As a tradition, the prize pool of The International 2019 has impressively surpassed last year's figure, making it the biggest tournament of all time in the eSport community. Now we have only more than two weeks before the annual event takes place, and below are some notable things Dota 2 players and followers should be aware of.

The International 2019 is quickly approaching!

The International 2019 - Date and Location

This year's competition will play out from August 15-25. We will see the Group Stage takes place first, from August 15-18, followed by the Main Event shortly after, from August 20-25.

Valve usually holds this annual event on North America's west coast. But this year, they go all the way to Shanghai, China and make Mercedes-Benz Arena the battleground for 18 participants of The International 2019. This is kind of expected since the Chinese community is always the biggest contributor to every year International's prize pool as well as a loyal follower of Dota 2. This change made by Valve could have some significant impacts on its business and in fact, we can immediately take this year's prize pool an example for that statement.

Welcome to China!

The ticket for weekday bundles and weekend were sold out incredibly fast, which cost $73 and $305 respectively. Before-tax, of course.

How to watch The International 2019?

Without question, every game in the upcoming event will be available via Dota 2 client. While players don't have to pay a single cent for watching games, Valve does offer other options for paid users. More specifically, who purchased Dota Plus will have some exclusive features such as in-game real-time analysis and winner prediction.

Dota 2 has been free-to-play since the day it came out on Steam, and Valve still stays true for that. All viewers will be eligible for item drops, in-game casting, graphs, and player-perspective camera, either they chose to spend money or not. For now, watching games via Dota 2 client seems to be the best method to enjoy The International 2019 at your own will, although sometimes you might suffer from delay and packet loss.

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You can watch The International 2019 using Dota 2 client.

However, not all of us have enough time for doing such a thing. Whenever you're at nowhere near a computer that has Dota 2 installed, remember that Valve has created its own Twitch channels for The International. Keep your eyes open for these official channels, you don't want to miss any of your favorite team's matches. Note that you can also get rewards here too, so don't forget to link your Twitch account to your Steam.

How about the prize?

Somehow, The International keeps growing bigger and bigger. Especially this year, the annual event only needs more than 50 days to beat its own record in 2018, which was $25,532,177. As of this writing, The International 2019's prize pool has surpassed $30,721,328, making the upcoming tournament the biggest event in the eSport industry.

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OG - The winner of TI8.

The champion usually takes the lion's share of approximately 45% of the total prize pool. So OG, last year's champions, went home with more than $11.2 million.

Of course, The International is not just about money. Professional players also consider this a chance to write their names in the Dota 2 history. In other words, it looks like a World Cup for the Dota 2 community.

How is it possible for the Battle Pass to make the total prize pool this big?

The prize pool of The International has been boosted by the Battle Pass, once Compendium, since 2013. 25% of all Battle Pass-related purchase directly contributes to the total prize pool. That means, the more Dota 2 players willing to spend money on the Battle Pass, the bigger The International will be.

In fact, this annual event has lots in common with other crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter. One of the reasons behind the large expense from Dota 2 players is the TI-exclusive and appealing items which will be given out whenever you reach a certain level in the Battle Pass. Not like normal treasures, these cosmetics can be found nowhere after The International concludes. So the only way to get them is to keep spending money.

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Battle Pass 2019 is incredible!

That's basically the motivation of Dota 2 community every year. Since Valve introduces no cap for the prize pool nor the Battle Pass level, you can purchase as many levels as you can. If you're lucky enough, you might end up with lots of rares, very rares, ultra rares from loot boxes.

Which teams will participate in The International 2019?

18 teams are now ready to battle for the Aegis, including 12 via the Pro Circuit along with 6 from Regional Qualifiers.

Below is the list of 12 teams that got their direct invites by earning the most points in the last season's Dota Pro Circuit:

Team Secret - Europe - Commonwealth of Independent States
Vici Gaming - China
Evil Geniuses - North America
Team Liquid - Europe
PSG.LGD - China
Fnatic - Southeast Asia
Ninjas in Pyjamas - Europe
TNC Predator - Southeast Asia
OG - Europe
Alliance - Europe
Keen Gaming - China

News Secret2019
Team Secret is the team that anyone could be afraid of.

Some teams are invited, and some teams have to earn their tickets through Open Qualifiers. There are 6 slots for each region, including South America. The winner of each qualification goes to The International 2019. This supports the diversity of the biggest annual Dota 2 even, while also ensuring that professional players from all over the world have a chance to make their dreams come true.

Qualified teams are as follows:

Royal Never Give Up - China
Natus Vincere - Commonwealth of Independent States
Chaos Esports Club - Europe
Forward Gaming - North America. Now this roster will play at The International 2019 under the name of Newbee due to recent events between these two organizations.
Infamous - South America
Mineski - Southeast Asia

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We won't see SCCC playing at this year's tournament.

Needless to say, any team could make it to The International 2019 is also capable of securing a decent final place. Last year, OG went all the way from Open Qualifiers to become the champions, making it probably the greatest underdog in the Dota 2 history.

What should we expect from the top teams?

As mentioned above, it's the same opportunity for all participants in The International 2019. Nothing is predictable once the final patch drops and Dota 2 teams start their training. You can't predict this year's champions just by taking a look at the last year's results. That's the reason which keeps The International's popularity rising over the years.

Can VP get their hands on the Aegis this year?

Taking OG for an example again: last year, the European team got 3 out of its 5 members poached right before The International 2018. No one believed that a broken team could stand in the grand stage, holding the Aegis after an intense Grand Final. And Team Secret or Virtus Pro, who always are at top of the Pro Circuit system, somehow have never been crowned champions.

Maybe this year is for Virtus Pro or Team Secret finally taking the Aegis? Or some underdogs will make history again? We have absolutely no clue.

What else to expect at the upcoming event?

Valve always comes up with special treats for the audience at its biggest tournament of the year. We've witnessed the infamous appearance of Deadmau5 for the Grand Final in 2015. The International 2016 Opening Ceremony had Lindsey Stirling performed with a violin medley. In 2017, we got an announcement about Artifact. For the last two years, Dota 2 fans could see how OpenAI bots (funded by Elon Musk) beat professional players. And in 2019, Valve even asked a costume maker from the Philipines to dress puppies in costumes.

Artifact: We're still in the long haul.

The International 2019 will take place in China. Dota Underlords has been introduced to the fans since June 21, and OpenAI is still strongly developing. We could expect anything to happen in the stage this year, either enjoyable or not.

Stay tuned! There is more information about to come!