claimed the title once again becoming the first team to win two Internationals. 

TI9 turned out to be one of the greatest of TI's in history. Yes, we probably do say that every year, and yes it does feel like it is true every time. But this year, between the clutch plays, the mega creep comebacks, the new meta's that have been set, and the storylines, it has definitely been true. Even the group stage was filled with upsets, history-making records, and thrilling action. 

Although things started out in favor of Team Liquid with a signature w33po pick and a surprising bee-line to the ancients to claim the first game advantage. But it didn't take long for OG to disassemble Team Liquid, after taking the 2nd match to tie up the series, OG crushed their spirits and took the series victory in the most spectacular fashion, successfully defending their title and proving they are on a whole other level.



Are you still hyped for The International 10 when it happens?

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Cristy “Pandoradota2” Ramadani
Pandora is a behind the scenes Dota 2 professional Jack of All Trades. When not busy with Dota 2 work, she is out trying to save the world or baking cupcakes. Follow her on Twitter @pandoradota2


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