Valve has confirmed the dates for The International 2019. As leaked earlier this month on the Vici Gaming Weibo account, Dota 2‘s premier tournament will take place in August. The main event will be held the 20th through 25th of that month, with the group stages expected to be played out in the week before.
This will be the ninth edition of the annual competition. The tradition famously started in August 2011 in Cologne, Germany, with the first tournament netting the winners a cool $1,000,000. The teams’ journeys on the way to this — at least for those days — extraordinary prize was documented in the 2014 documentary, Free to Play.
Over the years the winnings have increased substantially, fueled by Valve’s introduction of crowdfunding options through its in-game Battle Pass. Due to this, last year’s TI8 sported a total prize pool of $25,532,177, making the game’s professional circuit the highest paid of the year.
We don’t know any details about this year’s Battle Pass yet, nor do we know when ticket sales start. According to rumors, these have been delayed until May due to problems with the platform used to sell them in China, which will play host country this year.
Last time Dota 2 came to Mercedes-Benz Arena, during the 2016 Shanghai Major, Valve ended up firing the tournament’s production company. The last two times the game was in China, players were banned from entering the host city. While its specifics for TI9 are late, presumably this is because the developer is taking its time to make sure everything goes more smoothly this time around.
What we do know is that four teams (Team Secret, Virtus.pro, Vici Gaming, and Evil Geniuses) have already qualified, with eight more spots for direct qualification through the Dota Pro Circuit still available. Currently, it seems like the next eight teams in the standings have a good shot at this. With three more official events on the calendar and one being played out this weekend, a lot can still happen though.
The final Dota Pro Circuit event is the $1,000,000 EPICENTER Major at the end of June. Regional qualifiers are expected to follow after to determine the last six participants in The International’s 18-team field.