A $33 million esports tournament is now underway, and the prize pool could keep growing. Here's everything you need to know about 'The International'

The InternationalThe International is a huge esports event.Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

  • The International is one of the biggest annual events in esports, and this year, the event is currently offering a crowd-funded prize pool of $33,039,566
  • The event is a championship tournament for "Dota 2," a popular free-to-play game that's been around for more than a decade.
  • Eighteen teams from around the world have qualified for the tournament, which starts in Shanghai, China, on August 15.
  • The winning team will take home more than $15 million, turning the champions into instant millionaires.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

One of the biggest events in esports kicked off from Shanghai on Wednesday night, pitting 18 teams against each other for a share of a $33 million prize pool.

The International is the annual championship for "Dota 2," a popular free-to-play computer game with millions of players around the world. "Dota 2" has more than 10 million active players each month, and each one of them can help contribute to the massive prize pool by spending money on the game.

Valve, the company behind "Dota 2," began hosting The International near their Seattle headquarters in 2011, and adopted a crowd-funding model to help support the game's active esports community.

The first International offered a $1.6 million prize pool, but it's ballooned in the years since. Last year's event gave away $25.5 million to the qualified teams, and this year's $33,039,566 prize pool could continue to increase as the tournament gets underway.

Read more: This 16-year-old gamer is $3 million richer after winning the Fortnite World Cup

"Dota 2" is a team strategy game, and each match can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half to complete. Players must implement a masterful level of strategy, team work, technical skill, and overall game knowledge to reach The International, and the 18 qualified teams showcase talent from countries around the world.

Group play begins on August 15, and the main event will be held from August 20 to 25. Each match will be streamed live on Twitch.TV, and the main event will be held over the course of five days in Shanghai's Mercedes-Benz Arena, which seats up to 18,000 people.

Here's everything you need to know about The International, the massive championship event giving away $33 million in prize money.

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The International's massive $33 million prize pool is crowd-funded by the game's community. Here's how the prizes are handed out to the 25 teams.

The International's massive $33 million prize pool is crowd-funded by the game's community. Here's how the prizes are handed out to the 25 teams.

Dota 2 is free-to-play and has more than 10 million active players each month. Players can help boost The International prize pool by purchasing a seasonal "Battle Pass" in the months surrounding the tournament.

The battle pass starts at $9.99, and gives players tons of rewards for completing challenges as they play. Players can also pay to raise their Battle Pass level instead, which boosts the prize pool even further. Valve places 25% of all Battle Pass proceeds into The International prize pool, even after the tournament is underway.

There are 18 teams from around the world that have qualified for The International by competing in smaller tournaments throughout the year.

There are 18 teams from around the world that have qualified for The International by competing in smaller tournaments throughout the year.

The International includes qualified teams from six regions:

North America: Evil Geniuses, Newbee

South America: Infamous

Europe: Team OG, Alliance, Team Liquid, Chaos eSports Club, Ninjas in Pajamas

China: Vici Gaming, Keen Gaming, Royal Never Give Up, PSG.LGD

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS): Virtus.Pro, Natus Vincere (Na'Vi)

Southeast Asia: Fnatic, TNC Predator, Mineski

Each team consists of five players, and they each play a specific role during the match.

Each team consists of five players, and they each play a specific role during the match.

Each of the five players on a Dota 2 team has a specific role, similar to a basketball team. For example, a "carry" player will spend the early part of a game building their strength so they can dominate the late stages of a match, while support players make sure the carry stays safe and puts pressure on the opponents early on.

Teams typically handpick players for a specific role, and the team captain selects characters for all five players at the start of each match.

This year's defending champs, Team OG, completed their roster together just two months before The International began. Their sponsor, Red Bull, put together a feature-length film called "Against the Odds" documenting the team's amazing run to the championship.

The International has a similar format to the FIFA World Cup. First, the teams face off against each other in a round robin group stage, then they're placed into a traditional tournament bracket for the main event.

The International has a similar format to the FIFA World Cup. First, the teams face off against each other in a round robin group stage, then they're placed into a traditional tournament bracket for the main event.

The International will separate the 18 teams into two groups. Each team in Group A and Group B will play the other teams in their groups twice, and each win will earn them a seeding point for the main event.

The two teams with the least points will be eliminated when the group stage ends. The remaining 16 teams will be placed into the Main Event tournament bracket based on their seeding points.

The eight teams with the best records will end up in the Upper Bracket, where all matches are best-of-three. The other eight teams with worse records will be placed in the Lower Bracket, where they face elimination.

Teams in the first round of the lower bracket will play a single elimination match, while matches in the later rounds will be best of 3. Teams that lose in the Upper Bracket will fall to the Lower Bracket, where they will face elimination.

In the end, the final team in the Lower Bracket will play the final team in the Upper Bracket in a best-of-five match for the $15 million first-place prize.

You can see all of the rules for match play on the official "Dota 2" website.

The main event will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China, from August 20 to August 25.

The main event will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China, from August 20 to August 25.

Up until 2018, The International was held in Seattle each year, near Valve's corporate headquarters. The tournament branched out last year and moved to Vancouver, Canada, for the tournament, welcoming nearly 20,000 spectators to the Rogers Arena.

This year, The International will shift to an entirely new continent, with the main event being held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China. China has a massive "Dota 2" community and the arena has room to host 18,000 spectators for the five-day event.

The International will also feature special events beyond the tournament. There will be special events during each day of the main event, including a cosplay and film contests, and an all-star match.

The International will also feature special events beyond the tournament. There will be special events during each day of the main event, including a cosplay and film contests, and an all-star match.

The International will feature commentary in multiple languages, and players can login to the game to watch a direct feed of each match in their language of choice.

The International will feature commentary in multiple languages, and players can login to the game to watch a direct feed of each match in their language of choice.

While The International will be streaming live on multiple Twitch channels, players can get a more hands-on experience by watching the live feed from their own computer. If you login to "Dota 2," you can choose between multiple commentary teams in different languages, move the camera around yourself, and even check out live stats in the game client.

People who bought a battle pass and contributed to The International prize pool can also earn extra rewards by predicting match results.

The International 9 began at 9 p.m. ET on August 14 (9 a.m. on August 15 in Shanghai, China). You can watch all of the matches via Twitch.TV.

The International 9 began at 9 p.m. ET on August 14 (9 a.m. on August 15 in Shanghai, China). You can watch all of the matches via Twitch.TV.

The International will kick off with four matches starting at 9 a.m. on August 15 in Shanghai. There's a 12-hour time difference between Shanghai and North America's East Coast, and quite a few matches will take place overnight for players in the Western hemisphere.

Since multiple matches will be taking place at the same time, you can follow several streams in multiple languages on Twitch.TV.

You can check the official "Dota 2" website for the full schedule of matches; times appear to be based on the US East Coast time, or GMT -5, but they might change automatically based on your location.

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