The International 2017, the biggest E-Sports tournament in history, is now underway. Eighteen of the world's best teams are battling it out to take the biggest share of the record $24million prize pool.
The opening round has already seen the elimination of Fnatic and Hellraisers, leaving a final sixteen heading into the double-elimination main stage; with one team set to pocket over $10m, an exciting few days are in store.
Returning to the Seattle Centre, the event will seat in excess of 17,000 viewers for the final on August 12th. Last year the series gained a total view count of over 140 million with roughly 5.7 million of these views accounting for the final. With E-Sports as a whole growing year-on-year it would be no surprise to see these figures rise for the upcoming 2017 finals this week.
As part of the tournament format, six of the world's best teams were handed an invitation to the event, bypassing the qualifying stages. The handpicked teams have earned their invitation from their status of being former champions of the event, or due to their reputation of delivering strong performances over recent months. Here's everything you need to know about them and their form coming into the event:
Arguably, the tournament favourites for many will be Evil Geniuses, who were victorious in the 2015 renewal and are bidding to become the first dual winners of the prestiguous and valuable prize. Having finished 3rd in 2014 and 2016, they know how to perform when it comes to this event.
Team Liquid have been in good form lately, taking the spoils last June when winning the Epicenter tournament, and winning their most recent event to make it four successes in 2017. They finished top of Group A in the opening stage, and look a force to be reckoned with.
Virtus Pro come into The International off the back of a win as well, having taken the Summit 7 in spectacular fashion. They were second in the Kiev Major behind OG, and will be looking to reverse that form in search for this valuable prize.
OG arrive having had their ups-and-downs, but they are a team who tend to rise to the occasion. They have been triumphant in 4 of 5 major Valve tournaments, pocketing over $5m dollars prize money along the way.
Newbee have emerged as a team to watch after their wins at Galaxy Battles and the Zotac Cup Masters, and they're a remarkably consistent team who have only finished outside of the top 4 placings twice since competing in the International 2016 (where they finished down the table).
IG crushed their opposition during DAC earlier this year, but have struggled in other events since, managing to only claim a 3rd placed finish. They're firmly the outsiders of the invited teams, and may struggle to make an impact based on their recent performances.
Best of the rest:
In last year's tournament, not a single invited team made it into the top six, which means that you shouldn't underestimate the remaining teams, who have earnt their place through qualifying.
Team Secret were outsmarted by Virtus Pro in the final at Summit 7, LGD Gaming won the MDL last month and were second here last year, whilst LGD Forever Young have already impressed in the group stages, finishing top ahead of Newbee, Virtus Pro, and Invictus Gaming, dropping only two maps.
Look to take advantage of LGD Forever Young's strong start by backing them throughout the week ahead.
The tournament will see fast-paced, aggressive playing styles (such as Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid) come head-to-head with slower, methodical teams (like Cloud9 and LGD Gaming).
Will the tournament be a victory for the hare, or the tortoise?
Back LGD Forever Young
Dota2 for the future?
While the International is the pinnacle of DOTA events for the year, recent announcements for the upcoming 2018 circuit look to improve on overall tournament numbers and prize pools. A revamp in tournament structure, now means there will be 11 majors, 11 minors and an improved combined prize pool of $14 million being offered between all events.
This alongside the massive standalone prize pool of The International, with improvements continuously coming, is the perfect time for seasoned pros or those completely new to jump in to the ever-growing world of eSports by getting involved with DOTA 2 - The International.