For the first time since its debut at GamesCom in 2011, the Dota 2 International will be leaving North America. The highest paying esports tournament of the year will be hosted from August 15-25, 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China.
Other than the new location, here's why the 2019 Dota 2 International is such a big deal:
SO. MUCH. MONEY.
Through the sheer force of will of its fans and players, Dota 2 remains a powerhouse in the yearly esports calendar. For the last nine years the Dota 2 International has broken records for the single largest prize pool of any esports event...EVER.
Last year’s International reached a record high $25 million dollars, and this year’s crowdfunded prize pool has already exceeded it, at $27 million and growing.
The success of Fortnite means Dota will have to fight harder to stay on top, since Epic Games recently raised the bar with a combined $30M prize pool for the Fortnite World Cup. Though the Fortnite solo champion will take home $3M in July, the winning Dota 2 International team will easily clear over $10M.
There’s a lot riding on this year’s International. The Dota community has long speculated about what could happen to the game’s staying power should the prize pool dip below years past (which it has now exceeded). Many fans still haven't shaken off memories from the disastrous Dota Major held in Shanghai at the same venue in 2016, either.
All things considered, 2019’s International is going to be a turning point for the professional Dota 2 scene, and you’re not going to want to miss it.
Before diving in on the best ways to check out The International, you might need a quick refresher on how to make sense of a Dota match. Check out our primer to wrap your head around the basics.
How to Watch the Tournament:
Method 1: In person!
The best way to see any esports event is always in person. If you weren’t lucky enough to grab tickets when they went on sale in May, keep an eye on places like /r/dota2 or your favourite Dota community’s Discord server. People will often sell tickets for face value if they can’t make it for one reason or another.
Be wary of ticket resale sites, however, as there’s often no guarantee of what you’re getting and the prices can be grossly inflated.
Also, check out our guide to traveling to Shanghai for TI9.
Method 2: Host A Watch Party
The International has always been a terrific venue for meeting up with your 5-stack and spending an entire week geeking out on Dota, but heading all the way to Shanghai might be out of some people’s price range. So why not host your own watch party?
Pick someone's house, or rent an Airbnb with enough space for everyone. Just make sure they’ve got all the amenities you need like a big TV and decent internet. You’ll be set!
The best thing about this is you don’t even have to go someplace fancy or expensive. Pick a state. ANY state. One of the middle ones is probably fine.
The worst thing about traveling to a tournamnent is going back to your hotel room and not being able to play Dota after getting so hyped up watching it all day. Get everyone to bring a gaming rig and you’ll be grinding MMR and Auto Chess when the day’s events wrap up.
Just again, make sure the place you’re staying at can handle that many PCs in the living room. Maybe pack some extension cords and power strips, just in case.
Method 3: A Show Within A Show
Keep an eye on what other studios and talent might be getting up to during TI9. The folks at Moonduck have plans to put together a live rebroadcast event for the North American audience, which could be really cool if it works out.
Any of your favourite Dota streamers that weren’t invited to Shanghai will probably be casting, re-capping, or live-commenting on the International as well, so you’ll be able to find something under Twitch’s Dota 2 directory between August 15th-25th.
Time Zones Suck
Hardcore fans will definitely want to screw up their sleep schedules to keep up with the matches as they’re happening. You’ll be able to catch the broadcast on the International’s official Twitch channel with games starting around 4am EST (1am PST) and finishing around 1pm EST (10am PST). Times will vary depending on that day’s schedule.
For the rest of us, we’ll definitely be able to check out the VODs, highlights, and rebroadcasts on Twitch and YouTube when we wake up.
Tip: Not watching live? If you’re paranoid about spoilers, be wary of social media. Turn off notifications for specific Discord channels, block Reddit on your browser, and mute Dota and TI9 related hashtags where you can.
Otherwise you should be set to enjoy one of the biggest esports events of the year. Just find a way to watch that works for you, then sit back and enjoy the memes, the drama, and every awkward SirActionSlacks segment.