The main event of the 2014 DOTA 2 International Tournament kicks off on Friday, July 18. 8 professional teams will compete for $10 million in the world’s biggest DOTA 2 tournament. We featured the line-ups, games and details on the prize pool here. Below we take you through the history of the tournament, and how a game called DOTA 2 grew from a normal MOBA to the massive money earning professional game that it is Today.

Learn how to watch Dota 2 with this helpful video guide to professional MOBA matches, courtesy of IGN:

The first international tournament took place in 2011, and below you can get a quick recap of every years tournament, and see how the prize pool grew.

The International 2011

​Prize Pool: $1.6 million USD

Dota 2 wasn’t even out yet when the first International swept through Cologne, Germany in 2011. Valve invited 16 of the top performing Dota teams to compete in the event. The purpose was basically a big publicity stunt for the launch of the Dota 2 beta, and it worked. With a whopping $1.6 million USD on the line, the debut of a beloved rebooted franchise, and an impressive live venue, the first International was the start of something special.

In the finals of The International 2011, Ukrainian team Natus Vincere, or Na’Vi, faced Chinese powerhouse EHOME. Na’Vi were considered the underdogs, but were able to overcome their focused and determined competitors in a thrilling best of five series. Valve later retold the events of the first International in their fantastic feature-length documentary Free To Play.

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The International 2012

Prize Pool: $1.6 million USD

The tournament found its home in Seattle, WA during the second annual International. The invite process slightly changed for TI2, and Valve invited 14 teams based on their performance in various Dota 2 tournaments throughout the year, while the final two spots were decided via qualifier tournaments.

The finals once again came down to Na’Vi against yet another Chinese juggernaut, Invictus Gaming (IG). It was during game two of the finals where one of the most famous plays in competitive Dota 2 history went down. Known today simply as “The Play,” IG tried to sneak up on Na’Vi, who completely turned the fight around and wiped out IG in one shocking swoop.

Yet even with the skill and coordination to pull off this legendary feat, the Ukranians ultimately couldn’t pull through, and IG took the coveted $1 million USD top prize after a thrilling series. Following the event, Valve released a short documentary about The International 2012.

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The International 2013

Prize Pool: $2.8 million USD

Valve wanted to do something special for The International 2013, and thus the Compendium was born. The Compendium was introduced as an interactive program for TI3 that cost $10 and was purchasable within the game. The kicker was that for every book purchased, $2.50 went directly to the TI3 prize pool. The idea was novel at the time, and along with allowing competitive Dota 2 fans to contribute to the prize pool, the book came with some in-game goodies and ways to keep track of your favorite players during the event.

Valve even added some stretch goals like a new HUD, in-game taunt animations, and a special immortal cosmetic item to entice the community to contribute. It was an amazing success, and the prize pool grew from a base of $1.6 million to $2.8 million with Compendium purchases.

The Chinese teams who always placed well in past International events failed to secure a spot in the top three of the tournament, leaving the grand prize wide open for the two European rivals, Alliance and Na’Vi. Competitive Dota 2 fans dreams came true when the grand finals came down to an incredibly clutch play in the last match of the best of five series.

The International 2013 drew a massive audience, both online and in person at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. At its peak, over one million concurrent viewers were tuned in to watch The International 2013 for free straight from the in-game Dota 2 client and various streaming platforms.

The International 2014

Prize Pool: $10.5 million USD

For this year’s International, the actual tournament has almost been overshadowed by the tremendous success of the new and improved Compendium. Once again fans can purchase the interactive program for $10, with $2.50 going directly towards the prize pool, but this year it’s been expanded.

The International 2014 Compendium is almost a game itself, as your Compendium can level up to earn players additional in-game rewards based on the level. You can earn experience points for a Compendium by playing Dota 2, completing fun in-game challenges, or simply purchasing additional points, with 25 percent of the proceeds again going to the prize pool.

With no level cap, some fans have spent thousands of dollars leveling up their Compendium, and Valve has added fuel to the fire with new stretch goals. The passion of the Dota 2 community resulted in a prize pool over $10 million USD, the largest in competitive gaming history.

  • First Place – $4,973,629
  • Second Place – $1,459,652
  • Third Place – $1,027,162
  • Fourth Place – $810,918
  • 5/6th Place – $648,734
  • 7/8th Place – $513,581
  • 9/10th Place – $48,655
  • 11/12th Place – $37,843
  • 13/14th Place – $21,624

The format for this year’s International is similar to The International 2013, but with a few key changes. The main event will take place from July 18-21 at Key Arena in Seattle, WA with an eight team double elimination tournament. Dota 2 fans sold out the Arena within an hour for a chance to see their favorite teams compete in-person for a piece of the $10.5 million prize pool. With the way the prize money pays out, the first place team is looking to walk away with almost $5 million USD.

The size of the prize pool isn’t the only thing that’s grown over the past year. The caliber of play has been at a much higher level than years past. With so much at stake, some teams have spent months bootcamping in preparation for the tournament. With how the tournament is shaping up, fan favorites Na’Vi will have their work cut out for them if they hope to make their fourth consecutive finals appearance. The last few major Dota 2 tournaments have all been won by different teams, so there’s no consistent favorite going into this event.

Stay tuned to see how the tournament unfolds. Our next feature will include a look at the teams and favourites to win the DOTA 2 2014 International Tournament.