Dota 2's The International 9 primer

Aegis of Champions on display at the Dota 2 International. Michael Hanson for ESPN

The International 2019 is the ninth annual Dota 2 championship tournament. With a total prize pool over $32.9 million, The International will once again set the record for the richest tournament prize pool in esports history, breaking the $30 million dollar record set by the inaugural Fortnite World Cup last month. The two-week tournament will take place in Shanghai for the first time the history of The International, and it will be just the second time the event has been held outside of North America.

Prize Pool

For the seventh consecutive year, The International has increased their prize pool, raising the bar for the entire esports industry. The 29 percent increase from 2018 ($25. million) to 2019 ($32.9 million) is the largest year-to-year increase since it went from $10.9 million in 2014 to 18.8 million in 2015. Like last year, the majority of the $32.9 million dollar prize pool is crowdfunded by the Dota 2 community. This is done through the purchase of a yearly in-game Battle Pass by every-day players that offers event-exclusive features and rewards. A quarter of each Battle Pass purchased goes directly into The International's prize pool.

Aside from surpassing the Fortnite World Cup as the largest prize pool in esports history, The International 2019 also exceeds many conventional sporting event purses. The 2019 US Open prize pool for the Men's singles and doubles is 24.7 million combined. The 2019 U.S. Open ($12.5 million) and 2019 Indy 500 ($13 million) also have a lower combined prize pool than The 2019 International. Gary Woodland, who won the 2019 U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach took home a little over $2.2 million, compared to the nearly $15 million the top Dota 2 team will earn.

The Event

Starting on Thursday, the 16 teams will be divided into two groups and play in a round robin format, with the bottom teams from each group being eliminated. Following the group stage, teams will be placed in either the upper bracket or lower bracket. Teams that lose in the upper bracket will then be moved to the lower bracket. The winner of each of the bracket will face off in the grand finals on Sunday, August 25 in a best-of-5 match.

Event History

OG, who received $11.2 million for winning The International 2018, are one of four teams biding to become the first franchise to win multiple championships in The International series since it began in 2011. Team Liquid (2017 champions), Newbee (2014 champions), and Alliance (2013 champions) are the other three previous winners looking to make history.