The International: the change of the format


The International 2015 is close at hand. The event, the prize-pool of which has recently reached 16 500 000 $, promises to break all records and become the brightest and the most interesting compared to previous TIs. However, there are still many aspects that remain uncertain, causing fans’ confusion and keeping the intrigue. Anyway, there is no doubt that Valve has prepared something exciting to surprise their viewers.


The most intriguing question certainly concerns TI2015 format. Considering the fact that it is still unknown, we can’t help but expect some changes. Let’s take a look back and recall how TI format changed throughout the years!


The International 2011:


The first Dota 2 tournament was held in one of the most beautiful German cities – Cologne. The competition was conducted between 17 and 21 August within the framework of gamescom 2011, the world’s largest video games fair. This was the first time the game was shown to the large audience of people. Of course, the lack of organizing experience and fixed fair schedule influenced the way the tournament went.


All invited teams (there were 16 of them) were initially divided into four groups. Each group, on its turn, contained four teams. Only two best teams of each group could win the opportunity to advance to the final part. Considering the fact that groups were generated randomly, it was very difficult to reach the fair balance. Some groups included relatively strong teams, the weakest among which could beat everyone beyond its group. Unfortunately, such teams were out because of their in-group loses. These were the rules. 


The play-off went under the well-known double-elimination system. Due to the lack of time, most matches were held in the best of 1 format. Even now professional players complain about its imbalance, but back in the days the influence of it was even more upsetting. 


The match between China EHOME and Russian Federation Moscow 5 is surely difficult to forget. Because of the mysterious bug, the Gem of true sight refused to reveal enemy team’s wards. Many people are still sure that it was the only reason why Russians were defeated that day. Perhaps, they are right. Who knows what would have happen if the match was held in bo3.


In fact, remaining matches were played in bo3 format. We would like to remind you that despite all challenges UkraineNatus Vincere managed to become The International 2011 champions, clinching their win over ChinaEHOME in the grand-final. 




The International 2012 и 2013:

The formats of TI2012 and TI2013 were quite similar (with only one difference, which we will, of course, discuss), so there is no need to talk about them separately. First, the whole event moved to Seattle, USA. Second, its system underwent a lot of changes. In comparison to the first tournament, the next ones were more independent and structured, which helped them to gain large numbers of fans from all over the globe and, consequently, attract sponsors’ attention. 



With the introduction of regional qualifiers at The International 2012, a big number of tier 2 teams have got an opportunity to prove themselves and get to the main event. However, there were only two centers: Europe (West Qualifiers) and China (East Qualifiers), so the players from other regions were unable to participate. Each qualifier had to determine 8 teams that would compete in Seattle. 


The main part of the tournament was modified as well. All participants were divided into 2 groups of 8 teams each. The matches were played in best of 2 format. As a result, 4 teams secured their place in upper bracket, and all remaining - in the lower one. All upper bracket matches, except for the grand-final, were held in bo3 format. Lower bracket matches, on the other hand, - in bo1 (1-4 round).


This format, for sure, wasn’t bad, considering the fact that lower bracket included teams that hadn't done their best in the group-stage. But it wasn’t perfect. ChinaInvictus Gaming became The International 2012 champions, after they took a 3:1 win over UkraineNatus Vincere in the grand-final. 



The format of TI2013 was all in all the same, except for one interesting change: it was then that Wild Card matches were introduced. Second-best teams from the regional qualifiers were given one last chance to secure the remaining vacant spot. Quantic Gaming were defeated by ChinaRattleSnake that time, and, unfortunately, UkraineGoblak couldn’t get to the main stage.


Apart from Wild Card matches, there was another modification. Unlike TI2012, where lower bracket bo3 matches started from 5th round, Valve decided to make a small change and only 1-3 rounds were played in bo1 format. Also, Valve added the prizes for Compendium buyers, introduced All-Star match and 1x1 Tournament. These changes became an essential part of the whole event and never stop bringing joy to the millions of viewers since then.

The International 2014:


2014 was a turning point for Valve, as they decided to change the tournament’s format completely. Regional qualifiers were modified at the first place. By that time, Dota 2 gained incredible popularity in America and countries of Southeast Asia, so the organizers decided to conduct TI qualifiers in these regions as well. As a result, 11 direct invites were sent, which is 2 fewer than their number in 2013, and more Wild Card matches were conducted.

That year’s group-stage was the most difficult to pass. All teams had to compete in one big group, earning their points in bo1 matches. They had to do their best to win as many matches as they could to get better position in the final part. 6 worst teams were out of the competition.


All play-off matches were held in bo3. It made TI 2014 the first tournament, at which Valve decided to stay away from bo1 matches in the play-off stage.

Even though TI2014 format was overall progressive, it was a bit too difficult and created a lot of confusion among its viewers. In some cases, its twists and turns even led to professional casters’ mistakes. Some players, on their turn, where dissatisfied with bo1 group-stage match ups, but considering tight schedule and big number of teams in one group, this organizers’ decision seemed completely logical.



Taking everything into account, we can note that each year Valve implements a number of positive changes. They are working hard in order to make The International more interesting to its viewers, and looking for the best ways to build a reliable system, in which all participants would compete on equal terms. We are extremely excited to see what they have prepared for us this year, as The International 2015 is right around the corner!

AuthormJay Date17 July 2015, 11:55 Views18737 Comments0
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