How to watch Dota 2's The International, the biggest esports event of the year

Nearly $25 million is on the line at this year's tournament.

Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
Jason Parker
3 min read

Even though Fortnite streams and Overwatch leagues seem to be grabbing all the headlines these days, the great grandparent of modern esports competitions, The International, is still the biggest esports event of the year. Since 2011, the world's biggest Dota 2 tournament has drawn huge audiences. One of the biggest reasons: It has, by far, the biggest prize pool of any esports tournament, currently sitting at roughly $24.5 million -- and that sum is likely to go up before the main event begins Monday, Aug. 20. 

The International starts with a prize pool of $1.6 million, but Valve offers a Battle Pass for $10 to all players that lets them earn rewards by playing while the competition is going on. Players can earn things like new character skins, new in-game announcer voices, item skins and more. Twenty-five percent of the cost of each Battle Pass is then added to the prize pool over the course of the event. As it stands now, the winning team would take home over $10 million.

The International has already gone through several early rounds, but next week we move into the main event, which runs from August 20 to Friday, August 25.


Fortnite didn't invent the battle pass, after all.


What is Dota 2?

For those who are unfamiliar with the game, Dota 2 is a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game where two teams of five players square off on a large map, each with a home base (called an Ancient). The two teams go to battle to try to ultimately destroy the other team's Ancient and win the game. 

Though it might sound easy, it's an extremely complex game that's difficult to learn and extremely hard to master. There are more than 100 heroes to choose from, each with a suite of unique special abilities. As you play, you earn gold you can use to buy items over the course of the game that will add to your stats and abilities. Knowing which items to buy and combine to maximize your hero's powers takes time to learn, and that's before you even talk about the strategy of controlling battle lanes, how to engage in battles with your specific hero against different heroes and how to work with a team to control the playing field and finally destroy your opponents' Ancient.

With all that said, when a team knows what it's doing, a match can turn on a dime making a tournament between pro teams especially exciting. And since The International is the biggest Dota 2 tournament of the year, there's a good chance you'll be watching the best of the best.

How to watch the International

There are a few different ways to get in on the action. You can watch live through Steam Broadcasting, get on Twitch (no login required) or go to a place near where you live that hosts Pubstomp events. But the best way to watch, especially if you already play the game, is to watch from within the Dota 2 client itself. 

By watching from within the game, you can change cameras at will, follow specific players if you have favorites, and you can listen to a multicast in English, Chinese or Russian that offers up highlights of matches as they're being played. 

Or, if you happen to be lucky enough to find yourself in the possession of a ticket to the in-person event, The International will be held at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada.


Every game starts off slowly, but once it gets going it can get crazy.


First published Aug. 17, 2018 at 6 a.m. PT and updated throughout the event.

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