Valve has finally revealed the format to its annual Dota 2 super tournament, the International. And it is elaborate.
The International’s $9.5 million (and growing) prize pool makes it the most lucrative esports event of all time. So it’s only appropriate that the format is thorough enough to ensure that the best team in the world walks away the winner. But in addition to being a tad hard to follow, the format is upsetting some fans, who worry it will cut out their favorite teams from the biggest action.
The tournament will be split in four different phases. Phase one begins on July 8, with the four runner-ups from each regional qualifiers playing one another in a single elimination bracket. Phase two, beginning July 9, consists of a 16 team round-robin group—including teams that were directly invited, those that qualified, and the winner from phase one—with all teams playing each other one time. This stage alone will produce a staggering 120 games, at the least.
But we’re not on to the main event yet. The two teams that do best here will get directly seeded into that final tournament and the bottom six will be eliminated.
The third to 10th-placed teams, meanwhile will move into two four-team groups and begin play on July 13. One team from each group will be eliminated, while the other teams will be seeded into the main event’s upper or lower bracket, dependent on their performance.
The main event, taking place in a sold out Key’s Arena in Seattle, Wash. starting July 18, will feature the final eight final teams. Four teams will begin in an upper bracket while four will begin in a lower bracket. The teams in the upper bracket can lose twice before being eliminated. Those in the lower bracket have one final shot.
The new format has received mixed reactions from fans of competitive Dota.
While some are pleased with the number of games and phases in the announced format, others are upset with how many teams will be eliminated. When tickets went on sale for the event the format wasn’t finalized. Some fans who’ve have bought tickets and reserved flights and hotel room are understandably upset that they might not be able to see their favorite teams play.